The day we had been waiting for was finally here! Today was the day Olivia would have her retina re-attached and the stalk caused by her PFV would be clipped. The doctor would also check to see how big Olivia’s cataract was in order to determine whether to remove it during this procedure or to wait and do that at a later date.
For babies as young as Olivia (3 months at the time) they are not allowed to eat 5 hours before the procedure. Of course as a new momma that is nursing her baby, I was extremely anxious that Olivia would not only be scared to be in a new place with a bunch of doctors but that she would also be so hungry with no way to soothe. So I ended up setting my alarm for 2:30am in order to get her one last feeding before her 8am appointment. It worked out really well and there were no last minute hungry cries to be heard J. We also had to continue our vigorous drops schedule for Olivia’s eye.
When we arrived at the hospital, they led us into waiting room after waiting room until we were ushered into her final patient room. She was given the cutest little hospital gown that she swam in – but that only increased her adorable factor. We stood in that room and hugged our baby girl tighter than we ever had before. My husband and I were each other’s rock when our minds would wonder to that negative headspace. Our biggest fear – as it is whenever anesthesia is present – was what if she doesn’t wake up? We were afraid of a number of complications we were told could arise when doing such a precise surgery on a very small eyeball. We read horror stories but to every one-horror story were five success stories and that’s what we tried to remember. So we kept hugging our baby, sending each other reassuring smiles and playing a singing Pooh bear her favorite song over and over and over again.
When the doctor came in to take Olivia in for surgery he made sure we understood everything that was about to happen and what his expected result was. He also informed us that he would be measuring her cataract once he was in her eye. If the cataract exceeded a certain number, then he would attempt to remove it. This would mean removing her lens but would give her the best chance to gain vision in her nemo eye. There are few moments in life that are burned into your memory. The second the nurse took my baby back for surgery and I had to walk away and into the waiting room was the hardest moment of my entire life. We waited in the center of the hospital for what felt like an eternity. About 2 hours later, the doctor came out and gave us the news – Olivia was a ROCKSTAR. She did amazing! She took the anesthesia really well and he was able to sever the stalk in order to reattach her retina and ended up removing the cataract and lens without complication. After taking a couple huge deep breaths and signs of relief, we walked back to see our gorgeous girl wake up.
As soon as Olivia woke up, I was able to hold and nurse her. She had lots of bandages on her eye and a shield to protect it. She kept both eyes closed the majority of the time but I would feel her squeeze me ever so often as if to remind my husband and I that she was okay. We were released from the hospital and headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. For anyone going through a similar situation, don’t panic if your baby doesn’t open their good eye right away. We were terrified and so confused as to why she wouldn’t open her good eye after surgery. In fact, it took her about 5 hours to open her good eye while the nemo was guarded. Looking back, it makes sense that she was tired, her eyes were most likely sore and it was probably odd to be unable to open one of her eyes and easier to just keep both of them closed. We stayed over night one more time because after surgery the patient is required to be seen in post op by the surgeon the next day to be sure that everything looks good! We got through the night with Olivia on my chest and very little sleep but received a clean bill of health the next morning. We made it through the hardest day of our lives, together. I couldn’t have gotten through this without my amazing, supportive husband and strong warrior of a daughter. This experience showed me how strong we truly are. We had no idea that new eye adventure we were about to embark on but after getting through this, we knew we could take on anything.