Post-Op

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E. came through the surgery like a total champ. The surgeon found that her bowels were actually tied in a knot, which the doc said that he has never even seen before. The lower intestine was twisted up on itself and partially obstructed. Our girl must have been quite uncomfortable. Of course she hasn’t wanted to eat.

We are still in the hospital until E. heals up enough to start eating again. The only thing worse than being here right now would be not being here. This place feels like the opposite of wellness, with the florescent lights, noise and intensity. And, at the same time, I’m so grateful for this place and the whole clinical team supporting her. She is finally going to get more of what she needs: nutrition. And she sure does need it. The surgeon, right before the procedure, told us that her weight gain has been, “abysmal”. And then mused about a potential follow up surgery. I sure wasn’t looking to plot out the next procedure before she woke up from anesthesia. We will know in time what we need to do, after carefully considering her needs and our options. But we are certainly not rushing back here to do this again.

At the very moment that I am writing this, I can hear another child wailing desperately like he is about to be beheaded in the room next door. Also, I’m functioning on about three hours of non-consecutive sleep. All night and all day, about every hour or so (or less) there’s a vitals check or a medication update or finger prick or an inventory needing to be completed (yep, they did a supply inventory at 8AM this morning). And E. sleeps like she is behind enemy lines, sensitive to each and every noise. So then she cries and it takes a whole lot of time to get her back down again because she can’t eat or nurse or get picked up very easily with all of the tubes everywhere. For the record, we were reading Goodnight Moon in a consecutive loop around 3:30AM.

I’m still wearing the clothes I slept in and it’s the afternoon already. I have a personal goal of showering at some point today but apparently I don’t want to rush it. Our room looks like a freshman dorm room, with all kinds of empty containers and clothes/bags/books everywhere. We’re alternating between laying around, eating hospital room service (which is good in an 80’s throwback after-school snack kind of way), and doing everything we can to soothe E. She’s sore and sad and even more exhausted than I am. I haven’t seen her smile since we got here.

There have been four great moments to our hospital stay so far:

1. Seeing my girl’s face after the surgery. Even though she was wailing, I was so relieved to see her vibrant. And, most importantly, alive.

2. Right after that, when we got up to our room with E., a peppy older nurse asked if Cedar and I are medical professionals. Basically, I’m just happy that I was holding it together enough for her to think that. But really she probably just wondered how we knew so much about the various monitors and procedures (which is because we spent some quality time here last winter when A. had RSV). We’re veterans; we already knew where to get chocolate pudding at any hour of the day. Plus really sugared up cranberry juice in a plastic cup, if you’re into that sort of thing.

3. My dear friend Megg picked me up around 10AM so that I could have a break from this place and get some unadulterated air. Within minutes of hopping into her minivan I dove into a great big cry. She sat with me and listened, full of grace. Then afterwards I walked in to Spyhouse to get us lattes with my red red eyes, because I don’t care about things like that. We walked near Lake of the Isles drinking our hot coffee, the rain dropping into our ponytails, wetting our glasses.

4. Our rabbi and cantor came to visit. They sang the Mi Shaberach while I held E., her body and mine cuddled up in the rocker with two extra pillows. Her tubes were touching my hoodie. She became still in my arms, staring up at them with those baby blue eyes, when only a minute before she was inconsolable from the post-surgery pain. Then they tried a Fiddler on the Roof selection and she was like, “Broadway, I don’t think so.” Only of course she didn’t say that, she just told us through her cries.

And now is the fifth best moment. The moment where I am realizing that I’ve actually gotten more than an hour to myself to write. E. has been sleeping, uninterrupted in the crib next to me. Two of my favorite things. And I’m really thirsty and should get the breast pump going and maybe return a few texts, but right now I’m stopping to notice all of it. I’m heartened by the visits, the sweet night before gifts left on our porch at just the right time, the way my parents have been caring for A. while we are here like he is their own son (but with more trips for cinnamon rolls and frozen custard). And all of the messages of love that we’ve gotten from our dear ones.

Thank you. I promise you that all of that love comes right through me and makes a beeline for E.

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