Sunday, November 13, 2011

The longest day ever

The day started out early but only because I couldn't sleep.  I didn't fall asleep until after midnight and I was wide awake around 5.  I got up and started the house coffee and took a shower.  Riley's last feeding had to be over with by 8 am, so I hoped to wake her up at 730 and feed her then.  She actually woke herself up just after 7.  Our morning went really smoothly. We were right on time at the hospital, arriving at 0850.  

Her doctor was Andrew Lodge.  You can learn even more about him here.  David and I agree that we could not have asked for a better doctor.  We met with him 2 weeks prior to surgery and then we spoke with him again, right before they took Riley back.  This guy was surgeon to the T.  He was not a communicator.  He kept telling David and I "Well, you know...." and David kept saying "No, I don't know.  I've never done this before."  There is no doubt in my mind that this guy took medical school very seriously.  And that is exactly the kind of surgeon you want operating on your 3 month old!  

The waiting was rough.  There was some miscommunication about when Riley's surgery would start.  See she drifted off around 10 am, while we were in the waiting room.  We had been told that the first surgery had run over, but that's all we knew.  She woke up around 11, hungry.  It was bad.  I was uptight and anxious.  My baby was hungry and they wouldn't let me fix it.  David tried consoling her.  A nurse tried giving her glucose in a bottle but Riley had never successfully taken a bottle.  Plus, she was really ticked off at this point.  I walked away because I felt like I was torturing Riley.  She knew I was there, and I could just imagine her thinking "why isn't mom feeding me."  It felt cruel.  While I was taking my time out, another woman in the waiting area approached me.  She stood with me for a few minutes and offered comforting words.  I walked back over to David and Riley, who was still screaming, and another woman approached us.  She said she was a nurse who worked in the pediatric ICU and also a lactation consultant.  She wanted to know if it would be okay for her to try and comfort/feed Riley.  I welcomed someone else trying.  This lasted for what seemed like an eternity but probably about 30 minutes.  Riley eventually wore herself out crying and fell asleep.  Right at 12 we were called back.  They prepped in the back and the anesthesiologist came back to talk to us.  Around 1245, the anesthesiologist told us to say good bye to Riley.  I have not done anything that hard in my entire life.  Even writing about it now is causing me to tear up.  David and I said good bye to Riley.  Then we took 10 minutes in the private room for ourselves.  The strangest part about that moment is that David and I really didn't cling to each other, like I had imagined.  We stood across from each other, lost in our own private thoughts and concerns.  As we walked back into the waiting room, I saw my pastor's wife.  She had come up to be with us.  Our pastor was unable to come because of a conference.  As soon as I saw her, I broke down crying even harder.  

And then we waited.  We walked around, a lot.  We played Scrabble and Monopoly.  We read but not really.  Left the hospital to eat twice.  They called every hour to let me know how things were going.    
At 5:45 pm, they called to tell me that Riley was out of surgery and the doctor would be out to talk with us in a minute.  He came out and said that surgery had been what he had expected, with no surprises.  The patch was closed with the exception of a very small, less than a millimeter, residual hole.  Over time, the cells of the heart would grow over the entire patch, which is made out of Gortex by the way, and close up the very small residual hole.  

We headed to the PCICU, where we would meet Riley.  At 630 pm, they told us we could head back and see her.  This time, there were no tears, only smiles.  
My baby, right after surgery.  
She looked so much better than we ever imagined.  I expected her to look puffy and bruised.  David expected her to look as if she had been beat up.  Yet here she is, somewhat alert and looking like herself.  It was such a relief.  

She still looks a little dopey.  She had short moments of being alert, with bouts of trying to come off the anesthesia.  

She was hooked up to so many machines in the PCICU.  

So happy to see her.  

It felt so good to see her.  We hung out for a few hours, then opted to leave as they attempted to remove some of the things she was hooked up to, like her breathing tube.  

David and I walked to TGI Frdays.  Remember me mentioning that nice lady that came up to me and talked to me while we were in the waiting room.  Her husband is a pastor.  David had been chatting with him in the waiting area.  As they said good bye to us, he slipped David some money and told him to take me out for a nice dinner.  We felt like it was necessary to honor his wishes.  So while TGI Fridays is not a fancy place, it was the nicest sit down place within walking distance.  On the way there, David and I agreed how we both felt like a weight had literally been lifted of us, and comforting to know the constant care she was receiving.

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