Nothing can ever prepare you for your child’s first surgery, especially major heart surgery. My daughter’s Pulmonary Artery Banding surgery was no exception.
You can think you are prepared, but you aren’t.
There will be tears, fear, and major anxiety.
I guarantee, what you are feeling is completely normal.
The day before Adeline’s Pulmonary Artery Banding surgery, we had many appointments in Rochester. I talked about these appointments here, but they included lab work, x-rays, pre-op exam, and meeting with the surgeon, Dr. Dearani.
After our appointments that day, we headed to a local hotel where we were going to stay for the night. We knew we would have to be to the hospital early, and we didn’t want to get up at a crazy time to drive to Rochester. Staying the night in a hotel would also allow us to have a calm evening together before that dreadful day.
We got to the hotel, set up the room for the night and we tried to sit back and enjoy the night.
That night, I didn’t sleep at all. I can still remember waking up every hour, dreading what was coming. I had the whole night timed out as to when Adeline could eat. As 2:00 AM got closer, which was the cutoff of when Adeline couldn’t have any more breastmilk, I was just stressing. I got her up around 1:30 to see if she would take any milk. Luckily, Adeline was willing to take some milk, which gave me some peace. Peace of mind that maybe she would make it until 6 AM when we had to be to the hospital for admission.
After Adeline drank a little bit of the milk, she went back to sleep, as did I. Well, as well as I could sleep.
Day of Pulmonary Artery Banding Surgery
The 4:30 alarm went off before I knew it, and I was ready to get up! I wanted to get the day started, so I could face the fear of her having surgery.
After Jeremy and I finished getting ready, we started to pack everything up. We wanted to leave Adeline to sleep, if possible, to ease the risk of her waking up and potentially be hungry. We got to the time where we had to get Adeline up and get going, or we wouldn’t make it to the hospital on time.
Being as small as she was, we just did a few things to get her ready. The night before and the morning of surgery, Adeline had to take a shower with a special soap to help kill any bacteria on her skin. Adeline WAS NOT thrilled about this shower, but we had to do it. After cleaning her up, we quickly dressed her and put her in her car seat. She fell right back asleep like nothing ever happened…thank goodness!
We finished backing everything up in the hotel room, Jeremy packed it all in the vehicle, and we were on our way to the hospital. The time was almost here; I was ready to throw up.
We parked the vehicle, grabbed Adeline, our backpacks with things to do during the surgery, and headed into the hospital. When we got in, the line for Admissions was long, but moving quickly! I, again, was so nervous that Adeline would wake up, screaming because she was hungry.
As the line started to move, we finally had our turn to check Adeline in. It was a quick and painless process. After Adeline was checked in, we headed to the first floor of the hospital to the pre-op area. From there, they called us back to start the process. I was so scared (for her)!! I couldn’t hold back the tears! The nurse found me a box of tissues, and we continued the pre-op process.
After the nurse finished collecting all the information, she gave us a gown to dress Adeline in. She also told us that one of us could go back with Adeline as they put her to sleep. So, we undressed Adeline out of her pajamas and put her in her hospital gown. I just could not stop crying!! I wasn’t bawling, but I had to look like a mess, and I was.
Then, we sat and waited. We each took turns holding Adeline, trying to enjoy our time with her. Eventually, the anesthesiologist came by to see us. She quickly explained the process of getting Adeline ready for surgery and then left. After she left, we waited again. And waited and waited some more.
Finally, around 7:30 AM, they were ready to take Adeline back. Jeremy had wanted to go back with Adeline, but there must have been some miscommunication so he wasn’t able to. We both watched them roll Adeline back to the operating room, tears in my eyes.
My heart broke.
So many things were running through my head, questions that will never leave you, about what I could have or should have done differently. Adeline’s heart condition somehow had to be my fault, even though I knew deep down, it wasn’t.
This self-questioning will never leave me, even though I know I didn’t cause it.
Little did I know, that morning was the last time would be I would hold Adeline until June.