It’s time for another ROUTINE post!
Over the last few months, I’ve been posting our family’s different ROUTINES. First, I shared with you our MORNING ROUTINE and then, I shared with you our BEDTIME ROUTINE, and then our THERAPY ROUTINE and today, our Pre-Op ROUTINE.
Now, I’m really hoping that in today’s post some of you can also share your tips, tricks and secrets to your pre-surgery routines because I know that so many of you also have to make frequent trips there for surgeries, testing, scans, procedures and whatnot for your kiddos. I don’t even know if this is going to be a “routine” post as much as it will be a “this is what I bring” post. We’ll see…
Out of my four kiddos, three of them have had some sort of surgery that has required us to pack a little pre-op bag and head to the hospital…
…in July 2016, Smith had his tonsils and adenoids removed (he was six years old).
In October 2016, just six days after her second birthday, Miss Madeley had a growth removed from the outside of her ear.
And this little bundle of joy right here has had 19 surgeries total and put under general anesthesia 3 other times for scans…so, we’ve gotten our act together and created a pretty tight pre-op routine.
So…over the years, we’ve developed a routine (and for the remainder of this post, I’m going to just refer to Ashby and not “all the kids” just to keep things simpler and let’s be honest, it’s she and I who have perfected this routine).
For us, the routine starts the night before. Anytime our kiddos are going under, we always let them pick our dinner the night before as we all know that the next morning, they have to fast, so we try and make it a fun/big deal. Sometimes, Ashby wants me to make certain things, sometimes, she wants us to go somewhere…but it’s always her call. I will say that these procedures are getting harder for Ashby (physically and emotionally), but the fasting part is getting easier (silver lining, I guess). Now, she’s old enough to understand and fully grasp that she can’t eat or drink when she wakes up because she doesn’t want to get sick later on. She doesn’t love being hungry…but she doesn’t cry/fuss/complain about it like she did when she was little and didn’t understand. So, we kick off our routine with a fun dinner celebrating the meal of her choice. It’s a little thing, but it makes Ashby happy, so I highly recommend it.
From what I hear, typically surgeries are scheduled in the morning with the youngest kiddos going first and then so on (so the older the kid, the later in the day the surgery). Ashby is still young enough (at seven) that she almost always still gets the first surgery of the day with her surgeon which means we typically leave our house at 5:30 in the morning. (Here she is pictured here about to leave bright and early…or should I say really dark and early?)
If I’m being honest, Andrew and I are always looking for ways to make this day not just completely suck. So, another thing we do (part of our routine!) is let Ashby (and only Ashby!) sleep in our bed the night before. I say “only Ashby” because it makes her feel so special to get to cuddle up between us, watch a little TV in bed with us (her choice) and sleep in our room. The next morning, Andrew and I are up super early getting ready, but we let her sleep as long as possible. When it is time to wake her up, she’s not happy about it, but we always have her bag packed (see below), her cozy blanket for the car, her iPad charged and let her be the DJ on the way to the hospital.
All checked in and ready to go at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
We’ve learned over the years that Ashby likes the predictably of the same routine as we do this each time. She is really quiet in the car on the way there (at that time of day, it takes about 30 minutes get there). Sometimes, she likes to ask me who is praying for her that day, sometimes, she wants me to pray for her, sometimes, she wants to listen to certain songs, and sometimes, she wants quiet. When we get to the hospital, we have to check in at three places (get our visitor badges, check in with admissions and then check in at pre-op). We always take a picture at some point during this process (like above), and as we’re walking from A to B to C, we chat about where she wants to take it (I’m just trying to distract her). (Another side note, we also always make fun of my visitor badge because it’s just my driver’s license photo in which I’m 7 months pregnant with Smith AND have a full set of braces…it’s comical.)
After we get all checked in and wait for her to be called back to her room, she likes to watch her iPad and doesn’t like to talk. Ashby is SUPER chatty. Like, SUPER, SUPER chatty, so it’s during these really quiet moments that we know she’s really getting in the zone.
After we get to her room, she gets changed, vitals taken, etc, and then she pulls out her backpack.
Here are the things she likes to include in her hospital bag:
1: iPad (make sure you bring your charger!)
3: Coloring book with markers
4: Her favorite blanket
5: One or two stuffed animals
Ashby gets settled and then the buzz starts, doctors are in, forms are signed, markings are drawn on her arm, IVs are inserted, “silly juice” taken…all of that stuff happens.
It’s really hard these days for Ashby to go back. Even with the “silly juice” which is supposed to help calm her, it doesn’t. She’s older, she’s wiser, she knows the drill too well…those moments leading up to them taking her away each time guts me.
I don’t eat or drink coffee that morning until they take her back, so after she’s gone (and then I don’t see her again for about 3 to 4 hours), I visit the cafeteria. I always pick a table by the window, put my earbuds in, drink coffee, nibble on something and wait it out. I’ll try and read a book, do a little work on my computer, but I am looking at the clock and counting down the whole time.
Over the years, I feel like I’ve perfected my bag for our pre-op routine. I’ve edited it from time to time, but now, I think it’s perfect for us.
I always pack my bag too for this day, and here is what I make sure I bring:
1: Something to keep me warm! I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees outside, it’s always freezing in the hospital, so I wear jeans and then bring a sweater/blardigan with me.
2: Chargers! I bring one for my phone and my MacBook! You can’t be without chargers.
3: My MacBook.
4: My Kindle
5: I always make sure I have something mindless to read, so I’ll bring a magazine too.
6: I think it’s also important to bring something for your kid’s bladder. They pump kiddos full of fluids and then after, if the kiddo can’t wake up fully, it’s very easy for a very potty trained kid to have an accident in their sleep.
7: We’ve learned this the hard way over the years, but we also make sure to pack things for the ride home incase of vomiting. We always bring a large towel (like a beach towel), several trash bags and wet wipes.
8: I always pack some sort of snack. If I don’t eat much, I can get nauseous pretty quickly (it comes on fast), so I put a granola bar, almonds, etc in my bag in case I need to eat something while I wait before/after/on the way home.
9: I pack Ashby’s clothes to wear home. Make sure you keep in mind what kind of procedure they’re having because for instance, Ashby can’t be pulling something over her arm post-op, so I have to be mindful about what I bring for her to wear home. I also bring socks instead of shoes for her to wear home because she doesn’t walk out of the hospital, so she doesn’t need shoes, but she likes cozy socks on her feet.
Other random things: Ashby loves wearing her jewelry and watch…even to the hospital, so I always make sure I have a secure spot for all of that stuff while she’s under. Ashby also loves to wear her glasses until the last minute, and I find that the nurses are so sweet and allow her to, so make sure you ask!
Whew! I think that’s about it! I know that sometimes, you don’t know when your kiddo is going to be having surgery, but many times, you do (tubes in the ear, tonsillectomy, etc. are so common these days), so I hope my little list helps a bit. If you have other ideas about what we could do to make our routine better or other things we could bring to the hospital, please comment and let me know!! We would always love other ideas!
One last note, thank you all so much for your love and support yesterday. I’m not going to lie…it was tough. It was the hardest one yet. The whole morning was hard and then it was still hard after we got home. Thank you for praying. We felt them even in the storm.
That’s it for this week. I hope you all have a great weekend! xo