preparing your child for hospital

Poet’s operation was, in every way, a standard procedure. And yet taking your child to hospital, talking them through the procedures and eventually handing them over to the operating theatre is most definitely not an every day parenting experience. Leaving your child with a room full of specialists in scrubs and knowing they’re about to go under anaesthetic requires a whole new level of surrender and it’s one I wasn’t exactly prepared for. I did, in fact, brush my own concerns to the side and focussed all my attention on Poet (who coped with the entire experience far better than I did) and then I promptly collapsed into a stressed heap of exhaustion.

When I wrote this post I took on board every tidbit of advice shared in the comments section. Daniel and I chatted about the best way to prepare Poet and we decided to start casually chatting about the operation about a fortnight before the scheduled date. We didn’t make a big fuss about sitting down and talking to her about it nor did we read books or explain the procedures to her. Instead we’d bring it up at various times during the day: “Won’t it be great to see that funny doctor again and get your ears fixed so you can hear?” “Daddy and you will stay overnight at the hospital and when you ears are fixed you might have a sore throat so you’ll get to eat ice-cream,” and so on. She didn’t have a lot of questions but when one arose we kept our answers short and to the point. Rather than have a serious, emotion-driven conversation we just chatted about it like it was another daily event (one that required new pyjamas and a fluffy pink dressing gown).

When we arrived at hospital it was definitely more difficult to keep it lighthearted and as the nurses prepared Poet for surgery (ID bracelets and theatre gown on) she started to get anxious about what was happening. But we simply asked her about how she was feeling and reinforced the fact that she was here to get her ears fixed (and how amazing is that?!). I said goodbye to her on the ward and Daniel went down to theatre with her to get scrubs on. He was allowed right into theatre with her and was there when she went under (fighting till the end, in true Poet style).

I stayed at the hospital till Poet came back to the ward. She was sound asleep so I left in the early evening and came back first thing the following morning. Daniel stayed overnight (on a foldout mattress most definitely not made for a 6ft3 man) and thankfully, had a very uneventful night.

The operation went really well and Poet’s recovery has been remarkable. She hasn’t complained once of a sore throat, has only required minimal pain relief and was back to her normal diet two days post-op. And what is truly wonderful is that she can hear us! And she has not needed one tissue (a miracle considering we were wiping her nose at least 30 times a day since the beginning of autumn).

If you’re preparing your child to go to hospital be gentle on yourself. Even if the procedure is a routine one, it’s still a big deal as a parent. Whilst it was a steep and very emotional learning curve for Daniel and I we chose to focus on the blatantly obvious positives: Poet was undergoing a simple procedure to improve her overall wellbeing, we could afford a highly regarded specialist and we only had to wait six weeks for the operation. At this crucial stage of her development we are incredibly grateful that she can hear again. She’s breathing clearly, sleeping soundly and is much calmer and happier in herself.

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Showing 9 comments
  • Ronnie

    So glad to hear, Jodi, of Poet's recovery and the positive effects the surgery has had! I felt exactly the same way when Jamie went in for a routine procedure about two years ago, so I can relate to all the feelings you've described.
    Much love,
    Ronnie xo

  • CB

    Well done Poet (and mum and dad!) and sensible steps taken to reduce anxiety (hers) though it's harder to deal with parental worries-it's part of the deal, isn't it?

  • Kathy

    Sounds like your family handled it really well. It's tough as a parent but I like the "matter of fact" method as well pointing out the positives. Glad she is feeling great. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  • Brandi

    My daughter was in the hospital last spring, and reading this gave me a little bit of chills…luckily we also had a somewhat speedy recovery and a daughter who took it all in stride much more than her mother did! But I am convinced that the experience made us all more empathetic and considerate of others. While our surgery was a 'big deal' to us and most people who know (although aren't they all?), we met folks at the hospital who deal with surgeries and hospital stays as a regular part of parenting. It was crushing to hear some of their stories. The perspective shift is something that will always stay with us.

    So happy that you are over the hump! A child in the hospital is always hard on a momma!

  • Anna of The Analog House

    I've only ever had my child in the ER and fortunately they were able to come back with me at night. Thank you for this post, as parents, we have to be brave and pillars of comfort to our children, even if we feel like we are falling over a cliff inside.

    Analog House

  • Jacinta

    Oh that photo brings tears to my eyes! Darling brave girl (and brave mum and dad!!)! So glad it went well and she can hear so much better now! =D

  • Lorinda Mamo

    Its never easy for a parent to take thier child to the hospital. I think you dealt with it so well. Its really important for the child not to be afraid. I am so happy Poet is doign well, its all worth it when you see the benefits.

    Henry has had several surgeries since he was born and since he was under 2.5 yo, he didn't really understand what was going on. And I dont know if its better when they are very young or when you can explain to them. I read your post and all the emotions came back becuase I all too familiar with the experience of taking a child into an operating theatre and feeling his grip release as the anesthetic is given. Most times, I was too distraught to take my son to the operating theater myself, but there was a time my husband wasn't there to take him and his surgery couldn't wait and it was detrimental to operate at that moment. I held him close and carried him from the ward to the operating theatre.Tears rolled down my face as the surgeons read the consent form and all the risks – its not something any parent should have to go through.

  • michelle

    This is timely- I came home from hospital this morning where I stayed overnight with my daughter who had her tonsils and adenoids removed and grommets inserted in her ears. I was quite anxious about it as the way we came to this end was due to something else. I agree with everything you have shared here. I did not let my anxiety show and talked briefly about what was to happen, but stressed I would be there when she went to sleep and there when she woke up. Boy, did I tear up when in less than 10 seconds her eyes closed and I was told I could leave the room.
    That feeling as a parent that you are not in control is a scary one.

  • Sandra

    I'm so grateful for this post in preparing for my newly-4-year-old's operation in three weeks time. She will also have her adenoids removed and grommets inserted and although I know it's for the best and I feel grateful that we have this option, I'm also a little restless and scared. I think I'll be back to read this post quite a few times in the next few weeks!

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