11.14.2016

Surgery: Things you don't see coming

I woke up this morning to my phone's monotone, persistent alarm.

It was 7 a.m. and Monday morning. Usually, we start the week by getting snacks ready, signing important papers and looking ahead at what we have planned. Do we have girl scouts? What times do I have pitching lessons? Does Pearyn have any last-minute homework I neglected to look for?

Today was different, however. I woke up with a lump in my throat. I looked at the clock again, 7 a.m. Who knows, tomorrow at this time we might be at the hospital. Or we'll be sitting in bed, not sleeping, because we'll be waiting to go to the hospital.

I'm not the most chipper person in the morning as it is, but today is different. Today is worse. Because today is the day before our six-year-old daughter has surgery. I let it sink into my mind a little longer. Surgery. Our beautiful baby girl. I think about all the things that could go wrong, things that have literally a .000000001 percent chance of happening, but somehow, today, it feels so heavy it weighs on my chest. The worry, the stress, it all feels so consuming that I can't and don't want to get out of bed. Instead, I want to lay in bed and look at my little six-year-old girl sleeping peacefully, stroke her hair and protect her from anything big or bad in this world.

But I can't.

We're lucky, truly, because her surgery is minor and it's not even that big of a deal. In my head, I know this. She's been struggling with headaches and vision lately, and we found out she has exotropia strabismus. Basically, her eye muscles aren't aligned and rather than working together, one wants to do what it's told while the other wants to follow other more exciting things. It's a simple surgery, it's 20-30 minutes, it's outpatient, we'll get to take her home and cuddle her, feed her ice cream or whatever her sweet little girl heart wants, but it still feels like a big deal.

I noticed a small drift in her eyes while she grew up, but ignored it and attributed it to me being that overly worried mother. And then when she struggled to read the eye chart at her doctor, he sent us off to the eye doctor, "No big deal," I thought, "She'll just need glasses."

But then we went to the eye doctor ... and then another. And both of them said the same thing: surgery. We talked about therapy and exercises instead, about corrective glasses, about all sorts of things. But we still received the same urging: surgery. Her eyes take too long to rebound, she's getting headaches, she's nauseous, they're blurring her vision when they work together.

After a lot of pondering and discussions, we decided to go with the surgery. And even though I know it's a simple, little surgery, one this doctor has performed probably thousands of times in his career, it doesn't make me feel any better. Because this time it's my baby. And my baby hasn't had this surgery 1000 times, in fact, she's never had surgery. She's never had a broken bone -- a stitch in her whole life.

So for the last month I've been counting down the days until this surgery, until her eyes could be fixed and she could continue her love of reading she's slowly developing, until the headaches would subside; and yet, now that it's tomorrow, I feel like there's an elephant sitting on my chest and the last thing in the world I want to do is have my daughter put to sleep and operated on.

We'll get through it. It's silly, I know. I'm being silly and worrying for things that I don't even understand; but it doesn't make it any less real to me, to us. I'm lucky I dye my hair constantly, or I'd probably have developed an entire patch of gray hair by now. I don't know how parents of children with heart surgeries, cancers or other more serious ailments handle it. I'm ready to lose my crap and she's having a 20-minute outpatient surgery.

My beautiful, blue-eyed little girl is having surgery on her beautiful blue eyes tomorrow and every time she tells me she's scared or she's nervous I have to fight back the urge to say "me too baby girl, me too."

Instead, I smile and I tell her they are amazing doctors and she doesn't need to worry, because that's what mommies and daddies are for.

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