It’s been a week since we woke up at 3:30AM to a hungry baby we couldn’t feed. It’s been a week since we drove dark streets to the hospital and joked feebly about the light traffic. It’s been a week since we distracted Henry during vitals, kissed his head, kissed his left foot, and gave him to the nurses. It’s been a week now, almost exactly as I write this, since Henry was wheeled from surgery to recovery.
The surgery went well. Dr. S was able to perform the procedure he’d planned. To be honest, most of what Dr. S said after his initial declaration of success is a blur. I remember being thankful Henry was alive and as he should be. I remember the assuring tone of Dr. S’s voice. I remember holding the X-rays of Henry’s leg before and after.
Seeing his little foot, see-thru, in its last moments as his little foot, was hard for us. It was harder, though, to see our baby so pale and groggy once they returned him to us. Harder still to listen to him crying, screaming, to spend hours bouncing and awkwardly cradling him, awake in the hospital room, trying to calm him as he came out of the anesthesia. Even harder to speak to him reassuringly, to hold him still as three nurses tried in vain to replace the IV he bit from his wrist in the wee hours of the morning.
We came home the next afternoon. Since he didn’t have an IV, they weren’t doing anything for him we couldn’t. We thought screaming at home would be screaming at home, at least. As soon as we left the hospital, though, Henry was through with screaming. He fell asleep in his car seat before we left the parking deck. He stayed asleep through two pharmacies and a quick grocery run. He woke when Michael scooped him out of the car seat and into the house. As soon as we were all in bed, though, he fell right back to sleep between us, and we slept for three hours, more continuous sleep than we’d had in days.
Henry spent Friday night and Saturday quite groggy. He seemed both perplexed and vexed by this, our boy who hates to fall asleep. He wanted to play, and did play, with blocks and a laundry basket and a finger puppet book I picked up in the hospital gift shop. But he glazed over quickly. Sometimes he just shut down, like a little baby robot. He didn’t smile much for a couple of days, didn’t laugh. But the willingness to play, the wanting to, helped us know our boy was in there. Still sunny. Still.
Sunday was difficult. Henry was more alert than he had been, but this alertness came with something like agitation, maybe anger or fear. Whatever it was, it made Henry stop nursing. He was upset about it, I was upset about it. I didn’t know how to comfort him otherwise, and he didn’t want to be with me much anyway. Michael took care of us both all day.
I was able to coax Henry back to nursing a bit on Monday, and by Tuesday he was pretty much back to his normal nursing habits. He laughed for the first time on Tuesday morning. By this time, he also wanted to get back to crawling all over the place and pulling up. The problem? The pin in his leg means he’s not allowed to put weight on his cast. This kid is not into limits. We spent the first half of the week trying to keep him off the cast. Now we’re working on teaching him how to pull up with his long leg rather than relying on the shorter one. We aren’t sure how much we’ll really be able to keep him off the cast between now and January 6, when he next sees Dr. S.
We want to thank those of you who have shown us support and generosity over the last week. And longer. We thank you for your prayers, your kind thoughts, your inquiries about Henry, your offers to babysit, the dinners you’ve brought or offered, the texts and cards you’ve sent. This week has been so difficult, so burdensome, but for many reasons it’s also been a blessing to us. You are some of those reasons. Keep reaching out to us, please. Keep Henry in your thoughts and in your hearts. We three still have a long road to travel.