A while back, I wrote about preparing kids for surgery. However, the game changes quite a bit when you’re talking about an infant or toddler! When that’s the case, it’s more about preparing the parents. Just like our son E, our daughter has hearing loss. And just like E, she had to get a cochlear implant in order to be able to hear. However, E was 4-and-a-half when he had his surgery and our daughter was just over 10 months old when she had hers in January. We were not able to prepare her for it mentally or emotionally. She had no idea what was going on until the gas mask was put on her face in the surgery room. Needless to say, she was not a happy camper. When the surgery was over, we let her sleep for as long as she possibly could, as it was important for her to get a lot of rest. Then I had her sit on my lap to drink an electrolyte beverage. She was okay when her mouth and tummy were being occupied. Then she got upset when she realized she had a bandage on her head and that her ear was in quite a bit of pain. The rest of the day was just spent with us holding her and allowing her to rest however much she needed. She was not very comfortable and had those trembling cries of a baby in pain. But thankfully the next day she was up and about like nothing had happened.
On the flip side, I had stomach pains for days even just thinking about the surgery. I was so anxious about putting our baby under anesthesia and all the complications that could arise from the operation. Even hearing all the precautionary measures from the doctors didn’t ease my mind. It helped to post questions on some hearing loss groups on Facebook and ask about other peoples’ experiences. Everyone was very reassuring, but even so, I was paranoid that something would go wrong and worried that I’d never see our baby girl again. The entire time the procedure was taking place I was full of nervous energy. At the hospital, any time the door to the recovery room opened, I hoped it was the doctor coming out to tell us it went well. When he finally did, I was so relieved to hear the good news.
Since then, she’s been doing amazing with her implant. When she had to have the same surgery done on her left ear recently, she was 14 months old and it just seemed easier and quicker for some reason. Perhaps it was because we had already been down that road with her. She was cranky prior to the surgery because she wasn’t allowed to eat and she could only have clear liquids four hours prior. Even so, she held her own pretty well. She also came out of the surgery more easily and wasn’t crying the whole afternoon and evening. She just slept a lot and was in good spirits afterward.
If other parents have to put their infants or toddlers through surgery, I hope that reading this post will put you more at ease. Babies are even more resilient than older kids when it comes to having medical procedures done. I have come to believe it’s almost better that they do it now when they won’t remember what it felt like — or the process leading up to it.