The only good thing I had to dwell on about Newbie's surgery today was that I would get to smell the hospital. I've never had to be in the stinky part, and it's always been associated with good memories.. like... new babies. I love the smell of sterile. Clean. Sans perfume but still sweet. Maybe it's the laundry detergent. Or the hand soap. I'm not sure, but I love it. And I know I'm weird for that.
Newbie did amazing. She didn't start fussing over her hunger (I had to starve her before the procedure) until about 10 minutes before she went in.. when she fell asleep in Grandma's arms. It was cute. I kept trying to convince the doctors and nurses that they didn't need to use the general anesthesia.. she was already asleep! Didn't work.
So anyway, Newbie did amazing. I did fine until this morning, when I realized today had come. For real. Wednesday, March 10, 2010 was today. I couldn't think too hard about it this morning without wishing I hadn't eaten breakfast.
I did better once we were here (I'm at the hospital as I type) and I had six close friends and family members in the pre-op room with me. I had no idea how well-loved my almost-5-month-old baby is. How well loved I am. (Newbie ended up with eight visitors in the waiting room at once, not including her parents. We totally took over. If I'd known we would have so many there I'd have arranged a pot luck. That's what Baptists do, right? We eat!)
The first hardest moment for me today was putting her down on the operating table. She'd fallen asleep in Grandma's arms and she stayed asleep after transferring her to my arms. She slept as we walked down the maze of hallways they call the hospital and slept as nurses and doctors filled the operating room. This morning she'd woken up, happy as could be.. oblivious that she was going to have a very rough day. So when the anesthesiologist said, "You can put her down on the table now," I thought, No... I can't. I held onto her for a little bit longer. When I put her down she woke up and cried. I held her hand as they stuffed the mask that delivered her sleeping medicine on her face and she fought it with all she had.. holding her breath and everything.. till her body made her gasp and she slowly fell asleep. And then they made me leave her.
God must have known I'd be a wreck walking out of there, because not 60 seconds later I saw my old pastor and youth pastor walking toward the waiting room. (Old and youth.. that's kind of funny. "Previous" is a better word than old. Because neither of them are very old in my head. Anyway.) I walked between them as we weaved our way through the maze and finally into the room that held so many of my friends and family members.
And then we sat there.
It was a little awkward.. everyone was there to support me. I almost felt like I needed to entertain them. We entertained each other for awhile, playing musical chairs to avoid talking over one another. Eventually my current pastor and my previous pastor ended up in one corner talking, and the rest of us broke out into pairs or groups of three and chatted quietly, sometimes poking into other conversations. I got to sit next to Bear and do math with him, and it was nice because I felt useful in a time of helplessness.
I looked at the clock a lot, and at 11:20a or so I thought.. she should be coming anytime now.. I looked over at the door and to my surprise and relief the surgeon was walking through the door, smiling at me from underneath her hospital-blue hairnet.
Newbie had her adenoids removed. They were pretty big for such a little girl. Her esophagus is narrower.. swollen.. and red, indicating that she's still having some acid reflux going on, even with her current meds. Her voice box is also swollen. I have pictures. I'll scan them sometime. They're neat. It's mild narrowing.. but it does mean that she'll be likely to get croup more and that when she gets sick it'll settle in that narrow airway. Super. We'll just have to watch her carefully. If it starts delaying her development or causing trouble, there are ways to dilate the airway.. but no worries about that right now.
The doctor explained that the next step is getting Newbie's reflux under control. So we're going to see a GI doctor next for that. We'll also have a sleep study done again in a few months after she's all healed up to see how her apnea is doing.
Everyone left at this point and Bond came with me to recovery to see Newbie while my mommy went to the waiting room till we could get in the room we'd be staying in overnight.
This was the second hardest part of my day.
Once we got to recovery, I could see that Newbie was fussing and struggling. She would sleep for a minute.. and then wake up and fight whatever it was that was bugging her. Grogginess.. or pain.. or hunger. There were two nurses over her trying to calm her down as I walked in to see her. One asked if anyone had explained everything to me yet, and I said... well. I don't remember what I said. But I do remember parts of what the nurse said.
Newbie had stopped breathing down in recovery. They'd had to intubate her (put a tube down her throat) again.. for the fourth time that day.. to open her airway to breathe. The combination of her central apnea, the anesthesia, and the swollen airway had stopped her breathing and turned her blue. I cried a little. And the nurses consoled me.
So anytime she got mad, Newbie would hold her breath, and her lips would turn purple. And when I was watching her lips turn purple, I'd forget about God.. I didn't even think to pray for my daughter. I just watched and panicked. Instead I focused on a little boy, maybe 7 years old, who got wheeled in. He was noticeably a cancer patient because all his hair was gone, even his eyebrows. I saw a nurse hand him a red Popsicle once he woke up and I liked how his eyes happily widened, along with his mouth, and how excited he was to have a red Popsicle. I didn't want to watch my baby struggle. It was too hard. I'd rather watch a kid happily eat a Popsicle. (Thank you God for all my friends and family that have been praying over this baby girl. Thank you for wise and calm nurses and the anesthesiologist that were by her side the entire time this happened. Thank you for keeping me from seeing all of the really scary stuff happen. And I'm sorry I forgot about you for a few seconds. Thanks for not forgetting me.)
I asked the nurses a lot of meaningless questions about when she'd stopped breathing, just trying to get a grip on it. I'm so glad the nurses were patient with me. Newbie got calmed down eventually and slept. They asked if I wanted to hold her. Heck yah! So I picked her up, and it woke her up, and it made her mad, and she cried and fussed and her lips started turning purple again. I put her back down and we eventually got her calmed down.. again. About the time she really started waking up, they got a room available for us in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). We wheeled her there and things have been relatively peaceful since then.
She's been eating like a champ, and we're giving her Tylenol for the pain. She still holds her breath when she gets mad or is hurting. And she's had one episode of apnea that caused the alarms to go off. They've had her on oxygen the whole time, so even though she wasn't taking breaths, her oxygen saturation remained high. We've had to mess with her IV a little, and that was painful for her.. but that's better now too. Really, there are other babies up here that are way sicker than her. It's hard to hear small kids coughing or crying. But I guess it's normal in this wing.
There have been little miracles today.. like Bond's parents making the drive to watch Sunshine and Tank for us. It's typically a 4 or 5-hour drive for them, but a closed highway, dumb truck drivers and other traffic, and your typical Colorado it's-going-to-blizzard-because-you-need-to-be-somewhere snow slowed them down. They stopped at a half-way point last night and finished the trip this morning, arriving at our home 30 to 45 minutes before I had to leave for the hospital. Perfect timing. -- And my mommy, also making a drive to be with me, through the snow and yuck Colorado had to throw at us today. -- And the Medela pump the hospital graciously provided me. Those things. Are. Amazing.
So there's the recap of Wednesday, March 10, 2010. Bond would probably fix a couple details here and there and write it more intelligently, but at least I've got it down somewhere. And those of you who I haven't called or texted can kinda see what we've been through today!
Most apparently, I've been taken care of today. I experienced an outpouring of love from so many people. The doctors and nurses were all so helpful and kind. And Bond brought me Dr. Pepper, a giant KitKat bar, and a funny action-ish movie and hung out with me, patiently pausing the movie through every interruption.
And. I even get to sleep under the sterile-sweet smell of a hospital blanket tonight.