Apr 26, 2002

Reading this entry brought back memories of my own daughter's operation, at the age of eight months. She, too, was born with a cleft, but luckily only of the soft palate - the area at the back of the mouth. Much easier to repair, and involving no facial surgery. So for the most part, no reminders, no memories. Except for The Mom.

I still remember that horrible feeling of turning my innocent baby over to the arms of the nurse. They would not let me go into surgery, of course. They would not even let me in the recovery room. I didn't realize then how I could have insisted on it - I am not one of those "mouthy mothers" with that fight-to-the-death attitude about their children. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of blind courage.

I can still picture her face as the nurse walked down the hall. The confusion in her eyes. "Where am I going?" "Why aren't you with me?" I'm sure this was all in my head. Short of a few minutes of curiousity, my daughter probably thought it a wonderful adventure. But to me, it was possibly the last glimpse I would see of my smiling baby's face. It was, after all, major surgery involving anesthesia, and the numerous forms requiring my signature was evidence of the danger for one so young.

The hours waiting for the surgery to finish were unbearable. Even more so with the presence of her father, my soon-to-be-ex, who drove us down to the hospital with barely enough to pay for parking, let alone to eat (we would have to be there most of the day.) Not that I would be able to consume anything but water. But this was the person who was supposed to be looking out for us? That I was supposed to be able to lean on for comfort and security? Totally, totally unprepared. Probably because my mother was also coming, and he knew she would have the resources to pick up the slack. The attitude, I'm afraid, has not changed. Many years later, he's still expecting everyone else to pick up the slack.

When they wheeled her out of recovery, I was a stew of emotions - the desire to cry, jump for joy, and break into hysterical laughter. So relieved that everything had gone well. Pained by the look of the tube stuck into her nose so the swelling would not interfere with her breathing. And amused by the sight of this tiny body on this huge hospital gurney - she was barely as big as the pillow, a tiny speck in this sea of white cotton. Seeing her mommy. A big smile. "Geez, Mom, it was a breeze. What were you so worried about?"

She's still doing this to me. Does she know that my heart, in her hands, is a bouncing ball?

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