There are a few reasons why I want to write this post. One is selfish and is just for therapeutic reasons. Secondly, I know there are other parents going through the same thing as us right now or will be in the future and maybe some of them will find this and find some comfort. For me the unknown was and is the worst in dealing with hip dysplasia in Caloway. As we are continuing on this journey and the things I was concerned about ie: diaper issues, spica cast comfort, anestesia etc are figured out I am already starting to feel better.
It has been 2 weeks since Caloway’s bilateral hip surgery so now is a good time to tell you about the day.
Infants are allowed to have formula or in our case breastmilk closer to start time of surgery as opposed to midnight for older kids and adults. But still, four hours before start time is a long time for a 4 month old to go without eating. So, we planned ahead. He woke at his normal time around 6 am. We did our normal routine of nursing and back to bed. 8:15am was our stop time. We woke him up at 7:30am and started nursing again. We wanted to leave plenty of time to nurse, burp, spit-up, get hungry again to repeat a few times before we stopped. After it was time for him to stop nursing we changed his diaper and played for a few minutes. Then we loaded him up in the car. We knew he would sleep and potential stay asleep once we reached the hospital. For us that was the goal. Keep him asleep for as long as possible. When Caloway is awake he is hungry! It worked well. We drove and talked about everything other than where we were going to be in two hours and let Cal sleep. And he stayed asleep all the way until we went back into pre-op. He was in a pretty good mood, plus all of the distractions were helpful. All of the nurses and doctors were happy to talk to him and play with him. This helped a lot in keeping him away from milk.
I can’t speak for every hospital, but here is how it worked at OU Children’s. We pre-registered for his surgery 1 week in advance and spoke with a nurse (Fred) who answered all of our questions-that he could. This helped us not have to redo paperwork the morning of surgery. We arrived at 2 hours prior to surgery start time and waited in the waiting room for about 20 minutes before we went to pre-op. There we spoke with pre-op nurses, the child life specialist and the anesthesiologist. We had to go ahead and change Caloway into his hospital gown. What I liked best about the pre-op area is they let us walk around with him and there was even a game room. I am sure it is perfect for the older kids, but it was nice for us too. Cory and I didn’t want him screaming for 2 hours before he went into surgery, so we did everything we could to keep him happy. This did mean Cory did a lot of the holding because when I held him he would go straight to my breast wanting to nurse.
Once it was close to time for surgery we were moved to the next area which is much smaller and functions as the room just outside the surgical area. It was just curtained off into 5 “rooms”. We were only supposed to be in this area for a short time before they took him back, but one of our doctors had a surgery that went long and they put another case in front of us. We thought we were doomed because we had already gone 4 hours and it was another 2 1/2 before they took him back. BUT Caloway did great. All the playing in the pre-op area made him very tired. Plus the child life specialist brought us a soother and a mobile that he loved and that helped him stay asleep.
The nurse came up to us and said it was time for her to take him. I tried to lighten the mood a bit and said “you mean you want me to hand my baby to you?” We all laughed, but yes that is exactly what I had to do. He was asleep, Cory and I kissed him and told him we loved him and off they went. We heard him wake up and cry when they were down the hallway. It was tough. Watching them walk away and Cory and I standing there. This was the moment I dreaded more than anything else and it lived up to how awful I thought it would be. Cory and I embraced and cried for awhile. Once we composed ourselves we decided to go out with our family and friends. Now for the surprise, this was the hardest part. Cory and I walking away from that little curtained room. I had imagined Caloway going away from us, I NEVER thought that we would have to walk away from him. So after Cory held me for a long time we finally made our way to the waiting room.
We were very lucky to be greeted by our loved ones. CJ, my parents, Cory’s mom, my grandma, nanny and papa and Uncle Scott and Aunt Melissa. It was nice having them all there. Now was the wait for the hour (or more) for the surgery to be over. We wouldn’t know until the put the dye into his hips if he would need open or closed reduction. We were hoping for closed. This would be a shorter surgery and faster recovery. We waited what seemed like forever and finally got a call in the waiting room. They told us he would in fact have open reduction. It was tough getting that news, but we had confidence in our doctors and knew they would make the right choice. They had reserved 3 hours at most for his surgery and he was back there almost 4. They did call with updates which Cory took and was very good about asking when the next one would be. For example: “You are going to call in an hour? So I will hear from you by 3:25?” It was funny but awesome all at the same time. They called to find out what color cast we wanted and we looked at each other like it was a joke. We just wanted him out of there! So we just said plain. Just a side note, that should probably be asked before you take a child into the operating room. Parents are on that phone for updates not cosmetic decisions. One thing I will say to all the breastfeeding mommies out there who may go through this is pump while your little one is in surgery. I did and I was so glad I had a supply built up. He didn’t want to nurse that night and it was easier to try and give him bottles.
Finally, they called to say they were done and the doctor would be out to see us. Dr. Puffinbarger along with Dr. Herndon performed the surgery. Dr. Puffinbarger came out to talk to us. He found a waiting room full of only our family and friends and I am sure it was a little surprising. But he let us know that everything went perfectly. He answered all of our questions and explained it all in detail. He told us we could go back and see him soon.
I was standing by the phone the next time it rang. I said hello and before the nurse could say our names I could hear Caloway in the background and said so. She said I must be his mom and we could come back. Cory and I grabbed our things and literally ran all the way to the recovery area. I was prepared to see the IV, but I wasn’t prepared to see him so swollen. His cry didn’t sound right because his throat was so dry. It took all of our energy to keep it together. We promised ourselves he wouldn’t see us upset. He is very emotionally intelligent and we wanted to make sure we kept smiling. Cory picked him up and laid him in my lap. I thought he would nurse right away, but he just wanted to be near and went back to sleep. He was very groggy from all the medications. We stayed in the recovery area just long enough for the nurse to finish the paperwork and then they took us to his room for the night. Cory held Caloway’s hand the entire way up. It was very very special and seemed to soothe Cal.
Once we got to his room Caloway slept and didn’t stir. We all crowded around him, but tried not to disturb him because we knew he would hurt when he woke up. I kept pumping and saving my milk for later. I was told by Caloway’s nanny who is also a lactation consultant and RN that stress can really reduce supply. So pumping is good for several reasons. When he finally woke up breastfeeding was hard for us so bottles really came in handy. He didn’t have to get into any other positions and could still get the nutrition he needed.
That night in the hospital was rough for Caloway. He was confused and uncomfortable. I was very glad that Cory and I were there. Several things happened with the nursing staff and Caloway needed us as advocates. Eventually for his own comfort I climbed in bed with him and laid him on my chest. It seems like it wouldn’t be conducive with the spica cast, but it was a perfect position. He slept over 3 hours like that…the longest time of the night. We left first thing the next morning. So all in all we were at the hospital for 24 hours.