NOT THAT BAD
It seemed like the one liner I heard over and over again after I delivered my son almost twenty one years ago was, “As time goes by, you forget the pain of the delivery and you will want another one.” I definitely forgot the pain of the delivery, but there was no way I wanted another. One was plenty. I knew myself well back at thirty-three and I knew with all of my heart, that I wouldn’t have been a good mother to more than one. And as my son approaches the momentous occasion of twenty-one with the world as his oyster boldly in front of him, I love that decision more every year because I love his being more every year.
As we mothers know, the pain in delivery is only the beginning of motherhood and frankly I am in awe of every mother who decides to do it again. Motherhood was a roller coaster ride of emotions, guilt, joy, worry, panic, love, like, oh my God what have I done and will I ever be able to go the grocery store or take a shower again feelings that moved in and out and up and down and through my heart from one moment to the next. The emotions on any given day varied, challenging my thinking, my esteem, my validity and my abilities in the role of mom, wife, woman and human being.
Another tagline typical of moms with kids that were older than mine was “Wait till they go to kindergarten, school flies by.” Then from the much older moms whose children were my son’s age at the time, “Enjoy every moment, time goes by in a nanosecond.” I couldn’t imagine this when my son was screaming at five pm every night and I couldn’t settle him, no matter what. I never thought that five years would pass until he got to kindergarten, but it did and here we are, junior year in college all of a sudden.Time did go by in a nanosecond. Turns out, time did fly by and it seems to be accelerating every day as I am hungrier to accomplish more and more.
In an odd juxtaposition, breast cancer was like this too. Approaching my first full year of the final reconstruction surgery this September feels in some ways like it did when I had Michael. I have almost forgotten all of the bad parts. The drains, the discomfort, the numbness in my entire upper body, my loss of upper back strength, my self awareness of the fakeness of what is now my very upright and pointy wonder woman boobs that adorn my body like a fifties pin up poster. I finally feel like myself again, only better and it wasn’t that bad.
Now this all being said, I reiterate, I never had chemo, my breast cancer was caught early two times and I have done preventative surgery to take out those pesky ovaries hoping to shut down that wild and untamed estrogen my bad ass body loves to produce. Every single woman is different and by no means is this being written for anyone who is going through this shitty ordeal or has gone through it or has a friend or a sister or a mom who is about to go through this to compare their experience to.
It sucked, it was painful, it was traumatic and awful while I was in the quagmire, but I am still here. And it wasn’t that bad. As I get ready to celebrate the first full year of the last part of my whirlwind ride with my new boobs, I can’t believe it has been a year. Like being a mom to an almost twenty one year old, time has blasted forward in a time travel capsule to another dimension. I have a hunger for learning and writing and creating that I never imagined and I know it is because of this breast cancer experience. There is both a sense of urgency to gain knowledge about so many things I have no knowledge of and I am in awe at the magnitude of what I don’t know. The twist of this urgency though is the calmness and peace I also feel. Panic and fear has left this building I call my body and my non-stop ever working mind. Of course I still have moments of anxious thinking, who doesn’t, but the knowing is a constant that everything works out in the divine right order and the endless lists I love to write get done when they are supposed to.
Perhaps these feelings are the trifecta of new boobs coupled with getting closer to fifty five and having a son turn twenty one… and menopause… and realizing over and over that no one gets out alive. This is humbling as I navigate my way through the maze of my life as calm and joyous as humanly possible. Good Old Dr. Hottie, (remember him?) assured me at the very first, and very frightening at the time, consultation that when this one year mark came, I would look in the mirror and say holy crap, Alayne, those are some seriously awesome tits, (actually he never said that, but he should have). What he said was that it would take a full year to feel like myself again.
What he didn’t say is how much better I feel than I thought I would.
It took me almost five years to feel like myself again when I became a new mom, now Michael heads to the half way mark of college and he has a mom who gets to be alive to witness it. This is the gift and for this, I can’t express enough gratitude.