Poet's operation was, in every way, a standard procedure. And yet taking your child to hospital, talking them through the procedures and eventually handing them over to the operating theatre is most definitely not an every day parenting experience. Leaving your child with a room full of specialists in scrubs and knowing they're about to go under anaesthetic requires a whole new level of surrender and it's one I wasn't exactly prepared for. I did, in fact, brush my own concerns to the side and focussed all my attention on Poet (who coped with the entire experience far better than I did) and then I promptly collapsed into a stressed heap of exhaustion.
When I wrote this post I took on board every tidbit of advice shared in the comments section. Daniel and I chatted about the best way to prepare Poet and we decided to start casually chatting about the operation about a fortnight before the scheduled date. We didn't make a big fuss about sitting down and talking to her about it nor did we read books or explain the procedures to her. Instead we'd bring it up at various times during the day: "Won't it be great to see that funny doctor again and get your ears fixed so you can hear?" "Daddy and you will stay overnight at the hospital and when you ears are fixed you might have a sore throat so you'll get to eat ice-cream," and so on. She didn't have a lot of questions but when one arose we kept our answers short and to the point. Rather than have a serious, emotion-driven conversation we just chatted about it like it was another daily event (one that required new pyjamas and a fluffy pink dressing gown).
When we arrived at hospital it was definitely more difficult to keep it lighthearted and as the nurses prepared Poet for surgery (ID bracelets and theatre gown on) she started to get anxious about what was happening. But we simply asked her about how she was feeling and reinforced the fact that she was here to get her ears fixed (and how amazing is that?!). I said goodbye to her on the ward and Daniel went down to theatre with her to get scrubs on. He was allowed right into theatre with her and was there when she went under (fighting till the end, in true Poet style).
I stayed at the hospital till Poet came back to the ward. She was sound asleep so I left in the early evening and came back first thing the following morning. Daniel stayed overnight (on a foldout mattress most definitely not made for a 6ft3 man) and thankfully, had a very uneventful night.
The operation went really well and Poet's recovery has been remarkable. She hasn't complained once of a sore throat, has only required minimal pain relief and was back to her normal diet two days post-op. And what is truly wonderful is that she can hear us! And she has not needed one tissue (a miracle considering we were wiping her nose at least 30 times a day since the beginning of autumn).
If you're preparing your child to go to hospital be gentle on yourself. Even if the procedure is a routine one, it's still a big deal as a parent. Whilst it was a steep and very emotional learning curve for Daniel and I we chose to focus on the blatantly obvious positives: Poet was undergoing a simple procedure to improve her overall wellbeing, we could afford a highly regarded specialist and we only had to wait six weeks for the operation. At this crucial stage of her development we are incredibly grateful that she can hear again. She's breathing clearly, sleeping soundly and is much calmer and happier in herself.