La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for January 2011

Going Viral

Posted on: January 30, 2011

I’m sitting here on our blow-up bed in Baby Sister’s room, watching her alternately sleep fitfully, cough like a 40-year smoker of SuperTarNoFilter cigarettes, appear to struggle to breathe, wake up, cry, yell for Dada, see me, decide that’s fine if it’s what’s on offer at this late hour, say, “Stay, stay” while grabbing my hand, then go back to fitful sleep for another 20 minutes until we begin again.  My total sleep tonight will range from 1-2 hours.  My total level of concern about that: 0.

3/4 of our family has RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus.  Yes, that one for infants.  Only,  apparently it’s now widespread and virulent in January and February.  No idea how we all picked this one up, but here it is, with only the BabyDaddy as yet unaffected.  Poor Gram and Pop await their fates, as they babysat Baby Sister for us while I went to Dana Farber to get waterboarded (they call it a nasal lavage but those of us who’ve been to Abu Ghraib know the real deal).  From that little collection of my salinified snot, they were able to determine the presence of said RSV.  So when we got back and Baby Sister arrived home, I noticed that she looked a little off, a little too watery in the eyes for my liking.  So I brought out the thermometer and voila–102.8F.  Called the grandparental units to offer heartfelt thanks–and the gloomy outlook on their 8 hours with fevered child.

Bambina was a little off that morning, a little hoarse, but no fever, no major complaints.  But again, she came home A MESS.   I felt so sick on Friday that, seriously, when BabyDaddy suggested I lie on the couch and watch some TV I replied, “But then I’d have to push all those buttons on the remote.”  And trying to figure out what to watch seemed intellectually akin to solving the Israeli-Palestinian situation.  So I just laid there, every now and again managing to reach for my juice box (because who can reach up all that way for a heavy glass?) to hydrate.   The three of us were on the couch, hacking up lungs and green stuff.  Baby Daddy was in the kitchen saying, “Wow. That sounds like one healthy group of people in there!”  I laughed.  But don’t worry;  I secretly drank out of his glass  in revenge later.  (I keeeed!)

So today I woke up sans fever but still feeling hit by a truck.  Bambina woke up pretty much fine, with a minor cough.  Baby Sister woke up as sick as she’d gone to sleep.  I felt much better by  noon and after a nap (and by “nap” I mean lying in bed with my eyes closed while Bambina played “Horse Goes Trick or Treating” with me.  Luckily she allowed me a dialogue-only role in her latest production, so movement was not required).   Since poor BabyDaddy was up with Baby Sister all night last night, this was my turn tonight.  So here I sit, irritated at Big Pharma for not yet inventing a cough medicine that can safely be given to kids under 4 years old.  I mean, come ON!  I had robitussin and nyquil to at least let me get an hour’s relief from hacking up unspeakable phlegmy atrocities.  This poor baby child? Nothing but tylenol and advil.  Might as well give her cotton candy and Mr. Goodbars for all the relief they give her.

I’m not sure why, but I feel a ridiculous level of protectiveness for this little one.  Don’t misunderstand; I’m insane about protecting Bambina too. But something about Baby Sister makes me want to fuck up anyone or anything that even looks at her funny.  Maybe it’s because she seems to not need any protecting these days, little social, happychappy, nutball dynamo that she is.  Maybe it’s because she has survived.  She had two congenital  heart conditions–one of which is super rare and super life-threatening–and she gave them both the finger and kept keepin’ on keepin’ on.  She met us when she was 16 months old and eminently traumatizable from the experience.  She dug down, transitioned(which is a clinical way to tidily sum up: grieved the loss of her mamas, her surroundings and her culture, underwent the shock and naw! of being given to us, flown to a strange country with strange people and smells and foods, accepted us and began to love us and accept us as her own.  So, yeah, she “transitioned”: an experience that would have shattered grown men) and re-emerged into the blossom her nannies had told us to expect.  So please believe this girl is a survivor.  Which makes me want to protect her, perhaps because I think a kid’s life shouldn’t be so complicated before the age of 3.

