Today was life-changing for our Isabelle.
Today was full of "firsts" and "lasts."
Today was her first day with a bowel absent of perforations.
Today was her last day of needing a colostomy bag.
Today was her first day of recovery on her way to being able to eat full feedings.
Today was our last day of wondering when they were going to put our girl back together.
Today, Dr. Liu re-attached Isabelle's intestines.
As far as Dr. Liu was concerned, today's surgery was a success. By no means are we completely out of the woods, though we can begin the journey of recovery and take the necessary steps to get her home where she belongs.
Watching your daughter being wheeled away for surgery doesn't get easier just because it's the third time. The pain you feel inside for your child hurts just as much as it did during the first surgery. For me, the only thing that changed was how well I was able to hold myself together on the outside. There was no crying today, mostly because of the amount of confidence we placed in Dr. Liu's capable hands and because we knew that our little fighter wasn't going to let anything else get in the way of her coming home to be with her sisters.
It almost seemed routine today, going to the NICU, waiting for Dr. Liu to show up. Once he arrived and discussed how everything was supposed to go during surgery, they transported Izzy to the OR waiting area where we talked one last time with the anesthesiologist. We gave our girl kisses goodbye and waiting patiently, with many other families, in the OR waiting room. After a relatively quick hour and 40 minutes, Dr. Liu emerged from the OR and came to tell us the good news. Little Izzy was an excellent patient and the surgery went exactly as he had hoped. He then shared a minor detail with us. Something so seemingly small that I never once thought about it during any part of this process. He told us that he was able to save her belly button. I know. It's so trivial, especially to me. I just wanted her to survive. But, when she gets older and starts getting self-conscious, as all teenagers do, I can only imagine what having something as simple as a belly button will do for her self-confidence.
Thank you Dr. Liu for thinking about that! Now, it's just something we'll never have to think about again. We won't have to explain it to her one day and try to rationalize something to a kid who would have just wanted to know where her belly button is.
Lastly, I don't want to oversimplify the impact of today's surgery. As with all surgeries like this, we're still playing the waiting game. We have to wait for her swelling to go down. We have to wait for her intestines to gain its motility again. We have to hope that the stitching heals correctly and doesn't form a stricture in her intestinal path. We also have to hope the surgery holds and that nothing leaks at the point where the intestines were re-attached.
For now, we just get to go to the NICU, stand next to her crib, and give her kisses. It will probably be a while before we can hold her again, as they expect that her stomach will temporarily swell and that she'll be pretty uncomfortable for quite some time. We'll hold her hand, tell her that we love her, and keep her in our prayers at all times.
Today, our Izzy got her bowels back :)
Izzy, getting some rest ahead of her big day
Getting prepped in the NICU
Traveling with her entourage
Mom, providing a little bit of comfort to her smallest baby
The OR waiting room, in case you've never seen one
Meg, talking to Nurse Pam after the surgery
Our sweet girl, recovering after a long day