Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hunter's Cleft Lip Surgery

July 29, 2013
My sweet baby boy went through his first surgery today, his cleft lip repair. I’m not really sure how to fully explain the day so I apologize if this post is a little disorganized. I am going to write this from my perspective I want people to understand from a mom’s perspective what is felt. My baby boy is a fighter and a trooper and showed so much bravery in his early age that I knew he would get through the surgery with flying colours; and that he did. From conception he was a fighter, we thought we were going to loose him but we didn’t. He is strong and healthy. 
(A couple days before surgery)

(Just before his surgery with his dad Kelly)
Hunter is now 4 ½ months old and I can tell you that I was really not looking forward to this surgery. Not necessarily because it was a surgery (that is part of it though, of course) but because I have spent these last 4 ½ months with my baby boy knowing that he was perfect in every way. I have spent the last week and a half really grieving with the fact that his smile will be very different. I love his clefty smile. I believe it gives him so much character and I wouldn’t, if it were my way and society wouldn’t later in his life play a big role in how he looks, change it for the world. But, because I know HE would want it later and that society is very highly geared toward appearance and acceptance that this surgery is indeed necessary. 

(Post-op saddest face in the whole world but doing so good!)
This was very hard for me to deal with. I know a lot of people won’t really fully understand what I mean by this but I really bonded with him and his little cleft. 
Driving to the hospital was so hard. When we woke up he was so happy even though he had been fasting since midnight he still had a glowing smile. We were playing in bed just before we had to leave and it was the toughest thing to put him in his car seat and drive to the hospital knowing he has no idea what is in store for him that day and I felt there was nothing wrong with him. I am putting him through this pain when nothing hurts to begin with. It was hard. 
When we got to the hospital at 9:15am, they admitted us and we waited in pre-op for 2 hours before his surgery time 11:15. Well by this time Hunter was so hungry. He was very mad. It was almost 12 hours since he ate last and that was major. They transferred us to another room, which was just outside of the operating room they were going to be at. Before I knew it, the surgeon was talking to us and the anesthesiologist was explaining and he was gone. It was so fast that I couldn’t cry. My emotions didn’t even realize what happened. 
We went into the parent lounge and waited with our buzzer for 3 hours. Thankfully my husband was smart and brought cards. Kelly, Kelly’s mom and myself played hand and foot the entire time until Hunter was in recovery. 
When Hunter was in recovery he was very, very upset. They were trying as fast as possible to get his pain managed and so he was comfortable. The poor boy was without food for ¾ of a day. He was hungry. We gave him some glucose water in recovery and he ate a lot of it. He didn’t care what it was he just wanted something in his tummy. When I first saw Hunter he was upset and I just cried. I cried because he was in pain, I would have done anything for him and wished it was me to undergo the surgery. Not him. I cried because he looked so different and I was used to my baby the way he was before. It has definitely been something to get used to. He just looks so drastically different. He looks great and the surgeon did an amazing job, but it was still really different. Even his cry was different. 
Once we got out of recovery we were transferred upstairs were he would stay in the hospital for the remainder of the visit. 

(with grandma)
He was super happy just to be held and fed. So that is what we did. Held and fed him as needed, for the rest of the day and most of the night. He slept lots, ate TONNES (which was great) and cried very little surprisingly. The doctors and nurses were very happy with his progress and his appetite! He even through the night gave us a few smiles, new ones that were so cute and that was a relief to see. He was happy and comfortable enough to smile! 

Day 2: 
Was considerably better, it is truly amazing how resilient children are. I never understood what other parents said when they said that but it is so true! Within hours I was starting to see the amazing little boy I knew just before his surgery. That was a relief  

As I am writing they are considering discharging him tomorrow!! Amazing! I totally thought he would be here longer but because his appetite is so great and his pain is managed really well, he might get to go home. He just needs to be able to be off morphine and IBprophen or Tylenol. They don’t want him to leave needing both of them just one. So we will see. If he has to stay another day though I’m not too worried. All I want is for him to be happy and healthy and not in any pain what so ever. He has been playing with his toys and standing all day. It is feeling like an almost normal day Unbelievable how fast they recover!

Day 3:

We are going home!!!! They took the retainer out of his nose, I signed the documents and we were free to leave!! The coolest of the doctors that was in the area of the hospital where we were staying at the Children's was Hunters NICU doctor at the RockyView Hospital! She was able to see him and she said it is so neat to see him now! She said its so cool to see babies that were treated so long ago and how they are doing currently. It was really cool!


  1. Tara what an incredible experience this has been for you. I can't imagine the agony of willingly driving your little baby boy to the hospital when he's doing just fine. You and I talked about that a fair bit before the surgery, but I can't even begin to put myself in your shoes when it comes to what you must have felt. That said, the doctors did an incredible job and little Hunter is as cute, smiley and happy as he's always been....just with a slightly different and equally scrumptious smile. So proud of you and how you've walked through this experience as a loving, invested and selfless mother. You set a wonderful example. Love you lots!

  2. Thanks Carli! I really appreciate all your support, it means a lot to me! :) Love you too!