A week ago today, we weren’t sure what would happen during the day. I want to start by thanking you all for the warm wishes we have received through comments and emails – you are the best bunch of blog friends I could have ever hoped for! Thank you so much!
I thought I would tell you what has happened this past week, so this post may end up a bit long. However, as you know, we arrived at the hospital Monday morning, not knowing whether they would keep us or send us back home. Immediately upon our arrival, Frida coughed once, and a nurse who heard let us know that they almost certainly wouldn’t operate on her. However, after we had a doctor listen to her lungs, and examine her ears and throat, and after visits to several specialists, the conclusion was that she seemed alright, and they wanted to keep her until Tuesday to observe her health.
So after the examinations, Mads went home to get Ronja, and Frida and I passed the afternoon together in the hospital, playing, giving her a bath, and dressing her in hospital clothes. Later, Mads came back with Ronja to have dinner with us, and the girls were able to play for a while before Mads took Ronja home, and I went to put Frida to bed in our ward.
Early the following morning, Frida still wasn’t coughing much, and they decided to go ahead and do the operation at 8 am as planned. Frida wasn’t allowed to eat or drink, but because of the early hour, this wasn’t really a problem. She wore elma cream on her hands an hour and a half before the time of the operation to make sure she wouldn’t feel the needle they inserted for the anaesthetics. Just before leaving for the operating room, she had a drug to make her drowsy, to prevent her from feeling scared with everything that went on. I sure would have liked some of that as well – from the way Frida acted afterwards it must have been effective.
Mads and I went with her to the operating room all gowned up and wearing sterile hats. Frida sat on a kind of heat mat on the operating table, while she was connected to the surveillance equipment, and they gave her a polar bear teddy for comfort – everyone in the room was really great and acting totally professional.
When she was wired, we lay her down, and I sang her favourite song to her while she was falling asleep with a mask covering her nose and mouth. That was a pretty emotional moment for Mads and me, and I found it hard to leave her there – all vulnerable and in the power of people we didn’t know. After we left, they started to do their work – closing her cleft palate, and inserting ear tubes.
The hours passed – we had breakfast, I took a shower, we went to the hospital shop to get something for Frida, and we went back to the children’s ward to sit and wait. And walk around and wait. And then wait some more.
Finally, the surgeon came to let us know that her surgery went well, and that they were just waking her up when he left there. While I was talking to him, his phone rang and someone told him she was leaking a bit more blood than what they liked. He went down there to stop the leak, and everything went fine, but meant that she had to be drugged even more.
Finally they brought her up to us.
She was lying on her bed, breathing oxygen, and she wasn’t awake yet. We talked a lot to the kind nurse Karen while we were waiting for Frida to come round. When she did, she was very quiet, and with a sad look about her. One of the first things she said, was “Onja” (Ronja).
We spent the first hours just sitting with her, holding her, reading her books, giving her drinks of water that were flooded with blood in the first sip, and feeding her small portions of ice cream and yoghurt.
The first few hours were quiet, but afterwards she just kept on crying. The entire day, she had this look in her eyes that I will never forget – like she had been abandoned by the world.
Mads had to leave eventually – Ronja had been spending the day with his mom, and he had to go there to take her home to bed. I stayed in the hospital with a thoroughly unhappy little girl. She didn’t sleep properly until late in the evening, so at that time I had some dinner and went to bed.
Wednesday morning things were already a little better. Frida has to wear arm splints to prevent her from sticking her fingers in her mouth, and while she was sooo mad at those things the first day, she was already trying to get better at using them in the morning of the second day. We read books, cuddled, played a little, had some naps, and in the afternoon Mads and Ronja joined us to stay there for dinner and spend some time in the play room. Frida was thrilled to see her big sister!
The next few days we saw a lot of improvement. She started to be happier, play more, and eat more. The evenings were difficult though – she cried a lot during those evenings in the hospital.
We got back home Friday, and it definitely did Frida good. She has wounds at the corners of her mouth that need treatment, and she is wearing the arm splints, but the biggest challenges at the moment are actually her eating, and reestablishing some rhythm. She is only allowed to eat soft foods for a while, which means oat meal, yoghurt, soup, mashed potatoes – well, mashed you-name-it really. She is not allowed any kind of bread, which is a bit hard because Frida loves bread.
But hey, she is doing well. She clings to us a lot more than she usually does, but I believe that is natural. She also seems to cry a bit more, but I’m sure if any of us had the kind of surgery she did, we would find it rather unpleasant as well. Actually, we would probably complain more than she does.
If you wish to see more, the pictures are all found here.
This is Frida the first evening home – watching tv with Ronja, and they are wearing those night gowns that I mentioned what seems to be an eternity ago. We are all so glad that the operation is done with, and that we didn’t have to wait another couple of months. Now we can get on with our life as a family, and Frida can start learning to work with her new palate. So all is well – spring is here, and now I have three work days, then I’m off for Easter. Nice.