Yesterday was one of the most difficult days I have ever endured in my entire life as a mom. My daughter Lailani had to undergo dental surgery where she was put asleep for the better half of 5 hours. It took my husband and I about 6 months to come to the decision to even allow the surgery as its description seemed more than rigorous. Originally it was only supposed to be short procedure however they “corrected” a multitude of things wrong with her teeth from cavities, to straightening, crowns etc. The original diagnosis back in January was that Lailani’s 4 cavities turned into 9 and that we needed to take action to fill them and change her eating habits and get her to stop sucking her food to prevent future damage. Due to the amount of cavities the normal laughing gas, crown, and or filling in office procedure wasn’t in order they elected to put Lailani asleep because of the time it would take to fill all of her cavities.
The day began early we checked into Children’s Memorial Hospital at 6:30 AM in preparation for Lailani’s 8am surgery. The hospital had brightly colored exhibits, whimsical paintings and smiles. We were greeted by child-friendly employees and Lailani was even given a book to take home. We spoke to a host of doctors and professionals as they attempted their best at informing us of the procedure, potentials, time length, and answering any questions. I was unusually calm though I had many friends and family members praying on Lailani’s behalf and deeply believed due to prayer and my own faith that she would be fine. However I had what seemed to be an unusual peace even when my surrounding experiences were questionable. My husband was quite uneasy and being chosen by Lailani to be the parent (only one could go with her) to come with her as they administered the anesthesia made it no less difficult. He was given a full body suit and cap to wear and made the trek towards the OR, coming back he was teary eyed and had a description sure to move anyone with a small child. He said Lailani’s eyes rolled to the back of her head in less than two minutes of them giving her the “banana scented astronaut mask” they described to her in the pre-op. He said he carried her from the bed to the OR he held her hand, told her he loved her, and watched her drift away. Even typing this description gives me the chills.
We waited for Grant to gather himself as myself and my mom playfully referred to by Lailani per her request as “Bubie” (Jewish for Grandmother) headed down to the cafeteria for breakfast. The initial three-hour wait didn’t end soon enough for Grant he slept, went for air outside, and multiple bathroom breaks. My mother and I sat texting, conversing, and trying to normalize the situation as much as possible. The minute it hit one minute past the three-hour mark my mom phone in hand called my aunt describing her “true” feelings who suggested we get and update on why things were “delayed”. Immediately I felt the “enemy” (what a lot of Christians commonly refer the “devil” or negative/evil presences) trying to invade my peace with thoughts and anxieties. Remaining calm I inquired and found the procedure was scheduled to go an hour longer. As we waited I joined Grant outside as I was concerned about his opinion in retrospect on the surgery and his emotional well-being. After spending a minute with him we re-entered the hospital, purchased a gift for Lailani from the gift shop, and went to join my mother back in the waiting room.
By this time it was thirty minutes past the fourth hour of surgery and my mother was becoming progressively uneasy, she said she was now perplexed at the fact we even allowed the surgery and why we weren’t looking for individuals to give us updates on Lailani. News to me since initially when I spoke to her about the surgery she suggested it probably wouldn’t be too bad and even suggested that we strongly consider it or at least this was the understanding I was left with. To hear her comments was nonetheless emotionally challenging but I stayed true to initial peaceful feeling. However, thirty minutes later I too became increasingly uneasy noticing the time running longer than any of us expected checking for an update I was told it would be yet another thirty minutes however in less than twenty the dentist came out with news that everything went well and Lai was in the recovery room. We were all smiles and couldn’t wait to see her I had been picturing a fairly sleepy version of the Lailani we knew but what I found was nothing less than upsetting.
I walked in not finding a sleepy version of the cheerful and energetic Lailani but my daughter laying seemingly in a half awakened state eyes rolling in the back of her head complaining of mouth pain. She had tubes and monitors everywhere and her jaws were swollen. Upon opening her mouth I found a small gap between her front teeth that wasn’t there a mere six hours prior with gums bloody and her tongue bruised. This was such an overwhelmingly different version than the one I’d been picturing the whole time we waited for them to conclude all I could do was rub her hand and silently call on Jesus. Lailani opened her eyes almost like awakening from a nightmare and instead of gasping for air she gasped for sight. Unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed and just like that she was in and out of what seemed consciousness though she was just attempting to break free of the anestesia. It was at this point that Grant and I traded roles and he became calm and I just lost it. It didn’t help that when my mom saw her she completely snapped murmuring her disagreements with the work completed, the gap in her teeth, and the overall state Lailani appeared to be in. I immediately left and headed straight to the restroom to cry and then attempt to pray to calm myself down and prepare to be strong in front of Lailani. With a multitude of thoughts rushing my mind I had too many questions. “How could I have allowed this surgery to take place? What was I thinking about signing that waiver form? If I had it to do over again I’d grab Lailani and run out of there. I’m such a horrible mother its partially my fault that she had so many cavities in the first place, what does that say about my parenting skills?”
Returning to the recovery room Lai was awake and sipping Apple juice and asking for me she reached for my hand and I liken this moment to the first time I saw her after I gave birth to her. Except the first time I was in awe of this little life that was just removed from my womb not knowing exactly what to think, during this time I had what seemed to be the experience I should have had back during her birth. I was overcome with emotion, excited that she recognized me, and just ready to swoop her up and take her home. I was so emotional I had to leave again and I found a small bay window where I could sit and view the hospital garden, it was there I had a conversation with God. I won’t share what that conversation was however within the fifteen minutes I spent there I left with a renewed Spirit and an appreciation for my family, my daughter, and for having an exceptionally healthy family. I thanked God for his grace and mercy and prayed for the children who unfortunately would not be so blessed to leave the hospital that day. We waited for her to awake more before we got the green light to get her dressed and be discharged.
I’m proud to say not more than two hours later at Jewels picking up items for her strict three-day diet the Lailani we all know and loved returned making swirls and twirls in the ice cream isle. It blessed me to see her and I vowed as I did back at the bay window to make sure I cherish every day and make it special for my little munchkin and my family at large. You never know the reasons behind experiences you have, some get extremely over-analytical about the why’s of life’s experiences and others not enough. As for myself I can say I learned a lot but I was definitely delivered another dose of my life’s instruction on gratefulness. My suggestion to ALL parents if you have children go home and tell them you love them and make sure you don’t take for granted this life God has entrusted with you. Make all serious attempts to help their childhood remain as bright and enjoyable as possible and do all you can to ensure they remain healthy and strong. This was definitely an experience I will never forget and if it keeps me in perspective on the days I take my family for granted then more than Lailani’s smile was worth it.