On Tuesday, Odette underwent her much anticipated umbilical hernia surgery. As I have mentioned several times, she was self conscious about her little outie so when her pediatrician offered to refer us to a surgeon we went for it.
We talked to Odette a lot about the procedure. She knew that she would be asleep and the doctor would cut her belly button, sew up her rip, pull her belly button in, and then close up the cut. She was a little nervous about the scissors and how she would sleep, but other than that was counting down the days.
She didn’t sleep much at all the night before and was in our room three times during the night asking if it was time to go because she knew we would be getting up before the sun to make our way downtown for 7:30 registration. We had one sleepy little girl on our hands when it was time to get up. Of course, she couldn’t eat anything before, but didn’t even ask about it. You can see in her pre-op pictures how excited she was to have her belly button fixed. Yes, I think to her she was having plastic surgery. : )
She had the procedure done at Riley Children’s Hospital and let me tell you, they were amazing! While I hope no kid of mine ever has to have surgery again, I would definitely want it done there if it was needed. After her anesthesiologist explained the process to both us and her (and took her to pick a prize – the Barbie), my favorite staff member of all came in, Lindsay. She brought in a variety of flavors of chapstick for Odette to choose from and then showed her how to color the inside of her mask with it so that it would smell good. Odette chose bubblegum. Always a winner. Then she got to pick a face to decorate her mask.
And ta-da something that could be scary, was no longer!
And suddenly the registration and preparation process that seemed to take forever was all over and Odette was being led away to the O.R. with my new best friend Lindsay. On the way they were playing Cake Doodle on the hospital’s iPad. As I laid awake that morning praying for Odette and all her doctors and caregivers I expected to be teary as she was taken off to surgery, but they really calmed my heart.
Jeff and I were shooed off to the waiting room and we did what every mom and dad do while their kid undergoes surgery, ate breakfast. It seemed to take longer than we expected to hear from the doctor, but we reassured ourselves by the thought that if there was a problem we probably would have heard by then. We did lamely enjoy our little kid-free breakfast date in the surgery waiting area. The doctor came up and told us that everything went well, and it wasn’t too long after that we were invited down to the recovery area. There we were met by some strange girl. We didn’t know who she was. She reminded us of the Odette we had on the very first day. No eye contact, no talking, expressionless. She went from being the loudest and wildest one in the area to being a ghost of herself. The only interaction she would let us have with her with giving her more orange gatorade. She was thirsty!
It wasn’t too long before she was being wheeled out of recovery and into a holding room for discharge. She got comfy under a blanket and watched cartoons. Even after 2 hours we only heard about 5 words out of her. She wouldn’t eat crackers, but had kept down lots of liquid so they were ready to send us home as soon as the paperwork was finished.
In the meantime, she got a popsicle and that perked her up a tiny little bit. She moaned and groaned every time she moved, but couldn’t have any meds because they gave her Tylenol pre-op. Grrr.
Then finally over 5 hours after we arrived for a 15 minute procedure we were on our way home. I have never been hospitalized and neither has Jeff, but I will say it made me not look forward to being in the hospital delivering this baby.
Once we got home and got Odette out of the car (that was a feat itself because we had to two person cradle carry her) it was time for some good ol’ Mrs. Grass noodle soup and a movie. We even broke the rules and let her eat in the living room while watching Mary Poppins. It is hard to tell, but she was perched on the very edge of the couch. It hurt her stomach to sit back or lay down. Jeff went off to the store for her prescription pain meds, popsicles, jello, and pudding. She was pretty comfortable as long as she sat perfectly still. Once her movie was over and she began to stir it wasn’t so good. The local anesthesia must have worn off and the oral meds weren’t cutting it.
It took a lot of coaxing and squealing to get her to lay down and try to nap some. But her smile returned for a few minutes when she got her popsicle.
The rest of the day was spent trying to entertain her without her having to move at all. It wasn’t too bad until she needed to go potty. She wouldn’t let us help get her down from the couch but wouldn’t get down herself. Then I had to walk in front of her holding both her hands while she walked crouched over like an old lady. And I can’t even remember how we managed to actually get her up on the potty. I definitely wasn’t prepared for her to be so incapacitated. She wasn’t very hungry so we scratched our plans for ordering pizza for dinner (read we ordered pizza after she went to bed.) and she had a few bites of mac n cheese. Before we knew it, it was bedtime. Thank God! I was rejoicing, until we realized that she had to get upstairs somehow. Again she refused to go up herself because it hurt, but wouldn’t let Jeff pick her up. She thought about riding up on his back but then changed her mind. She wanted us to cradle carry her again, but the stairway isn’t wide enough. She began to have a major meltdown. Tears poured down her face and she cried like she hasn’t cried since the first couple of weeks home. I looked at Jeff, and said grab her run. She screamed even louder, but was up the stairs in no time.
The pictures stop there because that is about the time I began my mommy meltdown. Getting her into bed was another challenge and as I stepped out of her semi-dark (it was only 8:00) room, tears were streaming down my face. I just couldn’t handle seeing her in pain. Remember, this kid has been injury and illness free since her first week home. I have no experience in looking into those pain-filled eyes. And sure as she didn’t roll onto her tummy five minutes later. You betcha that I sent Jeff up to handle that one!
We woke her up at 10:00 and lifted her head just a bit for more medicine, and Jeff did that again at 3:00. But other than that she slept through the night. My prayers were answered when a quiet, “mommy, daddy” was heard on the monitor that morning. She was able to get out of bed herself and didn’t scream or cry at all. She did wince, but hey I can take that. The day after surgery she was so much better. She moved gingerly, but on her own. She still had to perch on the edge of couch and didn’t have much appetite. We watched another movie, read books, played with her new Barbie, and worked on crafts together. Today she is doing even better! We got to remove her bandage and she got to peek at her new belly button for the first time.
This is her belly when we first brought her home, after her bloat was treated, and today.
I’m so thankful that she is on the mend. I am thankful for the great care she got at the hospital. I am most thankful that this is one of the biggest health hurdles we have had to overcome. We are very blessed!
Many people have asked how she got the hernia or why she has it. Most likely it was caused by the distention of her stomach by the parasites and malnutrition she faced while in Congo.