“No, no! I don’t wanna! I’m scared! I’m scared! Dad-dy! I’m scared!”
Yesterday morning was hard. Very hard. The doubt and fear surrounding my surgery just got to be too much, and I didn’t get much accomplished. Not much at all actually. Some reading, a nap, and many tears while the baby napped in the room next door and Widget and WonderDaddy were out grocery shopping. It felt like my world was collapsing, when in fact, nothing has changed. Nothing at all. I’m still a survivor of 6 months of chemo. I’m still a candidate for surgery next week. I’m still a woman with cancer living and growing in her right breast.
I’m still scared.
With my mind, I know that the risks of this surgery are few. That although it feels like a double amputation, it’s actually a much less severe surgery, since the breasts are outside the rib cage instead of inside the body’s core like the heart, lungs, or guts. That in fact I’ll only be in the hospital one night or maybe two, and I won’t even have to visit the ICU. That my surgeon is excellent and has a long track record. Mastectomies for her are routine. Bread and butter.
But it’s still my first one. And I’m still scared.
I remained scared all morning, until I heard the sobbing of a scared little boy in the hall. Widget woke up from his afternoon nap early and found himself soaked; his pull-up had leaked and he for the first time felt shame. I found him in the bathroom with the lights off, crying and shy.
Shhhh. Shhhh, baby. Mommy’s here.
I gently whispered to him, reassuring him and never mentioning the urine staining his pants. I held out my arms and hugged him snugly around the shoulders, avoiding any reason for him to be shy with me. I suggested we both go change into sweatpants, because they’re more comfortable, and wash the sheets, because it’s Sunday. He gently relaxed in my arms and let me help him change his pull-up “just while we’re at it.” Eventually we opened the door and went about finding him new clothes and a snack.
Mommy will take care of you.
And soon, the incident was forgotten. We had a lovely afternoon together and celebrated Little Bear’s first birthday. We raced matchbox cars, built towers and tunnels, and introduced Widget to the game Go Fish. We had dinner together, as we always do, as we always have done since Widget was first born, with only a handful of exceptions.
Mommy’s here. Mommy loves you.
And then, we mustered our strength for the bimonthly haircuts. I cut the boys’ hair myself, because Widget has a normal toddler’s fear, and we soothe them gently afterwards. But still, the screams and cries (see first line, above) were terrifying, and nearly broke my heart. It is so hard to see a child of yours afraid, insecure, and scared.
Sorry, Mom and Dad. I never meant to worry you. But truthfully, surgery does scare me, just like haircuts scare my 3 year old. But I’m still going to do it. I need to. I know I need to. Even though my hair isn’t long enough to cut yet, and even though I feel like locking myself in the bathroom sometimes too, I know I need to do this.
– Because my sons need to see courage. They need to see faith. They need to see me here as they grow up.