How prepared can you be for your baby’s first ever operation? Whether your baby is 16 years old, 16 months or 16 hours, as parents you will have the same anxieties, worries and emotions no matter what age it may happen. No matter how big or small the operation, watching your child go under general anaesthetic isn’t pleasant.
We always knew operation day would happen and we knew that Milo would still be very little and this was a lot to deal with, emotionally. For the first two weeks of Milo’s life, we felt like we were left in the dark and given very basic information about his condition. However, looking back, we were clearly just being concerned parents and the professionals were doing their jobs and following procedures.
We were first told about the operation, in detail, at our first appointment with physiotherapy. It seemed straightforward and small. Milo would be put under general anaesthetic, he would have a small incision at the back of each ankle to snip the Achilles’ tendon and then he would get stitched up and plaster casted for recovery. Simple. The procedure is very simple and low risk, but Milo’s still our baby.
When we had confirmation of the day of the operation, we felt relief and anxiety all in one. It was exciting to know that we were moving onto the next phase and Milo was making good progress. The next phase just meant, operation.
The date was hanging over our heads, but it didn’t feel like a gloomy black cloud. It was more like the bright and positive sun, with a black cloud passing by occasionally. We are a positive family, so we were looking forward to the big day more than we were worrying about it but talking to others about what was going to happen to Milo was introducing a little bit of fear every time we spoke about it. This was partly down to how our family and friends would react to what we were telling them and partly because we had repeated the procedure so many times, we had started to think in more detail, what could go wrong?
Our trip to the hospital seemed to be the longest one to date, when in reality, it was probably one of the more straight forward journeys we had taken. We were very organised on the day and reserved a parking space in the car park where we had become members, to get discounted rates every time we had to go to hospital. We even turned up to our appointment early, which we probably couldn’t do if we were bribed with free food!
Once we were set up to take Milo into the hospital, it all seemed very real and the sicky, worrying feeling was well and truly present. The hospital corridors were long and I started noticing worried looking parents walking by, when before I only noticed happy, smiley children.
Once we were on the ward, I could only see positives, which was a relief. The staff were all very friendly and parents in the waiting room were all dealing with children getting hungry due to being nil by mouth so I knew I wasn’t alone. For that reason, and that we had support from Milo’s Nan too!
The wait to be called into theatre was long, poor Milo hadn’t been fed milk in five hours, the pain I was feeling from my chest was almost as unbearable as the wait itself. As a family, we were all getting impatient, there were quite a few huffs and puffs and groans. Then out of nowhere, we were called through. There was a tiny hospital gown waiting for Milo and we had him swaddled in a blanket, relaxed and content, just how I wanted to keep him. We were talked through what was going to happen as we were holding our little baby tightly in our arms and in no time at all, they were holding a mask out, ready to put him under the general anaesthetic. Milo was held by dad, sat on a stool, with me stood closely behind. The mask was put over Milo’s nose and mouth and after taking a few breaths his eyes started to close and he started to fidget a little bit, which is expected. He was then put into the operating table and had a kiss from mummy and daddy. Then came the tears, the ones that all theatre staff expect but you still feel like you’re the only parent to cry and you don’t have your shit together. The reassurance I got was from another mum on the ward tell me that the first time is always the hardest. This made me realise that parents go through this regularly and there are so many brave mums, dads, siblings and grandparents and this is something to admire. We were lucky to be in a hospital which spread so much positivity in their community.
The 45 minute wait for Milo to come out of theatre was long and boring. I sat holding his Muslim cloth for the duration, wiping away tears whenever I thought about what was happening to our little boy but I also took the opportunity to enjoy a hot cup of tea!
After 45 minutes of pacing the waiting room wondering what to do with myself, the nurse called us into recovery. The room was empty, just Milo being cuddle by a nurse and a few others stood around. He was handed back to us straight away and the knots in my stomach released immediately and I felt like everything was better again. We had about an hour and a half to cuddle our little boy before heading home and getting back to reality. It was definitely a time to cherish after such a long and tiring day.
We were told that the operation went well and Milo’s feet were in the position that they should be in so you can imagine how excited we were to take the final plaster casts off and see the result! It has all been worth it so far and now Milo looks like a super cool snowboard kid in his boots and bar!
Milo post operation.