There are these moments when you feel incredibly lucky and at the same time, completely terrified. Two weeks ago my little one had surgery. The idea of general anesthesia was scary, but not as scary as not doing something about the problem. That was until we actually had to go through with it. Of course I was nervous but being a mom, you can't show that. You set the baseline for your little one. It was finally time to go into the OR and I was allowed to go in there until she was asleep. The moment she left my arms and was placed gently on the operating table I noticed an expression on her face I had never seen before. Fear, clear as day painted over her tiny face. My heart broke into so many pieces. I struggled to remember the words to her favorite song, and can't remember what I rambled on about instead. She looked helplessly at the strangers in white buzzing about her as I tried to keep her gaze. The mask was placed on her face and she started to panic, I tried telling her it would be okay, wishing what every parent wishes at the slightest sign of suffering. Wish it was me and not her. She cried desperate little sobs into the mask and faded to sleep. I don't think I could ever scrub the memory. Seeing her go limp so suddenly sent chills down my back and the nurse had to tap my shoulder after calling my name repeatedly to leave the room. I felt numb except for the heat rising from the pit of my stomach and getting lodged in my throat. My legs took on an autopilot stride right past my husband in the the waiting room and out the door to the parking lot. To the cold air that could help to make me feel something other than dread. I tried hard not to cry but i couldn't keep it in anymore. All that strength I feigned to have-- vanished.
Back in the waiting room. Finally they called my name and I could have flown at the nurse, I got up so quickly. Once in the recovery area I followed the siren cry of my child, whose visceral screams were almost unrecognizeable. She looked like a terrified wild animal. Trying to pull out the IV, the heart rate monitor lighting up her big toe. The patch covering her wound. I could barely hold on to her. Screaming, thrashing, biting. Who was this unconsolable little thing? She managed to rip the IV out, her arms were flailing so much it was as though she had five of them. I held her tight and somehow found the words to "The very hungry caterpillar" escaping my lips. She settled at the sound of the familiar. A small reprieve of comfort. Silence. Until I forgot the order in which the Caterpillar ate junk food on Saturday and she burst into another fit "that's not how it goes!"
"The Gruffalo" followed and I could feel her finally relaxing into my arms. Thank God I've memorized her favorite stories. I recited it all the way to the end, despite her having drifted off to sleep. She looked like my kid again.
Nothing could have prepared us for that. Nothing can prepare you to see your child in distress. It lingers. We felt lucky everything went as planned. We felt lucky it was not something more serious. We felt lucky it was over. Until we find ourselves two weeks later coping with severe separation anxiety, tantrums and episodes akin to night terrors. Maybe she had a bad dream. I get on google again, start entering the words "post operative anxiety toddler".
Next up, helping her through this part of recovery, which I had no idea to expect.