This morning at 4:45 the alarm went off so that I could feed Jackson one last time. We brought a cup of water with us in the car, and he sipped a few teaspoons worth up until 8. He seemed content, though, and wasn't complaining. After dropping off the girls, we arrived at the hospital around 9:30 this morning. The traffic wasn't nearly as bad as we anticipated.
We registered and were told to sit in a waiting area, and that we were a little early so they weren't quite ready for us. Twenty minutes later the nurse walked out to escort us to the ambulatory procedure center. We stopped at the scale first, and Jackson had gained weight just since last week (23 pounds, 8ozs). The room was divided into curtained exam areas that could be closed for privacy. We were in "room" 8. There was a glider, an arm chair, and a smaller-scale hospital bed. It was narrower than an adult one, but just as long.
We sat in the room and Jackson seemed grumpy but easily entertained by the nurses. They got some medical information on him, asked about his last meals and whether or not he had any teeth. They had to get his blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. She said that his feet and hands looked a little chubby for an easy stick, and that they might need to gas him down first. We instantly felt like weight had lifted, and she said she'd need to talk to the anesthesiologist since it's ultimately up to him, but that she saw no reason why they couldn't get him to sleep before they did the IVs. She added that one of us would be able to be with im when he went to sleep, so I volunteered John. I had been denying him nursing all morning and didn't want him to have any more fear or negativity associated with being around mom.
Next, they needed a physical on him that was within the last 30 days, so a nurse practitioner came and evaluated him briefly (declaring him perfect). He sat still even for his least favorite part - the ear check. She was from the ortho clinic, where they ordered the MRI, and was incredibly kind and gentle with him.
The anesthesia nurse came in and was amazing. She wasn't able to get her breastfed son to take a cup until 15 months, so she understood our plight. We chatted about our kids, and she got more background information. We talked about risks. I asked for all of it, what could happen, what the chances are, and what to expect. She was totally honest and I respected her so much more for it. It was a huge relief to hear that since he didn't have heart and lung issues, and was a healthy baby without any upper respiratory symptoms, the chances of anything going wrong were very slim. We talked about what would happen if he had a breathing problem (the most common adverse reaction) and she said sometimes they have to put in a little breathing tube because when babies wake up they tend to freak out and gasp, which can cause them to spasm. Having all this information made me prepared for what could happen, and I knew that no matter what he was in good hands. We couldn't have asked for him to be in a better hospital if something did go wrong.
The clock was ticking slowly and the original nurse came in to let us know that they MRI scan was running late and we wouldn't be going back until 5 or 10 after. I had been avoiding holding Jack, thinking if I did he'd want to eat. But, by 5 after he was getting more worked up and just wanted mom. I snuggled him against my chest and softly whispered his favorite lullaby in his ear. He was trying so hard to go to sleep, but he was so hungry his tummy just wouldn't let him. I kept walking him around, rocking him, singing our song. The last twenty minutes seemed like an eternity. Nurses filled the bed with electronic toys and we desperately tried to keep him happy.
Finally, at 11:25 they came in to let us know that it was our time. The anesthesiologist was a handsome man with dark skin and warm eyes. His accent made me think of the tropics or warmer climates. He shook our hands and said a soft hello to Jackson. He was gentle and kind - not quite old enough to be grandfatherly, but similar in disposition. He agreed that Jackson could be gassed down first, and explained the procedure one more time. He said that they'd walk back, put a small mask on Jackson, and within a minute he would fall asleep. Then they'd get the IV in either his hand or his foot and start the medicine to put him under. The MRI would last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many pictures they needed. Then they'd bring him back to the room and page us so that we could be there as he was waking up. We were so relieved to know he wouldn't be without us for a moment.
I held my boy that last minute, finished the last line of our lullaby, "When you wake, I'll be there to hold you close like teddy bear" and kissed his head. I told him I loved him and then passed him to Daddy. He was crying, hungry, so tired. I saw his head peeking over John's shoulder as they walked down the hallway. I smiled and waved.
