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My Child Is Facing Surgery, and I Don't Feel Like the Strong Mom I’m Supposed to Be

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Surgery. It’s such a frightening word. When your child is the one facing surgery, it becomes absolutely terrifying. Kids undergo common, uneventful surgical procedures every day. Even though the operations can be routine to doctors, it’s tough to hand over your baby and let them go. Panic and heartache take over your entire body until you once again have your child resting safely in your arms.

Tonsillectomies, ear tube surgeries and even a strabismus surgery to correct misaligned eyes are over quickly and the baby’s recovery swiftly begins. Been there, done that. It’s the big, complicated stuff that I’m having a desperate time dealing with.

With major femoral osteotomy surgery two weeks away, I wish I could trade places with my daughter.

Jodi Shenal.2-001

Having exhausted all other options to correct her severe hip dysplasia, surgery is now the only route. We have tried increasing her standing time and religiously using a hip abductor brace to no avail. We’ve sought out several opinions to ensure surgery is certainly necessary. Without it, among other issues, there is a definite fear that arthritis will settle into her hip joints at a very early age. With all professionals in agreement, we reluctantly scheduled the procedure, and I have been dreading the day ever since. Now only two weeks away, I feel weakened with fear and feel like a shell of the strong mom I’m supposed to be.

My 5-year-old daughter has multiple cognitive and physical disabilities. She is unable to walk or talk, but oh how she loves to crawl! She can maneuver over any obstacle in her path and crawls at a rapid pace. Happiness and joy are part of her everyday demeanor.

Knowing this procedure will keep her completely immobile for months and will take a little bit of freedom away from her hurts my heart badly. Knowing she will not comprehend why we’ve done this to her tears me apart. Imagining the pain she will surely experience with no understanding makes my stomach turn. Thinking about the months of intensive therapy it will take her to return to her current developmental state makes my chest feel tight.

We have put this off, denied it was needed, cried about it and dreaded it for such a long time. Now the time is almost here, and I am envisioning the doctors taking her back, pulling her from the sanctuary of my arms. I am seriously freaking out. All of the strength I am able to normally muster up is draining from me.

We are told the surgery will take a minimum of three hours. I know it will feel like an eternity. I do have faith in the surgeon and staff. They specialize in caring for children with special needs. They are aware of her epilepsy and all of the hundreds of special things about her that I have shared with them.

The surgeon gave me chills when he assured me they would take a moment before starting the procedure to pray over her. That means a lot. However, I am truthfully one scared momma, and I just wish I could trade places with her. I wish I could take on all of this for her.

Ready for this entire ordeal to be over, I hug my beautiful little warrior child tightly. I cover her with kisses and know more than ever that we should take nothing for granted. I will find a way to be strong for her, no matter how weak and helpless I feel.

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Originally published: December 8, 2015
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