Wow. The past few weeks have been the most extremely difficult times that my husband Joshua and I have ever encountered in our entire lives. The short story is our brand new little baby Milan had to have surgery. 🙁
We were changing her diaper one day and Joshua saw a tiny little bump in her abdominal area. Honestly, I would have never noticed it. He pointed it out to me and we had hoped that it wasn’t what we thought it was but unfortunately it turned out to be an inguinal hernia.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what this is just like I wasn’t, it’s when part of an organ or tissue in the body pushes through a small opening or weak spot in a muscle wall, it can protrude into a space where it doesn’t belong. This protrusion is a hernia, which may look like a small bulge or lump. Some babies are born with this and some can develop them over time. It’s very common in adults and in Milan’s case, she was just born with it. She also had an umbilical (belly button) hernia which is much more common among babies and usually goes away on it’s own over a few years and usually doesn’t require surgery. However, the inguinal hernia does need immediate surgery as waiting can increase the risk of strangulation of the intestine or sometimes even an ovary and then would require emergency surgery. To be hit with two hernias on my baby girl within the first month of her life?! I couldn’t even begin to process it.
Hernia surgeries are usually very straight forward, simple procedures, but on a newborn? We were advised by her surgeon that since he was going in to fix the inguinal hernia, we might as well fix the belly button hernia to avoid having two surgeries if that one doesn’t go away on its own. It was all very shocking, time sensitive and stressful beyond words.
If you had a chance to read THIS POST HERE, you would have known my pregnancy journey had been a difficult one and Milan has been my saving grace. To think that this precious angel of mine who I cherish with every cell in my body already had to have surgery at such a young age was gut wrenching. I didn’t know how to process the news. I was so scared…and all kinds of thoughts came rushing into my mind. What if this…what if that…the idea of her having to have anesthesia and going under scared me to death. She’s just a baby…my precious baby! I went through so much to have her…why, oh why is this happening?!
Becoming a new mom is not only difficult, exhausting, overwhelming yet so rewarding, but throw in surgery on your newborn and it’s a whole new level of so many emotions.
We scheduled the surgery for the following week and I prayed and prayed and cried every second of each day that everything would go well. Nothing prepares you for something like this. Nothing.
The morning of the surgery, I was a wreck. I cried the entire week leading up to the day. My husband and I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I tried to stay positive but how could I? My new baby girl was having surgery…what if something went wrong? What if I lost her? I couldn’t even begin to fathom what I would do.
We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. and had to wait over an hour for the surgeon to arrive and begin. I could hardly look in my baby’s eyes as she was so happy and had no idea where she was heading off to. Just when you think you’ve felt pain, there’s nothing like watching your baby that’s only six weeks old get taken away from your arms to head into surgery. My heart shattered into a million pieces that morning and my tears flowed from a well of sadness that I never knew existed. The hour and a half she was in surgery felt like eternity. We paced back and forth in the waiting room hallway. My knees felt like buckling. Here I am, with zero control over what happens while my precious child is in an operating room under the surgeons watch. I can’t protect her in there, I can’t comfort her in there, I can’t do anything except sit with escalating anxiety and wait. Finally, the surgeon came out and said everything went fine and she is in recovery. I broke down. I almost passed out because I was so relieved. When would I be able to see her, kiss her and hold her in my arms?! The waiting game continued.
I walked into the recovery room and my heart instantly crumbled into a million pieces again when I saw Milan hooked up to all the tubes and wires. I rushed over to her and held her hand and began sobbing. She was still so drowsy while waking up from the anesthesia. The feelings when I saw her laying there all helpless in her tiny hospital gown are simply indescribable. I just wanted to pick her up and hold her in my arms and never ever let her go!
I thanked God for keeping her safe and bringing her back to me. I was overjoyed when she woke up. All I wanted to do was take her home and give her all the love and affection in the world.
A few days later, we took her back for her post op check up only to find out that her belly button incision was infected. How did this happen? The surgeon said “it’s extremely rare, it’s nobody’s fault, and it’s just bad luck”. BAD LUCK?!! What the hell kind of answer was this?! I was livid. We were then instructed to give her antibiotics which we were so upset about. Giving a newborn antibiotics is a whole other topic which I won’t get into right now. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is because there are so many reasons why we wanted to avoid having to give our newborn antibiotics in the first place and were originally ecstatic when we heard her surgery wouldn’t require them.
“We can do this, we got this”…is what we told ourselves. We made it through surgery and she’s alive. We just have to get through this infection. Another week passes, and we bring her back again. The surgeon says the infection is still there and we have two options. Option One: baby Milan has to go under anesthesia again so he can install a drain in her belly button to drain out the infection -OR- Option Two: he could stick a needle in the site right then and there to extract it that way.