John was back within a minute. Jack had laid down on the table and started crying harder. They put the tiny mask over his face and the doctor said crying is good - they have to breathe when they cry and the more they breathe the faster the medicine works. He fell asleep quickly - within thirty seconds - and the anesthesiologist asked if John wanted to give him a little kiss before he left the room. He did, and joined me back in the curtained area where we sat for a second, trying to just figure out what to do next.
Once we took a moment to breathe, we walked out toward the waiting area. It was down the hallway by the ortho clinic and down a hallway. It was quiet and lonely. One TV was on in the corner, just a bit too loud. It was empty. We sat for a minute, then decided that time would pass more slowly if we were sitting and decided to go downstairs to get lunch. Since he was taken back so late, it was already 11:30, and we knew we'd be hungry by the time we got out of there.
After we ate, we went upstairs to the gift shop. They had beanie babies, and Jack had been playing with the puppy the nurse in radiology gave him last week. We saw a larger puppy, smooshy soft and light blue, and had to get it for him. We sat nearby for another ten minutes or so, then grew impatient and walked down the hallway. We thought about sitting in the radiology waiting room that was almost adjacent to where Jack was, but instead stood in the hallway. It had been 70 minutes since he went back - surely they'd be done soon.
We looked up and the nurse spotted us - almost looking as if she was doing something wrong. She had Jack cradled in her arms, still sleeping from the anesthesia. He was in a diaper, wrapped in a scratchy white blanket, with a monitor hanging from his foot. She said that during the MRI they saw something in his belly and wanted to do a quick x-ray. She said it looked like a black mass and they wanted to know if he may have swallowed something. She added that they did end up having to stick him twice, but other than that he did great, and of course, didn't feel a thing. Jack was stretched out across her chest, his eyes fluttering, and he softly said a word I didn't understand.
We went to the same room we were in for his skull x-rays last week. He was still out from the anesthesia, but started grumping in his sleep. He was opening his eyes and arching his back, clearly unhappy about being naked and on the hard table. We braced him and they snapped two pictures. I held him in my arms for the first time in that room, and he didn't know who I was. He was completely out of it, pushing against my chest with his arms and kicking away with his knees. I passed him to John, who was able to get him calmed down.
When we got back to the APC they said I could go ahead and try to feed him. He didn't quite latch on, and didn't have a strong suction at all. He was still so sleepy and wasn't opening his eyes. He tried to nurse for about ten minutes, and eventually got stronger and more consistent. He drifted back to sleep and I passed him back to John about fifteen minutes later. The nurse came back with the discharge papers and said we could go as soon as we knew if he kept the breastmilk down, then she'd take out his IV in his foot. She said that the ordering doctor would have to let us know what they found in his belly, and John pressed - if it was something urgent, we wanted to know now before we went to pick up the girls and drove all the way home. They called the nurse practitioner down who did his physical earlier and she stopped by the room to let us know she'd go look at the x-rays right that second.
We sat, anxious, wondering what this black mass was in his belly. We worried and I kept reminding John that there was no sense in speculating until they came back in. She returned with a print out and handed it to me asking if I knew what it was. It looked like a doll earring - not sharp, but two balls on either end. It was a long, thin piece of metal right there in his intestines. She laughed and said he'd pass it in a day or two. We were relieved once again.
She left, and we sat in silence again with our sleeping boy. We watched his heart rate on the monitors and he would react when we talked to him. I finally got the idea of saying his sisters' names - knowing how much he loves them and lights up when they come into the room. I whispered, "Jackson - do you want to go home and see Jae Jae?" and he immediately started moving. It was unreal. He started opening his eyes and said "Jae Jae." I started saying each of his sisters' names, and he'd repeat them. I told him we got him a new doggie and he said "goggy" and "woo woo." He sat up, held his head up high, and looked like he'd just had the best sleep of his life. He held his new puppy, squealing "goggy" and "woo woo" and shaking it around. He was 100% back to his old self, smiling at the nurses and talking to us.
His nurse came back in to talk to him and said she could take out his IV now. I asked if I could nurse him while she did it, thinking it might hurt him. He didn't even flinch. He wasn't very hungry after getting IV fluids, but he was nursing as usual and his suction was strong again. We walked through the halls of the hospital thanking God for our amazing boy and the capable hands he was in, filled with calm and optimism for the things to come.
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