this fall i have been telling people that by the time 2013 is over, our family will have gone through the most stressful 15 months of our collective lives. we moved in september, welcome a new baby in february, and ship our oldest to kindergarten in the fall. while each of these things is signficant, they all pale in comparison to the acute stress we are thankfully on the other side of now, the stress of sending isaac into his second cleft related surgery.
we had known it was coming for a while, but i am not sure you are ever prepared to walk your joyful little man into a situation you know will cause him significant amounts of pain. annie already wrote about the two weeks of isolation building up to the date so that he wouldn't contract any sort of illness that would cause him to get bumped to a later surgery date. the day of the surgery, however, was something else all together.
when isaac went in at three and a half months, he was clueless. he had no idea what was coming, and we felt the freedom to bawl our eyes out all morning long, right up to the point where the nurses carried him from us, all smiles and ignorance. a five-year-old is a different story though, and i felt like i had to keep it together for him, lest i scare him or crank up his anxiety. my facebook status that morning felt like a pretty accurate summary of my mood:
"if you are willing to pray, i would be deeply grateful if you would join us today as we send isaac into his second cleft related surgery (essentially a nose job) today at 1:50pm. my heart is a bit of a tenuous mess right now: full of fear and hope, wanting to be strong for my boy and ready to burst into tears at any moment, trying to remain fully present and aching to be beyond this as soon as possible."
aunt bonnie had purchased an ipad in preparation for the 6 week recovery, and the greater part of the morning was spent playing with the magical device. lots of photo booth pictures helped distract all of us, but especially isaac, who had not had any solid food for almost 20 hours by the time he got into surgery.
true to form and to his name, isaac was (mostly) all smiles and silly as we waited. his appointment ended up being pushed back almsot a full hour, but mom donned the painter's suit scrubs and headed back with him to the operating room.
by far the most stressful and sad and angering part of the whole process is that isaac woke up alone in the recovery room (despite our strong request to the nurse that we be with him the moment he came to). since the arm brace was covering his iv instead of his elbow, he began to swat at the bandages on his face, and seems to have gotten several swings in before the nurses could respond and restrain him. by the time annie got to him he was screaming and his face was covered in blood, but he calmed down as soon as he was able to hear his mama's voice. i was furious and scared and heartbroken all at the same, concerned about the possible long term effects and also concerned about finding those responsible so i could scream at them, "look at what you let happen to my son!"
soon after we got to our room, isaac's iv came out and so we had to try to hold him while they put it back in. each time he woke it was in a panic, disoriented and confused by his sterile surroundings. annie didn't sleep at all that night because she slept on the hospital bed with him, holding his arms down to his side, but in the morning there was bacon. and popsicles. and disney jr. on the tv. and somehow our little boy was miraculously joyful again. and by that afternoon, we were getting ready to leave.
this move got some looks from people, but i didn't care. when your kid who just went through surgery asks to ride on your shoulders there is only one right answer.
i think asher and ryder were a little initimated by the bandanges at first, but warmed quickly when they were allowed to try on the zombie braces.
little legos made their way into our house post surgery, and our vacuum will never be the same.
the first couple nights of sleep were less than stellar, but we were surrounded, as usual, by family willing to give us a break when we needed naps and friends who fed us well.
one week later, on halloween day, we were back to the hospital for our first post-op appointment for bandage removal.
as he had been all along, isaac was so big and so brave as they removed the tape and brace.
the first rule of preschool fight club: you don't talk about preschool fight club.
fortunately we won't have to go through this again for at least another couple years.
thank you for all your prayer and support during this time.