I see you sitting there. I see the nervous way you fold and unfold your hands. The way you keep glancing at the time. You brought a bag of stuff to keep you occupied, but it goes untouched. At long last you pull out the book you brought, but the words are a jumbled mess that makes no sense at all.
Guess what! It’s okay.
It’s okay to feel the way you are feeling. Knowing that deep inside you trust the doctors and their team to take care of your baby, but also fearful of what might happen. Allowing your mind to wander to all the things that could possibly go wrong. Having imaginary conversations in your head so you can prepare yourself for the worse case scenario. Or maybe you are clinging to hope and a miracle so the conversation in your head is one that brings you the best news.
You see mom, I’ve been where you are more times than I care to count. I would love to say it gets easier, and for the most part, it does. But there’s always a little part of you that is going to wait anxiously as your child is in the hands of the doctor and her team. So many capable bodies surrounding your most precious gift; your child.
So what can you do to ease your worries? To pass the time?
While these suggestions may not work for everyone, they are some things I’ve tried for the past 10 years as I’ve sat in the waiting room for surgery to have tubes placed in ears, multiple endoscopies and colonoscopies, and surgery to have a feeding tube placed.
- Find out if you can go back with your child to the procedure room and remain while anesthesia does their job to help your child. My almost 11 year old doesn’t “need” me to go back anymore, but over the past several years, I did go back with him. Seeing the room and the entire team in place helps because I see there are many ready to make sure my baby makes it through. It also helps me to see my child ease into a deep, deep sleep. And at times, it has been rather humorous as he tries to fight the gas for as long as possible. He cracks up the entire team with his antics and humor.
- Ask for IVs to be inserted AFTER your child is out. My children fight, fight, fight an IV and that leaves my heart breaking because of their tears and distress. Not an image you want to take with you as you wait for their return. I didn’t know this was possible for the first few procedures my son had and let me tell you; it makes a world of difference.
- Bring a family member or friend. Sometimes sitting and talking with someone can be a huge help. Or even just sitting in comfortable silence with them right beside you is enough to ease your mind and let you know that you are not alone.
- If you are left in the preparation area and can hear intercom announcements, ask if there is another place you can wait. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you hear things like “Code Blue” on the 3rd floor and you know that your child is back in a procedure room on the third floor. It makes your heart stop, your blood run cold, and you start praying and imagining the worst. Get away from where you can hear all the medical talk and announcements.
- Bring that bag of goodies to occupy your time. Even if you just keep it by your feet the entire time, you have it to fidget with, to pull items out and then return them. Put items in there that you enjoy. It gives you something to do other than sit and stare at a wall. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, you will find enough peace and strength to read that book, work that crossword, crochet that blanket.
While there are plenty of other ideas I’m sure you can search for and try out, these are the ones that have helped me. I hope they can help you too.
So mom, as you sit anxiously waiting for the call to return to the preparation and recovery room, remember, you are not alone. You are perfectly normal to go through a wide range of emotions and thoughts whether you are sitting there waiting for 5 minutes or 5 hours. And when it’s finally time to go back and wait on your baby to stir from all the anesthesia, go back there, hold their hand, kiss their face, ruffle their hair. And then when you return home, snuggle as much as you.
A mom’s who’s been there