Parental Reality Check

(warning…long post)

Stacy and I have constantly looked at each other throughout her pregnancy and the first 3 months of Owen’s life and said, “We don’t feel old enough to be parents…it just hasn’t set in yet.”  Well, it set in finally.  Nothing makes you feel more like a parent than going through the risks of major abdominal surgery on your child with his pediatric surgeon on his pending surgery.  That was the case for us on Sunday night, October 23rd, a day that we will never forget.

I woke up that morning at 3 AM and fed Owen as if nothing was wrong and he was like any other 3-4 month old waking up ready to eat.  And eat he did.  He grubbed his normal 5-6 ounces and went back to bed like a good little boy.  I was surprised to hear him screaming into the monitor just 3 hours later, thinkin’ he needed another bottle.  I grabbed the boy and prepared a bottle.   Much to my surprise, he was having none of it.  O basically just screamed, with his eyes closed, seemingly trying to sleep, but wanting nothing to do with the bottle or the milk within.  It is the first time I have ever seen this kid turn down a bottle.

Stacy and I woke together just 3 hours later and got ready to meet some friends for brunch.  I explained my confusion with Owen and we agreed that we would try to get him up at 9:30 AM before leaving for brunch and try to feed him again.  So we did.  And he could care less.  It was the first time that we have ever seen our smiley, happy, and funnyman baby absolutely lifeless.  I mean he was breathing but could care less about opening his eyes or taking a bottle.  Two missed feedings.  We chalked it up to his nasal congestion from the past 5 days and agreed we would do brunch and if he didn’t eat at noon, we would take him to urgent care.

No problem sleeping through brunch.  We waited at least a half hour with some friends for a table at Cafe 100 (great brunch by the way, maybe the best in Huntersville) and even had an extended meal as we met some a new couple and their precious baby girl.  We practically needed a whole back room just for the 6 of us and our babies.  It was great to hang out with friends but O’s health still was heavy on both of our minds.

We raced back to the house to see if O was finally ready to grub.  He wasn’t.  In fact he could care less.  We checked his temp, normal, and his diaper, just pee, and felt around his body for pain, none that was noticeable.  Stumped, we headed to urgent care.  There, we got in right away.  They checked him over, and after a negative strep test, they sent us home.  Not 10 minutes after being home, we got the final piece of evidence we needed to solve this case.

BLACK STOOL!  If this is not something you have ever experienced, pray that you don’t ever have to.  I still have that foul stench ingrained in my nose.  Needless to say, its nasty.  We knew right away where we were headed.  We called urgent care just for kicks and they sent us to the ER.  So we arrived at Presby Huntersville at about 12:30 PM with a listless baby.  We were seen after about 15 minutes (felt like a lifetime) and Owen was immediately taken to a bed.  It didn’t take long to solve the case and for the Dr. to find the intussusception.

Intussusception:  a medical condition in which a part of the intestine has invaginated into another section of intestine, similar to the way in which the parts of a collapsible telescope slide into one another.[1] This can often result in an obstruction. 

We were immediately told Owen would need to be transported down to Presby Main to the Hemby Children’s Center.  YIPPEE!  Enter Stacy.  First time in the ER…check!  First ride in the ambulence…check!  So I ran home to pack a bag, call O’s grandparents, get the dog ready, and seal up the house for the week…yeah I had a bad feeling we would be hanging out at the hospital for a while.

I walked into the second floor of Presby Main…otherwise known as Hemby Hotel…to good ole room 214.  Stacy was already crib-side with Owen hooked up to an IV.  The game plan was already arranged and we were practically on our way to the first attempt to repair Owen’s bowels.

I must say I was extremely impressed by Hemby.  Everyone was AWESOME.  From the techs’ to the nurses’ to the physicians’ to the anethesiologists’ to the surgeons’ themselves.  We are so thankful for the AWESOME team at Hemby.

So we dropped O off in Radiology for an air enema (not the actual procedure name but close enough)…5 minutes later we found out it failed.  We knew the next step…surgery.  We met with the anethesiologists and he talked us through sedating Owen.  Then we finally got to meet the surgeon.  Kind of what you expect.  Nice, well spoken, and very arrogant.  Exactly what I want in the man about to cut into my 4 month old (and for those of you who know me well…there is no sarcasm here).  If there was ever a profession where arrogance and confidence should be expected and welcomed, its pediatric surgery.  I want the best and I want him to know he is the best.  In my mind, we got the best.

Then one of the worst moments for me as a parent came.  Our surgeon told us what to expect and the risks associated with this surgery. I won’t go into details but there were some potentially awful and brutal complications (I’m sure there always are).

Thankfully, a couple hours later the surgeon returned to explain how the surgery went and it all went well. Now the bad news…we get to hang out at Presby Main for the next four nights.

I won’t get into all the details but Stacy and I felt like we were back to having a newborn; cranky baby (as expected), sleepless nights (also expected), and constantly beeping monitors (haha, if you pretend they were toys or bouncers then about the same). Owen did great and continued to make progress throughout his stay. Thank GOD for all of the fantastic physicians, nurses, and other surgeons that constantly checked in on us. They were all AWESOME. We were, of course, thrilled when we got the news that we could go home on Thursday morning.

We now certainly understand that awful feeling that parents have when your child is hurting and there is almost nothing you can do to fix it right away. We are so blessed to have such an amazing son and are even more blessed to have gotten through this terrible experience. Thank you to everyone who thought and prayed for Owen and our family. It was wonderful to have so much support. Owen is now doing GREAT. Completely back to normal (minus the 3 inch scar across his stomach). Even sleeping through the night again.

First parental reality check…..CHECK!

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