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Monday, April 6, 2015

Calvin Wellness Update: Post Palate Repair and On the Mend

I'm very happy to report that Calvin's surgery last week went well and that he seems to be doing great!

Everything went very smoothly with his two procedures. As expected, his hernia repair was a quick fix (again, this was a hernia resulting from a birth "defect," not from an injury). They made a small incision above his little outie belly button, put in a scope to find the tiny hole, and put in a couple of stitches to close it up. No stitches on his belly, just that surgical super-glue stuff. For his palate repair, the plastic surgeons opened up his soft palate to reveal the underlying muscles. Then they attached the muscles to each other as they are supposed to be. So, to my understanding, he's got stitches to hold the muscles together so that they can heal into the correct shape, and stitches to close up the surface of his soft palate (the part you can see if you look at the back of his mouth). Everything should heal up in a couple of weeks and the stitches will dissolve. For now, he's on a strict soft foods diet because anything hard could poke into his stitches. We will see his plastic surgeon for a follow up next week.

Pre-surgery, waiting to be taken to the OR (Watching Finding Nemo)

Caring for a kiddo straight out of the OR is so tough. Definitely up there with the hardest and scariest experiences for me as a mom. This was the third time, and it's not something that has gotten easier even with an idea of what to expect. Each time, the babies were just so vulnerable and disoriented. The anesthesia gives them nausea. After Henry's tonsillectomy and Calvin's palate repair, they both drooled some blood. At first they were barely awake, and then as they came around they became extremely upset and agitated. They were hard to console. They fought the nurses and tried to pull at their wires and tubes. They cried and cried until they fell asleep, calmed by pain medicine. I am sure they were frightened. I was frightened. I knew they were going to be OK. I believed that the hard part would pass. But it was so painful to see my boys in that state.

I don't mean to diminish the fact that we are very thankful for capable doctors and successful surgeries. I'm asking myself why it feels important to write about that part of the experience, the hardest part for me. Probably the hardest part for them, though they aren't able to tell for themselves. It feels a little dishonest to leave it out or gloss over it. I think it's important to focus on positive things and to give thanks for every blessing. But part of me also feels like it is important to acknowledge the hard parts of the journey, the scary, ugly moments that we have to go through to get to the happy endings.

A couple of hours after surgery, snuggling and sleeping.

The only bad news from the doctors was that the muscles in Calvin's palate are very thin. As one of his surgeons put it, "there's not much muscle there." This means they may never be strong enough to function well, despite being attached properly. If, over another year or two, it seems like he's not improving it will mean another surgery. Meanwhile, he still has his other articulation difficulties not related to his palate (learning to use his lips & tongue to produce certain sounds that are hard for him). There are a few components to helping Calvin develop "normal" speech and his palate muscles are just one piece of the puzzle. We've still got a lot of hard work and speech therapy ahead, but I'm thankful to have this surgery piece behind us. Even if it isn't his last surgery, it was still an important step.

The following morning, watching Finding Nemo again!

Calvin's energy actually returned very quickly! Just the day after surgery he was playing around in his hospital crib with his brother.

The pain meds made a huge difference for the first couple of days, though we were conservative with medicating him. Once we were home, we slowly backed off on the Tylenol and now he doesn't seem to need it at all.

Yummy ice cream treat after leaving the hospital :)

I thought the "soft foods" diet would be a big hit, but Calvin has not been too impressed with our attempts to keep him nourished on smoothies and yogurt :/ Of course, he loved the pudding and Jell-o at the Easter party yesterday.

He's running around and playing, but he's also napping more during the day and feeling kind of clingy at night, wanting to sleep in the big bed with James and me.

He's not quite back to 100%, but all in all he's doing great. Thank you so much to everyone who has kept our family in thoughts and prayers. We had a very happy Easter yesterday and it's hard to believe, but our little Bean's 3rd birthday is just days away!! Love this little guy.


  1. Omigosh seeing the babies come out of anesthetic knock-out has got to be just the worst and scariest thing ever. They're so disoriented and confused and they can't understand what's happening! I'm so glad the procedures went well and so proud of all of you! Can't wait to see and squeeze all y'all!

  2. SO pleased all went well. x