Jim and Susan (Jeff’s parents) kept all of the kids on Tuesday night. Since we wanted to spend some time with Morgan before surgery, we would need to get to the hospital by 6am at the latest – they planned on wheeling her down to the OR by 6:30 am. I had headed to bed before Jeff, as I was exhausted. A big part of me didn’t want to sleep because that would mean that I had to wake up and face surgery day… My alarm sounded at 4:15 am. We wanted to get to the hospital at 5:45 am to have the most time possible before the surgery. We didn’t know when we would hold her next, so it was important that we see her… I dragged myself to the bathroom to shower. I was crying. I’ve never cried so hard for so long over so many days in my life. “God, I am so scared. Please God – be with the surgeon and his team today and guide them to make no mistakes. Place your healing hand over Morgan’s body to successfully heal her like only you can. I pray for your forgiveness for being so selfish to want her SO bad so that I can enjoy her – as I know that you have a bigger plan for her. But I don’t know what that plan is…. I am terrified. I am terrified that the plan is she will not survive this – I don’t know how to cope” I started to have an anxiety attack. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was crying so hard – I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was painful – not just physically, but the emotional pain was intense. I need to breathe. Then, out of nowhere, I heard the words “I will be with her. She will be ok.” It wasn’t really a “voice” it wasn’t a sound, it was a feeling. I went from extreme agony to peaceful in a second. I was a little unnerved by this, thinking that’s it – I’ve lost my mind… but it was God granting me peace. All the prayers from so many people that I knew and didn’t know – I felt them in that one magical moment. I finished my shower and got dressed – feeling a little numb. But definitely peaceful. I was confident she would do fine – God told me so.
I woke Jeff up. I told him about what happened. He cried as well – but I didn’t cry – I felt pretty at ease. I knew everything would be ok. The drive down was pretty well silent. Although I felt God’s presence, which comforted me, I still couldn’t stop thinking of the statistics. Ugh, those damned statistics! Five to six per hundred operations. Levine’s performs about 400 open heart surgeries per year which means 20-24 kids per year don’t make it. When you are me (and tend to imagine the worst case scenario when it comes to your kids) you immediately think “is my kid going to be one of the ones who fall into that category?” Don’t feel scared. Don’t feel scared. Breathe. Listen to God. Know that He is here…
We arrive to the hospital and rush to the 6th floor. Morgan was moved to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) in the evening to prepare her for surgery. She was pretty mad because they hadn’t fed her since the night before since she was going under anesthesia. Poor thing…. on top of all the sticks, prodding and other hospital stuff she is now starving. I feel terrible for her. She’s only 5 days old and she’s been subjected to more than a lot of people my age.
I held and rocked her. Luckily she stayed asleep for the majority of it – because when she was awake she realized she was starving. For a kid that would eat entire 2 oz bottles every 3 hours, she wasn’t thrilled with the feeling of hunger. According to all of the nurses and doctors, this tidbit would serve her well in recovery.
I asked Jeff if he wanted to hold her – he said he wanted me to. I know he understood how much I needed her – to hold and rock her. I didn’t want to let her go! The nurse, Stephanie, came in “it’s time for her bath”. They use warm, medicated wipes before surgery to clean the skin and prevent any infections from festering. I help her with this. Morgan was NOT happy about it! She screamed pretty good for us.
“It’s time”. My stomach was turning. We walked with Stephanie while she wheeled the incubator to the large staff elevator. The surgery floor was directly below us on level 5. My nerves were shot. When the doors open we start walking down the corridor and into the surgical unit. There are doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants… there were tons of them. Everyone in green scrubs, surgical masks hanging and their hair covered by handkerchiefs. It was busy, People rushing around, ready to get to the surgery rooms to save people, put them back together and fix broken people parts.
After what seemed like a long walk, we end up in the patient holding area. Stephanie wheels us to our holding spot and we are immediately greeted by the anesthesiologists who will be responsible for bringing our daughter to the edge of death and then bring her back again. There are two of them. There is an older gentleman and a much younger one. My head was spinning – it was so bright in the room. I heard a woman come in to give information – but I had no idea what she was saying.
“Ok, it’s time – go ahead and give Morgan a kiss.” I lost it. I tried so hard to stay strong. Strong for her, for Jeff and for even myself. There is a possibility that this could be the last I see her alive. “No – don’t take my baby!” I wanted to shout – but it was her only chance at life. The odds were great in her favor – and God told me she would be ok… but I was still terrified! Stephanie gives me a hug. Then we watch as they wheel her tiny body away from me.
We start to walk toward the family waiting room. I’m trying to pull myself together. We enter the waiting room and I see Jeff immediately walk to the left – “Oh my god….”. I see him give someone a hug. Who on earth does he know here….? When they stopped hugging I see it’s Dana – one of our very good friends. I couldn’t believe it – I lost it (again). We hugged. “I’m so glad to see you here. Thank you.” I said through tears. “I figured it would be good to have a friendly face” she said. Dana had spoken with the waiting room attendant and arranged for us to have one of the private rooms to wait in. I was so grateful – there was no way I could have dealt with 5-6 hours sitting in the main room. It was full of loud people…
The room had a table, two chairs and a couch. There were two end tables with lamps, but we didn’t need the lamps because there was a window that ran the entire length of the wall. We sat and talked with Dana for about 1/2 hour. It was a great distraction – God sent her to be there for us to help calm us down… Jeff seemed to be holding up but I wanted to vomit. We had heard the Physician’s Assistant, Katie, say to the nurse to expect Morgan back in the CVICU around 1-ish. So we knew we had at least 5-1/2 hours of wait time.
“What do you think about setting up a blog to update people?”. I had thought about doing the same but it was fleeting…I would more want to document the story of Morgan so, hopefully, she would be able to read it one day and understand her story – at least from my perspective. “I’ll set up the website and you can write”. I figured it would keep me busy through the surgery process…. I started to write the first post. It was emotional for me – but I powered through it. I needed to pass the time – not think about what was going on.
“The first incision was made at 9:07 am” The waiting room attendant brought in the news. It was 9:22 am. They have my baby cut open…. she’s forever changed… When you check into the waiting room you receive a piece of paper with a number on it. There is a status board for all surgeries that show the specific number for the person in surgery with an ambiguous status (pre-op, in process, closing, recovery). We kept checking the monitor but “in progress” never changes. Hour after hour we check. Meantime, I’m writing for this blog. It makes the time go by much faster, despite my nerves.
About noon, the attendant walks in. “She is completely off the heart and lung machine now. Everything is going well.” Oh geez… That IS great news! Oh God, please don’t leave her! When 12:45 rolls around I get jumpy. Any person who walks by the door (there is a little window in the door) I jump, thinking it’s them, to tell me bad news. Every minute was agonizing!
Finally, at 1:05 pm Dr. Peeler rolls into the private room. “Everything went well. They are finishing up in the OR and taking her back up to the CVICU.” Relief! I cannot describe the weight that lifted from my shoulders! I know that we are nowhere near out of the woods yet, but to me the surgery was the major fear for me. Thank you God! Thank you!! Jeff give’s Dr. Peeler a hug. I give Dr. Peeler a hug. “Do you mind if I sit down – I’ve been on my feet for a while.” Dr. Peeler joked.
He went on to tell us what they did in the surgery. He said “her heart started up again with no problems”. No mother wants to hear her child’s heart was stopped in the first place… but the fact it started up – that is obviously welcomed. When he left the room, Jeff and I hugged and cried. Our baby survived surgery! Now we get to focus on RECOVERY! This is fantastic!