It feels so weird to let go of all of the stress we've been carrying around for months. You had 6 ear infections in 6 months. You've had constant fluid in your ears since September & your ears probably haven't popped since. You've had 6 rounds of oral antibiotics that have been so hard on your GI system. Your hearing is borderline "not good." We've seen your pediatrician 6 times & a specialist once. We've gotten the overlap of tylenol & motrin down to a science. As scared as I was for you to go under anesthesia & have tubes put in your ears, we all hope it will put an end to the constant pain you've been in.
Yesterday, my alarm went off at 6am. I laid in bed saying silent prayers for a little while before giving myself 20 minutes to get ready. I check your video monitor, & it broke my heart to see you sleeping so soundly, knowing I would have to wake you up. I plastered a smile on my face, opened your door, & whispered good morning. You turned & twisted & stretched in your cute little way. You had a sleepy, bewildered look & a cute little pout. I quietly pushed away the fear that if things went wrong, this could be the last time I watched you wake.
I scooped you up & told you that you were going to get to wear jammies all day. They had asked that we dress you in comfy clothes that didn't need to be pulled over your head. All I could think of was zip up footie jammies. You were excited when I told you to pick whatever pair you wanted. You chose a pink pair that was covered in cupcakes & were so excited to tell Daddy all about them when he came in to give you a kiss on the head.
You asked for a sippy & I felt like an awful person to tell you no. You weren't supposed to have anything to eat or drink from midnight on. You cried, probably hungry & thirsty, as I buckled you in the car. I wanted to sit down & cry myself. Instead, I got into my seat, took a deep breath, started the car, & asked you what kinds of cupcakes you had on your jammies.
We said our morning prayers & you talked about cupcakes for most of the ride to the ENT Center of Rhode Island. We had the choice between taking you to Hasboro Children's Hospital & the ENT Center for your procedure. The benefit of the ENT Center is they only do scheduled surgeries for the ear nose & throat. The hospital does all surgeries each day in order of importance. There was more of a chance we might get bumped if a more serious issue came in at the hospital. The ENT Center also had an earlier availability. So, we chose to take you there. I'm so glad we did. We've never been to Hasboro so I can't speak to any experiences there. Our experience at the ENT center was overwhelmingly positive. Each & every staff member was so kind & thoughtful & understanding. We were amongst many patients, but I felt like we were always treated as if you were the only one.
The only thing was that you didn't know where you were going. In between a cute discussion about cupcakes. You told me that we were going on a trip. That's when I told you we were going to see a doctor to help with your ears. You started to whimper. Seven doctors visits in 6 months will do that to you. I told you the doctor was going to help you to feel better & I would be with you the whole time. That's when you remembered reading books at our last appointment. You asked if we could read books. I told you "sure," & hoped there would be books. You were again happy & went back to talking about cupcakes.
We checked in, & I filled out some paperwork. They gave you an ID bracelet (similar to what we both wore in the hospital when you were born). Then we headed over to the waiting room. You were sad to see there were no books, but I had episodes of Super Why loaded onto my phone & you were happy to watch those. That's when I noticed all of the people in the waiting room. I noticed a woman with tears in her eyes come in & sit down. Minutes later, I saw the doctor come & tell her that the procedure was over & her child had done well. I watched the woman blink back tears & understood that I would be that woman soon. I don't know what you understood, but you had one eye on Super Why & the other eye watching the people in the waiting room.
We were called back to a room & a woman named Lynn weighed you, took your blood pressure, & recorded your heart rate. You were happy to participate. She was amazing with you. She noticed the stuffed animal you were holding & asked you it's name. You proudly held up your Lamby. She made Lamby his own ID bracelet so he could have one just like you.
We walked across the hall to another room. It was a large room with a number of areas divided by curtains. In each smaller area there were two chairs. We took off your jammies & put on a hospital gown, a hat to hold back your hair, & cute little socks. I put on a hospital gown over my clothes, covers for my shoes, & a hat for my hair. Even in the stress of it all you looked so cute, I had to take a picture. When Lynn came back, she suggested getting a picture of the two of us.
After that it was time to wait. We could see families waiting in the similar small areas in front of us & to the side of us. I suggested we watch some more Super Why. You watched for a moment, but I think this is when you realized it wasn't a regular doctor appointment. Maybe it was the fear you could see in the other parents' eyes. Maybe you could see the fear in my eyes. You wanted out of the hospital gown, out of the socks, & off with the hat. You wanted me & you wanted to go home. You asked me so many times to go home, it broke my heart.
I just tried to smile & soothe you. I held you close in my arms. I bounced you. I sang to you. Another woman came by & brought a DVD player playing a princess Barbie movie. It drew you in for a few minutes at a time, but still you just wanted out of there. You cried most of the time the anesthesiologist talked to me & again when your doctor came by to ask if I had any questions.
Then I was greeted by a smiling & familiar face. Another Lynn whose husband I work with. I told you she was an angel who had come to help you through everything. She & another woman led us to another room. I felt my knees go weak when I read the name plate next to the room we were walking into, operating room one. They opened the doors & there stood a large hospital bed covered in white sheets. There were all kinds of gadgets & monitors along the wall. I think I forgot it was my role to be the mom & put on a strong front at that point. I couldn't think of anything other than the fact I was carrying my little love into "operating room one." I stood there holding you, probably looking weak & bewildered & scared.
