The Trials of Parenthood

it wasn’t until the obvious question was asked that I began to worry. It wasn’t until my wife stood in the living room and asked if I had a family history of issues with anesthesia that I recognized the danger. Up until that point I had no concern for my son undergoing a routine outpatient procedure to fix his inguinal hernia. I had not even considered that the danger could come from the solution, but it is obvious in hindsight.

I looked at my wife and told her that I didn’t think I had any family issues. I had been under from my wisdom teeth and she told me that she’d had the same procedure. That isn’t what was asked or why it was asked. Family history is important. Recessive genes are important. It wasn’t our history they wanted to know but family history. There could be a distant aunt or cousin on one side or another of our families that had an issue going under and those genetics would be in our boy’s blood. Even as I told her to answer that we had no known issues I didn’t worry.

It wasn’t until later on that the fear gripped me. The realization that our boy was being put to sleep and if he had a bad reaction to the anesthesia he may never wake up. Allergies to anesthesia are extremely rare with the estimated odds being 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 25,000. There was little chance that our boy would have any issue at all, but that doesn’t stop the worrying. In order for statistics to exists someone has to be that one in the 1 in 5,000.

As the days passed I tried to allay my fears. Set them aside as silly and irrational but the problem was they were perfectly rational. We had no way of knowing if our boy would be allergic to the anesthesia. No way util the procedure had already begun and he either had a reaction or no reaction. I called my father and he offered no help when he said he knew his history and my mothers and neither of them had any issue. The fear wasn’t immediate family. We knew no issues there. The fear was the hidden genetics. The dangers of the recessive gene.

Come the day of the surgery all fears were laid aside by action. We were up at 4:00 AM and I hurried to get out of the house on time to reach the hospital at 5:25. It wasn’t until we were exiting the highway that my wife informed me the appointment wasn’t until 5:45 and all my rushing was for naught. The only thing I noticed on the drive to the hospital was that it was a quick one. I remember driving that same highway the morning my wife went into labor 13 weeks early. The crushing fear had the effect of keeping me alert. Every mile and minute passing as slow as possible. On this drive I let my mind wander and I faded off into road hypnoses. Driving more by memory than thought.

The first person we met with at the hospital was the anesthesiologist and they reiterated the dangers and concerns. Asking again if we had any family history. We again told them we knew of none. That did nothing to keep the fear of the unknown at bay, but the surgery needed to be done. Our boy needed to be fixed. It is our parental duty to provide for him as smooth a life as possible, and if that meant we had to stare down the possibility of an anesthesia allergy then we would do so.

After he went back for the surgery we settled into the waiting room. I grabbed a ginger ale, pop tart, rice crispy, and other snacks from the vending machine to serve as a surrogate breakfast. Then I distracted myself by reading and waiting. We watched for his number to come up on the board to tell us when he was in surgery and eventually it did. Then the doctor came to debrief us and relay to us how everything went. The hole was closed, and our boy was good.

Soon we were ushered into recovery where we were greeted by a crying baby. Unhappy with awaking to discomfort and a body filled with wounds. We tried to feed him the clear liquid they provided and then gave him his milk as it was the only thing he would eat. Eventually he fell asleep and after a couple hours passed we could take him home.

There were no incidents. Everything went as smooth as possible. The anesthesia was no danger. All my fears and worries ended up being silly, but I know that they will return. Parenthood is walking across a minefield of traumas and when the one closest doesn’t explode there is shock and confusion over that fact. We have navigated many mines so far in our early journey as parents. From premature birth to the fear of anesthesia allergies. There are many more ahead and all we can do is approach each one, choke down our fears, and keep moving forward hoping to make it to the other side each time.

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