Days 6-10 Post-Surgery Update

[FYI – I wrote this update last night with a few corrections this morning…but it’s taken me until past 3 pm today to find a moment to add the pictures on at the bottom and publish the post. So far, today has been similar to the last few.]

In my latest update on Tuesday, Evie was doing much better and it had been our best day by far. Wednesday during the day was pretty good as well, but things took a turn for the worst on Wednesday evening, and since then it’s been frustrating at best, ulcer-inducing at worst (haha)! She’s back to eating normally which is a blessing, (if not more than she was pre-surgery), but now we are dealing with an entirely different set of problems than before. If I could time travel and go back in time one week, I probably would chuckle and say to myself: “self, if you think this is hard…you just wait and see what’s coming…” (well, except for the dehydration/ER visit – that was pretty awful). By the way, if the thought of poop makes you squeamish, this is most definitely not the post for you.

In Tuesday’s update, I mentioned she was constipated, a fun side-effect of the codeine (…love how one solution to the pain problem just leads to another pain problem). By Wednesday night, Evie still had not passed a bowel movement – making it five days since her last one. We tried to get things moving by syringe-feeding water to her per her doctor’s instructions, and even tried homeopathic remedies such as a baking soda bath, but nothing helped. She was obviously cramping and uncomfortable, but we were still holding out hope that she would have a huge blow-out at any minute.

Sean finally bounced Evie to sleep at 11 pm, and we went to bed immediately after that. 30 minutes later, she woke up crying and in pain. We did more research on infant constipation online, and found suggestions to pump her legs and push down on her belly, 3 finger-lengths below her belly button. The leg pumping seemed to relieve some discomfort for a short time, but eventually, she became more and more upset. In our research, we read that as a last resort, an infant glycerin suppository could be used. We concurred we had arrived at the “last resort” point, so at 1:30 am on Thanksgiving morning, I searched for 24-hour pharmacies in our area. It took awhile to find one, and the closest pharmacy was 20 minutes away at a hospital.

As I bemoaned waiting another hour to relieve Evie’s pain, (in the middle of the night, nonetheless), I suddenly remembered we might still have adult suppositories – thanks to one of my many lovely issues while pregnant with Caleb 🙂 Sean checked, and we still had them. I conducted further research online, and found the ones we had were identical in composition to the infant ones – we just needed to cut it in 1/4. So we cut it, prayed we weren’t poisoning her (ha!), and did the deed. One minute later, (no exaggeration), she began pooping. Seriously, that stuff is magic. I don’t know how it works (nor do I really care to know), but wow, probably top 5 inventions of all time. And just because it’s hilarious, I have to share an excerpt we read on infant constipation from a professional, reputable site:

Infants normally work really hard to have a bowel movement, so straining at the stool isn’t necessarily alarming, even when the infant cries or gets red in the face. For an infant to have a bowel movement is a major effort, and it shows. Just try to poop lying on your back and you’ll get the picture. Actually, don’t really do that. Imagining it should be enough.

After the suppository got her system moving again, I really thought we were in the clear. Unfortunately, this was not the case…I suppose one suppository was not enough to rival five days of back-log. So, maybe it’s only in the top 10 inventions of all time. In any case, they’ve done amazing things for our family 😉 Over the next 24 hours, she continued to have cramps and pass gas often…and pooped five times. I guess that’s one for each day she missed.

Rewinding a tad, on Thanksgiving morning, we finally got her back to sleep around 2:30 am, and went back to sleep ourselves…until 5:15 am when Caleb woke up crying and yelling for dada, because he couldn’t find his blankie and puppy. So on all accounts, a really solid way to begin Thanksgiving.  I think our thankful hearts were being put to the test 🙂 Evie was up nursing when Caleb woke up, and went back to sleep for only a couple more hours after that. For the rest of the day, she was generally fussy, cried on and off, and refused to nap. At one point, Sean was at the store and I needed to shower, so I put her in the swing. She was ok at first, but after I got the shower going (of course), she began screaming her head off and I couldn’t do anything about it…I felt so bad for her.

