Surgery and the Spica


So, at the age of seven-and-a-half months, Lucy was scheduled to have her first ever surgery. We had to check in to Princess Margaret Hospital at 6:45 a.m. for her 8:15 a.m. operation. I set my alarm for 4:45 so I could grab a quick shower before waking Lucy at 5 for her last feed (she had to fast for three hours beforehand). This was an early start after getting to bed late due to packing my hospital bag and getting various things organised, not to mention Lucy’s multiple wake-ups during the night!

Lucy all dressed up in her hospital-issue pj's, looking like a jailbird! And a bleary-eyed mama trying to be strong.

Lucy all dressed up in her hospital-issue pj’s, looking like a jailbird! And a bleary-eyed mama trying to be strong.

Before the procedure we had to speak to several people all asking pretty much the same questions, have Lucy weighed and measured up for her cast, sign various consent forms, select the colour for the cast and then decide who was going to go through with her when they put her under anaesthetic. In my mind it was always going to be me but at the last minute I told Jon it had to be him because the closer we got to 8:15, the more frayed my nerves were becoming and I lost confidence in my ability to keep smiling while she was being put to sleep.

As the team of medical staff arrived to wheel her off and Jon went along with them, I couldn’t help myself and burst into tears in the busy waiting room, the lack of sleep and suppressed anxiety taking its toll. (I’ve wisened up now and know to wear waterproof mascara to all medical appointments!) Jon was back within probably two minutes. Lucy had been completely calm and very quickly went to sleep when they gave her the gas, without any dramatic rolling of eyes or convulsions!

My little pin cushion :(

My little pin cushion 😦

After two-and-a-half hours, two doctors came through to report back to us. The anaesthetist explained that it had taken her a whole hour to find a vein to put the cannula in for the second dose of anaesthetic and that Lucy’s arm would look like a pin cushion. <SOB!> Then the doctor reported that they had injected her hip socket with dye and taken an x-ray to see exactly what was going on before they operated. The x-ray showed that there wasn’t any build-up of tissue in the socket, like they had previously thought, which meant that they didn’t need to operate after all! All they needed to do was put the cast on, and this procedure is known as a ‘closed reduction’ (‘closed’ because no surgery was required to get the hip socket into the optimal position). The cast has to stay on for three months in total and will be changed after six weeks to accommodate Lucy’s growth.

I was then taken through to the recovery room as Lucy was coming round from her anaesthetic. The nurse explained that I should breastfeed her straight away to reassure and comfort her. This was somewhat tricky since she was now in a bulky, heavy, scratchy cast and had some tubes attached to her. The nurse took her temperature a number of times and each time it was well below normal. To warm her up, they placed a blanket-type thing over her into which a pipe was blowing hot air. We sat there for ages until she had eventually warmed up and could be taken through to the ward where we would spend the night.

Getting in a nap despite the noise of a busy children's ward

Getting in a nap despite the noise of a busy children’s ward

The room we were in was so much better than I’d anticipated! I thought it was going to be a huge room filled with babies but there were only three beds in it and a fair bit of space so we weren’t on top of the other families. The nursing staff at the hospital were all friendly and efficient and Lucy was very well taken care of. Jon was allowed to stay pretty much as late as he liked so long as he didn’t actually spend the night. After a long day, he headed home around 9 p.m.

Lucy and I then had a very long and disrupted night. We were both exhausted and desperately trying to sleep but the odds were not in our favour. I wont list all the factors involved except for the main one that prevented us from getting any decent sleep: one of Lucy’s room mates was a seven-week-old bub with a condition called sleep apnea. According to the Babycenter website, babies with sleep apnea stop breathing during sleep. The baby might gasp or gag as he finally takes a breath. He may also turn blue. This poor little boy was hooked up to a machine that monitored his breathing and whenever his oxygen levels got too low an alarm would go off loudly to summon the nursing staff. This happened a LOT. And when he was awake – he cried. A LOT. So yes, a very long night was had by all in Room 5.

Lucy as bright as a button on Day 2.

Lucy as bright as a button on Day 2.

The next day we were more than ready to get home but had to wait until they could do an MRI to confirm that Lucy’s hips were in the correct position in the cast. The MRI is a pretty scary procedure for anyone who gets claustrophobic and for babies it can be especially scary because there are all sorts of wierd noises that go off during the scan. It lasts about 10 minutes. I went in with her and had to sit at the one end of the tunnel to hold her arms still and speak soothingly to her. She surprised us all by staying totally relaxed and was falling asleep by the end of it!

"Get me outta here!!"

“Get me outta here!!”

By mid-afternoon, the doctor was able to review the scan and confirm that all was well and we could leave. It had only been a day and a half but it felt like we’d been in there for a week! As lovely as the hospital staff are, we couldn’t wait to get home again.

To end off, I’d just like to thank everyone who sent texts and Facebook messages to us during this daunting time. That long night in the hospital was made a lot more bearable thanks to all of your encouragement and prayers. I truly did feel buoyed by your support.

And I’m sure your prayers had a little something to do with the fact that Lucy didn’t have to have surgery in the end…



3 thoughts on “Surgery and the Spica

  1. Barbara Clulow

    Dear Jenny!
    We’ve been thinking of you during all this. It is amazing how much easier it is for the child to cope with this while the parents are traumatised. All the best. Will look forward to more of your blog. Am interested to know how they keep the legs in that splayed out position. Is there a bar between the feet, or something at the back. You have a very cheerful looking little daughter.

    • Hi Barbara
      Thanks so much for your message and for following our story. It is indeed amazing how the little ones just roll with the punches. I’m finding it very physically demanding looking after Lucy all day (and night) in her heavy cast.
      Some babies get a bar placed between the legs to keep them splayed out but Lucy didn’t get one. The plaster seems solid enough to do the job. Her legs aren’t going anywhere!

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