Bellybutton

Will someone please tell little Matthew that “House” is not looking for little babypatients.
It looks as though he is set to take after his mama in having weird things go wrong.

Matty was diagnosed with a herniated umbilicus at the end of August and within a few weeks we were
at the hospital for his surgery. Umbilical hernias are very common. I had seen a ton of them before
I saw Matthews, and so I really didn’t think anything of it. I knew the doctor would say, “wait until
he is two and if it doesn’t close up by then he might need corrective surgery, but it will likely close
up before then anyway.” But then something happened; cue the music in the tv show that makes you interested
because there is a mystery to solve…

B was home with both kids while I was out doing a photography consultation with my partner Emily. He called me as
I was finishing up, he told me I needed to get home quick, that Matthew would not stop screaming. Two things
about this situation communicated emergency to me, 1- B was freaking out, B never freaks out and 2- the baby
was crying that horrid newborn scream that you aren’t quite sure how they do without passing out because they
don’t really seem to be breathing at the same time because there is no pause in deafening noise. I said I would
be home as soon as traffic would let me. What a fun ride home that was. In a panic I drove at standard operational
speed and pulled some possibly illegal maneuvers. Emily kept me chatting so that my mind would be busy.
Can you tell she’s a mom too and knew exactly what needed to be done!

I arrived home to the car seat at the door waiting and Matthew whaling in B’s arms. Everly streaked by, yes streaked
and there was poop on her bum. Oh no, not good. B said that Matty’s belly button was sticking straight out and
hard and purple and that he would not stop crying. I took the baby and strapped him in the car seat. Emily said
she would come with me and she took soother duty in the backseat. We were prepared for a loud car ride.

We made it to the hospital with just a few whimpers. I registered him with the Emergency Room nurse and he started
seriously squaking. I tool him to the waiting room and then fed him and massaged his belly. He was on day two of not
pooping and I wondered if that might be making him uncomfortable. He seemed to settle.

We were brought to a room and Matthew was asleep in my arms. The nurse looked at Emily and I and said, so this is the
inconsolable baby? I replied yes a little bashfully. Thanks Matthew, thanks. Yes I was happy he wasn’t crying anymore
but I was a little bit annoyed that he had chosen this moment to do so. Why not one hour ago while at home with his father?
The nurse shared that his daughter had a herniated umbilicus and that she had surgery when she was two to correct it.
Of course she did, and that’s what we would hear today too.

Matthew continued to eat and sleep as he usually did. The attending physician came in and had a look at him. She announced
that yes in fact this was a herniated belly button. She gave me the same “when he’s two” prognosis. As she examined him more
she said that she thought he was breathing a bit laboured and that he looked jaundiced still. She ordered a chest x-ray and
blood work.

Hold up… What the f&*k? We were here for a belly button and now this? She stared asking me if we have a family history of
rare blood disorders or chromosomal disorders. Um no we don’t. She asked if he has been well. Yes, he has. She “hmphed” to herself
you could see her take a moment to ponder all the clues. I wanted to yell, “bitch what the hell do you think is wrong with my
baby.” But I didn’t, because that could have gotten us kicked out of the ER, there are signs that say so.

We did the x-ray, Matthew loved it. And when I say loved it, I mean that he screamed and flailed the whole time. We did the blood test.
Oh he loved that even more than the x-ray. I was crying and feeling so guilty. Turns out he is like his sister and does not
appreciate any medical intervention; not even a temp check under the armpit please. My children both have a good set of lungs. I know this
to be super true as multiple medical professionals have told me. Do you think that is what doctors and nurses say to you when
they want to say, man your kid is a loud mouth screamer and I wish you would shut them up. I think so. That’s usually why I use the phrase, “good lungs.”

By this point Emily and I were pretty tired and pretty hungry. She went on a food and drink finding mission. We ate our little snack
and guzzled our bottles of water. At that point we had been there for nearly 5 hours. The pediatrician came in and shared the news…
the x-ray comes back normal and the blood work comes back with elevated bilirubin, which we expected as he still does look yellow.
She asked me a ton of questions about his belly button, many more than anyone else had. The pediatrician felt that Matthew had an
episode of incarcerated bowel. This means that his little intestines had slipped through the umbilicus hernia and got stuck and blood supply was
being cut off. Now you don’t have to be a doctor, or even watch doctor shows on tv to know that blood supply cutoff to a body part is not a good thing.
She too, gave us the same “when he’s two” story, but also said that she was going to refer us to a pediatric surgeon for further consultation.
Pediatric surgeon, great. Anxiety rising. Emily and I both looked at each other. I said, oh he’ll be fine, the surgeon will say the same thing.

