Isn’t it strange the way toddlers can freak out when their favorite blankie is in the washer, but are perfectly ok with a major ordeal, like surgery?
We just returned from the hospital. Liam is sleeping soundly on the couch, snuggling with his blankie and holding his Curious George doll.
Yesterday, I was panicked thinking I was going to have to cope with a starving child all morning, as he was not allowed food after midnight. I need not have worried. Since he rarely gets juice and has eaten jello on probably two occasions, he was positively thrilled with this morning’s diet. When his dad suggested he could drink broth out of a real coffee cup, he practically broke out in giggles over the idea. I would go so far as to say the “special” diet instructions set the tone for the rest of the day. It was something new and somehow fun.
The excitement continued at the hospital. He changed into his special pajamas and hopped on the bed. The nurse loaded a Winnie the Pooh movie for him to watch. He laid back in his bed, wrapped up in his blanket, and relaxed. A few minutes later, another nurse arrived to give him a choice of stuffed animals to hold. He selected a horse named “Derby.”
Then a child advocate arrived. She let him sample different smells to put in his masks. He settled on strawberry. Then they worked together to decorate the mask with stickers. She showed him pictures of the operating room and let him choose his method of transport to the OR. He opted to drive a toy car. Dad and Liam began making laps in the car through the halls, while I stayed to talk to the advocate.
She asked if there was anything I was nervous about. I said I was worried that once he saw the OR, he would get scared, and Dad and I would not be there to comfort him. She said she was there to make his procedure as pleasant as possible, and asked if I would like to accompany him until he was asleep. I said yes.
I dressed in scrubs quickly, and came back to the room in time to talk with the doctor. He told me if I blanked out, just remember to say “you’re alright, mom’s here, you’re ok.” He said I could say it a hundred times if I wanted to.
At the last minute, Liam opted to ride in a wagon. I pulled the wagon down a long hall. An artist had painted zoo animals on the walls, and we pointed out the zebras and giraffes. As soon as we entered the OR, the anesthesiologist asked me to pick him up and lie him on the table. At first, I was slightly taken aback. I thought Liam would have a second to get accustomed to the room. But it is probably better to get things done quickly- give the child less time to see all the equipment and process what is happening.
Liam began breathing through the mask. The anesthesiologist was a sweet British chap who quietly sang to Liam as he was going to sleep. I kept telling Liam he was ok, that I was with him. I held his hands. He kicked briefly, which the doctor had advised would happen. Then he was asleep. I kissed him and left the room.
I spent the next thirty minutes trying to concentrate on a magazine. I have no recollection of what I read. Ben went to grab a quick bite. When he returned, I did the same. Neither of us had eaten all day.
The doctor came into the waiting room to tell us Liam was ok. He started to describe the surgery, looking around the room for something to write on. He grabbed a Kleenex box, and flipped it over to sketch on the underside. The hernia was bigger than expected, so he could not enter through the belly button. He made a tiny incision just over the belly button- about an inch long. He repaired the hernia with a surgical mesh.
He gave us the discharge instructions and then advised it would be about fifteen minutes before we could see Liam. It was the LONGEST fifteen minutes. Ben kept asking me “when do we get to go in?” We were both anxious to see our boy.
The nurse led us to his recovery room. He was sleepy and quiet. The nurse said she offered him some juice but he hadn’t taken it. I asked if he had spoken yet, and she said no. I think he just needed the comfort of Mom and Dad. He began talking to me, in between sips of juice from Dad. We stayed for about an hour, got our instructions, and headed home.
Now, he’s asleep. And we just have to wait and see if the rest of his recovery goes as smoothly as the start of the day. Just thankful to have my baby boy home and resting peacefully.