With Bambina I am slightly less protective because, as cautious as she is, she is very expressive of her concerns, her feelings, her worries.  In those expressions I hear a resoluteness and a hidden strength that sometimes she doesn’t realize is there, and which I only have the task of revealing to her.  As I tell people who harp on about how little she is, “that girl is 32 pounds of pure power; underestimate her at your peril.”  Sometimes that is exactly what I say to Bambina herself, and it is all it takes to move her from frightened to fearless.  Bambina is a survivor too, but in a way that I know can/will accept help and encouragement.  Baby Sister, on the other hand,  will routinely fall down, start crying, and then wave you off when you run to her.  She walks it out, shakes it off on her own.  That’s great, I suppose.  But it tells me that I need to be there to force my help on her when she doesn’t realize she really does need it.  Like tonight!  Midnight.  Time for Advil because your fever is insane.  BS: NO!  Me: It will make you feel better, and it tastes yummy.  BS: No!!  Me: [Force open mouth, jam syringe in, push in medicine].  You’re welcome.  (I didn’t really say that out loud).   Five minutes later: peace for 40 minutes!  My main challenge will be knowing when to turn off that motherly instinct to foist myself into her life’s issues.  I’m thinking around the age of 45, when she has three grown kids of her own will be a good time, don’t you?

As much as I use the term “survivor” my intent  is not to give the illusion of tragedy in my kids’ lives.  They are not and never have been charity cases.  I always speak carefully when addressing my girls’ early lives, because people (even some, sadly, within the adoption community) often believe that All Things Can Be Traced to Adoption.  Prime example: each of my girls has a very different personality, different ways of approaching life’s situations.  The number of people who tell me it must be because the relative amount of time/no time each spent in an orphanage just staggers me.  Ok, obviously a person’s environment affects her life.  But my brother, my sister and I were all born to the same biological parents in the same damn country. Not one of us is like the other and NO ONE suggests it’s because my sister was born at home and I and my bro in a hospital. Or because he had cloth diapers and I had disposables. Or whatever.  We were just clearly Born This Way.  I cried if my mom left the room for 5 minutes to pee.  My sister didn’t care if she was gone for 5 hours.  Neither of us suffered some defining experience that explains the difference.  We just were that way from birth, which seems easy for people to accept.  But when you have two kids not biologically related it seems  like a stretch to imagine that they too were just Born This Way.

I know that an orphanage was  not a great place for my Bambina.  Not because the orphanage was anything but professionally-run and good, but because she was born a kid who would not thrive in that kind of environment for 9 months, 16 months, or 4 damn days.  Baby Sister?  She does fine wherever she goes.  Not because her orphanage experience made her that way, but because she was born the kind of kid who loves kiddie sociality, kiddie chaos, interactions of all kinds.  I was very much like Bambina as a child and I can guarantee you (as can my poor never-peed-alone mother) that no amount of sending me/making me/forcing me to go to play groups and playschools and all those “social interaction” things I now find so necessary for my children ever made me like them.  I went.  I dealt.  I remember not loving it. Ever.  I remember seeing my sister and brother going off and doing their thing and I remember not wanting any part of it.  I just wanted to sit on my mother’s lap and be with her, watching the other kids play.  It’s just who I was.  Obviously I’m less shy and more social now. 🙂  But I’m sensitive to that aspect of my kids because I remember the stomach ache that always accompanied any social outing before the age of, maybe, 10 years old.  And–BOOYAH!–it wasn’t because I was adopted. It’s because I was a weenie.  🙂

So what’s my point? I don’t have one.  Because it’s 2:35am and I’ve yet to close my eyes and I am swiftly losing the plot.  I am not, however, losing my sanity, because I long ago figured out that nights like this depend upon the parent assuming that there will be no sleep, and then being joyfully tickled pink that you got 2 hours out of 12.  Any other expectation and you are setting yourself up for a long, dark night of the soul wherein you begin to hate your life partner sleeping peacefully upstairs in your big, comfy bed.  You begin to get short with you poor sick kid who, if she’s feeling anything like I was feeling, can’t even bring herself to push a TV remote button.  Most tragically, you begin to hate BravoTV.  Not for producing such monstrosities as The Real Housewives and Salon Takeover, but for not producing MORE of them so you can see something original at 2am. Which, come to think of it, IS the definition of tragedy.


