The hardest thing I’ve done as a parent so far was to watch as Charlotte went down the hall screaming in a nurse’s arms on her way to surgery. But after four months of colds and continuous ear infections that wouldn’t respond to any of the antibiotics we tried we knew we had to. She didn’t act sick most of the time, especially to people not usually around her, but we knew she wasn’t feeling good and in the weeks leading up to surgery she was crankier and more pitiful than she had been before. We could see that she was sick of her ears hurting her. So we made the decision to get tubes put in and were just thankful that we didn’t have to do tonsils and adenoids also which would have made it so much worse.
We had to be at the center for surgery at 6:45 am for a 7:45 am surgery time. For a lot of parents this wouldn’t cause an early wake up but can I just say that we’re some of the luckiest parents alive in that Charlotte stays in bed until 8 am every morning. So we knew that getting her up early might prove to be a challenge but what would probably be the trickiest would be that we couldn’t give her any food or drink (even water) before surgery. Thankfully, even know she was pretty confused, she was fine with us waking her up and putting on a new diaper and getting her in the car. I think the picture to document our morning might have worried her more than anything! 🙂
We got checked in at the center and had to wait before we were called back to prep. Charlotte enjoyed sitting in her own chair for some of the time and for the rest of the time she laid on my lap with her head on my chest since she was so sleepy. But for a child up almost two hours earlier than usual she didn’t display any fits or anything which was very nice.
Once they called us back the first thing they wanted was for her to step up on the scale and I was just sure that this was where the tears and screaming was going to start since she flips at the doctor’s office when they do the same thing. But we learned a lot that morning! Not only did she do nothing but smile at the nurse while she stood still on the scale but she’s put on around 3 pounds since her last ear check at the doctor at the end of January! We thought we had noticed a growth spurt but Charlotte shot up to 26.2 pounds!
After the weigh in we headed to our hospital bed and Charlotte started to get a little nervous. (Honestly, so did her Mommy and Daddy!) She sat down on the bed and was excited about the Surgi-Bear that was waiting for her but she was a little tense while they checked her blood pressure and her pulse.
It turned much uglier though when we tried to get her in the hospital gown. I don’t really blame her, because compared to her comfy pj’s the gown felt like cardboard, but she was doing everything in her power not to have to put it on. Eventually we did get it on though and she went to Daddy’s lap for a little Wonder Pets on the iPhone (thank you Apple!) which didn’t totally appease her but kind of took her mind off of what was going on.
However, the itchy nature of her hospital bracelet on her wrist would not be ignored and she kept trying to pull it off. It was pitiful to see how uncomfortable she was and not be able to do anything about it!
Since she wouldn’t calm down for Daddy I tried to get her to sit or lay on the bed with me. But the pillow was filled with (maybe?) styrofoam balls and made funny sounds when Charlotte touched it so that wasn’t going to happen. Back to trying Wonder Pets and the books that we brought!
Dr. Mike came to talk to us before he did one of the procedures and Charlotte was perfectly comfortable with him and remembered that he had a big inflatable ball that she had played with before. He came back once the procedure was done to show us exactly how short it was and it was very short which made us feel a little better. But then the nurses came to take Charlotte and it was horrible. She didn’t know what was going on at first. She’d just been talking about the orange ball and now there were strange ladies there. But then one of the nurses reached for her and I leaned down and said “I love you” and she lost it and we had to watch her cry and yell all the way down the hall. If I didn’t know that the tubes were absolutely essential for her to prevent any speech or hearing difficulties later and for her comfort now I probably would have grabbed her and left at that point!
We went and sat in the waiting room and it probably was only 5 or 10 minutes before they came to get us for recovery. They sat us down in these recliner chairs and said that they would bring Charlotte to us once she woke up. We had to wait a minute or two but soon two nurses came in with her all wrapped up in these big blankets. She was crying (they told us she would be so we were as prepared as we could be) and just looked so small and sad. I took her and started rocking her and she was just sucking her thumb and crying. She also does this thing with her hair where she pulls a piece down in front of her nose and rubs it with her index finger while she sucks her thumb. She likes doing the same thing with my hair too when I’m singing to her. So she was doing that and, honestly, wasn’t all awake yet and kept drifting in and out of sleep.
The nurses had told us that once she got some liquids down her and didn’t get sick from them that we could take her home so we were trying to get her to drink some of her juice but she just wouldn’t. She kept dozing and crying and wasn’t interested in her cup at all. This made us pretty frantic because we knew that she’d be better once we got home but also knew that we couldn’t take her until she’d had something to drink. She did eventually start drinking and once she drank a fourth of her cup and it had been 5 to 10 minutes without her getting sick we made a pretty quick beeline to the car.
The closer we got to home the better she was but she was still crying and upset in the car. When we got home Memma and Papa were there with big Elmo and Curious George balloons and some stickers which Charlotte loved. We took her upstairs and changed her clothes and her diaper and then tried to find something that she wanted to do. Play on the gym? No. Watch tv? No. Read books? No. Watch a movie? No. Lay in Mommy and Daddy’s bed? No. Finally she announced that she wanted to go on a walk so, we bundled her up in her wagon and set out around the circle. Being outside finally fully calmed her down and she enjoyed watching the birds on her walk and would say “Charlotte’s house” every time we walked by our house but showed no interest in going inside. Did I mention that it was pretty chilly this morning as we were walking and walking and walking??
I was finally able to tempt her inside with the promise of a milkshake but once I got the milkshake mixed and in her cup she immediately wanted to go outside again! We were kind of afraid that we were going to have to walk circles for the rest of the day but as time passed and, I guess, the anesthesia got more and more out of her system she got more back to normal. She eventually was ok with going back inside to watch Elmo so we went in and climbed on our bed and turned on Elmo and she snuggled between Jason and I for maybe 15 minutes before hopping down off the bed and starting to run around like her own normal self. By the time it got to lunch time she was acting almost entirely normal which was such a relief to us.
Our first moment of amazement at the miracle of science came when I laid her down for her nap. For the past few weeks she had been whimpering a little and fussing a little when I put her down but no more than, what I thought was, a normal 21 month old who didn’t want to go to bed. But when I laid her down for her nap that day she didn’t make one peep. It was a relief for me to know that already her ears felt so much better because pain in her ears must have been what was causing her to express a little bit of dicomfort for the past few weeks. And still, two weeks later, she hasn’t made one peep when we put her down for her nap or her bed — other than the constant chatter that we hear for a few minutes, of course!
Our afternoon was pretty calm too since Charlotte was pretty much back to normal and Jason was home which was a treat. Dr. Mike wanted to make it up to Charlotte though so he brought the big inflatable ball over to play once he got home which made Charlotte very happy! She had a great time pushing it around with Matthew and Megan but couldn’t work up the nerve to get in. Dr. Mike finally said it was time for them to go and then Charlotte got up the nerve and hopped inside the ball! She loved it in there and if anyone knows where I can get one I guess we better buy one ourselves!
I am very thankful that this whole ordeal is, hopefully, over. Charlotte is showing no signs of ear pain any more and while she was never showing any speech impairment her sentence forming abilities have taken off since the surgery. I sincerely pray that we never have to send her off for surgery again because it was so difficult but since that’s what we had to do to get her well we knew we needed to do it.