Two days later we visited with the pediatric surgeon, I remembered thinking, wow that was quick! She started off by explaining to me what
had happened inside Matty’s belly and told me that it would happen again. She said this wasn’t an “if it happens again scenario, it was a when
it happens again scenario.” She explained the dangers of incarcerated bowel and told me that our best course of action would be to do corrective
surgery as soon as possible. Sign us up I said. I was pretty scared at this point and crying. She said, well, there is some concern about his age and
surgery, there is an increased likelihood that he will experience apnea after the surgery and require medical intervention to breathe.
Oh right, just that, well that’s not a big deal. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If we went for surgery right away he would have to stay in hospital at least 24
hours following the surgery for observation. She said that 52 weeks was the age that doctors agreed was safer to have surgery, and after 52 weeks they need no observation time.
At that point Matthew was 43 weeks (they go by gestational age). She told me that we could wait until he was 52 weeks and that if he had another episode
in that time we would just have to bring him to the ER right away. I was leaning towards that. And then she says… but it only takes 4 to 6 hours for
incarcerated bowel to die, so you do risk that if you don’t catch it right away. The complications of bowel surgery are much greater than hernia surgery.
I was leaning back towards surgery asap again.

I told her to go ahead and book him in for the procedure. I felt that if something were to happen, I would rather it be in the controlled environment of the hospital
rather than the uncontrolled environment of our home. She asked me if I wanted to ask his dad, I said no thanks. I was sure that B would agree with the
choice that I had made. I knew deep down that he would have made the choice for surgery faster than I had, as he had seen Matthew in so much pain 3 days prior.

We waited a week to find out when the date was. We watched him like dogs watch a treat in your hand. And the date came up quickly. Really quickly.

I was really worried about how he was going to do with the 6 hours of fasting leading up to his surgery. Matthew likes his food. So much so that he will
neglect sleeping in order to eat more (but more on that later). He typically eats every 1 to 2 hours in the wee hours of the morning. By my calculations
that meant 2 to 4 feedings that he was going to miss. Oh my good God. I was scared. Before we went to bed that night I said a little prayer to my bedroom walls,
this prayer was intended for anyone who would answer it; I am never picky about which religion or spiritual group/belief system answers my pleading prayers. I asked
that Matthew sleep. And you know what, he did awesome. He actually slept a 4 hour stretch, after which I fed him (his last feeding allowed) and then he slept another 3 hours.
I layed him on my chest and patted his back for the next hour, which kept him asleep until it was time to put him in the car seat for the hospital.

The car seat, uh oh. I was convinced that this is where it would all come apart. He is notorious for not liking his car seat. But the little stinker just stared back at me.
He remained in a quiet alert state for the entire ride to the hospital, he didn’t make a peep. I said to B that his body, being such an efficient little gainer likely was in
hibernate mode so that it didn’t burn any necessary calories while none were being taken in, lol. We made it though the hospital pre-op procedures easily as well. He was given
some Tylenol at 8:00 and then proceeded to fall back asleep in my arms while I rocked in a rocking chair. He didn’t wake up until it was time for him to be handed to the
anesthesiologist.

Sleeping

Handing over your baby to a blue gowned stranger who is going to put him to sleep is not something that I would recommend for a new mother. I held my breath to keep from crying
until B and I were out of the room. I had wanted to go with Matthew, but they wouldn’t let me because of his age. Did you know that it is hospital policy? The nurse tried to make
me feel better about it by telling me that moms and dads get very upset when they are in the room with their child. No shit. How do you think the child feels? How do
you think the child feels without their parent there? It seems like just because they are babies, the doctors think that they don’t care as much. Well newsflash, THEY DO.
Yeah it might have made me upset to see him put to sleep, but if it helped him to be more comfortable, I would have sucked it up ten times over and I would have been there,
that’s part of being a parent.

