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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Harriet's Stoma Reversal Operation

Dad doing last ever bag change!
So as we all know, Harriet was due to have her stoma reversal operation last Friday. This had been looming since her first surgery at day five of life and to be honest I had quite mixed feelings towards it. I know that it's the best thing for her but to see your child go through something like this, especially a tiny baby, well, there are no words really. I even started to think that I could happily deal with caring for her stoma forever, but it's not about me, it's about her and her future.

There was no overnight stay for us so alarms were set for 3.30am to feed her up until the cut-off point of 5am. From there we said our goodbyes to Nancy (who was over the moon at the prospect of a day with Grandma!) and headed off to the hospital. We arrived at 7.30am to be greeted by a rather large queue to get onto the children's ward, something we definitely weren't expecting. After 'checking in' to seemingly the worst holiday ever, we had to sit and wait. And wait. And wait.

After routine bloods, admittance forms and general observations being carried out we then faced another wait. We had assumed that having to be there first thing in the morning was indicative of Harriet having her surgery first thing but it certainly wasn't looking that way. The poor thing was offered some water at about 9.30am but she wasn't overly impressed. We spoke to an anaesthetist who discussed possible pain relief measures. I don't know why but this made me really upset; I think it was because she was so nice. Niceness always gets me. Talks of epidurals, morphine drips and suchlike really brought it all home and that this was really happening to her; to us; my precious baby.  

Time was now ticking on and we were told that it would be more likely that Harriet's surgery would now be after lunch. How was I going to pacify a starving baby? Thankfully she went off to sleep and we managed to keep her entertained ‘til about 2pm when at this point she was really starting to become unhappy. I couldn't even entertain the notion of the surgery now not going ahead but as time passed it really was looking more and more unlikely, to me at least.
Just before going to theatre!

Little did I know that these surgeons - truly special people – sometimes work for days without sleeping. They are incredible. Finally, at about 2.45pm, Harriet was called for and we faced the long walk down to the children's theatre waiting room. Before her first surgery, I had faced it alone and found it totally traumatising but at least this time Chris was there with me too. Sitting with other parents all having to say goodbye to their children and pass them over to a total stranger is something I never ever want to witness again. When the time came to hand over my baby I was a mess. I had been trying to hold myself together for the sake of the other children in the waiting room but I couldn't help it. We walked away praying that it would all be over soon and that the operation would be a success.

In an odd twist of fate, we were then taken to what was going to be home for me and Harriet for the next however many days/weeks - the exact same room we had been in when she was born. Someone asked me if it was going to bring back bad memories or cause me upset but it was somehow comforting, plus this time around we were here under such different circumstances.

After a two and a half hour wait, during which time I tried to keep as busy as possible, the surgeon came to find us and tell us that the operation had been a success. As you can imagine, we were overjoyed to say the least. Shortly we were able to go down and sit with her in recovery till she was well enough to come up to the ward. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of how Harriet would be post-op but she looked okay, maybe a little pale but who wouldn't be after major surgery? We were just glad that it was all over with and now we could focus on getting her better.

We knew that the next few days would possibly be hard but as long as she was comfortable and settled then that was all that mattered. It is such a relief to now have this operation over and done with. She is such a brave little girl who has already undergone so much in such a short space of time. Living in a children's ward temporarily isn't easy but it really makes you think just how lucky you are. I feel utterly ridiculous moaning about having to stay in for two weeks when she was born as some folk are in for months and months. 
Big sis and little sis post-op.

I really can’t overstate just how brilliant our NHS is and we’re all so fortunate and lucky to have this wonderful institution looking after us. It truly is an amazing organisation. I have nothing but admiration for everyone involved in our hospital experiences from surgeons to nurses to reception staff as well as the other parents we’ve met. Such amazing people who all played a part in Harriet's time in there. Hats off to them all!

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