Baby’s First Surgery

By the time we got to the outpatient surgery office this morning at 9:45 C could not understand why we would not let him eat anything. He was cranky and frustrated and completely bewildered. Because he lost so much weight during his illness at the beginning of the year he is used to us basically shoving food down his throat. This morning he stood with his hand on the door to our pantry, head thrust back pathetically howling at the injustice of the universe. I watched him and laughed and cried at the same time.

hungry hippo

Poor kid was trying to chew off his hands when we got in the room.

Ever since the crazy beginning to the New Year C has found medical settings frightening. Usually he is an easy going little man, so to see him dissolve into tears and scramble frantically into his father’s or my arms when we enter an exam room is awful.

pre surgery

He might be pissed, but he still rocks that hospital gown!

When we walked into the pre-op room and I saw the crib just like the ones in the hospital in GA my breath caught in my throat. I felt like an idiot, but I was fighting back tears myself. We were there so C could have tubes inserted into his ears. It was a low-key, outpatient, completely planned in advance surgery. In fact it could not have gone better. They were running early by more than half an hour so our wait was almost nonexistent. The procedure was finished and the doc joined us in the waiting room to tell us everything was perfect in under 10 minutes. We were back with C in recovery less than 10 minutes after that. He’s fine. He’s probably hearing a hell of a lot better than he has before. This was the right choice for his health and I’m glad we did it.

water and goldfish

Yumming up some goldfish crackers and water during recovery.

But the big metal crib with the high walls, the hospital gown, the anesthesiologist asking  why he had a spinal tap and CT Scan a year ago, it all made me feel terrified and fragile. I know we have been lucky with our boys, I know parents deal with much worse illnesses, ones I don’t want to contemplate. Still it has been a rough year with C’s health. I’ve said it before, but I’d trade places with him in a second to spare him the pain and distress he’s gone through. And please, it’s not because I’m some selfless hero, no fucking way. I’m a coward through and through. The truth is it hurts less to be sick or hurt myself than it does to watch my kid be sick. See? It’s still all about my selfish ass. I simply can’t bear to watch him in pain.

I know he needs to eventually understand that shitty things will happen to him in his life. He needs to develop coping mechanisms. But I am starting to empathize with those helicopter parents who would do anything to prevent their kid from discomfort. As he makes his way through life I will have to fight myself not to interfere or try to smooth the road for him. He needs support and love from me. But I can’t prevent him from hurting. And as much as my heart wants to try my head knows I shouldn’t.

Z and I need to be here for the boys when they do suffer hurt and failure and unfairness. We need to teach them to pick themselves back up and try again, that every failure is an opportunity to learn more, that life isn’t fair and it sucks but that we will always be there for them. What I’m learning as I watch my baby struggle with fear in medical situations is it isn’t as easy as having good intentions when it comes to parenting. Already watching my boys get hurt suffocates me with pain. I will want to go batshit crazy on the asses of anyone who hurts them. I will want to be unreasonable and rail at the universe for being unfair. I will want to take their pain away.

Of course, in some instances I will step in. If they are bullied at school. If they are physically attacked. If they are struggling academically and need a tutor. But a lot of the time I’ll have to do what I did today. Hold my baby close and tell him I love him with my whole heart and that he’d be back in my arms so soon. Then hand him to the lovely nurse who carried him to the Operating Room and listenen to the fear in his screams as he was walked away from me. I will have to hide my tears until he is out of sight. Thank god/goddess/whoever-might-be-up-there that I have Z to hold me. He tells me it will be alright and I believe him.


C’s new thing is bringing us various hoodies and coats to put on him in the house. It’s his little signal that he’s ready to go out and tear up the town. He brought Z T’s shark hoodie and wore it for most of the afternoon. The little roar he’d make when the hood was up was fucking adorable.


6 thoughts on “Baby’s First Surgery

  1. Holy crap. I had to let them take Max for 5 min to get his throat suctioned when he was born. I spent every second straining to listen, make sure I wasn’t separated, make sure no one was stealing him and that he was still the same baby when they gave him back. Surgery without crying? You are one strong mama.

  2. I can’t say enough about ear tubes. Our little one has made some huge leaps and bounds in the language department since the tubes. Our surgery took much longer than yours however and now I’m feeling paranoid 🙂 Does the worry ever end? We have also not had a single ear infection since!

    • Totally get the paranoia! But were her ears a little infected? I think that can make it take longer. His were actually clear for once!

      Glad to hear about language development. T could identify tools-like he knew the difference between a mallet and hammer and could say both words along with tons of other stuff when he was C’s age. Now, I know it doesn’t do to compare them and T was not typical in his language development. But C only has about 5 words and they are hard to understand. And to borrow from you–I’m feeling paranoid…

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