The hour that he was in there was the longest. We got hot chocolate and chocolate chip muffins, neither of which I am allowed to eat but I figured I was already in the hospital for
the next 24 hours so I might as well. If there was ever a time to cheat that was it. The sweet, sweet goodness of the sugar was so comforting. I know that’s bad to say, but it
was and I will own it. I pumped off both boobs while we waited. I was near exploding after going 6 hours with no feedings! While I was pumping I started to worry again, and
I thought about how it must be for parents who have children in precarious health and for parents who have children in lengthy serious surgeries. I said to B, this is only one hour,
imagine how my parents felt when I was in a lengthy and serious spinal surgery at BC Children’s. The surgeon was flown in from Ontario for that, and I was in hospital for weeks.
It’s interesting how becoming a parent makes you look at your parents differently. I had so much empathy for them in that moment, when in the past I had only had my own feelings
from my own experience. I quickly decided that I would rather be the person getting the surgery than the one waiting in the sterile waiting room. I understood how my dad really felt
when he told me he would take it all away if he could, and how he felt when he said he wished it was him who had lost an eye and not me. I get it now.

Just as I had put my milk in a fridge I saw the surgeon. I read her face and posture and knew instantly that everything had gone well. Watching Grey’s Anatomy teaches you these things.
She announced that he was fine and would be in peds intensive care shortly.

Off we went to peds intensive care. We waited there for 45 minutes. I heard him crying. My boobs started pinching. When I walked out into the hall, there he was being wheeled
down the hallway. Yay! Well it was yay for a moment until the PICU nurses told me I wasn’t allowed in the room yet? Excuse me? Apparently they needed to get him settled. Really?
He’s a freaking baby, what will settle him is FOOD you morons. I waited outside the door for 6 minutes that felt like 600 minutes. I took a deep breath and turned to walk in,
I had decided I didn’t care what they said, he is my son and I will feed him when I want to provided it is not life or death. Just at the same time the nurse was coming out the door,
she said cheerily, I was just coming to get you! Yeah, you were, yeah you were. I didn’t bother telling her that I was coming to get her too, and it would not have been a cheery
exchange.

And there was my poor boy, screaming at the top of his lungs. I quickly scooped him up and started to feed him, he settled right away, chugged back a ton of milk and then went to sleep.
I held him all afternoon. He did so well. His IV was out that night and we went home the next morning. There was never even the tiniest blip in his stats. He is one healthy, chunky
monkey that’s for sure.

After surgery

The night we were there, a nurse decided to play fairy godmother and she fed him with my pumped breast milk through the night. She offered to do this! I had to hold back with the
strength of The Hulk to keep from hopping into her arms and kissing her. I said, are you sure, he is up every one to two hours. She said, I am up the whole time, makes no difference to me.
He went down for the night at 11:00pm and didn’t get up to eat until 5:30am of course. Yes, the longest sleep of his life was also the one I had off. Yay. I slept like crap
in my parent room on my plastic coated, hard as a slab of wood bed. But at least I did actually get to stay there with him, I was thankful for that. I think after being in the
every 1 to 2 hours routine my body is just used to it. I imagine it would take a few nights of him sleeping extended periods before I got back into it.

IV is about to come out.

When it was time to go, we packed him up and happily left. He fussed the whole way home. Seriously buddy? He was fine on the way there after not eating for such an extended amount of
time, and then fusses on the way home. Babies. Man I try to understand them, but sometimes I am at a complete loss, lol.

His bandage is off and we see the surgeon again on October 11. He is healing up great and didn’t appear to be in any pain at all. We are so thankful that this is
behind us and that we have a tough little guy. Our friends and family were there to support us in everything and we couldn’t be more lucky.

At home and happy
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4 Comments

Filed under Daily Check In

4 responses to “Bellybutton

  1. Deb (aka Granny)

    Love that last pic of little Matthew with the big smile on his face. So cute!! So happy he’s doing well now. Evie was concerned re “Where’s Mommy & Daddy?” & when I said you both were at the hospital getting Matthew all better; she was then A-OK after that. (Beautiful quilts from Z’s Mom in Australia Jess! She sure thinks highly of you, & no wonder, you did a great job with her youngster).

  2. Auntie Sharon

    Agree with Deb completely – both the smile and the quilts! XOXO

  3. Kim

    Oh my Jessica, I had no idea. I can’t imagine your emotions through this whole experience. I guess what I’m saying is I can’t imagine “my” emotions through this whole episode. Please give little Matthew a big hug from a family in Campbell River who loves him. We’ll come for some love at Thanksgiving. Way to go Matthew!

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