Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One Year Post-Surgery for Nathan

Tomorrow is a huge milestone for Nathan. It marks one year since he had his cleft palate repair. August 20th will be a day I will never forget. All the emotions going into a surgery are almost overwhelming. You have to make sure they are fasting, you have to get there super early in the morning, you have to pack for the hospital (which was supposed to be only one night but turned into 2 for Nathan), and you have to think about the moment when you will send your little baby away to the doctors who will be doing a very painful operation.

The holding area is lined with little cribs and beds where curtains separate the patients, each waiting for their doctor or surgeon to come take their child away. Every few minutes you would hear the squeaky wheels of another bed being taken down that long hallway, and hearing parents walk the other direction. I became very emotional each time this happened, but somehow, when they came to take Nathan, I was able to keep my composure. I knew he would be okay.

They sent us to a room in the hospital where everyone sits and waits, and stares at a large screen with numbers and colored codes indicating the progress of each patients' surgery. And the longer it takes, the more nervous we became. Nathan's entire surgery was only supposed to be 2 hours. But when it went past 2, then 2 1/2, we began to wonder if everything was going okay. But suddenly we saw the surgeon and his team come out, ready to tell us that it went well and that we could see our baby.

I will never forget how Nathan looked right after surgery. His poor little swollen mouth and face, and the oxygen mask, and his grogginess. I could tell he was in so much pain. He couldn't even close his mouth. After we were moved into a recovery room, I was able to try feeding him with his bottles, and though he was very hungry, he couldn't really try because of how much pain he was in. That night was awful, trying to regulate his medication with the nurses, and then being woken up surrounded by a huge team of doctors around 6 am. I wasn't even sure how long I slept! They wanted to find out how much he was eating, and I told them, nothing! And then they explained exactly how the palate was repaired, and I was heartbroken for him all over again. The surgeon never explained in detail what they did, and now that I knew, I could not even begin to imagine the amount of pain Nathan was experiencing.

We got through those 2 nights and three days in the hospital, somehow. And the recovery, too. And as the months went on, Nathan just packed on the pounds! He was born at 8 lbs 15 oz, and at 9 months old when he had the surgery, he was only 15 pounds, the 1st percentile for his weight. He is now over 25 pounds and in the 60th percentile. So in a year he's gained 10 pounds and looks as chunky as ever. He's learning new words every day. He charms everyone who comes in contact with him. I am so glad we have him in our family.

He might have a few more bumps in the road. Possibly another surgery to fix the small hole that is still healing on his palate. We don't know how many more surgeries he will need. And his chromosome 22 duplication means he is at risk for developmental delays. So things are up in the air with him right now. But from what I can tell, he is a very average, stubborn, determined little toddler who amazes me with his cleverness and cuteness. And when I drive by the hospital, I don't get those horrible feelings anymore. We've moved on from that, at least for now. But August 20th, 2013 will always stay in my memory.

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