The Night Before Surgery, Umbilical Hernia Repairby EJ on 07/05/12
Tomorrow morning, my first
baby girl who is now seven, will undergo umbilical hernia repair (surgery). To
help ease my anxiety over sending my little lady into an operating room, I
thought I'd share the details about this condition, which is actually very
common in babies and normally heals in the early years of life without surgery.
In KM's case, however, her umbilical hernia did not heal on its own and
now that she's seven, surgery is necessary. *Sigh*
Ever since KM was a tiny baby (weighing in at a hefty 9 lbs and 2 ounces), she had an "outy", a belly button that stuck out. We never thought this was a big deal or a health concern as many people have this type of belly button naturally. However, KM's was caused by an umbilical hernia. KM's isn't that big and is hardly noticeable until you push down on her belly. An umbilical hernia is a sac that forms from the abdominal lining and forces through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button. During every annual physical that I can remember, our pediatrician pressed down on and around KM's belly button and told us that over the years it would heal. If it did not heal, however, the pediatrician warned us that surgery was recommended around age 5 or 6.
Over the past year, KM has complained of occasional belly pain and aside from her belly button sticking out, that's been the only symptom. In some cases, belly pain can be much more severe in children, the blood supply may be affected and the hernia could be very large and cause more visible symptoms in the belly area. Fortunately, KM's experience with the umbilical hernia has been pretty mild. The surgeon who met with us earlier this month explained how hers wouldn't really cause her much distress until she was an adult and especially if she were to become a mother and get pregnant. Taking care of it now is simply the best option. This is a minimally invasive surgery and will be absolutely nothing like my own horror stories from the operating room, which consists of open back surgery, the placement of Harrington rods, basically learning how to walk all over again and then major abdominal surgery to remove a cyst and my entire left ovary when five month's pregnant with KM. KM's got it good as far as I'm concerned!
The hardest part of dealing with KM's umbilical hernia has only been recently and that's been preparing her (and myself) for surgery. We've met with the doctor and then the anesthesia department. Tonight she was so jittery that she couldn't eat her dinner despite knowing that tomorrow morning, she'll have to brave the morning without breakfast or anything to drink. Having undergone several surgeries throughout my childhood and twenties myself, I know all too well about the nerves ahead of time. KM is much braver than I ever was but tonight, she was the first time she whole heartedly admitted to feeling scared. I'm sure she'll be amazing anyway.
The docs gave us a special cleansing cloth to use tonight on her belly, which cleans way deep down and helps prevent infection during and after surgery. I'll apply that tonight and in the morning. As with all surgeries, KM can't eat after 1 a.m. this morning so she'll be headed to the hospital with an empty tummy.
As I prepare her for tomorrow, I can't help but think that she's already done this so she must be a pro. She was, after all, a tiny bouncing thing in my belly when we shared the surgery experience back in the summer of 2004. My left ovary was overtaken by a two pound cyst - benign - and the only reason the cyst didn't explode inside of me causing major internal bleeding, is because KM was there growing and putting pressure on the cyst, alerting me in the form of some seriously crazy pain (worse than labor, I think). If I was never pregnant with KM at all, and the cyst had been allowed to go unnoticed and grow and possibly burst on its own, I could have died. The doctor told me after my surgery that KM survived and that she likely saved my life. So with all that in heart and mind, tomorrow means so much more to me than just an umbilical hernia repair.
KM is my angel baby and even though she's seven going on college, I can't help but get emotional. So let's do this.