I know many have been waiting on the edge of their seats to hear what happened next when Stella woke up from her surgery. Not sure if it’s against blogging customs but I’ll go ahead and tell you why the wait. I had nothing good to say. Up until just a few days ago, there was no good news for our Spica baby. I try my best to keep things upbeat and positive so until I feel people will be pleased after reading my post, I wait. It’s been a little over a week now and things are better. So, now I will share.
While Stella was in the OR, our doc came out to speak with us in the waiting room. His scrubs were drenched in sweat. I still wonder if it was from the stress of the surgery or from the high temperature in the OR. We were expecting the need to make small incisions to release her tendons which should have allowed her hips to be maneuvered into the sockets. This was not ideal, we did not want her to undergo anything invasive, but understood that it was necessary and we were prepared for this. I was shocked when Dr. Lee told us that this was unsuccessful and they were moving on to the next, even more, invasive step. An open reduction at 3 months old. “Not my baby…”. This is such a common thought of mine it’s becoming eerie. They made larger incisions on both sides and carved out her hip sockets to make room for the tip of her femurs. Very invasive and very painful to recover from. Ultimately, the open reduction was successful so we were pleased.
When Stella moved to the post-op area, we practically ran through the halls to greet her. She was laying there in a big hospital crib with 3 nurses surrounding her, pedaling her cast. They were hounding me to use hand sanitizer before touching her but I couldn’t recognize anyone’s interactions with me as I was SO excited to see my baby. Again, Rob reigned me in to get the message across. He had more luck in getting my attention than the medical professionals this entire day as he could physically grab my arm to say “Stop. Relax. Listen to what they are telling you”. I gladly complied, of course, once I heard their message. Ok, a quick squirt of hand sanitizer then back to my babe. She was awake but clearly very out of it. She was just lying there whimpering while still asleep-looking. I couldn’t wait to get her into my arms. The nurses directed me to sit down, placed a big pillow in my arms, then placed her on top of the pillow. Not quite the direct snuggles I was hoping for but “I’ll take it”, I thought. She started to wake up and gain consciousness at this point. We were both very happy to be with each other. She reeked of chemicals or plastic or something. I learned the smell was from her exhaling the anesthesia. Tear. My poor baby. She gobbled down a full bottle of Pedialyte then a full bottle of formula about 20 minutes later. She was doing absolutely amazing and then all of the sudden… she wasn’t.
It’s like a switch went off or something. A switch that turned our perfect little recovery room world into a living hell. Suddenly, she was inconsolable. I mean seriously, scary, inconsolable. I thought this was normal-ish at first for a baby who just woke up from surgery. Until the nurses began to express concern. They asked if she was always like this. I was completely shocked by the question. “What do you mean is she always like this? I suppose only when she has her hips carved out and wakes up in a full body cast not understanding why.” I obviously didn’t respond with these words out loud. I didn’t respond at all. I shut down completely. It was as if time was standing still. Everyone was crowded around, staring, waiting for me to get her calmed down. Nurses started coming in from other stations. Just staring. Some even with their hands over their mouths. Rob was elsewhere having her pain medication prescription filled at the children’s hospital’s pharmacy. Remember when I said leaving her on that table in the OR was the worst moment of my life? This trumped that tremendously. They gave her a dose of Oxycodone, she eventually exhausted herself and passed out. Once she calmed down I started bawling. “I can’t believe that just happened,” I thought. I was shocked when they told us it was time for us to go home moments after. I was petrified to be left alone with her but at the same time eager to escape the judgment. Rob soon returned, packed up our stroller, and left to get the car. Standard procedure- the nurse wheeled me outside in a wheelchair with Stella in my arms. What a flashback! This was how we left the hospital with Stella the first time.
The next few days were hellish but still not as bad as our time spent in post-op. Poor Stella was so drugged and out of it. The alternative was her being in serious pain which was just as hard to watch. I was a nervous wreck, to say the least. We moved her back into our room for nights. I set a quiet alarm every hour to check on her though her constant whimpering kept me mostly awake anyhow. They warned that it would take us back to “the newborn days”. No. This was nothing like our newborn days. This was not normal. I should not have been worried that a hard drug like Oxycodone was going to kill my beloved baby in her sleep. But there I was- worried sick every second of the day and night.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, we received good hip news after her first x-ray post operation. Her hips were still in. I didn’t really quite know how to react. So, I asked the doctor when he thought they would come back out again. Rob laughed. The doctor said that they will not be coming out of the sockets. She won’t even need a cast change (which equals no more anesthesia). In 7 weeks, Stella will have the cast removed, transition into a Rhino brace again for a few months, and then will be free atlas!
The saying is true, time does heal everything. Stella started to feel better and the cast quickly became no big thing. Hip dysplasia is once again, just a small aspect of our everyday life. We wake up and go about our normal routines. Sure, diaper changing looks a little different. So does sleeping and eating. As a family, we’ve got things down pat. Just like that! A mere 11 days. I like to look at Stella’s cast as her little turtle shell. She is a turtle and the cast is her giant, heavy home that she carries around with her everywhere she goes. We are just SO SO SO proud of our little Spica warrior. She is doing great.