Just a quick post on the status of the heart-surgery for our baby girl, Julia. Yesterday we went to the hospital in preparation of the aortic repair surgery for Julia and were lucky to both be allowed to sleep over at the hospital last night. She did great and barely complained about having to fast for the last few hours before the surgery itself, eventhough she was noticeably upset by the extraction of blood for tests in the early evening. The had to “set lines” to be able to easily provide her with a drip, monitor her blood pressure, etc and had to test her blood to determine her blood group. Now, we as parents would take every opportunity to hold our baby close whenever she’d start crying. Doctors and nurses need to do their work and are not as easily convinced. Julia however, still tried her best: She cried like there was no tomorrow but to no avail 🙁 I was standing right outside the door and my heart broke hearing her cry and me not be able to do anything for her. After about 15 minutes, which were excruciatingly hard, she came out and I held her close to me, while she still shook in despair and fear from what had just happened. Luckily, a mother’s breast is the best medicine and she felt better bit by bit throughout the evening.

Her last meal was around 2:00AM and just after 4:00AM she woke up again visibly shaken from the whole ordeal earlier that night. I tried comforting her the usual ways, but it did not work as well as I’d hoped, so decided to place her chest-down on top of my chest. The sound and motion of my breathing chest and beating heart quickly calmed her down and within a matter of seconds she was knocked out and remained so for approximately an hour. Then, time came closer for her to prepare for surgery. The nurses brought the scrubs and while I was putting back on my vision-aids and welcomed the morning, Rehana prepared our baby daughter for what was to come. By the time I returned, Julia was lying in Rehana’s arms, in cute looking scrubs with small cartoon-figures and flowers I think. We went to the Operating Theatre around 07:00AM this morning and around 08:00AM we kissed her cheek and wished her a save operation. She briefly opened her eyes and we tried comforting ourselves telling ourselves that everything will be alright.

The following three hours were the longest hours of my life and nerves were rushing to every part of my body. I felt horribly cold, had an upset stomach and felt extremely sleepy and sitting in that Family Room was the worst time of my life. Every person I saw walking, every incoming phone call, every beeping machine and every door opening spelt doom in my head and I couldnt take it anymore. During a quick toilet visit, the nerves took over and whatever I ate earlier came back out the vertical way. It relieved my stomach for a short while, but not for long. Rehana made a quick call to the Operating Theatre, but still no news. “Why? We had sent her in at 8:00AM and the surgery (if all went well) should only take 2 hours!” We however counted from the moment she went in and soon I realized that that was incorrect: Her surgery was scheduled for around 09:30AM, which meant she’d be out around 11:30AM only. And it was only 10:40AM by then. More freights, fears and anxieties later, a very welcomed phone-call on my handphone: Julia’s surgery went well. They were able to repair the narrowing of the aorta and Julia had done great throughout the entire surgery. She was being prepared for release to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and should be ready for visitors shortly.

We quickly made our way to the ward, and waited to see her. My mother-in-law spotted the big bed, with a tiny lady resting on top and we rushed by another entrance to catch a glimpse of our little baby girl. There she was, surrounded by a large team of surgeons, nurses and specialists. It took at least another 1 and a half hours before we could actually go inside and see our girl after her surgery. She’s in a huge fish-tank, surrounded by huge machines supplying her with mediciation, while others are monitoring literally her every heart-beat. It is the most painful sight you can imagine, when you see your baby lying attached to machines bigger than herself and tubes going in and coming out of her wherever you look. Yes, the doctors had prepared us for this sight, but we were ignorant, well at least I was. I knew what I was going to see, yet had no idea at the same time. No matter how painful it was to see her that way, at the same time it was comforting: I know the doctors are doing everything in their power to make sure she’s doing ok. The doctors explained every tube and line in and out of her and explained that she’ll be kept knocked out for at least another day, while she’s being supported by a longue-machine. At least she will experience no pain at this point from hunger, the surgical procedure or the tubes down her nose and throat.

Long story short: She’s doing good and the surgery went really well. The doctors are very pleased with the results of the surgery and although the upcoming 2 days will be a walk on a tight-rope as the doctors described it, they see the “Stoelwinder-gene” in her and said she’s a fighter. She’s resting now and will remain doing so for the days to come. When she’s ready to be less medicated, they’ll start removing some of the tubes. But that’ll be a few more days. Following these first 4 days in the PICU, she’ll probably have to go to the paediatric ward for a similar length of time, but doctors are hoping she’ll be able to leave back home with us within 7 to 10 days.

Monitor the situation here and we’ll try and keep you posted on how things come along. And pray for our daughter’s well-being. We just miss her so much right now!