Friday, April 27, 2012

Surgery #2 Palate Repair

When we originally talked with our surgeon about Sam’s treatment plan, we discussed having his lip and nose repaired first, and his palate repaired 4-6 months later. That put us at July or August for palate repair.

Imagine my surprise when at the eight week post-op follow up for Sam’s lip and nose surgery, the surgeon said that his recovery was miraculous and that we could go ahead and do the palate surgery as soon as possible.

As Soon As Possible? Aaack!

After the initial shock wore off, we figured it was a really good thing. He could get the surgery and recovery behind him before the summer, and then be free to enjoy swimming, traveling and playing.

So on April 27th, just 9 weeks after lip/nose surgery, Sam went into the hospital once again.

Entering the hospital for Sam’s first surgery was a piece of cake. He had never been to this hospital before and didn’t have a clue what was about to happen. He waltzed in without a care in the world.

This time, not so much. He remembered what happened the last time we were here and he wasn’t keen about staying once we arrived at 5:30 AM. (Yes, 5:30 AM. Insane. Who is awake enough to do surgery at that hour of the morning?)

The hospital staff and volunteers were awesome. Sam had a bag of toys waiting for him on his bed. Even though he loved this cat, it wasn’t enough to cheer poor little Sam Qiao up.IMG_7411

The ball couldn’t bring out one of his famous Sam Smiles either.IMG_7412

A cuddle from Mom. Maybe that’s what he needed. No. No smile for that either.IMG_7414

Sam was rockin’ the hospital gown, but still not a happy camper.IMG_7416

The anesthesiologist came in prior to surgery and gave Sam happy meds. There’s nothing like seeing a two year old who is higher than a kite and wearing a surgical cap!IMG_7417

Just prior to surgery, the surgeon stopped by to go over details and answer last minute questions. Can I just say!  He has the most awesome bedside manner in addition to being a genius at his work.

We were allowed to walk Sam all the way down to the ER. Even though he was loopy, he still cried when I handed him off to the OR nurse. Broke my Mommy heart.

The actual surgery took about 3 hours. It started with the insertion of ear tubes to drain fluid and restore Sam’s hearing. After that, the palate was closed. Our surgeon describes this process as operating inside a matchbox because of the confined space he has to do everything that he needs.

While the surgeon was doing his thing, we hung out in the family waiting room. People always ask if was nervous or worried about the surgery. I can honestly say that I never have been.

Maybe I should be more nervous. Part of me feels like a bad mom for not sitting there wringing my hands and pacing the floor. But I really, truly have all of the confidence in the world in the doctors treating our little guy. I feel that he is in capable hands.  Besides there is absolutely nothing that I can do while he is in the OR. Worrying doesn’t make the surgery more successful.

While Sam was in surgery, Molly and I cuddled on the couch, watched Bambi and read some books. The time seemed to go by quickly and before I knew it, the surgery was over and we were talking with the doctor. 

It was at this point that I started chomping at the bit to get in and hold my baby. The doctor’s job was done and now it was my turn. I was the one that my baby needed. It was my task to help him heal.

Like his last surgery, all Sam wanted to do was to lay on my chest. I was happy to oblige.IMG_7418Sam laid on me for hours. Tony and Molly stayed for a while, but it was a school day for Molly and we wanted to keep her routine as normal as possible. So around noon the two of them took off and Sam and I spent the afternoon cuddling.

I am not whining, seriously, but sitting in one position holding your child to your child for hours on end feels is hard work. I really tried to minimize my movements so that he wasn’t in any discomfort.

By the time Tony arrived with some dinner for me, I felt like I do when we drive 20 straight hours to Florida. Worn out, sore and no feeling left in my, well, posterior area!

Sam, as with his previous surgery, was a soldier. They gave him morphine right out of surgery and then one more dose four hours later. After that, all he had was Tylenol to manage his pain.

When they first told me that this was his pain management plan I was shocked. Tylenol? I give him that when his little skinned knee hurts. This is major surgery, for crying out loud!

But the Tylenol worked. As long as it was delivered every four hours, Sam was never in pain.

During the evening Daddy took a shift at cuddling Sam.IMG_7419

And put in some time with Sam on his chest.IMG_7420

Later in the evening, it was time for Daddy to leave, so  Momma returned to cuddle duty.IMG_7422The first 24 hours post surgery were tough. The nurses (God love them for their patience and caring!) were in the room checking vitals every hour. Sam screamed through each and every one. Poor baby. He hated having his blood pressure checked. He hated having his leads checked. He even hated having his temperature taken.

When I say hated, I mean HATED! He screamed, arched, pushed, kicked and cried the biggest tears each and every time that the nurses did their thing for three straight days. I think that his month long hospital stay in China really left some deep-seeded fear of hospitals and medical professionals. It broke my heart every time I had to hold his flailing limbs still so the nurses could do their required checks.

