The day after Christmas 2014, when Leo was 2.5 weeks old, he had his open heart surgery. We sat with him and held him until 4:30am when the nurses suggested we try and get a little sleep since tomorrow was going to be a tough day. We woke up and got back to his room at 6:15am just as they were prepping to take him. Letting my tiny little baby be wheeled off in the huge bed was the hardest thing I've ever done. I am still surprised that I didn't immediately run after the gurney, jump in it with him and demand that they take me along. We were told his surgery could go anywhere from 5-12 hours.
The surgeons and the rest of the staff was amazing. They assured us they would be in touch via cell phone at least every 90 minutes or if something big were happening. They called about 7ish when they started anesthesia and he was responding well to it. They called again a little after 8 once they had made the incision and cut open his chest bone. They called again about 930 once they had started the "switch" of the Aortic and Pulmonary arteries. Another call came about 11am and they said they were working on the coronary arteries - the hardest ones to attached and take because of how very small and delicate they are. They called again about 130 and said they were getting ready to close and that we wouldn't hear from them again unless there was an emergency. It had gone well. It was almost over. I could almost (just almost) breathe again.
I remember answering the phone each time and gauging the doctors voice. I could tell each time he called it was hopeful, positive even. I knew if I picked up the phone and his voice was somber I needed to prepare myself. Each time it was hopeful. We were lucky. He even told us that he was staring right at his strong heart and that they were impressed with the size of his arteries.
We went up to the PCICU (Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit), which had been our home for the last 2.5 weeks to pump and get our jackets. It would be at least 2 hours before we were able to see him. We put our coats on and walked out of the hospital and took a deep breath of the cool, December air. It was the first time we felt relief in a long time. He would have a long road ahead, but we had hope.
We walked across the street to the nearest place with alcohol and sat down together and had a beer. We counted down the minutes until we could see our son. Those 2 hours went by faster than we anticipated. Slower than usual, but faster than expected. We were so nervous to see him but could hardly get their soon enough.
We walked into his room and he lay there hooked to to every machine possible. A breathing tube, a chest tube, pacing wires and so many IV's. His incision wasn't closed with stiches or staples - just glue.