A Sigh of Relief

13 Aug
Caution: Incredibly Long Post Ahead
We made it.
It has been a whirlwind 2 days, but we made it.
On Wednesday, we decided that we’d take Clara swimming as a kind of last hoorah before her surgery.  She loved it as always, and seemed to have a really good time.  We got a phone call that we needed to be at UNC at 7am.  Early = good.
As part of our instructions for pre-op, we had to wash Clara with this anti-bacterial soap they gave us the night before surgery and again the morning of.  Clara loves the bath, much like she likes the pool.
I wanted to get a before shot of the spot she was having removed.  That is tough with a wiggly baby, but I think you can see it ok here.  It’s that bald pink spot just above her ear.  It used to be bright red and really bumpy.
Clara loves to look at herself in the mirror.  She thinks that baby in the mirror is hilarious!
Her new favorite thing to do is to climb up the stairs.  She’s pretty quick at it.  And that crazy crawl she has – she climbs the stairs the exact same way.  Right knee up on the stair, left foot up, repeat.
So, after a little play time, everyone went to bed.  7am arrival at UNC meant leaving at 6am, which meant getting up at 5am.  I tried to go to bed early, but couldn’t fall asleep.  When I finally did fall asleep, I woke up 4-5 times in the 5 hours I was in bed.  Not very restful.
Clara was awake when I got up.  It’s almost like she knew something strange was going on.  When I got her out of bed at 5:30, she was freaking out crying.  She seemed scared, like she was having a nightmare or something, but she was wide awake.  I managed to get her yet another bath, dressed in the outfit with the largest neck opening I could find, and all ready to go.  No food, formula, or liquids, or we’d have to delay the surgery (which apparently happened to someone who was at the ACC with us – the dad was walking around mumbling something about having to wait 3 hours for some “stupid applesauce”).

We made the trip over to UNC, seeing an amazing sunrise on the way.  Since Clara’s surgery was outpatient, we were at the Ambulatory Care Center.  Let me tell you, early is what you want over there.  (By the time we left the place was buzzing, people were waiting 30 minutes just to get checked in, and it just seemed much more hectic.) When we arrived there wasn’t even anyone at the information desk to tell us where to go, but a nice nurse pointed us in the right direction.  We checked in, got our arm bands (or ankle bands), and were sent to our very own little waiting room with toys and kid-sized chairs.  It was awesome.

Right at 7am, they came and called us back into the Pre-Op area.  We were put in a little room with a bed, a computer, and a couple chairs, and given a little hospital gown to put on Clara.  Seriously, couldn’t they pick a better color for these gowns?
Clara did pretty well, but she did start to get hungry after a while and was fussing when she wasn’t distracted by something more interesting.  We talked with the surgeon, the nurse, the anesthesiologist, and the nurse anesthetist and signed more consent forms than I can count.
My favorite thing about this? The neon yellow leg warmers that were meant to be socks for an adult.

She started to get really hungry and I think figure out that something wasn’t quite normal.  That little tear just about made me cry.

Practically everyone who came in our pre-op room made some comment about how cute Clara is, which was sweet, and somehow made me feel better about letting her go… I don’t know, maybe I figured that if they thought she was cute they’d take extra special care of her.  Not that they treat patients preferentially like that, but in my head it made me feel better.

I thought that we would get to go back with her and hold her until she fell asleep, but it may have been for the best that we didn’t.  The nurse just wrapped her up in a big blanket and took her off to the OR.  Before she left she asked me if it would be tragic if we didn’t get the pacifier and strap back.  I told her that as long as I got Clara back, nothing was tragic.  Seriously, who cares about a pacifier?

The surgeon had told us it would take about 30-45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to get her to sleep and monitor her, and then it would take him an hour for the surgery, and 15 minutes or so afterwards before we would see her.  We planned for 2 hours before we would hear anything.

Joel and I headed out to the waiting room where my parents were.  I think the first 15-20 minutes I must have looked at the clock about 50 times.  The time just seemed like it was going so slowly.  They have a cell signal blocker there, so I couldn’t get online to pass the time until I finally found their guest wifi.  I just played some solitaire to keep my mind busy and then all of a sudden, our surgeon was walking up to us.  He was practically skipping.  It was only 9:00, so we weren’t expecting to see anyone just yet.  He said that everything had gone great and that she was in recovery.  She just needed to keep the bandage on her head until the next morning, but if she pulled it off in the night, it was no big deal.  Then we just have to put some neosporin-type stuff on it twice a day.  She can swim, have baths and really anything else she wants.  With that, he skipped away, and out came the recovery nurse to take us back to get Clara.
You could hear her as soon as you walked into the recovery area, but it was a cry that I didn’t recognize.  We walked down what seemed like the longest hallway I’ve ever been down, and saw my baby, being held by a nurse she didn’t know, shaking, and crying.  Still hooked up to an IV and a pulsometer, and not liking one bit of it.  I took her from the nurse and sat down in the rocking chair.  She was shaking and crying, and if there hadn’t been someone there to tell me that is normal when a baby comes out of anesthesia, I really would have freaked out.  It was so sad, and it just about broke my heart.  She was petrified – surrounded by people she didn’t know, in a strange place, and I’m sure feeling like crap.  She was shaking and convulsing so hard that I had to hold her tight to my body to keep her from flailing all around.  Joel went back out for a minute to get her sippy cup so we could give her some apple juice, and I started bawling.  I think the nurses were more worried about me than Clara.  They kept reassuring me that she was fine and all this was normal, and I kept telling them I knew, that I was fine, and that it was just sad to see her like that.  I don’t think they believed I was fine, or that I knew she was ok.  

