I woke my drowsy soon-to-be-patient at 5:30 AM. I picked her up with all my weight in her purple, flannel Dora jammies. She asked me if we were going to the ‘hosible.’ I said yes. She picked her red gnarly curls up off my shoulder and told me the Doctor was going to fix her ears. I replied with a yes and kissed her nose.
It surprises me every day – she understands life and can communicate her fears and frustrations. She didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but I did. This surgery is very routine for children her age, but not for her. This is the first time she has endured any major medical intervention with the exception of her birth. I find myself strong for her and the whole situation, but when I step back out of my body I wonder how I endure such difficult experiences without a spouse, another parent to voice my worries, fears and thoughts to. She has me – and I won’t let her down.
Fortunately my support network was meeting us at the hospital to provide moral discussion and guidance, my mom. We pulled up behind my mom’s white Escape at the traffic light before the entrance to the hospital. She says, “Grandma!” She doesn’t point to every Ford replica like my mom’s car so I knew she remembered that I told her Grandma would be joining us. Her memory amazes me.
I gathered our things, more importantly I grabbed the Nonny. The eternal link to all things holy and sane in her life. If it wasn’t for that ratty lump of fabric and green thread her life wouldn’t be complete or serene – I couldn’t forget the Nonny. The three of us stood in the lobby and I noticed another mother behind me with sack of pajamas and curls. I noticed the same look in the mother’s eyes. We graciously smiled at each other and returned our attention to our similar aged children.
We were guided into an office to fill out paper work and affix her hospital bracelet. I was given pamphlets instructing me on how to care for her when we get home. They told me she will wake up cranky and very confused. I also hate the question when they ask you if she is allergic to any medications. I tell them the same thing every time – she’s two, she hasn’t been around long enough to see any medications other than the usual antibiotics to treat ear infections. I immediately go to a bad place – what if she is allergic to the general anesthesia? What if they give her something in her IV and her body rejects it and something happens during the half hour she is alone? The nurse handed me a pair of purple, thin hospital pajamas. I am told she needs to change into these for sterility reasons.
Then we wait. We wait in the out-patient child’s waiting room for the men in white coats to whisk my baby away in there arms. I have had visions of the hospital staff coming to get her from me and prying her out of my arms while she kicks and screams to take her in to surgery. But it wasn’t like that at all. They didn’t even give me the opportunity to linger or even kiss her. She didn’t even cry. I didn’t cry. If I did, I knew my mom was there to hold me, but I didn’t even need holding.
I got a cup of black coffee and sat down and watched the Channel 9 news. We had a polite conversation with the couple across from us. They were waiting too. Together. We exchaned stories about ear infections and late nights with our sniffly 2 year olds – I didn’t even get through my first cup of coffee and the nurse was calling my name. Calling my name to tell me I could be with her and she was out of surgery, already. But I had to do this part myself. Only one person was allowed in the recovery area. I kissed my mom goodbye so she could go to work and I could be with my baby girl.
I followed the nurse to the recovery room. She told me I had to take a good look at the nurse holding Grace because they could be related. I was confused until I saw her – a red-headed nurse holding my daughter in her arms, comforting her until I could get there. There were about 5 different nurses scurrying around checking stats in an open room with several other stations being occupied by other patients. They told me to sit down and hold my baby. They were right, she was confused and very upset. She had an IV wrapped in white gauze and an oxygen clamp on her baby pointer finger. I simply just held her while she drifted in an out of bouts of anger, sadness and frustration. Her lips were dry and chapped and she had dried blood just beneath her nose. I tried singing to her, cracking jokes and rubbing her back. Nothing worked. I was helpless. She was pissed off and confused. I felt like crying too and I could tell my face was getting read – I didn’t know what to do. There was all this activity going on around us and all my job was to comfort her. Tell her everything was going to be OK. And it was. The surgery was successful and she did great. The Doctor removed her adenoids too and one of them was as big as his thumb! This is crazy to me. With the thought of success and the fear forgtten about her surgery I had to just hold her and reassure her everything was OK until she realized it herself.
We were pushed, together, into another recovery room. At this point she started to settler down a bit – but she kept telling me she wanted her IV out. Eventually the IV was removed, she got something to drink and a blue popsicle. Things were looking better, they told me so. Her oxygen levels returned to normal, her blood pressure stable. They reviewed with me her after care and numbers to call with questions – that was that. The red-headed nurse asked me if we had anyone with us to help us to our car. I said no. It was just her and I. She carried my bags for me to the car while I carried her.
We were half-way to the parking lot and she lifted her head and said, “Are we going home?”
“Yes, yes we are.”
“Do I have new ears?”
“Yes, yes you do.”
This picture was taken on the way home – the epitome of bravery and strength.