My poor little lu. Usually, I’m singing a different tune when it comes to my daughter (a.k.a. “The Pistol”) but in this case, I have such sympathy for my poor little lu.
It goes without saying, as it does with any parent; I love ALL of my kids the same, with every fiber of my being. They are all different, each in their own unique way. Even though my daughter, my middle child– my little “pistol”– can be challenging, I LOVE her strong personality. I really do LOVE that about her and I hope she never loses it…though she takes me to “Crazy Town” on the regular.
She can be a sweet, thoughtful, snuggly baby girl and I relish in those moments, documenting nearly all of them in a photograph, since they can be few and far between. At other times, DD pushes my every button, testing every thread of my patience with her “spirit”. At just two years-old, she has developed such a strong will and personality, it’s remarkable. Most days I maintain composure and remind myself that she is the child, I am the adult. Ok, that may/may not be an untruth. On any given day, there’s about a 50/50 chance that I totally accept her “sunny disposition” for what it is, or else fail miserably and give in to her dramatics. It’s on the latter type of days that I find myself saying “no” more than “yes,” yelling more than listening. It’s a balance I struggle with, particularly when it comes to “Ms. Pistol.”
But on THIS day, my heart aches for her, my little darling. On THIS day, she is scared…confused…in pain. And so am I…
As a Mommy, you never want to see your child suffer. It’s unimaginable. Any parent would agree, that goes without saying. But when you’re a Mommy, when you’re a Mother, when this is your child…you can’t bear it.
With our little girl, we chose to have a routine surgery done on her. WE chose it. Not her. She didn’t understand what was happening. At two years of age, she couldn’t comprehend that having a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy would, in the long run, help her breathe better, sleep better…live better. At least, that’s what the doctor told us and that’s all we had to go on…what choice did we have?
We commissioned the grandparents to watch the oldest and youngest, and the hubs, middle child/pistol and I left for the hospital at the crack of dawn. After meeting with the doctor and the anesthesiologist pre-op, they reassured us that she would be comfortably sedated before going into the OR and being put under for the procedure. We were told that this mild oral sedative would relax our toddler, easing her into the separation, since we weren’t allowed to go with her into surgery. It was supposed to make it easier on her, easier on us. But, even after receiving the sedative, while she may have been a little loopy, she was still very much aware that she was being taken away from us. As the nurses wheeled her into the OR, she was confused and crying for us. It was heart-wrenching. When she was out of sight, I turned around to walk away and couldn’t hold back the water works for one second longer…
We were led to a waiting room, but decided to go to the gift shop, instead, thinking a giant, larger than life Hello Kitty balloon was exactly what our little one needed, post-op. In hindsight, I think this ginormous, floating cartoon feline probably contributed to her post-op hysteria. (Mommy fail).
The hubs and I waited over coffee and a croissant. It seemed like a few hours passed, as I thought about what the doctor was doing to my child at each moment, what my baby was going through. I imagined her laying there in the operating room, being cut open (as microscopically as it may have been), without me by her side. As a mother who grew this child in my body, and provided her sole source of nourishment through breastfeeding, I had a different feeling about this procedure than my husband. Not to take away from his fear and worry for our daughter, but it was different for me. I grew her little body. I grew those tonsils, those adenoids. They were a part of me, as much as they were a part of her. I felt a sense of loss in addition to my concern for her. It was a very strange, foreign feeling and I hated it.
It wasn’t 45 minutes before our pager went off, alerting us that the surgery was complete and the doctor wanted to talk to us. How had only 45 minutes passed? It felt so much longer.
The three of us (my husband, myself and Hello Kitty) were led past all the other folks waiting for their loved ones, and into a private room. All eyes were on us, probably assuming something had gone horribly wrong since the doctor wanted to meet with us, privately. This only added to our nervous state.
The doctor eventually came in and greeted us warmly. He said the surgery went well and he did, in fact, need to remove the adenoids, too. Once she was under and he got “in there”, he discovered her airway was 75% blocked. My eyes widened and I immediately felt a sense of guilt and relief, all at the same time. Guilt for not having done this sooner and relief that we had taken care of this while she was so young.
We talked and talked, asked a lot of questions and then a few more. I wish we hadn’t talked so long, honestly, because as a result, we missed that moment when she woke up. We wanted to be there as they brought her out of it, so she could see a familiar face. But, having spent so much time with the doctor, we missed it.