I’m dating myself, but that’s a line from the first (ie, funny) Austin Powers movie when he is discovered to be carrying a Swedish Penis Enlarger.  I bring it up because it’s how I feel at the pharmacy these days.  As you may already know I take acyclovir while I’m immune-suppressed to ensure I don’t get particular viruses.   Many of the Star Spangled Haggis readers will recall my dismay when I read the not-so-fine print and found out its major use is for herpes.  All those months of going to the pharmacy insouciantly, breezily picking up my acyclovir, never once imagining that the dude behind the desk is thinking I have a sexually-transmitted disease that weeps and crusts.  Awesome.

Fast forward to today, where I am picking up Revatio for Baby Sister’s heart and lungs.  Anyone out there ever heard of Revatio?  Well, perhaps you’ve heard of Sildenafil.  No? Then let me help you out:  it’s Viagra.  Yep. Who knew that the penis power aspect of Viagra was only discovered as a side effect of the drug’s actual use, which is in heart patients.   So the wee one is on that for a period of time, and I suppose we should all be grateful she does not have male naughty bits or we’d be in some serious trouble.  Between the two of us, we’re just one more iffy prescription away from running a bona fide p(rno pharmaceutical ring in the suburbs.

The drug of course came with myriad warnings about all the terrible things that can happen while taking this drug (which really does indicate the power of sex to the human male, because if you really read the list and ponder all the genuinely unpleasant shit that can befall you just so you can get en erection, any sane person would run like hell).  My favorite warning also speaks to the cliche man of a certain age:  “Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if you suddenly lose vision.”  They have to tell you this?!!  Men have to be encouraged to report sudden blindness?! But I guess they do, because you KNOW you know a man who’d be sitting there blind and thinking, “I’ll call the doctor if I still can’t see by Friday…”

Perhaps someday we will go to the pharmacy for normal things like robitussin or band aids.  Or a Swedish Penis Enlarger.  Until then, we’re the Joneses, proud sufferers of erectlie dysfunction and herpes since 2007.

Today Baby Sister had a cardiac echo and something called a “wire study.”  She has these little wires coming out of her stomach area that are attached to her heart inside. They were placed there so that her heart could be defibrillated directly should it have stopped at any point this past week.  Because she was having all the pvc’s they did the wire study today before they felt comfortable allowing her to come home (hopefully tomorrow!).

And here is where I and super talented cardiologists part ways.  As they were prepping Baby Sister for the procedures (anesthesia, etc) the cardiologist started explaining the procedure in detail so that we could sign the consent form.  I appreciate the legalities of this step in the process; I understand the desperate importance of all being on the same page regarding Things Done To My Child.  I get it.  But may I suggest, for the less-litigious among us, an abbreviated version of the consent form?  Especially for those of us who really do choose to believe that our children’s hearts are actually powered by little elves riding stationary bicycles, much like oompa-loompas?  How else can I avoid hearing the doctor tell me she is going to attempt to put my child in cardiac arrest and perhaps make her heart stop–just, you know, to check that her heart won’t actually go into cardiac arrest and stop.  Here’s a better idea, good doctor.  You go ahead and electrically shock my child’s heart, see if you can gin up some arrhythmias.  And how about you don’t tell me all those details that make me want to vomit my lunch up from nervousness?  Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: some things laypeople should never see nor hear.  Bone marrow aspiration?  You go on with your bad self and just leave me out of the visuals.  Chest tube insertion?  Have at it.  Away from me.  Extubation?  Do I even need to address this?  Wire Studies? Hell hell hell hell NO!