The string coming from Sam’s mouth was actually sewn through his tongue. It was then taped to the side of his face. If at any time during the night Sam had trouble breathing, the sting could be pulled which would move his tongue and open an airway for him to breath. Luckily that never happened.IMG_7423

The morning of Day 2 the doctor came by and removed the tongue stitch. Sam looked a lot better, but sure didn’t feel it. He didn’t eat or drink anything at all for the first two days. He was hooked up to an IV so he stayed hydrated, but the staff really wanted Sam to get at least some liquids down. No such luck.IMG_7425

Day 2 was spent hanging out watching his DVD Cars and other TV shows…IMG_7429…taking lots of naps…IMG_7431and visiting Sister, Dad and Grandmom. IMG_7433

Let me pause for a moment to recognize my mother-in-law. She came and stayed with Molly and Tony for 3 weeks while I was in China adopting Sam. Shortly thereafter she took care of my niece (her granddaughter) for 6 weeks while she recovered from a brain injury. Once my niece was on the road to recovery, she returned to our house to stay with Molly while Sam had his second surgery.

She is amazing! She gives of herself so willingly to make sure that her grandchildren are well cared for and loved. Molly was thrilled to have Grandmom back and we felt such relief knowing Molly was in capable hands while we were at the hospital.

My MIL rocks. Enough said!

Okay, back to the story…During night #2, Sam’s IV pulled loose. Uh oh! That meant Day 3 was do or die day, so to speak. Sam had to start eating and drinking or he would need to have his IV reinserted without anesthesia.

Sam came through! He started drinking little sips of juice and water and then graduated to Strawberry milk. Later in the day he even felt good enough to go down to the playroom with the recreational therapist.

Unfortunately for Sam, the hospital had a chick bicycle.IMG_7434

Poor kid can’t catch a break. At home everything in pink and princess-y, then he goes to the hospital and has to ride a pink and purple tricycle. Will he ever grow up to be a man?IMG_7435

While in the hospital, there was another patient who was adopted from China having a cleft surgery. This little girl just happened to be Molly’s age and she and Molly became fast friends. Molly enjoyed playing with Imerie and I enjoyed talking with her mom. Sam enjoyed tagging along with the girls. It was one big party!IMG_7438Having a child adopted from China with the same need, allowed Imerie’s mom Valerie and I to click instantly. We share a bond of understanding and it quickly opened up a path to friendship. It’s amazing the way God puts just the right people in your path at just the right time.

The morning of Day 4 saw Sam feeling much better and ready to eat soft foods. Breakfast consisted of pancakes, mac and cheese and yogurt. The doctors gave him two thumbs up and brought the release papers. Woo hoo!IMG_7439

Sam was eager to go!IMG_7440

Sam was never so happy to see his Daddy come through the door to take him home.IMG_7443

And just because my two boys are so cute, here’s another picture!IMG_7444

Sam returned home, and I wish with every fiber of my being that I could write that Sam’s surgery was an overwhelming success.

But it wasn’t.

Three days after we cam home I saw blood on Sam’s pillow. I kept thinking positively that all was well and this was just some drainage.

Four days after surgery while Sam was falling asleep he smacked his lips. I could hear the air being pushed through his nose. Not good.

Five days after surgery and you could see a small fistula (hole) in Sam’s palate repair.

Six days after surgery, the palate repair failed, leaving a wide whole in Sam’s palate.

We were devastated.

At Sam’s follow up appointment, we assessed the damage. A large opening through both the soft and hard palate up through the nose left Sam without the ability to control the flow of air through his mouth. As a result, he cannot build enough pressure to make most of the consonant sounds. Heavy sigh.

Where does that leave Sam? Well, not talking, and in need of another surgery. The surgeon is going to check how Sam’s palate looks in August then make a decision about the timing of his next surgery. It will most likely be between August and November. Another heavy sigh.

On a positive note, Sam is still the same happy, easy going, fun-loving and personable boy around. He spreads joy everywhere he goes. He is eager to learn and use sign language which is such a blessing. His signing has really taken off and he now knows around 45 signs. Which he loves.

Sam continues to be my hero. Strong, resilient, loving and  the most miraculous  person I know. We are the luckiest family in the world. Period.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mr. Toothy Gets a Workout

Just eight short days after Molly lost her first tooth, tooth number two came out. And this time I wasn't the one who yanked it out. Because that really grosses me out. Just sayin’.

Here is the toothless wonder, showing off the wide space left now that she both bottom teeth are missing.IMG_8048

Just in case you wanted a better view:IMG_8049

Mr. Toothy, the Tooth Fairy pillow was once again called into action, placed carefully under Molly’s pillow.IMG_9038

Then Sam took a turn putting Mr. Toothy under Molly’s pillow.IMG_9039

Then the two of them put Mr. Toothy under Molly’s pillow together. Because apparently you can never put Mr. Toothy under the pillow too many times in one night.IMG_9040

Brother and sister cheesing it up for the camera.IMG_9042

Toothless MollyIMG_9048

Silly SamIMG_9050

And one more of Sam, just because he is so darn cute.IMG_9052

I didn’t get morning after pictures with Molly discovering the money the Tooth Fairly left because sleep was just more important. I know, bad mommy. But hey, it’s her second lost tooth not the first.

