We woke up early. Too early in my book. We dressed quietly in the cold morning. My mom had already begun to make the coffee- she is reliable in that way. She knows we need our caffeine in the mornings. As I pulled Addie, gently, from her slumber, she rolled her eyes at me and winced in the morning light- even she knew it was before her usual 8am wake up.
Dave pulled her onesie on and her footed NB pants on top.
We wrapped her up in a hat and thin jacket and went to the car. A 3-mile drive seemed like 20.
I pulled up to the valet and waited. And waited. We were 5 minutes past 7am… 5 minutes late. I was panicking. I raced back out into the street and over the the parking garage 3 blocks away.
Finally we were on our way into Hasbro.
It all went so fast. We signed in and were given a choice of a hideous green shirt, or hideous peach johnny. We went with the johnny. I’ve never looked half as cute in one of these bad boys.
Her bracelet was on, and I was supplied a blue band with matching information.
I put on my “hair net” and gown so that I could go into the room with her as she went under. Many doctors and nurses came to check on us, make sure we were ready, ask and re-ask the same questions. Finally Addie’s ENT came: Dr. G.
We love him. He’s one of the nicest people I think I’ve ever met. He asked where Dave was, and when I told him “working” (he is taking time off for Addie’s geneticist appointment in Delaware), he smiled, “Just making sure he wasn’t overseas for this,” he jested. The man remembered that Dave was in London during her first appointment with him. He’s that kind of caring doctor. Once who cares for the whole family of his one patient.
We began walking to the operating room. I’ve only ever been in one as a patient, and I can tell you, I remember nothing except that I can have ginger ale when I wake up… and the ice-chips. Oh my. The ice-chips in a hospital are like nothing you can get anywhere else. Almost makes you want to “check-in”. Then again, I have an unusual obsession with ice. That’s neither here nor there. An operating room is like you see in the movies, only bigger, scarier. There are monitoring machines, it’s white and sterile (which is a good thing). You can’t see any faces because they’re hidden behind masks of blue and green. The bed is meant for an adult. Addie is smaller than a pillow. She was drowning in the size.
I placed her on her back and she smiled from behind her bink. A small, clear mask was placed over her mouth and nose. She looked and me and flailed. She was calm, but giving a bit of a fight. I got cold. It seemed like hours were passing and she just kept bobbing her head from side-to-side to avoid the mask. Dr. G asked me to hold her left hand while he held the right. I put my thumb in her palm, as his was on the opposite hand, and she gripped the knuckle- again giving me a smile. “It’s good she is fighting a little. It will help her take deeper breaths”, Dr. G assured me. “You’re doing great, Mom,” he said. I felt like I was going to cry. The tears were sitting right behind the breaking point. I could feel their heat.
It’s not like the feelings I get every other time I put my baby girl to bed. Those peaceful thoughts that wash over me as I watch her drift off into her usual infant dreams. Her eyes close, her breathing softens, her lips part just a little bit, where perhaps the pacifier falls out, or her thumb in. Maybe she will roll over in the crib, incomprehensibly finding comfort with her angelic face smashed up against the dark wooden rails. No. This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before- watching Addie’s eyes roll in their sockets as she grappled against the mask. It was a gentle struggle, but a struggle none-the-less; trying to take deep breaths to gain the strength to push it away, instead welcoming the sleep agent into her system. I could see her going limp. Her muscles looked like they could no longer hold her small arms up to push at the contraption. She tried to lift her body, but she fell back. Her attempts to look at me were met with dizzied eyes and the inability to focus. She was losing control. Her lids, heavy with sleep, closed over her blue eyes. All the while, Dr. G was comforting me. But I didn’t want his help. I wanted him to help her. Was she ok? She looked so incapable, lying on the bed. My baby girl weak against herself, in lieu of her usual drive to succeed. I couldn’t help it- the tears fell over my eyes and down my cheeks. My empty stomach began to ache. Finally her eyes refused to open again. I was offered a last chance to kiss her before I left the room. I bent down over her beautiful face and kissed her cheek, inhaling some of the odorous gas from behind her mask. I tried to peel my eyes away, but couldn’t. Instead, a nurse guided me towards the door, offering me a tissue. He told me I’d done great and helped me out of the sterile clothes atop my own. He pointed me in the direction of the waiting room.
