It’s day three after Ava’s bilateral lambdoid sagittal surgery. She’s very swollen today and we’ve been getting lessons on cleaning her sutures and bathing her.
I held her this morning and tried to give her some chicken soup (because it’s a cure-all don’t you know…), after which she promptly threw-up on me. Poor little bean.
Brian’s concerned that she seems to have some trust issues with us now, and I must admit, it’s crossed my mind as well. We had a nurse tell us, “Oh at this age? Yes, she’s definitely mad at you… but she’ll get over it.”
Great. Thanks for that.
She peers at me out of a very small space in her right and eye and pulls monk over her face so she doesn’t have to look at me… She doesn’t really want to be held and just seems generally unhappy.
I know this isn’t actually about us though. Ava’s just adjusting and healing and I’ll try not to psychoanalyze the drug-induced mood swings of a 16-month-old toddler (because God knows I could…). Even if Ava does have some sort of mis-trust right now, this too shall pass.
On another note – her eyes are pretty much swollen shut, but her mom’s had quite an eye-opening experience this morning.
We’re sharing a hospital room with four other patients (2 cranio kids, and 2 cleft-palate kids).
The baby next door is 10 weeks old and has Crouzon’s Syndrome; one of the numerous craniosynostosis syndromes. Her name is Emily and she’s already had 3 surgeries.
Emily’s dad (a tired chef with kind eyes), told us she has a twin sister at home who didn’t have any birth defects. They tried for three years with four in-vitro sessions before finding out they were pregnant with twin girls. It was the happiest day of his life.
As he was recanting his story I watched him watching Ava. I knew what he was thinking, because I’ve thought it too.
“This child’s illness isn’t as bad as my child’s illness. Why does my child have more serious medical problems? We wanted this child so badly and waited so long…”
Okay – maybe it wasn’t exactly that, but his kind eyes were certainly saying something like that.
I wanted to hug him.
We’ve listened to Emily struggle to breathe for two days now, and my heart has broken more from her than my own child. She has significant medical issues and many, many surgeries ahead of her.
Being in a Sick Kids Hospital for any length of time changes you. You watch 12-year-old boys playing pool from a wheelchair and bald 6-year-olds struggling with IV stands.
The interesting part? They’re happy. These kids are happy and they’re oblivious to the sympathetic stares and furrowed brows.
I’ve often wondered if gratitude is an emotion we learn or we intrinsically develop as children… As I get older, I believe it’s learned. I never used to be grateful, in fact I took many things for granted and wandered around with quite a remarkable sense of entitlement.
I think it’s the difficulties we face and the heroism we witness which creates gratitude. These daily happenings gnaw at us and remind us in our secret places that it’s true, we really are just spiritual beings have a human experience, and each of us, on our own sometimes sad, sometimes joyous journeys, have something to be grateful for.