After 2 1/2 years of breastfeeding, our feeds are becoming more & more spaced out, unless or until our boy is feeling unwell or is teething. After undergoing squint surgery on Saturday afternoon, a bit of boob was the perfect remedy to the stress & unfamiliarity of the hospital ward. If ever I had been in any doubt that nursing beyond infancy was for us, the past 78 hours have reassured me beyond any scientific data.
Most babies are born very long-sighted, but this usually corrects itself by two years or age. By 15 months old, our little man had developed a squint when trying to look at things that were close by. By 17 months, he had been prescribed his first tiny glasses. The hope was that this would correct his squint, but it didn’t. Our ophthalmologist recommended patching therapy to strengthen his weaker eye & prevent it from becoming permanently lazy. The patching helped to strengthen his eye, but the squint remained and got progressively worse. We were told that he would never have binocular vision without corrective surgery & that eventually he would lose vision in the weaker eye completely. The decision to operate was a difficult one, but ultimately we wanted to give our baby the best possible chance of the best possible quality of life that we could.
The operation itself went incredibly smoothly, but both pre & post-op were intense! The surgery was scheduled for 9:30am on 27th November and so Farai couldn’t have anything to eat for breakfast the morning of the operation and he couldn’t have any breast milk beyond 5:30am either because of the choking risk that it would present while he was under anesthetic. So, that meant that when he woke up at 6:30am as our alarm went off, he was instantly disgruntled by the lack of morning boob. Thankfully, the first snow of the season was falling just outside of our bedroom window and so the excitement of that made him forget his hunger and thirst.
As Farai played in the snow on path leading to our doorway, my heart raced. Were we doing the right thing? What were the risks? Would he come home with us tonight? His dad sppeared by my side, shivering in his pyjamas, squeezed my hand in his giant one and kissed me on my forehead.
Farai is not the kind of toddler who is instantly comfortable in new surroundings, so the unfamiliar and clinical environment of the hospital was not where he wanted to be…particularly when he knew there was snow to be ploughed outside! Fast forward to around 11:30am and by this point his surgery had been delayed by two hours. Hungry, tired and unable to nurse for comfort, our boy was beside himself and screaming, “Help! I’m trapped! I need to go outside!” On repeat as he tore up and down the ward half naked in his tiny hospital gown. Thankfully our anesthetist saw his distress in between surgeries and prescribed a sedative to calm him down for the half an hour wait for his surgery was finally due to take place. The sedative kicked in just before we were called to surgery but by this time I had called his dad to ask for back up. I literally couldn’t restrain his tiny body solo for much longer and we both needed support.
His dad arrived beaming with joy at seeing our baby before his big operation. Farai say on his lap as he was put to sleep calmly and quickly with laughing gas. He placed his tiny body on the hospital bed before we were ushered out of the room and directed to the coffee shop downstairs…the hour that it took for the operation to take place went slowly at first and then disappeared in a blur. Before we knew it we were back on the ward and crying tears of joy when the surgeon debriefed us. The surgery was a success and Farai was waiting to rouse from the anesthetic in the recovery room - he would be brought round to us the moment he woke up. We held each other, prayed and simply cried.
Ten minutes later and our spirited toddler appeared writhing on a bed that was being wheeled into his room. I scooped him into my arms and offered him a bit of boob, but he was more concerned about the dressing on his eye. We were all shocked when he tore it off with surprising swiftness! Next was the cannula in his arm. Unfortunately the nurse insisted that he keep it in in case he refused to drink and became dehydrated. I refrained from rolling my eyes in the knowledge that he wouldn’t settle down until it was removed. He didn’t. 20
minutes later, amidst screams of, “Help! Get it out!” The same nurse finally agreed to remove it. The moment she did, our baby melted into my arms, latched on and drifted off to sleep for the next three hours.
We were both surprised at the speed at which Farai recovered as he was seemingly back to his usual self by the next morning. Aside from a few complaints about his sore eye, he has been on fine form ever since. We are beyond grateful for the medical team who took such care of him at the hospital and for all of the love and well-wishes from friends and family. He will be completely recovered in around two months time and hopefully by then, he’ll be able to see the world around him just as clearly as we do. Here’s hoping…