I followed other mothers down the same hall into the same room. All of us heaving from tears we tried to restrain. It felt like forever. I was checking the surgical status board, while, simultaneously, my phone was buzzing with hate-mail (the pickle story had come out just days before) and well wishes for Addie (from friends and family). I gulped at my coffee, which was quickly losing its warmth. I looked at my Mom. She saw it. All the pain in my eyes, the leaden weight of my heart. Please let my baby girl be OK.
The board read: In Recovery. But no one came for us.
Dr. G entered the waiting room. He told me it took him longer to talk to us because he waited with Addie until she awoke, “I wanted to make sure she was safe before I left her.” Safe? Before he could say another word, I had that pang of mama-knows-best. She’d had some difficulties with the anesthesia. “She had some apnea occurrences while she was under…” he began. He went on to explain that he was not overly-concerned, but he kept an eye on her monitors very closely, as did two nurses and the anesthesiologist. We briefly touched upon her upcoming sleep study to be sure that she isn’t getting worse, but my mind wasn’t in the conversation. As he handed me a bottle of ear drops, he touched my shoulder again, “She’s just fine. I made sure.” But I wanted to see for myself.
We sat back down and waited for the phone call from the recovery nurses to tell us we could come back. It rang and my eyes darted to the ugly, beige, antiquated technology that sat alone on a side table. “Answer it,” I said to my Mom. It was our turn. I ran, literally, down the hall. The diaper bag slamming into my side, my Mom, swiftly behind me carrying everything else I’d deemed necessary to drag into the hospital. As I entered the doorway to “recovery,” I looked around and did not recognize that a nurse was holding Addie. Where was she? All the beds were empty. Had I not seen the massive amount of hair peeking out from the baby-filled blankets, I would have walked right past. The woman holding Addie was holding her as her own. This nurse was gently cooing and rocking Addie as she slurped down a bottle a Pedialyte.
I was so moved by how she was looking at my baby girl- as though she were her own, that I mentioned it to the woman who called the next day to check on Addie. The women who worked recovery the morning of February 21, 2013 are some of the kindest, most hard working and dedicated nurses I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Though I wish Addie would never need surgery, I recognize this is something we will (most likely) go through again. There will be different doctors and nurses. Different needs and recovery procedures, but to know that Hasbro has people working there who will mother and father Addie when I cannot, means more to me than any blog or letter or phone call could ever convey.
This wonderful nurse looked up at me and stood. She asked me to take a seat as she passed a bundle containing Addie to me. Addie looked at me and signed “milk” as she dropped the Pedialyte to the floor. After her breakfast, she snuggled into me as the monitors beeped her stats to the attentive team.
Every so often her head would lift from my chest and she would look around confused. She’s hearing something new, I thought. Finally, it was time to leave. We were there a bit longer than most, but it was just as well. Addie’s vitals looked great and her initial grumpy wake-up was replaced with a desire to get outside. My Mom took my car keys and Addie’s paperwork (free parking for surgical patients!) and went to grab my car for us. The nurses made sure I felt comfortable with all the information and double checked my contact info so they could call me the next day. They cooed at Addie, as my princess waved her hands “goodbye”.
Mom and I, starving, looked in the mirror positioned on the back bench seat of my SUV. Addie was playing with a music toy, smiling and babbling. We decided to go to breakfast… Addie loved the attention.
We got back in the car to drive home, and I could not resist snapping a picture of this sweet face. Who else has surgery and a smile like this in the same day? Only the most resilient and strong. I could not be more proud to be the Mom of such a person.
Though the pen stayed on her ears for a few days (I didn’t want to scrub them for fear of hurting her), it was kind of a joke in our house that we were going to pierce her ears, but then Mom (me) chickened out. HA! No piercing here, yet, but I can see whenever she wants earrings, she will rock them like the fancy girl she is.
Sadly, her (puppy) brother is also suffering from an ear affliction, but he’s not as happy as she is about his doctor visit. Cleaning, drops and oral antibiotics (he does love getting cheese twice a day) should have him on the mend soon!
We will be seeing Dr. G in a few weeks and get an update on how her hearing is now, post-surgery. I am hoping for MUCH better results, and I feel like she can hear better (she cried when she heard the vacuum and a hand-dryer… which she never has before)… but I don’t want to project my hopes and falsely claim that she is “healed”. I will, of course keep you, Reader, updated on that. Also… we head to Boston Children’s on Friday for our second sleep study, and will meet her new neurologist a few weeks after.
It’s not always fun being a mom, but it’s always worth these more difficult times, knowing I have one of the most spectacular people to ever grace this Earth also be my baby girl.