It has been several weeks since I posted the second part of finding out about Lauren’s serious heart defect. I guess I have been putting off writing about the first surgery because I am just not sure how much to tell or what to tell. I can tell you that ignorance is bliss and I am glad that I didn’t know everything that I know now.
Prior to Lauren’s first surgery, they did a heart catheterization to determine just how much blood was flowing to her lungs and how her heart was functioning. I was not afraid during this procedure. I accepted it as a part of what needed to be done to help Lauren. That first catheterization was done on June 11, 1982. After the catheterization, we met with Dr. William Plauth, who, at that time, was the absolute best in his field. I am so thankful for him. He explained that he could not fix Lauren’s problem, but he could put in a shunt that went from her heart to her lungs, and that would allow her to live and grow until she was big enough to have a corrective procedure. I was not afraid of this surgery either. Again, I accepted it as a part of what had to be done. There was never a question about whether we would agree for Lauren to have the surgery. We had to.
I think that it was the night before the first surgery when the nurses sat down with Tim and I to explain what would happen on the day of the surgery. Of course, there would be no food or drinks after midnight. Try telling a baby of 10 ½ months that they can’t have anything to eat or drink. That’s a challenge. Then, the nurse explained what would happen after the surgery and she told us that we would be able to see Lauren in the ICU about an hour after the surgery. There would be several tubes coming out of her to drain out fluids, she would have pacing wires attached inside her body to monitor her heart (but they pull these out later), and she would have a tube down her throat for the ventilator. She would have a midline incision and wires would hold her breastbone together until it grew back together. This process takes quite a long time, so the nurse showed us how we would have to pick up Lauren when we held her. We could never pick her up under her arms again. We would have to put one hand on her bottom and one hand on her back so that no pressure at all would ever be on the breastbone. I sat there and listened to everything that the nurse said and I understood every word. What I didn’t understand, however, was how I was going to feel when I got in that ICU and saw my sweet baby laying there. I don’t think they can ever prepare you for that. No matter how thorough they are in trying to prepare you, you will never be prepared to see what I saw and for that first time, ignorance truly was bliss.