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Pirates and boxes
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River's surgery went well today. Thought I'd get that part out of the way first thing.

Packing the night before was nightmarish. We'd estimated perfectly how long it would take us to pack, so losing two days to terror and doctor's visits set us almost exactly two days behind. Thanks to good friends (we had so many offers of help there were times we had more than we could use, which is a very good feeling, honestly; we felt loved), we caught up a bit, but still late last night we were literally throwing shit in boxes (well, not literally shit, but the throwing was real). At one point I really did sweep my arm across a shelf into a box.

But you really don't want to hear about packing, I know, I know.

This morning, exhausted, with the barest levels of organization in place, we woke up a happy River, changed him, and I drove off. First I picked up Susan and David, switching places so Susan could drive while I sat in the back with River. River was a happy kid. Halfway there he started getting hungry, so I held the pacifier for him, and he was happy again.

We checked in, and we got a private room to wait in. River was a bit fussy, but pretty easy to soothe, especially considering the little guy hadn't eaten in hours (six by the time he was put under). We changed him into a hospital shirt, tried in vain to get him to keep on the hospital booties, held him and comforted him until he finally fell asleep in my arms. He slept through us going downstairs, me handing him off to change into sterile gear, getting him back, and walking into the operating room and setting him down on the weird inflatable raft thingie they put infants on in the operating room.

I was little teary off and on, but felt, right before we went into the operating room, very brave. Everything was crystal clear, sharp. But putting my sleepy little boy down on the table and watching his big blue eyes flutter open (we had to wake him up to put him under), his excited and happy grin as he saw me, followed by the startled look of terror as he noticed the scary room he was in. He's usually so excited by new things, but he was immediately keen to the serious nature of the room he was in, and it just broke me. I started crying (quietly) as they put the tiny mask over his mouth, but tried to keep my voice steady as I soothed him so he wouldn't cry too much. I was close enough to him to smell the gas. His little hand at first gripped my fingers so very tight, his signature strongman grip, but then it slowly went limp in my hand, which was the saddest feeling in the world. "Ok, Mom, he's under." the pediatric anesthesiologist said, but he just looked like he was napping to me, thank gods. It made it a bit easier.

I then went out in the waiting room and talked Susan and David's ear off about, after a brief recount of what I'd just been through, anything other than what was going on in the other room. Susan went over to the cafeteria to find out what they had, and came back with a list of the most awesome hospital chow you've ever heard of (chicken curry with apricots, sushi, etc.); this is San Francisco, oh yes. She was sweet enough to buy my lunch, which I was hungry enough to eat. I spent a little time in a newborn store I found on the hallway to the bathroom, buying River a "brave little guy" turtle toy as a present.

After a while I thought it had been too long -- they were supposed to examine his eyes, then come out to talk to me before they operated, and I went to check with the nurse. Apparently they'd put an IV in, which took awhile (gah!), and had just finished the exam and were discussing their plan of action before they came to talk to me.

Not long after this, they came out. Dr. Iwach obviously does this a lot (there was a 5-month-old scheduled right after River), and had the spiel down. He was very clear, comforting, reassuring, etc. The short version: most congenital glaucoma is caused by a thin membrane growing over the tube that drains fluid from the eyes, causing fluid to build up and pressure to build in the eye. So what they do is try to open this pathway by making a small slit in the membrane. However, in some cases, it's not just the membrane, but that the tube isn't there. They then do a much more complicated procedure, coming in from the outside, to try to fix that.

River's left eye has the membrane, so they did the procedure on it today. We won't really know if the tube is there or not until they check back again in a few weeks to see if that helped the pressure. River's right eye has a cloudy cornea right now, they couldn't even see the optic nerve, so they're giving us stronger eyedrops for that eye and are going to look at it again in a few weeks (I'm hoping at the same time as they check the left eye). The doctor seemed confident that his vision in the left eye should be reasonably ok (we won't know for sure until he can talk, of course); we caught this very early and the prognosis for this eye sounds good, from what I understood today. The right eye, well, we'll just wait and see, I guess. It sounded like he was afraid the damage was worse in that eye, that maybe there's more structural damage? I dunno.

So, after a bit I got to go in to the recovery room to be with River. I held my sleepy little dude while he pretty much had his noon nap on me. I chatted with a very nice nurse about babies. Eventually they made me try to wake him up, and we got him to take a pacifier. About two hours after his surgery he finally opened his eye and we went back upstairs to the less intense recovery room.

Oh yes. My baby has an eyepatch. While this is a sad sight, it is easily made merrier by calling him a brave pirate baby and going "arrr!" a lot.

We passed the parents of the 5-month-old on our way to the other recovery. They asked if it was glaucoma, told me their son was in surgery. I felt for them. I held up my sleepy Riverboat and said, "See? He just went through it and he's just fine. It'll be ok." I know it would've helped me to see that. The waiting was really fucking terrifiying. It was such a relief to hold him.

He guzzled the sugar water in two minutes, and the nurse finally took pity on me and my bursting bosom and let us nurse. Ahh! The kid ate and ate and ate and ate... I finally popped him off after almost an hour because, honestly, if we left soon we could just beat rush hour traffic on the way home. He slept entire way back.

I came home to the new apartment, where Tim and Lynne (who came up to help Tim with the movers) were drinking beer on the balcony. Just seeing them out there relaxing made me so happy -- our apartment is awesome and it encourages recreational activities! It was good to see Tim, who as I predicted was much sadder about the eye patch than I was, and Lynne, who is one of those folk we don't see often enough. Lynne helped Tim move boxes around (I tried to help and realized I was just too weak to lift boxes of books), I nursed River when he woke up (and then we gave him another two full bottles of breastmilk when that was over). He played a bit even this evening, his face lighting up when I put him in the sun spinner for a bit. He's tired and a bit crankier than usual, but I was heartened by how he could still play, still look delighted with the world. He spent some time looking at the nighttime view from our balcony doors -- all twinkly city lights reflecting on the water. I think he likes our new place. I'm so glad we're all here, safe and sound.

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