The stage between the first surgery (Norwood) and the second surgery (Glenn) is called “interstage”. The mortality rate between these two surgeries is extremely high. We were on constant watch to make sure everything was going well. At one of Oliver’s post-op check ups around the first of December his cardiologist said that we should start making plans for the second surgery. My jaw dropped! It seemed as if we had just gotten home from the hospital and we were already talking about the second surgery! He said we would most likely shoot for February but he needed to check the schedule to make sure it would work. Within a week after that appointment I got a call from the surgical coordinator. It is strange scheduling an open heart surgery over the phone. I would compare it to scheduling a dentist appointment. They offer a date and time and you decide if you can make it work. Surgery was set for February 6th and a heart cath was scheduled for February 4th. I was told to watch the mail for a packet explaining what to do and where to go the day of the surgery. The holidays passed quickly and before I knew it it was already February. The last few weeks leading up to his surgery were high stress. I found myself crying and anxious most of the time. I wanted to get it over with, but didn’t want it to happen at all.
On February 3rd my mom and I headed to Utah. We spent the night at my moms cousins house and woke up bright and early on the 4th for Ollie’s heart cath. This first surgery would be minor compared to the open heart surgery to follow. Oliver wasn’t allowed to have any food after midnight the day before his cath and OHS. He was allowed to drink pedialyte until 8 am the morning of though. He didn’t like it much so we got to deal with a fussy baby for a few hours.
The purpose of the heart cath is to check out how the heart looks and to give the surgeon an idea of what to expect for the major surgery. They go in through the groin and snake their way up to the heart. After the cath was complete I was paged and told to head down to the post surgical room. There were many children in there just waking up from anesthesia. Oliver was pretty out of it when I got to him. It terrified me to see him so…..blank. It took him quite a while to wake up. We were moved to a room and had to wait for a few hours. Ollie had to sit completely still during this time. When he finally started to wake up I had to stand by his bed and hold his legs down. The fear is that they will start bleeding heavily in the spot they went through on his groin. He perked up after 4 hours or so and we got the go ahead to go back to the hotel.
David and my dad arrived the following day and we spent time with David’s family as well. Oliver was able to receive a priesthood blessing that night as well. We stopped Oliver’s feeds and wiped him down with the pre-surgery cleansing wipes. We had very specific instructions on how to bathe him.
He was again allowed pedialyte all night but he hated it. All he wanted was a bottle of milk. We woke early on February 6th and headed to the hospital. Ollie was weighed and prepped for surgery. He got the cutest little hospital gown to wear.
We waited in our hospital room for his surgeon. He came in and went over all of the risks that we could expect. I can’t remember any of them but they were bad. After meeting with him the anesthesiologist led us to the surgical wing. We were allowed to kiss Ollie and give him one last hug, and then the doctor took him. I watched him walk away and I didn’t feel completely helpless. I was scared, but there was a calmness that I felt. David and I walked hand in hand to the surgical waiting room and took our seats. We would be there for a few hours so we got as comfortable as we could. 6-7 hours later our surgeon came into the waiting room. He told us it took quite awhile to get started because there was so much scar tissue to get through. I was in awe at how tedious and delicate his job must be. He said Oliver did well and his heart function looked good.
We were able to see him an hour after that and he looked pretty rough. He was puffy. He looked really uncomfortable and would open his eyes and squirm a lot.
David and I camped out in one of the parent sleep rooms that night. As always it was hard to leave Ollie there but after an exhausting day it is all you can do. Luckily recovery was quick and we were moved up to the “floor” the day after surgery. The hardest part now was managing his pain. He was given oxycodon and tylenol around the clock. David and I were in his room 24/7 from now on until we got to go home.
A few days after surgery Oliver blew out one of his IV’s. I panicked because I did not want him to get poked for the hundredth time. They called in the IV team and they were there in minutes. I was devastated. He was finally peaceful after a long day of restlessness. I silently pleaded with my Father in heaven to not let Oliver feel anything when they put in his IV. I closed my eyes and held his hand as they pushed the needle in. It was not met with the usual scream. Instead Oliver acted as if he felt nothing. My prayers aren’t always answered in such a way, but I was so thankful it was that day. Heavenly Father knew Ollie and I could handle it, but I am so grateful he didn’t make us.