“It’s a very common procedure.” That’s what the surgeon told us after examining our 6-week old baby’s inguinal hernia. I don’t care how common it is, being told that your 6-week old needs surgery is terrifying.
A few days prior, I had noticed a small bulge on his lower abdomen, right along where the top of his diaper sat. As a first-time mom, I panicked a lot those first few weeks……I mean, MONTHS. I called my husband in during the next diaper change to take a look. He also noticed the bulge and instinctively we called the pediatricians’ office. It was pretty late at night so when the on-call doctor returned our call I was too anxious to take the call. My husband answered and explained what we saw and without missing a beat the doctor informed us he was pretty sure he knew exactly what was going on. He believed our son had an inguinal hernia. As soon as those words left his mouth and my brain processed them I grabbed my phone and Googled “Inguinal Hernia.”
Surgery. Our baby would need surgery.
I was a mess.
The next few days were filled with visits to my son’s pediatrician, the surgeon who would make the final diagnosis, and the hospital scheduler. During our appointment with the surgeon, he did a very comprehensive check on our son. The bulge we were seeing were actually his intestines “slipping out” through a weak spot in his abdominal muscles. Since we frequently had to push the bulge back down, the surgeon felt it was necessary to surgically repair the hernia. The fear was that the more movement there was, the greater chance the hernia would end up getting “incarcerated,” which would cut off the blood flow to the intestine and could be life threatening. We scheduled surgery for as soon as possible, which luckily, was my husband’s last day of paternity leave
We were given a very detailed instruction list to follow prior to surgery. Give him a good bath the night before, make sure his nails were clean and cut, and the one that worried me the most was not being allowed to feed him past a certain time the morning of surgery. Luckily my worrying was for nothing, as I set an alarm and nursed him right up until the cut-off time and he was content after waking and even after we got to the hospital.
Our son had a hard time coming out from anesthesia, which was terribly difficult to watch. They kept him overnight because of how young he was and this was a blessing in disguise. Having the extra help from the wonderful nursing staff was incredibly appreciated. Throughout that evening and overnight, our son wasn’t nursing as much and was extremely fussy, which I was very worried about. As soon as we walked into our home after being discharged, he was his old self again. It was almost as if nothing had even happened.
To this day, I can’t drive past Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin without getting emotional. It brings me back to the time when WE were the ones staying there. I see the lights on in each individual room and can’t help but to think about the parents and families of the room’s occupant, the child who isn’t sleeping in their own bed. The parent who is by their side worried sick, doing whatever it takes for their child to get better. I remember how incredibly lucky we were to have had such a minor issue that was so easily resolved.