Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The first cut is the deepest...

I had a thought on Thursday morning as I walked the stretch of an impossibly long hallway - am I crazy?
I was about to hand my son, my world, my everything to three strangers in scrubs and allow them to insert needles into those adorable little arms. To take surgical steel to his unmarked skin.  To do the one thing I will spend his whole life avoiding - cause him pain.

They let me hold him all the way down until we got to giant double doors whose giant, alarming letters told me I was not allowed to walk through.  A nurse followed us with the tiny little crib/gurney which had formerly occupied our recovery room.  It was all going so fast and I felt like the air had been sucked out of the building.  I kissed him the whole way down.  Told him I loved him every step of the way.  Squeezed his fat little baby legs.  This is where we usually say goodbye, the surgical resident told us and I winced at the word.  I kissed him again.  Told I loved him.  Again.  When I returned to our room, I still had to ask my husband if I had said it.

It was a necessary evil and it was a procedure* I have been waiting for - dreading, really - since mere hours after he was born.  In a way, I was just happy it was finally happening.  Mostly, I wanted to sprint away with him in my arms and put it off for a few more months.

The emptiness of the recovery room as we returned was too much for me, and we'd barely made it inside before I just broke down and lost it.  My husband drew the curtain and closed the door, wrapped his arms around me, and just let me cry it out.  He's just so little, I said to him as I pictured our baby in the arms of a scrubs-clad stranger as they carried him off in his impossibly cute, and adorably oversized hospital gown.

In total, we were away from the baby for a little over two hours.

To me, it felt like an eternity.  I tried to busy myself with iPhone games, a cup of decaf and a jelly donut from the cafeteria, and The Birdcage on AMC, but my mind wouldn't focus on anything else.  Couldn't.  It's a fraction of the time I leave him with the babysitter everyday and yet, it was the most agonizing amount of time I've ever been away from him.  When the phone finally rang telling us we could finally go get him, I practically jogged down another impossibly long stretch of hallway to see him sitting up on a gurney with a nurse in front of him.  I rounded the corner, waited for it to register in his sleepy little eyes, and...yep, there it is...he reached for me.  His soft, warm, little body melted against me, and he looked around as we walked back to our recovery room, his limp legs handing down and bouncing with every step.  He smelled different.  Surgical.  Like a hospital.  It felt strange holding him.  I was so nervous I would hold him the wrong way or accidentally bump his IV line.  But, those tired little eyes were the same ones that stare up at me every night at bedtime.  He was still my little man.

Recovery wasn't and hasn't been easy.  Having to hold him down to accomplish a dressing change and my not-great track record with medical procedures and blood is making this whole process a nightmare.  It's always fun when your son screams every time he has to go to the bathroom.  Returning to the hospital so a surgeon can have us (as in my husband and me) hold him down for an additional procedure - one that I'm not entirely sure I will ever get over the sight of - has been downright horrifying.

I had an out of body experience and somehow tricked my brain into thinking it wasn't happening to my son and it wasn't real.  Thank God.  Otherwise, I might have slugged the chief of pediatric urology at one of the nation's top hospitals.  At least that's what the headline would have read.

I've never prayed so hard for something in my entire life.  For his comfort.  I pleaded and pleaded in my head for him to get a little bit of sleep and rest as I heard my husband "shh" and soothe him through the monitor.  Between the three of us, I think TIH got the most sleep, but I'm pretty sure he still only got about 3 hours in total.  Why should a little boy have to go through this?  It is so damn unfair.  "Unfair" was the only word that flashed through my head as I tried to rock my sweet boy to sleep while he writhed in pain and tried to kick me away.

Why do children have to experience pain?  What lesson will this teach him?  What lesson will it teach me?
There are no answers.

This morning he was back to his old self.  Smiling.  Laughing.  Attempting to tip over our giant stuff ottoman in his Incredible Hulk kind of way.  His short-term memory isn't all that great yet.  If only mommy's was the same way.  At least for now, my prayers have been answered.

I'm sorry for anyone who has ever seen their precious children through any kind of pain. 
From scraped knees to routine shots to painful medical procedures - we wear their pain as if it is our own.

*There are reasons why I don't really want to discuss the all of the details of this surgery.  Mainly, I'm afraid that some internet savvy little punks will find this blog one day (if it hasn't ceased to exist) and use it as a way to make fun of my son.  So understand, the procedure he had done is kind of a...private matter.  However, if you've stumbled upon my blog and are interested in knowing what a hypospadias repair surgery entails because your little one is about to have it, feel free to e-mail me and I'll share everything you want to know about it.  The rest of you can be my savvy internet punks and Google it.  Though, I warn you...don't look at the pictures.


  1. My heart is hurting for you. I know the pain all to well of having to hand my child over to a surgeon. I've done it 13 times (I think). It never gets any easier to do. The great part of kids though is that they won't remember this. He is too young and that is good. You will remember. It will stick with you, but he will only know about it because you will tell him it happened. Sending hugs to you.

  2. @Mom on a Line - Oh, I know you know this all so well. There were a couple of parents in the play room with us before the surgery and they said they'd done it 9 times and I just wanted to cry. I don't know how you do it. I am so glad we did this when he was so little, but so sad I can't explain the pain to him. Thanks for your hugs.

  3. Okay, so I had to google it (call me nosey :)). Oh I promise he won't remember it and it will be worse for you than him now that he is recovered but I so also know that doesn't help you while you are going through it. Thinking of you all.

    Oh...and apparently we have the same aversion to blood, etc. Brandon reminds me I'm the parent of 2 boys. I remind him he can never leave my sight when they are playing rough :). I about pass out at that stuff. Heaven help us :)


  4. @Dawn - You aren't nosy at all - it's hard to write such a blog post and not give details, so I had to provide SOME sort of context. I always wanted a boy first (and would be perfectly happy with all boys), but I might need to desensitize myself to the whole medical procedure thing. Otherwise, we're never gonna make it!

    Thanks for the support. It's been a rough few days.

  5. I too remember a day many, many years ago when I handed my precious 8 month old son to an anesthesiologist for surgery. I too began crying, but had to pretend that I was OK; my 5 year old daughter was next. I remember holding her hand and telling her it would be OK. Then I let them take her to surgery. At that point, both of my kids were away from me and I didn't like it at all. I still don't like it when they are away from me.
    I know it was hard for you and I'll bet it was hard for daddy too. Lean on each other and you can get through anything. You can do it. I know you can.

  6. @Mamaru - I had to read your name several times to realize who it was. I can't imagine having TWO undergoing the same thing at the same time. Well, I know for a fact that both of your kids turned out AMAZINGLY (especially since they're two of my best friends in the world) - so I know TIH is going to be okay as well. Thanks so much for the support. Miss you.

  7. I recognized this experience; it was like looking in a mirror. My daughter had open-heart surgery when she was 6 months old. And although I'd already seen her on a ventilator, and I knew (because of how difficult it was for her to nurse, much less live through RSV) she had to have it, I was still a pretty weepy mom headed back to the waiting room after handing her over.


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