My five year old son developed and umbilical hernia when he was around five weeks old. I wasn't alarmed at first as I knew what it was. It continued to grow in size and by the time he was eight weeks old we were seeing a pediatric surgeon for evaluation. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of babies are born with an umbilical hernia. From that very first visit the surgeon informed us that most children with umbilical hernias have them spontaneously resolve on their own by the time they are five. If the hernia does not resolve by the age of five it is recommended to have the hernia surgically repaired. For five years we visited our surgeon with the hopes that it would close on its own. Unfortunately for my son he was not one of the lucky ones.
I scheduled surgery for Chase right before Christmas at our yearly recheck appointment. This gave us two months to prepare him and ourselves for surgery day. I stood at the front desk that day as the receptionist was going over everything feeling nauseous and fighting back the tears. Both my son's were right there and I was not going to let them see me upset. It was my job to be strong for Chase and I would vow that any tears I would shed would not be in front of him. I didn't want him feeding off me. I needed to hold it together and be his rock.
The next two months we would casually bring it up. I wanted him to be as prepared as a five year old could be for surgery. The procedure itself would last under an hour and I was told I could be with him until he was anesthetized. Simple procedure or not, my son was still going to have to be put under anesthesia. Though I knew he would be in great hands it did not stop my mind from traveling to all the "what if's" that could happen under anesthesia. I am a Veterinary Technician and have spent plenty of time in surgery. It's always been one of my favorite places as a technician. Though animals and children are very different, the process of how anesthesia works is the same. I am fully aware that each patient can respond differently. I also know that risks for things to go wrong are low. Low or not, there are risks! As a mother it is difficult not to go to "those places" that scare you the most.
The two weeks prior to the procedure I felt out of control with my feelings. I was irritable, easily frustrated and feeling emotional. I couldn't wait for my husband to come home so I could get out the door and run. I talked about my fears some with my husband yet kept most of what I was feeling inside until I ran. I would run and try to process everything I was feeling. I felt like someone was suffocating me. I needed to try and get away from these feelings that were wrapping around me. I needed to run away from my fear.
The day before my son's surgery on my run I tried to fight back how scared I was. I couldn't do it any longer. I was trying so hard to be strong for my child and I needed to just let go. That last mile I could no longer fight the tears. The cold wind blew my salty tears from my face as I ran harder and faster. I was terrified and just wanted it all to be over. I needed that run that day. I needed to allow myself to feel the things that I feared.
|Chase, with a smile during Pre-Operation|
Chase was amazing the morning of surgery. Pro-Op procedures went well and he had a smile on his face most of the time. Everyone was amazing with him as well as kind and supportive to us. They let me lay in a hospital bed with Chase and they wheeled us both to the OR. I can't even imagine what what going through his head. I am not sure I could even process what I was feeling being wheeled down halls and around corners to reach our destination. Once in the OR it was time to begin anesthetizing my son. I wrapped my arms around him as he took his first breaths like a champ. It was within a minute he started to respond to the anesthesia and his arms and legs started to flail. This is normal and I knew that. Still, holding your child as their tiny body soon goes limp in your arms is a feeling I never want to have again. Even worse, having them being taken from your arms and placed on an operating table and you having to walk away.
Walking away from him was the hardest thing I had ever done! My chest felt heavy, it was as though someone was squeezing my heart and refusing to let go. As I was escorted back to the Pre-Op room I felt like he was a million miles away. I wanted to run back and grab him. I felt helpless and alone. All I wanted to do was hold him, touch him and know he could feel my love.
I sat in a chair in the lobby of the hospital clutching onto his favorite blankie and his new Paw Patrol dog ("Chase" of course!) that we had given him that morning in the car before entering the hospital. I cried and though my husband was right there with me I felt like I was alone in a crowded room and no one could even see me. If I pause for a moment I can still connect with that feeling and I hate it. I never want to feel that way again!
Within an hour we met with the surgeon who escorted us to go see Chase. As we walked he talked about the surgery and recovery. I am not sure I really heard much of what he said for all I needed to know was that he was OK. The first sight of him he was still sleeping wrapped in white blankets and surrounded by pillows to keep him warm. His temp was low and they were trying to warm him up. He looked so little and helpless. For a moment it was like looking at him for the very first time again. As if I had just given birth to this amazing creature all over again. He was here, he was OK, and soon I would be bringing him home and this will all be a distant memory.
I am fortunate that my children are healthy. I commend each and every parent who has to go through things far worse and ugly than we did. My child is healthy and I will watch him grow, thrive and be a strong man. Some are not as fortunate. Other parents endure surgery after surgery or have to stand by and be strong while watching their child go through chemo or some other ailment. To those of you parents, I admire your strength and courage. I will never take for granted how very lucky I am for my children. I thank God for this amazing journey I am able to take with my husband. Being a mother to my two boys is the most amazing blessing I have ever been given. I can't imagine living without my loves.
Chase is one amazing and brave young boy. I admire his strength through all of this. He makes me so proud and this whole thing makes me feel closer to him. It's astounding what kids can endure. Children are resilient, fearless, and merciful.
Saturday morning Chase was feeling well enough that I felt comfortable heading out for a run. I ran for the first time in weeks with a sense of freedom. I felt grateful, relieved and had an amazing run. I was no longer running from fear, I was running out of gratitude and happiness. I was able to smile and breathe instead of battling emotions I had no idea how to handle. With each step I felt like I was floating above the pavement, this run was exactly what I needed. Next time fear decides to come around it better just turn around and head in another direction. Fear can't catch me, I am way too fast!
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