So you go ahead and do your shmancy cardiology thing, and I’ll sit myself in the waiting room picturing those adorable oompa-loompas  cranking the gears on my child’s heart while you look on and sing Pure Imagination to encourage them.  Because all this talk of “electrical impulses” and “SA nodes” and “ventricular bigeminy” just messes with my head.  So please, for the future, just tell me that the oompa-loompas had a giant beer bash and now you have to give them all little teeny tiny ibuprofens for the the hangover.  THAT explanation I can handle.

Well, we’re nearing the end of the cardiac surgery tunnel.   Baby Sister’s surgery went beautifully; almost better than expected.  Her recovery has been much the same, thank God.  She’s now in a regular non-ICU room where, of course, she is now throwing PVCs like crazy.  (PVCs are premature ventricular contractions).  They are not entirely unexpected, especially with Baby Sister’s diagnosis, but they still need to be checked out to ensure there is nothing dangerous going on long-term.  So—smooth sailing until we were one day from the exit.  J  Classic par for the course for my family, so I’m not in panic mode yet.

Truth be told, if you were to ask me what I dread most about serious medical procedures I would not say, “mortality” or “pain” or even “naked ass hanging out of a jonny.”  No, I would have to say that my worst fear is The Hospital Chaplaincy.  I know. I’m as asshole for dreading People of the Cloth, but hear me out.  I understand they have difficult jobs, and I do understand that they are here to offer solace and comfort to those individuals and families who require them.  But, lord help me, I really just don’t.  While Baby Sister was in surgery, one of the chaplains stopped by our seating area.  She was a very nice lady; reminded me of that handsome woman of a certain age in every church and temple. Maybe married, maybe single, maybe gay, maybe straight, but definitely Eleanor Roosevelt-y.  I saw her coming and immediately felt my adrenaline surge, like, oh dear god! No! No! No!  I then spent the next 10-15 minutes making small talk about my child and family with a total stranger who may or may not want to pray with me.  Please tell me again how this is helping?

I absolutely understand the chaplains’ purpose; I just don’t want them to execute their purpose on me.  Perhaps if I were a single mother, alone, scared, in a new city I would thank the lord for sending me this angel of mercy to minister to my needs. As it is, I just keep wishing there were a nice way to say, “You are such a good and kind person! Please go away, never to return.”  Perhaps my antipathy toward those who practice the ministering arts has to do with what I consider to be their terrible timing.  As my father lay dying, his heart rate dropping slowly and inexorably toward zero, the arrival of the hospital chaplain felt like a giant violation of our privacy, of our last seconds with our father.  I was like, “who the fuck are you and why are you here?”  Not out loud, of course.  But I just felt like she had trespassed on private, intimate, sacred ground as we stood around my father, our words hopefully carrying him onto his next stop in the universe.  It is an honor (even if not a pleasure) to have one’s voice be the last that your loved one will hear on this earth, and I was beyond irritated that I took precious seconds to say, “No thanks” and show her the door.  Same here today. The same chaplain showed up at our room to check on us.  This is a nice thing to do.  EXCEPT:  Baby Sister was clearly NOT having her best moment.  Totally in pain, totally unhappy, totally just lying on the Baby Daddy’s chest and looking forlorn.  Bambina was also unhappy because she was bored and all the toys were for Baby Sister and I haven’t played in the snow yet today and there’s nothing to do here except look at each other.  So—not usually the time when you’d be thinking, “Gee, I hope someone stops by right now!”  And there she was.