I nearly abandoned attending Thanksgiving dinner at Sean’s parents house because she was so fussy, but I couldn’t stand the thought of not being with family on Thanksgiving. On our drive over to their house, Evie screamed while Caleb screamed at Evie to stop crying. I wish I took a video of the insanity, because it was just one of those moments that was too good to be true, but my brain just doesn’t work that fast on a few hours of sleep. I’m glad I went, and everyone took turns holding her and helping with Caleb so we could have a break. A good portion of our Thanksgiving dinner conversation revolved around poop and suppositories, so that was awesome too. I don’t know what you were thankful for on Thanksgiving this year, but baby poop was at the top of my list. I am not joking…at one point during the day I literally shouted: “thank you Jesus!” 🙂

The past three nights were an improvement over Wednesday night in terms of getting her to sleep and getting some sleep ourselves, (so long as we let her sleep in bed with us…which we’ve never done before). However, since Thursday, she has been crying a good portion of the day, needs to be held and bounced constantly (which still doesn’t guarantee she’ll stop crying half the time), and is refusing to nap. Her constipation was resolved by Thursday night, so that is no longer an issue. I have been googling up a storm, and we are at a total loss for nailing down what is bothering her at this point. We talked to a doctor on the phone, and she had no idea either. She’s not sick, her lip is not infected, she’s not teething, she’s not constipated, she’s eating much better, and she’s not dehydrated.

I read that the Ibuprofen/Tylenol could be upsetting her stomach, so we stopped giving those entirely Friday night, but it doesn’t seem to have improved (or worsened) her behavior. My three best guesses at this point are: 1. neurological side-effects from the anesthesia (resulting in sensory-overload and difficulty sleeping), 2. psychological side-effects from surgery (resulting in clinginess and general fussiness), and/or 3. not being able to offer her a pacifier to soothe herself. Maybe it’s just one, or a combo of all three… or an unknown 4th possibility…but who really knows, since she can’t talk to us!!! She has cried more in the last 3 days than her first 4 months combined. Her current disposition is so unlike the mellow baby we knew…it’s disconcerting. I’m seriously wondering if the surgery and all the drugs damaged her psychologically, or if something serious is going on medically and we just don’t know what it is. I’m pretty sure one of the worst feelings in the world is watching your child suffer and not knowing what is bothering them, if it’s serious (or will just pass with time), and how to alleviate it.

So, let me paint you a picture of my current wonderful mess. Aside from Thanksgiving, I haven’t dressed myself in over a week, the house is a mess, we’re eating meals while standing and bouncing her, we’re only eating said meals because people are bringing them to us, I’m pretty sure my back has a few stress fractures by now, I think Caleb feels abandoned by me (at bed time last night he informed me he’d rather have a different mommy), and I’m showering just often enough to avoid an infectious disease. Fortunately, in all the madness, I have not lost my awesome sense of humor 😉

I was really expecting things to be much better at the one-week point, but as I prefaced this post, it’s actually more grueling now since she is requiring *constant* attention (she slept a lot for the first five days post-surgery since the codeine knocked her out, so at least that provided us with breaks…even though the feeding/medicine schedule was demanding). I was re-reading her discharge paperwork last night, and it confirmed that most babies are back to their usual selves by one week post-surgery…sooo ???? I know I have SO much in my life to be thankful for, and I’m really glad she is doing better with nursing and there is no major concern like dehydration (that we know of), but we are getting put through the wringer and w-o-r-k-e-d worked.

Not to toot my own horn, but I would say patience is one of my stronger suits, and my patience (in my own strength), is no match for this. There is nothing quite like a baby screaming in my ear for hours on end that raises my pulse off the charts, slowly seeps my will to live, and makes me more inclined to ram my head into a wall (some sarcasm there…some). She’s been crying so much I’ve even begun to hallucinate…even when she’s not crying, all I hear is crying…it just. won’t. stop. Sean is supposed to go back to work tomorrow, and as things stand, I am nowhere near capable of handling Evie on my own, let alone Evie AND Caleb. Aaaand the heater stops working on a daily basis :/

I haven’t been able to write an update in days because there have been no breaks…I was only able to write this because Caleb was in bed and Sean was holding Evie, so I could do something for a couple of hours that brings me joy. Writing about all these experiences is therapeutic and life-giving for me…it helps my introverted-self recharge, process everything, and adjust my perspective (and coincidentally, allows me to keep family and friends informed on how things are going).

