One of the most surprising things about heart surgery for me was that the surgery itself wasn’t that bad. The hard part for me came during her recovery when I realized that we would once again be fighting an old NICU ghost.
After a few days on the ventilator, and a few minor setbacks, the day came when the only thing keeping Bekah at the hospital was her inability to remember how to eat. We knew that meant she would be transferred from the PICU to a regular floor to keep working on her eating skills.
We also knew that although eating had been a huge problem for her before, it was a problem we could work on at home (away from all the sick kids — yes, we are hospital snobs — we admit it) just as easily as it could be worked on at the hospital. After all, the doctors and nurses weren’t going to come home with us to feed her, even if there were a few times that I wished they could!
Chris and I discussed our options the evening we realized that the only thing keeping her hospitalized was an ng tube. The next morning during rounds when it was proposed that she be sent from the PICU to a regular floor, we were prepared with our plan.
We asked to be sent home, even if it meant taking an ng (the feeding tube going from her nose to her stomach) with us.
Having already fought the battle of learning to eat with Rebekah, we knew what we were going to be dealing with when we asked to leave.
We weren’t just suggesting that we take her home unprepared. Our collection of ng supplies had been organized weeks earlier in preparation for a time that she may need them again. We knew from prior experience that we may be facing a battle of wills, but we also knew that refusing to eat (at least at this point) wasn’t really something that she needed to be hospitalized for.
We were ready…or so I thought.
The funny part is, Bekah must have decided that she was ready. A few hours after suggesting we take her home with the ng, she no longer needed it. The nurse pulled it out, and she was on her own. It was time to sink or swim…to eat or starve, well, to eat or prove that she really did need more help than we thought.
By rounds the next morning, Bekah was passing the minimum amount she needed to eat by almost an ounce, and only having a little trouble now and then with pacing herself and remembering to breathe.
A few hours later as we were packing up all of the things that had collected in her room during her week and a half stay, I realized that although I was ready to face the challenge of re-teaching Bekah to eat, I wasn’t necessarily ready for all of the emotions that came with actually preparing to leave the hospital.
Read the rest of Sarah and Rebekah’s story through her blog, Following Your Heart.