When I was in the hospital at NIH for my first treatments, this insane rabbi would stop by every week to check on me, and I would just dread every minute.  He was a cross between a not-funny Jerry Stiller and Jerry Lewis, and he’d bring the same orange handout every week in which a random Prayer for Healing was printed, and damn if he didn’t encourage me to pray it every time.  I was like, “yeah, I’ll get right on that and report back next week.”  And then here at Dana Farber there was a social worker (because I’d smartened up and proactively banned clergy from randomly busting in on me) who would come and do her version of The Caring Profession.  Excruciating and weird from the word go.  Although slightly less excruciating than the “folk band” that made the rounds of GW Hospital “bringing cheer” to patients.  First of all, I’m immune suppressed, so get out.  Second of all, I don’t do Peter Paul and Mary cover bands, so get out.  Third of all, just get out.

I recognize that much of my issue here lies at the feet of my recessive non-Jewishness; my discomfort with treading on people’s private moments.  For example, I would never (and I did not know anyone who would ever) call someone up on the day their father died and say, “I heard about your father.  What can I do? How can I help?”  I mean, the notion of actually calling the home of a bereaved person was anathema.  We’d send flowers, we’d go to the wake, we’d bring food/send food, whatever.  But to call them up and have them speak to you?  Simply not done.  Jews on the other hand, clear the line for people to call.  In fact, you’re a jerk if you don’t call. “Who wouldn’t call a grieving person?!”  Non-Jews is who. Oh, and me.  And I’m kind of comfortable with that. I was very comforted by all of the good wishes after my Dad died, but did I want to chat with anyone about it?  Most certainly not. And the notion of sitting shiva just sends shivers of horror up my spine. Like, someone I love is going to die and I’m going to have to have you in my house talking to me and eating kugel?  Oh God, please just take me too if that’s my only option for grieving!

So you can see my dilemma here.  Grateful for support, don’t want to be obligated to take it.  Grateful for good wishes, don’t want to have to reveal my darkest fears and fondest hopes to a stranger to get them.  Maybe someday I’ll find a middle ground, a happy medium that allows chaplains to do their work on me.  But I doubt it, because they misread me every time. You see, that “fuck off” look in my eyes does not indicate a struggling human soul yearning for human connection and comfort in my hour of need, masked by an off-putting demeanor, and is therefore beckoning you to break through my exterior.  Nope. It really does just mean fuck off.  And, to be polite, Have a Blessed Day!

We’re thrilled to report that Baby Sister now has a fully-functioning, valve-operating, hole-closed heart.  The surgery took less time than expected, she did better than expected, and we’re probably going to have her back home sometime next week.

For now, she is still intubated and sedated with many, many tubes and wires and lines coming out of her wee little body.  It’s definitely a lot to take in visually.  But they’ll come out one by one as the days progress and the doctors confirm that her heart is good to go.  It’s truly remarkable that they can not only fix such a rare defect in a human heart, but that they can fix it in such a little one.  As I always say, thank God somebody studied science and medicine, because I sure didn’t.  And thank God that we live in a town where we have world-class medicine available to us.  I cannot even begin to imagine how this surgery would have been possible in East Podunk.   Well, I suppose the answer is that it isn’t possible; which is why Children’s Hospital exists.  And, on my usual politically serious note, thank God above all that we have great medical insurance.  I’m never more aware of how lucky we are as a family–and how little separates us from people whose kids may die from conditions like this–than when I get those EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) in the mail and the patient portion is $0.00.   I know for sure that my parents’ insurance would not have covered a procedure like this to this extent–and who knows what that would have meant for my diagnosis in the first place and my prognosis in general.  And that would have had nothing to do with how hard-working my parents were, or how deserving we were, or anything value-laden at all.  It simply would have come down to what kind of health insurance my parents’ jobs offered.  It can be easy to think you’re special or better-than, when what you really are is just plain fortunate.  Which we are.  To a truly ridiculous degree.

