Everyone pretty much ignores me after I’m being directed out to the large waiting area. There is just me and a large family waiting (I wonder who they are waiting for? They don’t seem too worried, singing and joking around). I text my husband asking him mundane questions about putting our son down (don’t forget to brush his teeth…night diaper…PJs…”book is better than iPad”) after I let him know that are little baby girl is in in surgery. What happened today…really? It’s hard not to think back to all my anxiety over this procedure, the way she got sick so we couldn’t go through with it the last time, all the research, her smiling on the changing table…
I keep thinking about her smiling on that dang changing table this morning. My sweet, innocent daughter. Now all I can pray is for the doctors to fix her, for surgery to go well and for a quick recovery time. I know questions about “if I somehow did the wrong thing” are pointless.
I check my mail without interest on my phone, surf around on social media without even reading other people’s status updates or hashtags (can’t bring myself to care). My heart is beating fast and I am slightly lightheaded (of course I haven’t eaten since the bar I grabbed this morning…this is not the day I had planned). I text my mom even though it’s not the right time in Sweden. I want to do something, anything to feel productive, I’m just not sure what. I try to relax, which is impossible so I study other people in the room, the big family (must be three generations at least) and then the board. My eyes always go back to the big lit up “surgery board”. There are green dots for “active surgeries”, yellow for “wait” and red for “completed” and in recovery. Her name has been green a really long time, it strikes me over and over again, she is way too little to be in surgery but I think about the poor tiny preemies from the NICU who had to have surgeries and know these doctors are great. I pray again that everything is going well in there.
After a whole hour of beyond anxious waiting I’m bedside myself with worry, didn’t they say 20-30 minutes?? My husband and my mom both text me for an update.
Right before I finally decide to muster up the courage to go ask someone, a nurse comes to get me. She doesn’t answer my question about how it went and how my baby is, probably because she simply doesn’t know.
Before I get to see my baby I am led into a room where I’m left alone to wait again. It smells like chlorine and antibacterial soap. Two doctors come in to discuss the surgery with me, they shake my hand and I get to repeat what happened earlier today again. Wait, shouldn’t they have known that before they operated on the baby? Apparently not…
They explain that the reason it took so long was all the blood they had to pump out of her stomach (again, is this really happening?) and the large amount of scar tissue (nooo) as well as the extreme care they have to take with babies this young (they better have). I feel like crying and I just want to see her. They do say however that it went “fine”. I want to shake them both and ask what “fine” actually means, this is my three months old daughter they are talking about. They let me know she needed quite a lot of stitches but they stopped the bleeding and everything should be okay. “Should”? “okay”?
They walk me out of the room and towards another set of large doors where I have to sign something I don’t fully understand but probably some liability form saying it’s MY fault if anything went wrong. I want to see for myself that she is okay but before I walk towards recovery with yet another nurse (dressed in Winnie the Pooh scrubs head to toe), I think about what nurse G texted about; making sure the surgeons didn’t “mess up” the tongue tied procedure. First I found her text outrageous, we certainly had bigger things to worry about, but now it strikes me that if they did “mess up” the cut, this will all have been for nothing. I’m not sure how to ask without sounding incredibly rude but I decide it needs to be asked. These surgeons FIXED what was a procedure gone wrong after all, but I stop by the large automatic doors telling them to “wait up”, close my eyes briefly and ask what might seem the most irrelevant question ever, “is the tongue tied still fixed? Will I be able to breastfeed?” The white haired doctor takes it the wrong way telling me how much she bleed and how they had to stitch her up and how it was decided on surgery since it didn’t seem like she would stop bleeding on her own. Dr. “Magic” however interrupts him, telling me in his efficient way that he would never mess up a previous procedure and that breastfeeding should be fine if that is what I decide…(whatever that means..? But what I decide is to focus on the positive).
The scene that meets me in the recovery room is truly heartbreaking. My baby is unrecognizable, extremely swollen and pale. She is incredible tiny in the large hospital bed on wheels and she has her own nurse monitoring her. She has to stay until she is awake, alert and can focus her eyes. This takes longer than they had anticipated in the recovery room, so a doctor has to come evaluate her which just adds to my stress and exhaustion. “Please let her be okay!”
They let me hold her and she slowly awakens in my arms but she is completely limp and she just whimpers. I’m outraged when they tell me she might be in pain but there is not a lot of pain killers they can give her (amount). When the nurse leaves to go get something I finally just break down and cry.
I text mom and baby’s daddy while she goes in and out of sleep and finally they determine that she is well enough to move upstairs to a private room.
That first night is pure hell. She throws up old blood. A new nurse hysterically screams “she is bleeding again”, while I’m in the bathroom brushing my teeth, frantically calling for a supervising nurse. The male supervisor calmly apologizes to me and explains that this is old blood (almost black) and even I see that right away after the initial shock.
I am up all night rocking my baby in an uncomfortable wooden rocking chair they brought up from the NICU for us. We are scheduled to meet with a lactation consultant, a hematologist (blood specialist) and her surgical team tomorrow but it’s seems like no one can help us tonight. Baby girl is just crying and crying, sleeping and crying. I rock her, kiss her (feeling powerless and out of control) and rock her some more. A nurse holds her while I pump my huge uncomfortably engorged boobs (with a pump borrowed from the maternity ward) while I cry because this milk was supposed to be for baby and if she didn’t take bottles before now, how on earth will she react to them now?…