Neither options were good ones but there was no way I was going to have her put under anesthesia again so we chose option two. Before proceeding, the surgeon warned me that she may cry and that mothers have passed out when watching this procedure performed . My husband and I told him to start and I had to turn my back because I couldn’t stomach watching her in pain anymore. As the procedure began, I heard Milan cry out so loudly and each second that went by, I wanted to die. I wanted to take her place and take away her pain so badly. My husband held Milan’s tiny little hands as the surgeon injected a huge needle into my baby’s belly button and all she did was stare into daddy’s eyes while her face turned red and tears dripped out of her eyes. It wasn’t a normal baby cry, it was the saddest, most painful cry I had ever heard. She had never cried with tears before that day, but during the procedure, there were so many tears, they had pooled up inside both of her ears. I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. My stomach was in knots and I thought I was going to throw up.
You would think this was the end of it right? Wrong. While the surgeon was attempting the extraction, he busted her stitches wide open! We had NO IDEA this could happen nor were we forewarned that it even COULD happen!! We were then told that because the stitches were gone, she now had an open surgical wound and we would have to pack the wound ourselves everyday until the wound healed itself from the inside out or visit urgent care daily to have them do it! Oh My GOD!!! We were not familiar with what wound packing entailed and if you ever Google or YouTube it, you will be sick to your stomach. What this meant was that we would pretty much have to perform surgery on our baby girl every day by ourselves by inserting a strip of gauze material into the wound with a q-tip or tweezer tip! How can they expect parents to know how to do this? They expect us to stick a sharp object and push a special type of gauze into the open wound of our six week old baby? Are they serious?! The surgeon stated we may need to continue the packing for up to three weeks depending on how long it took to heal. This cannot be happening!
I started second guessing our decision to have her umbilical hernia fixed. I started to blame myself and wonder if we made the right decision. Had we just had the inguinal hernia repaired, we could have avoided all of this. I hated myself for it. If we hadn’t opted to repair it, would it have gone away on it’s own or would she had to have another surgery at some point in the future? The second guessing and questioning of our decisions was enough to drive us mad. We knew the decisions we made were always in Milan’s best interests but never could have imagined the nightmare this turned into.
Not only did our baby girl have to go under for surgery, she had to go on antibiotics and now has an open wound which we would have to pack everyday. Just the word “wound” associated with my little angel made me nauseous. It was all just too much and was simply unbearable. I was supposed to be enjoying this precious time with my newborn child but instead I spent the next couple of weeks crying and watching her endure pain as we had to hold her down to pack her wound while hoping and praying that we weren’t doing it incorrectly. As a new mother and father, we were already sleep deprived and now we had to add additional time consuming steps to our already time limited daily schedule.
I wish this experience upon nobody however I know there are others out there who have gone through or currently are going through much tougher battles. Joshua and I are typically very strong believers that everything in life happens for a reason, but what was the reason for all of this? Perhaps a reminder that as much as we think we are in control of our lives, we truly aren’t? Maybe an exercise in learning to have more faith? Or is it to remind us that every day should be treasured and every minute spent soaking in the love of your family? Take every second you can right now to write, call, text, drive, show up in person, do whatever you can to be with your loved ones and communicate how much they mean to you. We have appreciated that tomorrow is never promised to any of us and we have an opportunity at this very moment to feel, share and enjoy love. To every mother reading this, hug your child, gaze into their beautiful eyes, kiss your kids, tell them how much you love them and enjoy every second of their health and happiness! If just one of you does that after reading this, please let me know what it meant to you so that I can share it with Milan to let her know her story touched one life. As painful as this experience was, it has shown me that a mothers love for her child runs deeper than anyone could ever know. It resonates and strikes chords within the bones, gut, heart, mind and soul of a mother. I know personally from my miscarriage that we are all extremely fortunate and blessed to have our children in our lives no matter how difficult the challenges we face may seem.
We had to dig deep within ourselves to choose whether to let this situation depress and devastate us, or whether to let it somehow empower us. I will use this journey to strengthen myself and my love for Milan and tell her everyday how much I love and appreciate her and will NEVER take even one second for granted! To all of you moms out there, you are powerful, you are strong and you are loved! Life is short, live it to its fullest, laugh, love and live!
If you’ve read this far, I just want to thank you for allowing me to share my innermost thoughts and feelings with you. It’s only by sharing our journeys that we can learn and grow from one another. You are appreciated! XO