We need Jesus and we desperately need prayer. I cannot overemphasize this enough!! We feel so helpless and weak. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 – “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” This has been an extremely stretching experience, and we need to rely on God to handle it well, and with thankful hearts (1 Thess. 5:16-18)…because we just can’t do it in our own strength.

Some pictures from earlier today:

4 months old today!
4 months old today!
Her nasty bandage finally came off today and we can actually see what her lip looks like
Her nasty bandage finally came off today and we can actually see what her lip looks like
We got a few smiles out of her...
We got a few smiles out of her…
...Before it quickly degraded into this. Sad...
…Before it quickly degraded into this. Sad…
Because Caleb can't handle not being the center of attention and demanded he take a turn :)
And then this happened because Caleb can’t handle not being the center of attention and demanded he take a turn 🙂
This picture was taken at 11 am and Caleb still did not have clothes on...which was only half our fault.
This picture was taken at 11 am and Caleb still did not have clothes on…which was only half our fault.
A good candid shot, ha!
A good candid shot, ha!

Next post:

3 Week Post-Surgery Update


Out of Cleft Field: Evie’s Cleft Adventures

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Melissa Felker

I blog to share my life, entertain, inspire, inform, encourage, challenge (both myself and others), and of course, for personal therapy - haha! I love to write about meaningful experiences and a wide range of topics I find interesting. I particularly enjoy sharing life in a raw and barely censored fashion because I highly value authenticity.

4 thoughts on “Days 6-10 Post-Surgery Update”

  1. Melissa, when I was nursing my children I had to be so careful of every little thing I ate. I hope it is as simple as this. I used to keep some Mylicon drops handy. (baby Mylanta). If she seems to have a lot of gas, this could help. Especially Rachael. If I ate any broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower she would scream in pain. It could just be severe gas. I hope this is all it is. Prayers for your family.

  2. Have you guys tried putting her across your legs on her belly and lightly patting her bum~bum? Even bouncing your legs lightly while your doing it helps. That always worked with my kids when they were fussy and we were at a loss as to why! Sending prayer, lots of prayer your way!! (I thank God and I thank you for your sense of humor!! I just love it!) =)

  3. Thank you for sharing with us, Melissa! I will certainly keep your entire family in prayer. My heart goes out to both you and Sean…as parents it just breaks your hearts when your babies are not feeling well. And especially when they’re so young they cannot explain to you what they feel like…hence the crying and fussiness:(

    Sweet Caleb not wanting to be left out of all the commotion….reminds me of the first few weeks when Tyler was an infant and Tre was only 2 yr. 2 mos. Tre would be on the floor, on his knees, looking up and asking me in his very sweet voice, “Mommy, when will it be my turn for you to hold me?” I would tell him that I would hold him as soon as I was finished nursing Tyler….and then I’d watch as he sat at my feet patiently waiting his turn. I thought, Lord, how do I do it all? By the time I was done nursing Tyler (in the evening), Rick would come and take him and put him to bed and I’d reach down and pick up my little guy who had fallen asleep at my feet and rock him back and forth, back and forth. I would pray to God that somehow, he could feel my love through his sweet slumbering breaths. It just broke my heart thinking he might feel second fiddle to Ty and less loved since nursing Tyler was a priority. There will be many moments in parenting where you’ll be torn between the needs of your children. There is certainly nothing easy about raising a family….parenting definitely has been the most challenging experience of my life and yet the most rewarding. I am most grateful for such a dedicated husband and father. Having Rick at my side, going through the challenges together, was my daily spoonful of sugar:) I didn’t have family nearby so having Rick be such a hands-on type of dad, made those difficult times bareable and the smooth times, a joy!

    Hang in there, sweet Melissa! You have the love of an honorable and dedicated man who was raised by and incredible mother and father! You know the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree 🙂 With you and Sean and the Holy Spirit, you will get through Evie’s medical trials and this topsy-turvy season. Keep writing when you get the time….you certainly have a talent for it. Your story is a serious one, but with your amazing sense of humor, your transparency and willingness to be honest, you have capture me as a faithful reader!

    Praying for you all daily! Sending hugs your way!

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