Today we took Gabriele to hospital to have plastic surgery on his hand. He was born with a tag of skin on one finger that had a blood and nerve supply and hung loosely, and the doctors agreed that it could be dangerous if he sucked his hand and managed to pull it off and swallow it. So at 07:30am this morning we arrived at the children’s ward ready for Gabriele to have his operation.
I hardly slept at all last night, not just for the mugginess of the air and stale heat that refused to shift all day, but because of the images I had whirling around in my head of them hurting my poor baby and the thought of him crying and bleeding. It truly makes my skin crawl and all of the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end at the thought of what he had to go through today. They asked us to take him in starved ready for the operation so that he could feed right before going in and would hopefully remain calm, as he would be awake throughout the procedure.
Having only had a couple of hours sleep we found ourselves back in the hospital with Gabriele nestled in my arms in his little vest as we entered a ward with sick children in cots and beds. There is something so sad and wrong about seeing children in hospital, something that makes your heart sink and a hard lump appear in your throat that refuses to let you swallow or breathe.
As they clipped monitors to his toes and bands to his legs my hands became clammy and my heart felt like it would leap out of my chest. I knew that he was there for the right reasons, for something that had to happen to keep him safe, but he looked so helpless and tiny, it seems so cruel to lay him in the metal cot bed, like a prisoner sentenced to a terrible punishment. As they took his heartbeat and blood pressure he started to cry, the equipment looked so harsh, stiff and uncomfortable digging into his delicate skin, he hadn’t slept last night and his poor tummy was rumbling for food; Seeing his bottom lip quiver as he kicked his legs and cried I held his tiny hand and stroked his face willing him to be ok, wanting to take away his discomfort and desperate to scoop him up in my arms and run miles with him to the quiet and safety of home.
There’s nothing worse on earth than hearing your child cry and seeing the sadness in their eyes. I know that all babies cry, but Gabriele is always so content and cheerful, he’s always smiling up at me with his beautiful big blue eyes, and I know that when he cries it’s always for a reason. I wish I could take it all away for him and make everything okay, to keep him happy and safe and never let his tears fall onto his delicate skin.
The nurses gave him a little gown to wear and it hung a lead weight onto my heart, he looked so adorable I didn’t know whether to smile or cry and all I could do was hold onto his hand and stand over him soaking in every last bit of detail, from his face to his little toes. My precious baby boy so helpless in a massive iron cot and railings. There’s something about hospital gowns that seem so cold and sterile to me, it immediately puts me in mind of very ill people struggling to stay alive and covered in wires. And seeing our little angel wearing a gown just shredded my nerves even more.
Signing the paperwork for consent the nurses talked me through the possible complications, nerve tenderness, bleeding, infection and scarring and I felt guilty for making the decision on his behalf. Even though I want what is best for our children I find it so impossible to be the one to have to administer or agree to causing them pain because a part of me already knows what to expect, I visualise them crying and reaching out for me when they’re on their own in a room filled with strangers, scared and in pain. And I feel so helpless and guilty that I can’t be there or take the pain for them.
The nurses asked if I wanted to come down to theatre with him and in a heartbeat I was there, I could never imagine leaving him to go alone or with anybody else. And as we travelled to the prep room I held his hand and stroked his face as I fed him his milk and prayed it would be over with quickly. Kissing him goodbye as they took him to theatre I felt as though I couldn’t breathe as I heard his cries from the other side of the double doors. Walking back to the waiting room his trembling voice and piercing cries replayed over and over in my head and with tiredness I stared into space, watching the clock counting the seconds and unable to concentrate on anything else.
When the nurse walked in to collect me after the operation it was the biggest relief ever. Luca and I followed her to the recovery room where we were greeted by a handful of nurses cooing over Gabriele swaddled in his blanket sleeping peacefully with his little finger bandaged. They said he had cried as they injected his hand to numb the area, and they wrapped him tightly in his blanket and fed him his milk to try and keep him calm, but he refused to open his hand and the surgeon remarked at how strong he is. We stood like proud parents holding Gabriele wrapped up like such a tiny tot with his poor finger outstretched. He’d cried himself into a deep peaceful sleep during the surgery and I tried not to imagine how long it must have taken and just focused on how rested he now looked and how he would have already forgotten it had ever happened.
And now that he is home with us I feel so relieved and filled with love and happiness. Gabriele has slept for most of the day so I’m expecting him to be up all night again, but it doesn’t matter because day or night, today or in ten years I will always be here for my children; to dry their tears and hold their hands, to rock them to sleep in my arms and take away the sadness. A mother’s bond with her children is like nothing else on earth, and nothing is more important. A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now that he is home and safe, my precious little angel; thank God you’re ok x x x x