A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: Emergency Surgery

It’s not often I am easily rattled – unless, of course, it’s something pertaining to one of my children. We had one of the scariest experiences of our life over this past couple weeks – May 9th, to be exact – and it was completely unexpected and totally terrifying. Here’s what happened.

Richi had been feeling great all day. He was playing, running, laughing, and smiling as he usually does. Not much could have ruined this beautiful day. I was having a blast hanging out with him and watching Shrek – and he was loving every minute of it, too.

Out of nowhere, he told me, ‘mommy, boo boo’. He was looking down at his belly button and pointing directly at it. I thought maybe it was just gas pain or residual pain from not feeling so great a couple days before. (Sidenote: Marcus had Flu type B and Strep all at the same time the week prior. I had him on Tamiflu and Amoxicillin, and the baby was put on Tamiflu a few days later as prophylaxis because he was having high fevers, even though he tested negative for flu and strep).

The hour wore on and so did the pain. It got worse and worse until he was balled up on the couch telling me boo boo to the bottom right quadrant of his belly. I began thinking this might be an appendix issue. I didn’t want to take chances. I strapped him into his car seat and away we went to the hospital.

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My precious baby boy on the way to the hospital. He began vomiting uncontrollably. This was during a break of throwing up where he was just so lifeless.

I rushed him to Golisano Children’s Hospital and they got him in for evaluation. After the initial evaluation, it was determined he needed an ultrasound. He got one, and it showed acute appendicitis and he needed emergency surgery. It all happened so fast.

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As soon as we got back to the room we were initially in, an influx of hospital workers flooded the room. This was when it was confirmed he needed surgery right away, and that he had appendicitis. I immediately broke down and had a panic attack. I could only hold onto my baby and cry and hyperventilate. It was insane. I sobbed and hugged him and my husband held onto my shoulder and did his best to hold it all together.

The minutes that unfolded afterwards were a blur. I had nurses, respiratory techs, the doctor, the surgeon and other assistants telling me to calm down, that he was in great hands, that this surgeon was the best of the best. I didn’t know how to calm down. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to entrust my child’s life into the hands of some man I didn’t know. How?

What if he didn’t make it? What if something went terribly wrong? What if he had a bad reaction to the anesthesia like I did during my c-section, and unlike me, they can’t resuscitate him ?

All those questions and more flooded my mind. But I understood how serious this was and knew that I just didn’t have a choice. His appendix could burst at any time and I knew what had to be done.

I prayed. I prayed right there in that room in front of everyone with my husband and with my son Alex. My faith alone got me through those moments. They were the most difficult minutes we have ever had to face as his parents – aside from his NICU ordeal.

We were taken upstairs after his IV was placed (which was in and of itself nothing short of traumatic for everyone) and they gave me a pair of little baby scrubs for him. There were little pants and a shirt. I also picked a surgery cap for him and got him ready. He was exhausted from crying and fell asleep with his head against my chest. I was still inconsolable and crying as I listened to the nurses ask me questions I needed them to repeat numerous times before I could even comprehend what was being asked or said. I was a mess. He was in so much pain.

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This killed me. Seeing him this way, hurting so bad, afraid, not understanding what was going on…I tried so hard to hold it all together for him while I was dying inside. 

We met with the anesthesiologist and went over a lot of things, and my fears and concerns. When I had Richi during my emergency c-section, I had a terrible reaction to the meds used, and my respiration slowed and I nearly died. I was scared the same thing would happen to him.

Eventually, I felt a little more at ease after speaking with him and his team. They were all very knowledgeable and I realized this is what they do all day, every day. On babies, children, and preemies. I had to trust them, I didn’t have a choice.

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Holding him so tight…so afraid of letting go.

They finally gave him an injection of Versed to sedate him, and then one of the techs told me she needed to take him from me to bring him back to surgery. I did not want to let go.

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My sleeping baby

I did, reluctantly…reaching my hands out and holding onto his until she walked so far away that his hand dropped from mine. He woke up after realizing Mama didn’t have him and he cried and called for me, reaching his little arms out after me. I lost it. Richi lost it. Both Richi’s lost it. Alex was sobbing and tears were falling. We all hugged and prayed and cried. It was the hardest thing ever listening to him call for me until I couldn’t hear him anymore, and know that I was leaving his life, literally, in a man’s hands I had never met.

I prayed. Hard.

I finally realized something. God didn’t bring him this far for anything to happen to him now. He has big plans for this little man. He’s not finished with him yet. I had a new found hope – and I had tried my hardest to impress upon Richi that hope. It was just so hard for him (as it was for me) and all he could do was pace and cry.

I prayed and knew God had him surrounded by Angels, and that everything was going to be alright.

The surgeon came out about an hour later and said everything went great. His appendix wasn’t burst or leaking and they got it out quickly and efficiently.

We couldn’t wait to rush back to see him. He was laying on the recovery table still asleep and all I wanted to do was hold him. My sweet, beautiful boy.

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After his surgery when we finally got to him 

I was a mess again. But this time, I was thanking God and not begging him to keep him safe. I was just thankful.

I spent the next day in the hospital with him while he recovered. He was released the night after surgery because he was drinking, eating and peeing normally.

Pics the next few hours after surgery to follow. I didn’t sleep a wink.

Here are some photos of him the following day. It was like a miracle; he felt so much better. He needed to take baby steps – but he was so much better!

My little guy is literally the toughest little boy I have ever known. He’s faced so many things in his short little life. And he’s come out stronger, with more willpower because of it every time.

Tuff stuff. That’s what I call him. And that’s exactly what he is.

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