Thank God for the amazing people who work at the ENT center. They pretty much held onto my shoulders & guided me into the chair next to the bed. They had big smiles on their faces & asked you who you were holding. We told them he was your Lamby & showed them his ID bracelet. This happened while the doctor walked in & they rechecked your ID bracelet & repeated what the procedure was going to be.
Then they did the sweetest thing. They gave you a mask to give to Lamby. You held it over his little nose & then they took out the mask that would give you your anaesthesia. They asked you if you liked cherry & told you the mask smelled like cherries. You were calm while they held the mask to your face & talked to you about what your favorite color was.
I almost held my breath, afraid that if I breathed any of the cherry smell in, I would pass out. I turned my head to the side with my cheek pressed against the back of your head & gave you a million kisses. When they started to take you from my arms & put you on the large table, I had a hard time letting go. Your little eyes weren't even closed. I was ready to bolt myself to the chair by your side, but they instructed me to give you a kiss & ushered me out the door & to the waiting room. The woman ushering me was so kind. She just kept saying I did a great job.
I couldn't get away from her fast enough. I didn't feel like I did a great job. I felt like I barely kept it together. There was a burning fear in my chest. I practically ran past the waiting room & into the bathroom.
That was when & where I lost it. I broke down. Not the pretty kind of crying. It was the ugly kind of sobbing that you can only do when you feel helpless & worried that you might lose what you love most in the world. I gave myself just a moment, prayed harder than I've ever prayed, wiped my face off, & left the bathroom. I texted your Daddy that you were in the operating room & I was waiting. He called me immediately to ask how the morning had gone, & I heard the shakiness in my voice as I told him about the previous hour. I promised him I would let him know as soon as you were out.
No sooner had I sat in the waiting room & read the same paragraph on my kindle 4 times when your doctor came out to say the procedure was done. I felt a huge weight leave my shoulders. I had probably only left you in the operating room ten minutes before, but those were ten of the longest minutes of my life. Your doctor told me the procedure had gone well & you were headed to the recovery room. She gave me a bunch of instructions about your care going forward that I immediately forgot. All I could think about was that you were ok & how much I wanted to hold you (luckily they had all of the instructions written out & ready to give to me later).
A woman came out & called for "Emma's family." She told me you were in recovery, just waking up. As we walked over to recovery, there were a few beds. I franticly searched for yours. I had to get to you & kiss you & tell you how amazing you are. I found you just as the woman started chuckling that we could see your pig tails sticking out over the bed rails.
They told me I could pick you up, & I don't think I've ever scooped you up so quick. You were drowsy & confused & clung to me with little whimpers. Someone wrapped a blanket over you & led us to a reclining chair. As we sat together, I gave you a million kisses. I thanked God for being with you (& with me) & for that very moment.
They offered you a popsicle. The nurse who offered it to you said she had heard you like pink & made sure she had a pink one for you. She actually apologized to me that it was a little on the red side. All I could think of was "how does she know Em's favorite color?" I was so thankful & overwhelmed by her amazing kindness. Even though you were still in a groggy state, you grabbed the popsicle from my hand, told me you wanted to do it yourself, & hungrily ate (you hadn't had anything since 6pm the previous night). Once you were done, you asked for some juice. That was when I heard it, our song. "Just The Way You Are" (I talked about it in this post) was softly playing on the overhead speakers. I hugged you in close thinking how many more times we would be able to sing that song together.
Then we had a ten minute conversation about popsicles. You whimpered as you asked me if you could go home & have a red popsicle. You sighed in contentment when I told you "of course." Ten seconds later you asked me, as if for the first time, if you could go home & have a red popsicle. The little boy recovering next to you refused to eat or drink anything. You, on the other hand, had 2 popsicles & 2 glasses of juice before they told us we could go home (that's my girl!).
On our way home, you were strangely quiet, still, & staring. I called your name a few times just to make sure you were conscious & breathing. You shot me an annoyed look after the second time & gave me a mere grunt that said, "just let me be" in response. We dropped off your prescription & headed to the grocery store to pick up popsicles while we waited for your prescription to be filled (the prescription was for antibiotic ear drops, otherwise they said to take tylenol as needed if you were in pain). Then we headed to Dunkin Donuts to get a donut for you & a bagel & tea for me (I had also gone without food figuring it wasn't fair to eat if you couldn't). You took only one bite of your donut (which is typically your favorite) & left the rest for me. All you wanted was popsicles.
Once we were home, you ate 2 more popsicles & started to seem more like yourself again. You watched Super Why while you cared for your baby dolls before taking almost a 4 hour nap. Your sweet best friend S came by with her Mommy & baby brother to drop off a Get Well Card & gift. It made my heart so happy to watch the two of you play together (even if you were a little crankier than usual).
Daddy made cupcakes for us all to end our long day. We used Cool Whip instead of frosting & topped it with a cherry for you. In your cute cupcake jammies, you ate your "favorite" cherry cupcake that you had talked about that morning.
Still smiling, even after the longest day.
Watching you sleep soundly on your video monitor last night was the sweetest thing. It meant we made it through the day & it meant you weren't in any pain. I was finally able to let it all go & relax.
Em, I am so amazed by you. Your strength & resilience at the young age of 2 is awe inspiring. You've been through so much & I couldn't be prouder of how you've handled the past 6 months. It was a long road, & I'm glad we all made it through it. I'm hoping being on the other side of tubes in your ears comes with so much less pain & frustration for you.
I love you so,
* Readers, thank you so much for your prayer, kind words, & well wishes. We've all be surrounded by so much support the past 6 months, especially the last month. Words cannot express how much your kindness has touched us all *