I spent a good portion of the night at the hospital last night in Baby Sister’s room. They have a “bed” set up for parents, which is really a cushioned window box.  A very cold window box.  The room itself is a meat locker because post-surgery they have to keep Baby Sister’s temperature down so she doesn’t develop arrhythmias, so you can imagine how not comfortable it is to hang out in there.   Which is why I didn’t think too much of things when I started to not feel so great.  But by 2am I felt nauseous (hello, 24-hour vomit plague of last week), so I quickly grabbed my stuff, hightailed it out of her room, called the Baby Daddy, called a cab and got home in time to barf the night away in the privacy and comfort of my own residence…safely away from the post-op child.  It was a little naive of me to think I had escaped the plague, considering that both Bambina and Baby Sister had it to differing degrees last week.  OF COURSE I was going to get it!  Luckily, I made it through pre-op and surgery days before it hit.

One of the sadly entertaining things about the parent sleeping area is the signage posted by the hospital.  Apparently parents have to be told to wear appropriate attire to bed, to wear appropriate attire in the hallways, and to not lay around in the bed area after 8am.  I asked the nurse if they really needed to post that, since it all seemed to be kind of self-evident.  Her response?  “Oh, you would not believe what we see around here.  That sign is very much needed. Believe me.”  Because while my child is lying in a bed with lung drainage tubes and breathing tubes and multiple IVs and little wires that are actually resting on her heart so they can electroshock her if her heart stops, I can think of nothing else than putting on the latest Victoria’s Secret lingerie. And my husband can think only to walk around in his boxers, displaying the Jones Family Jewels to all and sundry.  Yes, now is the time for me to eschew the sweatpants and sweatshirt as sleepwear and go for the nightie.  Nothing says, “I love my sick kid” more than “Here’s my titties.”

So I’ll be avoiding the hospital today, BabyDaddy will be spending the night tonight, and I’ll hopefully be back in the game for tomorrow.  And since I’m at home, you know I’m totally rocking that negligee.

It’s two days till Baby Sister’s surgery, and of course, this being New England,we’re waiting for a foot of snow to fall on The Day.  Awesome!  So we will now be spending Tuesday night at the hotel across the street from the hospital so we don’t have to sherpa ourselves through the white stuff with all of our accoutrements at 6am.  Because please believe that the one thing we’re not doing is missing this surgery.  It’s a big deal and it’s quote-unquote scary, but it is Baby Sister’s ticket to better health and a normal life that includes soccer and running and any other physical thing she wants to do.  Although, as you can tell from previous posts, I’m kind of afraid to have her at full capacity because she is so cra-zazy and high-energy right now; you would never know there is a single thing wrong with her.  I shudder to imagine how many kinds of exhausted I’m going to be when she’s at full cardiac power.  Pray for me.  😉

So there it is.  Tomorrow is all the pre-op stuff to make sure she’s ready for the surgery.  Tomorrow night is the hotel with Bambina as well, obviously.  Then Wednesday is Snowy Surgery.   More updates as we get them, and maybe a few pics too, just for fun.  🙂

Oh–and just for the record: Baby Sister has had a runny, boogery nose since March 2010, which has caused me no end of worry.  In prep for the surgery we’ve kept her out of preschool for the past 10 days.  Result:   nary a boog to be seen.  Mystery of the chronic illness solved: it wasn’t one chronic illness, it was more likely 15 successive viral infections from all the other nasty booger-sharers like her.  How those preschool teachers don’t end up with pleurisy or dengue fever, I do not know.  I look forward to the Green Monster’s return when she’s back among the cute little disease vectors in February.

Oh–and one more thing, totally unrelated to the above.  Please do be sure to not say, “Pain in the butt” around your 6 year old, because she will be COMPLETELY UNABLE to say, sing and chant anything but, “Mama said butt!” for about 3-4 hours afterward.  Which is, of course, a major pain in the butt.

I’m younger than that now.

It feels like eons since we got the photo of a seeminlgy-chubby baby with a buzzcut who was instantly mine in my heart and in my head even though I couldn’t let myself say it out loud until she was in my arms months later.

