Everyone talks about the physical aspects of the recovery from a double mastectomy but the emotional side effects have been a bigger challenge for me.
The other night I was up late reading in bed (The Last Mrs. Parrish) and heard a loud boom followed by Aidan crying. Matt was asleep, and had been for a while, so I jumped out of bed and started running to the boys’ room. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to do anything once I got to their room (I can’t lift, reach, push or pull anything), so I turned around and punched Matt (I was gentle) to wake him up, and ran back into their room.
Aidan had fallen out of bed and was sitting on the floor crying. I rubbed his back as he cried but it was Matt who ran in behind me, scooped him up and held him in his arms. I watched as Matt consoled him, and finally laid him back down in his bed. I grabbed Aidan’s blanket to try to cover him but couldn’t maneuver it to fully cover him with my limited arm movements. I stepped back and let Matt handle everything. Once Matt got him tucked in, I kissed his head and walked back to my room. Matt got back into bed and quickly fell back asleep.
As I lay awake in the dark, I cried to myself as I thought about how many times I have soothed Aidan & Cooper in the middle of the night without needing Matt’s help. How many mornings did I give the boys breakfast and get them ready for school by myself, while Matt was traveling for work. Tonight, I couldn’t help Aidan on my own because I can’t lift him up to hold him in my arms. Tomorrow morning, Matt will be the one bringing the boys to school, not me, because I simply can’t do it by myself.
On one hand, how lucky am I to have Matt as such a supportive partner through my recovery. How lucky are Aidan and Cooper to have Matt as their dad, who loves being able to be there for them in these moments. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that little pang of guilt and sadness for each event that Matt has to step in for me and I don’t get to be the mom that I want to me, that I used to be.
Aidan and Cooper have been so gentle around me since I got home from the hospital that it almost breaks my heart. Cooper, who loves to be held, doesn’t even ask me to hold him anymore. Every time he sees me he just looks up at me and asks, “boo boos better?”. Aidan has gotten used to coming home after school to find my bedroom door locked, with me laying in bed on the other side.
I can’t help but question what my role is as a mom if I am not the one to soothe my kids when they are feeling sad, help get them ready for their day, and tuck them in at night. I know that this is temporary and that with each day of recovery I will be able to do more. I just have to give my body the time it needs to heal and be grateful that Aidan and Cooper are surrounded by other caregivers who love them.