So it should come as no surprise then, that the first lady’s office has asked the American public to respect her “personal privacy” as she remains hospitalized for the week after undergoing a surgical procedure for a benign kidney condition on Monday.
Asked why the routine procedure would require such a long hospital stay, the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN on Tuesday, “I am not going to expand beyond the statement I put out. The first lady is in good spirits and she is resting. There are HIPAA laws to consider, but she also deserves personal privacy.”
Several sources who know the Trump family have previously told PEOPLE how fiercely Mrs. Trump, 48, protects her privacy and values alone time.
One source said the first lady has always been “very cautious” about who she surrounds herself with and “doesn’t bring a lot of new people in because she is very private.”
Another source agreed that the first lady is intensely introverted and a creature of habit who “just wants to do her own thing.”
The first lady’s reserved nature has made being thrust into the international spotlight all the more difficult. Since her husband Donald Trump‘s controversial presidency, she’s often yearned for the peace and simplicity of her pre-White House life, sources told PEOPLE. “No one was paying attention to her two years ago,” one insider said. “They went about their day. Now it’s a 24/7 tornado.”
Although Mrs. Trump prides herself on being a “hands-on mom” to son Barron, 12, and enjoys spending quiet evenings with her husband, 71, the first lady told PEOPLE in a 2015 interview that she’s “never lonely or bored” when she has time to herself.
“It’s nice to read sometimes and have time for yourself, go to the gym, play tennis. I always find time for when I’m alone to do great stuff,” she said at the time. “I think everybody needs time for themselves to be great for the family.”
It’s important to spend time with her small circle of friends too, Mrs. Trump allowed, but “also to recharge your own batteries because to take care of yourself is first, so you can take care of other people.”
In fact, Mrs. Trump “wants her own privacy” so much that she and her husband even keep separate bedrooms at their Bedminster, New Jersey, home, another source close to the Trump family told PEOPLE.
That said, a week in the hospital is likely not the kind of alone time the first lady is looking for.
Though her husband remained at the White House during her procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Monday, the president visited Mrs. Trump there later that day for over an hour.
It is not unprecedented for a first lady to undergo a surgical procedure without the president on stand-by in the waiting room. When Laura Bush underwent surgery in September 2007 to relieve pain from pinched nerves in her neck, then-President George W. Bush was in Australia for an APEC summit. Bush phoned his wife from his trip to check on her.
Trump visited his wife at Walter Reed again on Tuesday afternoon, departing the White House on Marine One shortly after 4 p.m.
The president told reporters at the Capitol earlier on Tuesday that his wife is “doing really really well” but did not comment further on her condition. The White House also said in a statement that the first lady “remains in good spirits.”