It feels like eons since we were in China meeting that little frightened toddler who was clearly wondering WHAT THE FUCK?!!!

It feels like eons since I agonized over her fears, speaking in my craptacular Chinese to say “Don’t be afraid.” Bie hai pa, baobao. Bie hai pa. I’m sure my lack of technique turned this supposedly-soothing mantra into something very scary, like, “I will eat you for breakfast” or “I make kids cry.”

It feels like eons since she finally made eye contact with me, allowing me to touch her in a non-diaper-changing way, and called me Mama.

It feels like eons since I sat and listened to her cry “Mama! Mama!” at night in her sleep, my heart breaking for her as she mourned her wonderful nannies and her entire life before we met.

It feels like eons since we received, along with her photo, the news that she had a rather rare congenital heart defect that would need correction someday. I recall us thinking, “Then we’ll get it fixed. When can we bring her home?” It all seemed so theoretical and in-the-future at the time, as to be almost a non-issue.

And now here we are: a few days from her surgery, which now feels very real and very current. I”m being heartily reassured that she is in the best hands (she is) and that this is routine surgery for the doctors even if not for us (true). Honestly, the contrary has never crossed my mind. Perhaps our family has quite comfortably walked through the valley of the shadow for so long now that we don’t really flinch at the notion of surgery, even to our daughter’s heart. I’d pretend it’s 100% confidence based on my 23+ years of cardiology study, but I’d be lying. It’s at least 99% loyalty to my child, on the notion that any suggestion of anything but a successful outcome is treasonous to her, to us, and to anyone who loves her. In fact, we have a relative that we still can’t really embrace simply because she said to the Baby Daddy back when I was getting my transplant, “But what will you do if it doesn’t work?” It was like a punch in the face, an instant feeling of betrayal for it to even be spoken aloud. Did you really just speak that into the universe? Really? How about you just assume we’ve pondered that amongst ourselves and then you spend your time offering some quality cheerleading instead? You can call it irrational if you want, but I never ever speak aloud that someone might not be well until I see them lying in their coffin or until they tell me to can the pollyanna shit already because they are dying. Until then, I’m 100% believing for a full recovery for everyone.

Anyway, my pre-rant point was that I”m more concerned with Baby Sister’s emotional and mental state than I am with her physical state, if that makes any sense as the parent of a kid whose chest is about to get cut open. I know she’ll physically be fine, but how the hell do you minimize the trauma of heart surgery for a TWO year old? “Can you say “heart valve”?” Hmm…I think not. How do I help her not be afraid once she is awakened from sedation? How do I calm her when her body hurts? These are my concerns as the clock ticks toward the big day. I told the BabyDaddy that she had a specific cry for when she was scared in China and during those first nights home. It’s a cry I can’t imitate but that I will always be able to name in one note. It made my stomach hurt to hear it because I knew there was nothing I could do to help her at the time beyond being present, being respectful and being patient, which are all lovely qualities but are less than useless to a parent who wants to make her child’s pain stop right now.

The good news is that pediatric surgeries, unlike toddler adoptions, have prescription drugs to ease pain, promote healing, and make you sleep until you don’t remember a thing. And you should see what they have for the kids too! (Ba dum dum! I’ll be here all week…) So we’re forging ahead, looking forward to when Baby Sister will have a fully functioning heart like anyone else, preparing her as best we can without scaring her, and engaging the generally-surly-on-this-topic Bambina in preparations so she doesn’t get bent out of shape that “Baby Sister has all these doctor appointments and I have NONE! Not fair!”

As you can tell, it’s a magical, magical time. But we’re lucky to be having it. Life, all those eons ago, was joyous and happy, but it was missing nutty and lovely Jones #4. It was missing the sweet Jones #3 as we now know her–a big sister much matured and reality-checked. It was missing the sense that our family was complete. Most importantly, it was missing the question the BBDD and I now have at the end of every day: “How did we get this lucky?”

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