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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pink Ribbon Journey

When Steve and I found out we were expecting our first child, we became quite focused on how to handle the sleep issues that would certainly plague us. One could argue that in our conversations we obsessed over the topic. We were scared about many things, but going from being a couple who valued and prioritized good sleep to one who still valued it, but was at the mercy of a baby was terrifying.

At the time, I was working with college students, and had some understanding of how life changes can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. So, my research began; I remember being four months pregnant, sitting in a Dunkin Donuts reading "The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program" by Polly Moore. Steve and I actually implemented a sleeping system before Jack was born to get ready for the "shifts" that would soon be our infant-driven, feeding-frenzy existence. We also used it in preparation for Anna's arrival and I can honestly say that this book helped us get the sleep we needed to keep functioning each day. Not every day (or night) was perfect, but it served as a solid foundation.

But, foundations can slowly shift or even crack a bit, especially when life changes happen all over again. When we lived in Massachusetts, it was "easier" to keep Jack and Anna on schedule because they had their own rooms. Toward the end of our time there, they wanted to snuggle/sleep with me because I was recovering from my various procedures/surgeries. It was hard to balance what was best for me with their desire to "take care of me," but we usually could get them to sleep in their beds, per usual.

Now that we live in a 2-bedroom apartment, Jack and Anna share a room. We bought a bunkbed for them and by now, five months in the novelty of it has truly eroded (this became crystal-clear a couple of months back, when Jack told his teacher how much he hated sharing a room with his sister). Steve was smart to buy a simple rollaway bed for himself so that I could have our bedroom (and our bathroom) to myself when I was feeling ill. However, in our efforts to make sleeping more comfortable for me, I think we inadvertently opened the door for the kids to want to snuggle/sleep with me again, to want to take care of me; but I could tell this time was different, especially for Anna.

A tradition in Anna's class is to create a mini-city. Each child is asked what they want to build; without hesitation, Anna said, "doctor's office."

doc-officeAnna and her doctor's office creation

This creation was happening right at the height of my chemotherapy and I could see Anna's behavior change from just wanting to snuggle with me to being pretty adamant that she had to sleep with me. She made a variety of excuses - "I'm scared, I don't feel good" or simply, "I have to sleep with you." Honestly, I was afraid to have her in the bed with me, so I told her she couldn't sleep with me. Her response was to create a bed on the floor. I decided not to even try to fight this battle - how could I?

My chemotherapy is complete and I've begun radiation, which means we are onto yet another phase of our new life here in Virginia. A couple nights ago, Anna announced, "Mommy, I won't be in your room anymore, okay?"

I'll never know exactly why Anna needed to be with me over these past weeks; it could be that she really just needed a time-out from Jack. But, I'm glad I didn't try to force her back to her bed. And I realize that, being all of three, she may revise her decision at any moment and recreate her bed on my floor. At times, it's really hard to know where to expend my limited energy; I guess it's a good thing I've got Dr. Anna on my case!

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Pouches' Community Corner

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