Post-Op Day 1

Thursday, November 29th

Our second day in the hospital was spent trying to control Claire. She went from zero to toddler in less than 24 hours. Kids are so resilient – but I had no idea how resilient she would actually be. I figured we would have at least a few days of downtime. I had even brought books with me, planned to update the blog, planned to do a lot of “housekeeping” for at least a few days while she recovered and rested after open heart surgery. As per usual with my children, she had other plans.

At around 6:30am on her first day post-op, she sat straight up in bed. I had been resting in the chair and praying for good results from her x-ray earlier that morning when I saw her fighting the tubes and wires and forcing herself upright into a sitting position. I had two thoughts at that moment: Holy Crap. and You Have Got To Be Kidding Me.


It was absolutely terrifying seeing our 3yo daughter fighting against the things keeping her safe and stable. She had tubes coming out of her chest, lines coming from everywhere, a jugular central line, IV’s in both hands, and her high-flow oxygen cannula. This happened right before shift change so our nurse was nowhere to be found. I pressed the call button and just attempted to keep Claire as calm as I could. She was an absolute disaster, but she cared about none of that.  She cared about nothing other than getting her butt out of bed and getting back to herself. Nothing had ever been easy with this girl, and she certainly wasn’t about to start now. Neither relaxation nor rest are in Claire’s vocabulary.

As I fought back the tears from seeing her visibly upset and in pain, a few nurses came in to help get her settled. I texted Adam as soon as I could but didn’t hear from him for a while. It gave me such relief to know he was either sleeping or resting. For the next few hours we managed pain and her worrisome blood pressure. I also had minor anxiety attacks every time I had to use the bathroom and made the student nurse sit with Claire so I could take a two-minute break. 

Once Adam got there I headed to St. Paul to shower and unwind. Although the bed looked awfully inviting, I knew my nervousness would only increase with every minute spent away from the hospital. I made a quick run to Target (Super Target!) and picked Adam and me up lunch. This sweet picture from a proud Daddy brought tears to my eyes – No more high flow! was the caption.


They left her cheek stickers on just in case she needed more oxygen later in the day. But of course, she didn’t. Our girl is a fighter, and we were so proud of her. If I have done nothing else right in my life… I have raised fighters.

We watched a lot of Disney that day… I now have the movie Moana memorized. She wasn’t really into eating orally so we attempted the popsicles Adam had brought earlier that morning after a friendly text from his wife. The popsicles they have at the hospital don’t exactly pass the organic, no sugar added, no artificial coloring, Stibbe Mom Food Approval List.

The rest of the day is a blur – we saw the surgeon a few more times and while he was extremely pleased with how well she was doing overall, he was not happy with her blood pressure. I made a few comments about her stubbornness and that even her body was stubborn. She was on her max dose of Captopril by that point and we just had to roll with it. Did it stress me out beyond control? Yes. Yes, it did. The number of questions I had for Adam were infinite – at one point I looked at him and said: “I’m equal parts happy you are a doctor, and super annoyed that you are a doctor.” I remember going through this with Sam. He just wanted to be Dad, but I couldn’t let that happen. I needed to know everything, even if it didn’t all make sense.

We received so many messages and calls that day from friends who just wanted to check in and let us know they were thinking of us. They meant, and mean, so much.

I left late that night after a nurse had assured the two of us they would watch her so we could grab something to eat. Although she was in an ICU, there was just no one I could fully trust with her, especially after her crazy morning.

Unfortunately for Adam… Claire had an absolutely terrible night. She was itchy, more than likely in pain, and dealing with ICU Insomnia/psychosis, and refusing to sleep. They tried to give her a couple medications by mouth as they really wanted to stop using the IV, but she refused anything orally. A common thing in the ICU is dealing with the strange psychosis, confusing day with night. Sleeping in a fishbowl isn’t easy either. I had brought a sound machine with, but that did little to nothing.

Around 4am Adam looked at the nurse and said, “I need to sleep.” He probably got an hour or so of sleep while they brought in a nursing assistant to sit with Claire. The only negative thing, that I was super surprised by, is that the nurse made a really snarky comment the next morning at shift change that Adam had fallen asleep and hadn’t taken care of Claire. It was a strange contrast to everything we had been told in Omaha – that parents need to take care of themselves first. The comment didn’t sit well with me, as I highly doubt that would have been said if it was Mom who had fallen asleep.

I tried to make Adam go home and sleep, but instead, he opted for copious amounts of coffee and hanging out with his favorite girls. It shouldn’t have surprised me – he’s kind of the best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s