Brace Yourself: The Night Before / The Day of Surgery.
Lis couldn’t eat past 1:30 am. You better believe we made sure that she was sucking down the last drop of her bottle at 1:29:59 am. When the doctor told us she wouldn’t be able to eat for about six hours beforehand, I laughed at her and said, “So, what you’re telling me is that you want me to transport a wild grizzly bear in my car to you with no tranquilizers?” She laughed, and said yes.
It actually worked out okay. We slid Lis out of her bed and into her car seat with a paci, and she went back to sleep for the car and for the walk up to surgery. [Bonuspoints if your hospital has wagons, because you will have a ton of stuff with you] Once we were there, there was so much activity that when she woke up, she was fascinated by all the people and sounds that she never got too grumpy.
Lis got weighed in, vitals signs checked, doctors came by to check her out, do last minute informational sessions with us, have us sign things, etc. All that took about an hour or so. Mama Vor was with us, helping corral Lis while we took care of documents, etc, [NOTE having a third person there is super helpful, but chose wisely! Pick someone who can keep it together and not be an extra burden on you. Mama Vor was awesome] and when we saw it was getting close to go time, she said her goodbyes to Lis, and went out to the waiting area so that we could be alone.
I will never, ever be able to erase from memory the moment the head anesthesiologist nurse came and took Lis away. She was kind. She stayed in the room for a few minutes, letting Lis get to know her, playing with her, letting her play with her surgical mask and her scrub cap. After a few minutes, Lis went happily into her arms, we gave her last kisses, and they walked away. Lis looked at us over the nurse’s shoulder for a few minutes, but then wanted to look around at where she was going. The back of her little head was the last thing I saw, and I completely lost it. So did Vor.
That was the worst moment of my life, and I hope I never find anything to top it. I think if there is a worse moment out there, it will completely break me. Just to warn you.
Waiting Waiting Waiting.
They told us it was a six hour operation. That’s true, but not true. Be ready for that. Perhaps, from the time the knife touches her skin to when they stitch her up is six hours, but she is out and you are away from her for much much MUCH longer. We last saw Lis around 7:00 am. We didn’t see her again around 5:30 pm. She was out for most of that time. Lis’s surgery took a bit longer as well, because Lis had some minor complications that caused much hmmmm-ing when they opened her up, and plans were revised on the fly. [NOTE I never again want to hear a doctor come out of surgery on my daughter, and say, “Well, that was interesting.”]
We were in a very nice open air waiting room with comfortable chairs and couches. There was a nurse we checked in and out with so that she always knew where we were and how to reach us. That being said, we always made sure that one of us was in the waiting room at all times. I brought work and book to distract me. People from work made up goodie bags for us that had applesauce containers, spoons, granola bars, trail mix, gum, puzzles, magazines, cards, a stress ball, and lots and lots of tissues.
There was a nurse solely dedicated to scrubbing in and out of Lis’s room to give us updates. She came out every 45 minutes to 1 hour to give us updates. I basically lived and died by that schedule for nine and a half hours. She would talk to us for ten minutes, I would send texts and make calls to give people updates, and then I would watch the clock, counting down until she would come out again. I CANNOT DESCRIBE how grateful I was for the constant updates. I have heard some people went hours without an update and I think I would lost my mind.
Recovery Room, aka, The Cry Fest.
Eventually, we got word that Lis was in the recovery room, and they brought us down to the individual waiting rooms outside surgery. Our doctors showed up and gave us the rundown of how it all went, and described the minor complications she had. They told us again what to expect for the next few days, and then sent us in with the anesthesiologist to see her.
Bring tissues. I kept it together, but I could not stop the tears from just falling. I was okay, but my tear ducts were completely independent of me at that point.
Lis was asleep, snoring loudly and making the nurses laugh. She always snores, so that was good to hear. Her little face was not bruises or swollen yet, though she looked a little pale. She had only needed one blood transfusion, though, so that was good. Her head was completely bandaged. Once the anesthesiologist signed off on her, we wheeled her over to the ICU and got checked into our room.
Okay, fine, you can email me at graceandpressure [at] yahoo [dot] com. Don't all flood me with emails at once, you know. If you're emailing about craniosynostosis, put it in the subject, and I'll respond quicker. Deal? Deal.