Sometimes we have to do hard things. That's a tough lesson for a little guy, but Sam is the toughest little guy I know. Remember when I mentioned that Sam would need one more surgery? Well, it's over and done with- phew! It's now simply a milestone to look back on rather than a huge obstacle looming ahead.
We're a pretty self-sufficient family and consequently we don't tend to ask for help- even when we need it. When people asked we said, "No, no, we're fine. We've got meals in the freezer. Don't worry about us." But thankfully they did. And it was so, so nice to eat something hot and delicious rather than a reheated soup or frozen burrito from the freezer. I was touched by how thoughtfully prepared the meals were; they were right up our alley and so delicious. Clay's aunt stopped by one afternoon with fruit leathers and dried bananas fresh from her dehydrator and another friend brought whole wheat apple bread. It was exactly what I needed!
The hardest part of the hospital time was when Sam was in the ICU. I couldn't hold him or nurse him and he was on some pretty heavy drugs, which was surely for the best, though it was hard to see him so out of it. I rubbed his feet and his head and used some essential oil that I thought might remind him of home. It's pretty hard when the only thing you can do to help your baby is to simply lay your hands on them and hope somehow they understand why you can't do more. When I finally was able to hold him, but couldn't yet nurse him it was the saddest thing because that's all he wanted and he couldn't understand why I wouldn't let him.
When we went up to the children's floor and he had his own room I requested an adult-sized bed rather than a crib. All I wanted was to be near him every minute I could. So, we snuggled down and read books and slept and then read more books. I stayed the nights at the hospital and we slept curled up together all night long. Finally when the surgeons gave the okay for him to nurse I was overjoyed! We gathered up the various wires and IVs and I gingerly sat down in an armchair by the bed. He nursed for an hour and a half straight! He was not giving up that boob for anything! I was so happy to be able to finally give him that comfort again and so glad that his first food after a major abdominal surgery could be something so healing, nourishing and easy to digest.
While Sam napped during the day, which was quite a lot immediately after the surgery, I kept busy at the side of his bed. The hospital staff probably thought I was moving in for good; I even brought a toaster and some homemade bread to have for breakfasts!
There were a few long days where Sam was just lethargic and seemed to be in a lot of pain. And if a baby could be depressed I'd say he was looking pretty down as well (for all he knew this drastic change in the quality of his life was permanent!). But then one afternoon Clay came over after work and bundled Sam and I and all his wires and IV pole up in a wheelchair and wheeled us out onto the patio outside. Initially Sam lay in my lap like a sad sack of potatoes, miserable and uncomfortable looking. We handed him a flower from the garden patio and he help it limply. Then slowly he began to examine it more closely and a light went on in his eyes. His brain seemed to stir itself out of the stupor as if to say, "Hey, flowers! I remember these! And, wait a minute... I'm outside!" He sat up and looked at me and said, "Down?" We set him on the ground and he took his first steps in days and then began excitedly exploring the patio and even climbed on the wheelchair like a jungle gym! He walked back to his room instead of being carried and from that point he made a very speedy recovery. We also made quite a few more trips to the patio.
The last day or two before we left I couldn't even keep him in his bed. He wanted to be outside or in the playroom. The playroom had stained glass butterflies that he really liked, so we made this one for him out of craft supplies and he loved it. He carried it so gingerly and carefully.
While I do believe that we over-medicate and lean on allopathic medicine more than we should in our society, I certainly know that there is a place for medical and surgical intervention and I am SO grateful to the people who dedicate their lives to saving other's. I'm also so grateful for the graceful way we were able to integrate our own beliefs and practices; co-sleeping, prayer and blessings, breastfeeding, essential oils, whole food etc., within the hospital system. It was truly the best of both worlds and the very best thing for Sam.