Today wasn’t a good day. If I met today in an alley, I’d turn and run the other way. Our baby, Angelina, had surgery for a hernia.
We’ve known for a month that she’d need surgery, but we only found out yesterday that a spot opened up for her this morning. Now, I know that the hernia wasn’t serious, that she’d only require day surgery, and that the risks were very low. But there’s just something fundamentally nauseating about the idea of my little girl lying helpless in a hospital, about to be put to sleep, not quite understanding what’s going on, and clinging to you for comfort.
She was so brave. She accepted our oversimplified explanations, and went along with whatever we said. I went into the OR with her, wearing scrubs and a mask. We asked her questions to try to distract her, and her answer to everything was a nervous “I don’t know”. She asked me to hold her, which I did as best I could, considering they were getting her IV ready. I caressed her and told her everything was OK. When they finally pushed the anesthetic through the IV, within seconds her little arms plopped down and her eyelids fell. Mostly.
Her eyes weren’t completely closed, and I asked if she could still hear me. They assured me that she was very much unconscious, and they ushered me out. They don’t even let you watch from the other side of the door, because they were about to insert a tube down her throat to help her breathing. They strongly believe – and I share their belief – that no parent needs to see this.
I returned to where Chris was waiting, with the unpleasant image of my baby lying under harsh lights, and amongst all those strangers and sharp metal instruments.
About half an hour later, the doctor told us that the surgery had gone fine, and that we could see Angelina when she woke up. So we waited. And waited. I stared at the domed mirror on the ceiling, trying to see if someone in scrubs was walking up the hallway to tell us we could see her. And as other parents were being called to see their children, I felt like that person at the restaurant who orders first but then watches everyone else get their food.
Nina took an hour and a half to wake up. Likely payback for the morning’s experience. She was groggy, but happy to see us. And she was fine. In fact, she was enjoying a Popsicle within 10 minutes.
As difficult as this morning was, I have the distinct impression that it will be much harder trying to keep our almost-4-year-old from being the monkey that she indisputably is.