We were warned beforehand that when children come out of anesthesia, it can go one of two ways; either they will be totally hazy and out of it, or they will wake up in hysterics. We fully expected our “pistol” daughter to be in the latter group. She did not disappoint.
When we were brought into recovery, even though we had been warned, I wasn’t prepared for the scene. It was a room of several children on gurneys, situated in a circle-like fashion. Most of the kids were quiet (I think), but I didn’t really see them. I was focused on the one hysterical child, who was no longer laying down, but had rather, apparently, leapt out of bed, IV still attached, and into the arms of the anesthesiologist. There she was, my daughter, wide-eyed, confused, tears streaming and trying to scream (but hoarse from the surgery). The anesthesiologist gave us a knowing glance as we entered, as if to say, “I tried to warn you.”
As we approached, a glimmer of recognition flashed across my daughter’s face, and she reached for me. I swept her into my arms and glanced at the group of doctors and nurses standing around us, seemingly half-waiting for our reaction to the scene and half-hoping she would calm down so as not to upset the other children. When she saw the hubs standing behind me, she reached for him, wanting to be comforted by Daddy. Initially, (admittedly) my feelings were hurt. Why didn’t she want Mommy? But those feelings quickly vanished, as our baby’s pain and confusion set in and if comfort was found in Daddy’s big, strong arms, then that’s where she needed to be.
We were ushered into a recovery room and much of the same continued for the next few hours…drowsiness, waking in hysterics, confusion, screaming, crying, coughing, drifting back off again, repeat. The hallway was lined with recovery rooms occupied by other children, each going through their own version of this experience. So much crying in this wing of the hospital, coming out of each and every recovery room. Oh, the crying. The crying, the crying. I decided, right then, that was the worst place in America to work and the nurses who show up everyday, serving, treating and comforting these hysterical children should be sanctified.
Daddy sat and held our little pistol as we went through this process, together, for hours. I sat in the chair next to them, urging our daughter to drink something anytime she came to, just to be denied when she calmed and drifted back off. We knew that as long as she was taking fluids at the end of this ordeal, she would be released and we could take her home. But, there’s no reasoning with a two year-old and we couldn’t make her drink.
During the moments of calm, we sat and watched her, seemingly sleeping, but with a pained look of discomfort on her face. It was during one of these moments of calm that it hit me. I think I may have even thought out loud, in my husband’s direction…
We think WE have problems? We get to take our daughter home at the end of this awful day. Within two to three weeks, she will recover and be back to her hell-raising self. God-willing, I get to tuck her in her own pint-sized bed, at night, and see her beaming face in the morning. She’s healthy (save for this procedure). What about all of those parents who aren’t as fortunate? The friends of friends I read about on Facebook and hear about in the news…What about all of those children who spend so many days and nights in hospitals, hooked up to machines, test after test, med after med? What about those parents who pray and pray, and cry and cry over their sick kids with real illness and injury? How do they do it? I am completely leveled by this experience and to even compare it to what other parents go through doesn’t even seem right.
We think WE have problems? We don’t. We are blessed. We are so fortunate and this is just a little blip on our radar, perhaps to remind us of how lucky we really are…
I am brought out of my thoughts and back into the room as my daughter begins to show glimmers of her bossy self, even ordering me to sit in a different chair; a good sign. She finally decided to accept the now-melted ice cream, and took a few bites. After a while, she even asked for milk (her fave) and we began to see a bit of hope. We were released after about eight hours into the whole ordeal and took our pistol home. (Sigh of relief).
The next week was a rough one, not going to lie. Lots of crying, coughing, clawing at her throat and the worst smell being emitted from her mouth and nose; a cross between death and poop. Her voice even changed and was now, somehow, mousier.
We’re now 6 weeks post-op and she’s breathing and sleeping better. She’s so quiet, in fact, that I find myself leaning in next to her face while she sleeps, just to make sure she’s still breathing. Somehow, though, I suppose I expected that “sunny disposition” to improve. Like this was to be some sort of miracle surgery and her personality would change as a result. You know, a little bit more easy going.
Nope. Still full of “P and V”. Just this morning, there were several episodes of whining and crying about this and that, and then she threw a fit because I wouldn’t give in to her incessant demands for candy. The kind of fit where she’s flailing on the floor in protest. (I may/may not have sent the hubs a text reflecting our morning)…
But she’s here. She’s healthy. Demanding, yes. but, we are ever so fortunate to have our little pistol to hold. There are so many Mommies and Daddies out there who aren’t as fortunate, who can only wish to be able to hold…or scold…their child just one more time.