They finally unhooked her IV after she started drinking the apple juice, and she really didn’t like that, but did calm down after it was out.  I gave her her turtle too, and as soon as she saw him, she seemed to know that everything was going to be ok.  Funny the things that comfort a baby.  They gave her some tylenol, and after she had calmed down some more, they gave us instructions and said that we could go home.
Doesn’t she just look pitiful? My dad has a way with kids… they love him, and as soon as she saw him, she reached out for him.
She fell asleep after about 2 turns on the way home.  She didn’t make a peep.
The nurse was very proud that she’d found a pretty pink hello kitty bandaid to go where the IV had been in her hand.
She woke up as soon as we got home, and the only thing she wanted to do was eat.  I can’t blame her – she hadn’t eaten since 8:00 the night before.  Poor baby!  The little thing on top of her head made her look like Gonzo or a teletubby.  Between that and how loopy she was, we got a lot of laughs that afternoon.
Clara, you are one heck of a resilient kid.  
My Grammy had some balloons and a bear sent over.  Clara loves stuffed animals and balloons too!  She was enthralled!
Unless you’re a big stuffed animal, Clara’s not much of a cuddler.  She just wants to be moving all the time, and doesn’t have time for suggles.  She still wanted to be on the move, but every now and then she wanted a little hug and kiss from mommy.  I loved those moments.
She also loves to look at herself in the mirror and has recently started kissing the baby in the mirror.  Hilarious!
I tried to put her down for a nap, but I think she was scared.  She just freaked out!  So no naps all day, aside from the 45 minutes home from the hospital.  But she was surprisingly happy considering all she’d been through.  We gave her tylenol several times throughout the day – you could tell when it would start to wear off, and she would get a little cranky.  But overall, I have to say, it was a much better day than I expected.
Our awesome neighbor, Sarah, and her sister-in-law brought over dinner for us, which was super sweet of them.  They also brought one of Sarah’s world-famous pies… and oh, let me tell you, it was AHHH-mazing!
She slept all night long and didn’t wake up until about 9:30 Friday morning.  I could hardly stand to wait until that morning to take the bandage off her head.  The surgeon had told us that he wouldn’t have to shave very much of her hair off – maybe just a centimeter around the spot he was removing – which was welcome news for sure, but I tried not to get my hopes up until I saw it for myself.  The bandage slipped back a bit while she slept, so we decided to just go ahead and take it off when she woke up.  

You can imagine my happiness when I saw that she still had ALL of her hair!  It really doesn’t look like they even shaved any of it.  In the grand scheme of things, it definitely wasn’t the most important thing on my mind, but it is nice that he was able to let her keep it all!
She did great, and wasn’t bothered by it at all until we had to take the tape off of her head.  It was stuck to some of her hair, so I’m sure that hurt a little as we took it off.  There were a few tears…
And then she was fine.
Warning: if a little bit of blood freaks you out, don’t look at the next photo.  The little spot on her head is now just a little thing that looks like a scratch.  This was taken before we washed her hair, but it looks even better now.  The surgeon used dissolvable stitches underneath the skin so she won’t mess with them – and it barely looks like anything happened.
By last night, Clara was back to her normal, crazy, silly, energetic self.  She’s really doing well.  It doesn’t seem to bother her to have it washed, or even when I touch it to put the medicine on it.  She is such a trooper.  And I am so glad to not have to worry about it any more.  I would check that spot every single day to see if it had changed.  It was always in the back of my mind.
Clara seems back to normal already, but I still feel like I got hit by a bus.  I think after we got her home and knew she was going to be ok, I just had a lot of nervous energy to get rid of.  I am so thankful that she’s ok and bouncing back so well.  It’s behind us, and man, I am glad of that.  I’m not sure I really have the words to accurately describe how I feel right now.  Relieved.  Thankful.  Blessed.  Exhausted.
Thanks for all your love, prayers, and support.  We appreciate it so much.

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