Preparing for Surgery
The anxiety leading up to surgery can be tough! It’s so hard, but try to relax and enjoy those last few weeks/days before surgery. Take TONS of pictures, and get lots of snuggles in. Make sure you are clear from your team as to what their post op restrictions are so you can be prepared (Do they allow bottles or pacifiers or do you need to use a special feeder? Do they require the use of no no’s?). Cleftopedia’s Hospital Gear section can help you find some of the items you may need. Also, find out what their liquid/fasting restrictions are prior to surgery as it can vary by team. Here, we share more tips from fellow cleft parents on how you can best prepare for an upcoming surgery.
Parent Surgery Tip #1: Breathe… and accept help!
Take time to allow yourself to go through your emotions, and remember, you are not alone. Don’t feel bad about accepting help!
Breath…. it’s harder on us parents then our children. Lean on people and accept help there’s no need to be super mom.
If someone asks, “do you need anything?” tell them you need a home-cooked meal. One that you could freeze, thaw, and serve. The last thing you will want to do when you get home from surgery and recovery is cook. And take-out tastes gross after awhile.
Accept the family support. You will think “no I don’t want everyone there” but when it comes down to it the more people to lean on the better.
Parent Surgery Tip #2: Pack smartly!
When packing for surgery, try not to overpack as you have to lug all that extra stuff around with you wherever you go. Bring the essentials, and don’t forget to bring a few comfort items not just for your baby, but for you as well!
Bring snap or zip up onesies so you don’t have to lift anything over their head and risk bumping their fresh incision lines.
Pack a white noise machine!!
Pack snacks. I stress ate.
Don’t forget change for the vending machines.
Pack lots of water, and an extra blanket and pillow- hospital pillows are made of plastic!
Bring snacks. I brought a stroller and a bouncy seat and she slept in the stroller because you can recline it.
Pack a notebook to keep track of ounces taken (everyone that comes in the room will want to know, handy to be able to glance at the notebook and know immediately) and pain medicine times (to make sure you stay in top of pain management).
Bring some slippers or flip flops to wear. Even sneakers feel awful after wearing them for 24+ hours straight.
I loved Sleep Sacks at palate repair since my son had his IV in his foot. I could have all the wires and tubes come out the bottom with less threat of tangling them up.
Bring your own formula if you use formula!!! The premixed and the power are very different (I made that mistake and paid dearly for it!!).
Bring their favorite food or drink (especially those older babies doing more than formula). Going home usually means they have to show they can eat and drink…so pack their favorites. Stock up at home on soft/liquid foods. Nutrition is important but keeping then hydrated is more important. I feed whatever they will eat.
I always found it helpful to have full snap pajamas for the kids when they were in the hospital. The gowns are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, but you need to be able to run all the lines through (IV, heart monitor leads, pulse ox) the garment, and the snap Jammies work perfectly! My kids were always happier in their own stuff!
Parent Surgery Tip #3: Don’t forget the less obvious stuff!
Often, when preparing for surgery we think immediately of the bigger things like what to pack or the support we need. But there’s also a slew of less obvious considerations that can mean a huge difference in making the whole surgery experience just a little bit easier to bear! And we all know every little bit counts!
Stock up on extra tylenol to have on hand at home ahead of time so you don’t have to run out for it post op .
Take a picture of your room assignment, wing/number/nurse and save it on your phone. It can be hard finding your way back without a photo reminder when you’re tired!
Check on meals for parents. We were not allowed to leave our son in his room alone and I had no idea about that rule. Thankfully he had amazing nurses who sat with him when I ran to get myself some food or take a bathroom break!!
Keep as close to your normal schedule as you can on the night before! Excitement and stress are very closely related for kids and they need the sleep.
Try to get lots of sleep the night before. I know it’s hard but being in the hospital is so draining. Also it’s ok to have a big cry. Once I finally did I felt way better.