My neighbors will be glad to hear that the Tooth Fairy is feeling the pinch of the recession and only left her $1 this time. They nearly  came after me with pitchforks when the Tooth Fairy left her a five spot for her first tooth. They said I made their Tooth Fairy look cheap. Ooops! Didn’t know kids discussed Tooth Fairy finances at school. Lesson learned!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Problem With Having and Older Sister is…..

…that she continually dresses you up like this.IMG_4

While she dresses up like this.IMG_5Now in her defense, the pterodactyl costume is way too big for Sam, but Molly sees nothing wrong with dressing Sam up like “Samantha.”

Its wrong. Plain wrong. It’s even more wrong that he rides a pink princess scooter and builds with pretty pastel blocks. But that’s what happens when all you have is an older sister.

I really need to man up his world. Seriously. I’m thinking he needs a basketball hoop, some toy guns (sorry to the PC crowd) and Tonka trucks. Tutus do not scream testosterone. Sculls and crossbones do.

Somehow Sam doesn’t mind doing whatever Molly tells him. He loves his big sister and wants to do everything she does. For instance here is Molly teaching Sam to jump off the recliner.IMG_1

Sam takes a turn while the protective big sister stands ready to catch.IMG_2

Sam on a solo flight. In a tutu. IMG_3

Finally a little celebratory dance.IMG_6 I’m off to the toy store and hopefully Sam will never appear like this on my blog again!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mr. Toothy Makes His Debut

When we held Molly for the first time in Guangzhou, China, she was just cutting her very first tooth. Today she lost that tooth. *Sniff sniff*

A very bittersweet moment for Mommy and for Molly.

The tooth has been loose for quite some time but today it was super wiggly. Does that gross anyone else out the way it does me?

Anyway, after dinner Tony and Molly worked on the tooth. Then there was a scream (of delight I think) and a sprint to the bathroom for one bloody-mouthed child.

By the time I got to the bathroom, Molly had inspected her mouth to find the tooth hanging on by a thread. Guess who had to pull it out? Me. The one who get the heebee-geebee’s from wiggly teeth.

One quick yank and it was out. Molly was thrilled. Until she realized it was never going back in. Then the tears started.

Oy. Only Molly.

Molly showing off the lost tooth.IMG_8990

Sam wondering what all of the fuss is about.IMG_8991

Molly showing off the space in her bottom row of teeth.IMG_8992

Sam still wondering what all of the fuss is about. Okay, it’s just an excuse to show pictures of Sam on a post that has nothing to do with him.IMG_8998

The actual tooth. Molly wanted me to be sure to get a picture of it since after the Tooth Fairy takes it, it will be gone forever. Or in my jewelry box. Whichever.IMG_9006

Molly putting her tooth in Mr. Toothy. That’s what she calls the little tooth pillow lovingly given to her by her namesake, Auntie Molly.IMG_9008

Placing Mr. Toothy under her pillow.IMG_9010

Mr. Toothy had to be placed face down/tooth pocket up so the Tooth Fairy would have an easier time getting it.IMG_9012
Here’s a picture that has absolutely zero to do with a lost tooth, but  was so cute that I had to include it. That’s the benefit of owning the blog.IMG_9016

Waiting for the Tooth Fairy.IMG_9017

Rude awakening in the morning by Mom who wanted to photograph the event.IMG_9019

Trying to figure out where she put Mr. Toothy.IMG_9020

Finding Mr. Toothy. This play-by-play is riveting, isn’t it?IMG_9022

Checking out the Tooth Fairy loot.IMG_9023

I got a sound chastising by the neighborhood moms. They told me that I made their Tooth Fairy look like a cheapskate.

I just wanted Molly to be able to buy something memorable with her TF money. What are you going to get for a dollar? I told Molly that the TF only leaves her the big bucks for the 1st tooth.IMG_9024

Molly checking to make sure the TF took her tooth. I think she was a little disappointed that it wasn’t still in there. Little does she know that she’ll get it back in 20 or 30 or 40 years. Speaking of which, do you still have my teeth Mom? I’d like them back!IMG_9027

Here’s our pal Mr. Toothy. I am sure that he will make many more trips under the pillow before all is said and done.IMG_9030

Am I the only one who is sad that her child is losing her baby teeth. They are so cute and little and perfect. Grown up teeth are big and awkward and all nubby on top. Not at all what a little girl should have in her mouth.

That’s the problem, I guess. She’s not a little girl anymore.

Excuse me while I go have a good cry.