On Monday, Audrey had a trip to the hospital to get tubes put in her ears. Since about Christmas, she has been having a hard time draining fluid from her ears, which results in frequent ear infections. It also has given her some degree of hearing impairment, leading to a slight speech delay. So after several failed attempts to clear the fluid with antibiotics, her doctors recommended tubes.
Everything went well -- apparently it's considered a pretty minor surgery these days, and she was only in the operating room for about 15 minutes. They just poke a little hold in the eardrum, suck out the fluid, and insert a doughnut shaped plastic tube to hold it open. Interestingly, the purpose is not to allow fluid to drain, as we had thought, but to allow pressure to equalize between the middle and outer ear, which prevents fluid from collecting in the first place.
They allowed one parent to go down to the pre-op area with her, and be in the operating room until she fell asleep. Mommy was elected for this. They gave me (Tara) a pair of scrubs to put on before going down (size XL was apparently all they could muster up). We sat with a couple of other babies going for different procedures in the pre-op area, met with the anesthesiologist, said a quick hello to our doctor, then it was time to go into the OR. They put a little mask over her nose and mouth for her to breath in the inhaled anesthetic, and after a few seconds of fighting the mask, as any normal child would, she fell peacefully asleep. They escorted me out to go back upstairs and wait for them to call me when she was done. I just barely had time to tell Scott how things had gone and change, when before I knew it they were calling me back to meet her in the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit, A.K.A. Recovery room).
They had warned us ahead of time that she would be a little "agitated" upon waking up from the anesthesia. Now this is a term that doctors, including myself, use often. Usually I use it to refer to some confused elderly patient in the hospital trying to get out of bed, pull out their IVs, etc., but I didn't really know what it would look like in a baby. Well, I found out as soon as I stepped off of the elevator and could hear my girl in the next room crying. She was wrapped in a blanket in a nurse's arms just flailing around, still with closed eyes. The nurse handed her to me, assuring me again that this was completely normal and to be expected -- it's just related to the disorientation babies experience after being under anesthesia. So I did my best to hold her, rock her and talk to her, but any attempts to calm her were really quite futile. We only stayed in the PACU a few minutes before going back upstairs to be reunited with Daddy. Daddy took over holding the flailing baby, and we managed to get her clothes back on, sign the discharge paperwork, and get on our way. She calmed down when we got outside, and crashed on the way home. After a long blissful nap, (for Mommy and Audrey), she awoke her usual happy self.
Many people have asked if we have noticed a difference in her now that she can presumably hear better. The answer is not quite yet. We expect that it will be a gradual process of catching up in terms of language development. We are in the process of looking into some speech therapy through a local early childhood intervention program. If she qualifies, then a speech therapist will come to her daycare one or twice a week and work with her. In the meantime, thanks to Aunt Diane Rush and a book about baby sign language, we are trying to teach her a few signs.
We thank everyone for their prayers and concerns through this experience. We are thankful it went well and looking forward to many fever-free months!