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Preparing for surgery :(

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  • Preparing for surgery :(

    Hoping for some advice. DS (20 months) is an active nursling. He's most attached to his middle of the night session (between 2 and 4am) and his morning session as soon as he wakes up. He is having surgery for a cleft lip in just over two weeks. He's had one previous surgery, but was just 3 mos old then.

    For this surgery, we were originally told that he could nurse up to 4 hrs in advance - surgery is at 9:30am, so his last session would be 5:30am. Well...we just had our pre-op appt with the surgeon and he says b/c DS is "so old" he needs to have his last session at 3:30am, which is 6 hrs in advance of the surgery.

    We have to arrive at the hospital at 7:30am. I'm staring to feel very anxious about the time between 3:30 and 7:30. He can have pedialyte, water or gatorade until 5:30am, but I don't think he'll accept those as substitutes.

    He generally sleeps better when I'm not in the bed, but he still comes running to me for his morning session when he wakes up. I've thought about sleeping in a different room that night and then starting some kind of really active play when he wakes up to distract him - maybe playdough or something he's never seen before.

    I've also thought of changing the surgery to a later time of day, but we'd need to wait another 6 months to get in for that and this sounds terrible, but our plastic surgeon is not young at all and I fear he'll retire or something. He's very well respected in cleft repair and I'd hate to not have him around for our surgery.

    It's frustrating b/c I thought all of this thru when we originally scheduled this surgery 6 mos ago, and now things have changed. It's difficult enough to send my LO off for anesthesia w/out me, and I really need to find a way to make sure he's not upset the morning of his surgery, which would make it nearly impossible for me to send him off.

    Should I start trying to night wean him for the next couple of weeks? Or give gatorade when he wakes up and try to cut out the morning session.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Sorry only have a second to reply but was just thinking that it seems strange that he could have gatorade but not breastmilk. Did they give you any rational for this?

    Also, if your son has had advance notice that he won't be able to nurse that morning he may take it much better. With my son I would warn him a few days in advance several times a day that something unusual was going to happen. It seemed to really prepare him for the unusual/negative event. (I can go into more details another time if you're interested). Some people also make a book to read with their kid to prep them for this sort of thing.

    What are you doing to get him prepared for the actual surgery?

    Gotta run.


    • #3
      This sounds like such a tough situation for you! It would be really hard to refuse nursing to a hungry, sad toddler.

      Most hospitals consider breast milk a "clear liquid" just like Gatorade. Perhaps you can get a second (or third) opinion from someone else at the hospital? I'm assuming the person who told you this may not be aware of this.

      I hope all goes well for you and your son!


      • #4
        Originally posted by havecompassion View Post
        we just had our pre-op appt with the surgeon and he says b/c DS is "so old" he needs to have his last session at 3:30am, which is 6 hrs in advance of the surgery.
        do you know what his age has to do w/it? is the surgeon just inexperienced w/nursing toddlers? i believe our local LLL would have info on bfing and surgeries, too. i can send you their names if you like.

        if you want to nightwean altogether, it seems like this would provide an opportune time for you both. however, if you don't, getting through one night of being upset wouldn't be worth it. it may be a terrible early morning, but it is just one morning, and you will both have many, many opportunities to reconnect. i'd certainly enlist your dh to help out. but who knows, maybe enough grace will fall on you and he'll miraculously sleep longer than usual and things will flow smoothly.

        let us know how it goes!


        • #5
          This sounds so hard. I can sense how you are feeling, the anxiety and worry that you won't be able to comfort him. I had to emergency abstain after a trip to our local ER where they did a procedure on me with an injection which she just absolutely could not take the risk of it getting into her system (iodine) I only had 20 minute warning.
          It sounds like you are really thinking this through, looking for multiple distractions and solutions. I would strongly support you in contacting your LLL, like suggested in an earlier post. Do it early though because sometimes it takes a day or so to get back to the caller.
          This is ONE day, the anticipation of the event is sometimes harder than the actual event. It may be a hard morning but you two will be ok. Once my daughter could nurse again she was so happy, all was forgiven (she really grieved the loss of her neh neh) We have other things going on and I thought for sure this would be the one thing that just throw her over the edge...but it didn't. She nursed for several hours straight and I made myself completely available to her. I think that it was harder for her having me around and not being able to nurse. Since you have a DH living in the house with you, and hopefully he is a supportive and loving DH, employ him as much as you can with the care of your son that morning. Maybe start a routine where he and dad do mornings together....
          Wonder if you could pump and then offer an empty breast for comfort?

          Good luck to you. Please let us know how it all turns out.


          • #6

            It's Jessica again with more to add to her previous post. Here is a link to Kellymom that has some info about breastfeeding guidelines pre and post surgery.


            I feel a bit bad about something I said in my post:
            Originally posted by Jessica View Post
            What are you doing to get him prepared for the actual surgery?
            I didn't mean to sound like a drill sergeant I just meant that if you were doing anything to introduce the concept of surgery and/or the reason for the surgery to him you could also at that time talk about the fact that he won't be able to nurse for awhile. And stress that it would be temporary. For instance if you were reading him a book about a kid having surgery you could add in that you can't nurse before the surgery but that he will be able to nurse afterwards.

            I thought your idea about special toys to distract him was great. I was thinking that you could mention some of these special toys in advance as something he will be able to play with on the morning he can't nurse. It may be easier for him not to nurse if he already has an idea of some alternate things to do. Also having some very favorite familiar toys around would be good too. Somtimes my son won't accept new toys in a stressful situation and I have had occasion to wish that I brought along an old favorite.

            I agree with the others that have said that it is only one day and he'll probably bounce back quickly no matter how upset he seems at the time. Besides, nursing is the best therapy



            • #7
              Thank you all for the thoughtful and very helpful replies. Dedra, if you can send me contact info for LLL, that would be excellent. I can't see why age would matter, but I'm a nervous person with anything medical anyway, so now that I've been told it would be dangerous to nurse 4 hours out, I'm hesitant to do it. The surgeon said they let babies nurse 4 hours out b/c their little bodies are dependent on it, but a toddler can go 6 hours w/out it. Talking to LLL could be very helpful though and I'll also talk with the anesthesiologist and check out kellymom.

              Jessica, no worries at all about your post. It was a good question and honestly I hadn't give prep for him enough thought. We are going to take a hospital tour and had planned to talk with him then, but I should be doing more. I have a book about "Franklin going to the hospital," that I'd completely forgotten about. And I hadn't even considered explaining to him that he won't be able to nurse for a few hours, but then can after surgery. I think I just got caught up in the other details. So I really appreciate you bringing me back to what is most important which is preparing him for this. For his last surgery, he was just 3 mos, so we couldn't prepare him for it, and I still think of him as so young, but he understands everything now. He's a strong kiddo and I know he'll be okay, and I should tell him that and that we'll be right there when he's done. It's important that he feels confident in all of that (hopefully AP will help us thru that), even if I'm nervous about every step of it.

              For his first surgery, he completely surprised me. He hadn't nursed for 4 hours, but was happy and calm and just so amazing. I hope he can be so brave and strong for this one too - and that a bit of that will rub off on me.

              Again, thanks everyone!