AP in the Hospital

Last month, my 17 month old son had to stay overnight for an operation.  It was a routine procedure, but I was still wracked with worry.  It broke my heart when he cried for food the morning of the operation and I couldn’t give him anything.  As we waited in the hospital for his surgery to begin, the nurses started bringing around breakfast and he’d point and sign ‘eat’, crying because he didn’t understand why we weren’t complying.  I cried as he went in to surgery and again, with relief, when he came out safe.  As we met him in recovery, he was wearing a sleepsack that was tied down to the mattress of a crib.  It wasn’t completely unexpected, as I’d seen other children on his floor restrained in this way while he was in surgery, but I still worried that they would somehow hurt my baby. Thankfully I can go here to get legal assistance if they harm him in any way during his stay at the hospital.

When he woke, he was disoriented  and became distraught fighting the restraints.  I tried my best to calm him and after asking the nurses, I breastfed him, leaning awkwardly over the side of his crib to do so.  He fell asleep and the surgeons came in to speak to us.  I told them that our son wasn’t used to a crib and it wasn’t easy to breastfeed him the way he was placed. They didn’t really say much back, I’m not sure they really knew what to do, but the nurse with them did.

Our room was equipped with a small, narrow cot for one parent to spend the night on, but soon the nurse rolled a regular size hospital bed into the room, she removed the restraints, and once he woke again, I carried Oliver to the bed.  We were now able to cosleep and nurse.

That night, I could hear the faint sound of babies and toddlers in other rooms crying and complaining, but Oliver didn’t let out a peep.  He woke the next morning, groggy, but cheerful, and happy to play with some of the toys we brought along.  As soon as the doctor came by, we were released, less than 24 hours after surgery.  We spent the next day in bed, but the day after, Oliver couldn’t be stopped.  He was up and about and quickly back to his old self, perhaps a little too soon for my taste, as we had instructions to keep him from being very active for the next two weeks, and if you’ve ever had a toddler in your life, you know how easy that is!  But in all seriousness, I’m thankful that he made such a quick recovery and I’ m thankful to the hospital staff for being supportive of our desires, as I know that it’s especially important in times like these.

Have you had any experience with AP in a medical setting?

Christina blogs about life at An American Expat in Deutschland and about parenting at Mamas Worldwide.

4 thoughts on “AP in the Hospital”

  1. My son has had two surgeries, and both times, the night before was the absolute hardest, because he couldn’t nurse on demand. Fortunately, both times, as soon as he was waking up, I was allowed to hold, rock and nurse him. The second surgery, he had a harder time waking up and nursing due to the type of surgery, but in both cases, the nurses remarked how well he recovered. I attribute it to nursing and his complete comfort in my arms– the result of tending to his needs when he needed, holding him when others told me I was spoiling my baby, and our overall parenting style.

  2. Both my kids were critically ill at birth, and we were fortunate to be at Children’s Hospital of Iowa, which does a great job of patient and family-centered care. All the units have 24/7 open hours for parents (who are NEVER called “visitors”), we participated in rounds and shared our observations and desires, and we were with our kids throughout all of their medical procedures, with the exception of four actual surgeries. Even then, we were with them as soon as they came out of the OR and as they woke up. After one surgery, my son was coming out of anesthesia in my arms & it was time to move to the inpatient floor. “How are we going to do this?” I asked the nurse. “How do you want to do it?” she replied. I told her to move the wheelchair parallel to the chair I was in, and I would stand up, step over, and sit back down again, so as to jostle my son as little as possible. It worked great. But my favorite story, and one I frequently share with medical staff about family centered care in presentations, was after that same surgery, when I crawled into my 1 year-old son’s large crib to sleep next to him. I thought I might get some grief from the nurses, but they never said a thing. One of our favorite residents stopped by in the night and wrote on the white board, “I can’t believe you slept next to him. That is L-O-V-E.”

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