Father_X, a decade later...

The beginning of the story

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Hello all,
My story started more than a decade ago. This is how I first described the story back then, on the "4 months anniversary of her operation" (I will add the pictures again later. They have disappeared from the forum where I initially gave regular updates on Léahs story. You can go back and read them here. I will put all the pictures here in due course).

(13/9/2005) :

Yesterday, it was exactly 4 months since my daughter Léah was rolled into theater for her operation (she had metopic synostosis). I'm writing this for all you parents out there who are anxious about your own child who will undergo the same procedure (and I guess also as some kind of therapy for my own benefit).

Our baby was born in late October and it was a rather difficult birth. Forceps had to be used and it took a very long time. My wife was very brave and so was our little princess. Eventually she entered this world at 20 minutes past midnight and we were immensely happy. The gynaecologist told us that the ridges on either side of Léahs head were most likely due to the forceps.

Léah, only a few minutes old :
Picture to be added

However, the very same morning at 8am when the pediatrician came to see us, he informed us that Léah would almost certainly need surgery. 3 weeks later his diagnosis was confirmed by professor Renier, one of France's most prominent experts in this field. It was also decided that he himself would perform the surgery 6 months later, when Léah would be 6-7 months old.

Evidently, the first few weeks (and indeed months) of parenthood were not exactly what we had imagined and of course we worried quite a lot about this surgery. We tried browsing the net for information and to read about other parents experiences on forums like this one. We took great comfort in reading some of the success-stories, but at the same time we could not simply ignore the gnawing pain we felt deep down inside that our baby-girl would had to endure such an ordeal. It seemed so unfair.

A few weeks after the first consulting with the surgeon, life returned to something that could be described as normal. Léah found her thumb at Christmas time which let us have some real peace and quiet at night for the first time since her birth.

At Christmas time :
Picture to be added (same as in my profile)

Months went past and the "ridges" on the sides of her head remained (of course, we kept on wishing for a miracle). Soon, we had to take Léah for various tests (blood, x-ray, irm etc. etc.) and before we knew it, it was time to take her to the hospital for the procedure. The days leading up to the operation were without any comparison the worst I have ever endured, culminating in the waiting room before she was rolled away by the anesthetist. I was sure that my hair was going to turn gray over night.

The operation took almost two hours longer than expected and the first words the surgeon uttered, when we met in the waiting room after the surgery, were "there were complications..." while shaking his head and fixing his eyes on the floor. My wife and I looked at one another for a split second in absolute terror before he realized what he had said and continued "no, no, no - the operation went well!!!". The "complications" were in fact a larger than usual amount of blood loss, but nothing critical to the results or the healing process.

It now started to dawn on us that we hadn't needed to worry so much during the horrendous months that led up to the hospitalization. The operation had gone well, but it was still hard preparing for the next step ; seeing your child entangled in a maze of tubes and wires. I for one, was not entirely prepared for this :

3 hours after the operation was completed :

Her face looked totally "normal" at the time and her forehead was now "flat", whereas it had an abnormal bump before the operation. She looked peaceful as she was still sleeping. When she was coming to, we were asked to leave and as the hospital closed their doors we were not allowed to stay, but invited to come back the next morning.

For the next few days, Léahs state pretty much followed the pattern that the doctors had predicted (increased swelling in the face, fever and other minor expected complications). Here are some photos :

D-day +1 :

D-day +3 :

D-day +4. Léah opened her eyes for the first time since the op. and she was in a surprisingly good mood and had a great appetite (which she did already on D-day +1) :

On the 5th day we were supposed to go home but Léahs fever had gone up and as it was close to 40°C, Léah was kept for observation. This was hugely disappointing as we wanted our daughter to come home and get back to her own room, her toys and her friends.

Luckily the fever receded and we were given the green light in the afternoon. We packed our stuff, got the instructions from doctors and nurses on how to clean the stitches and so on.

Once we were home, things started to normalise and Léah could return to the life she had before the operation. Here are some pictures for you to see how quickly our amazing kids do heal and recover (they are incredible, aren't they!) :

D-day + 10 :

D-day + 1 month :
Picture to be added

D-day + 2 months :
Picture to be added

D-day + 3 months :
Picture to be added

D-day + 4 months :
Picture to be added

Léah recovered amazingly fast, I thought, but apparently most (if not all) kids do. It is a rather traumatic experience both for the parents and for the kids since it is a major operation. Doctors kept on telling us that we shouldn't worry because she is in good hands and that the procedure is now well known and presents very small, or virtually no risks at all.

It is very hard to believe and of course you do worry as a parent. But with all cards on the table, and with the results in front of my very eyes every day, I do realize that the doctors were right all along.

Kids a r e amazingly strong and can handle a great deal more than we might give them credit for. I hope that any parent who find themself in a situation were I was a bit less than a year ago can find comfort in reading this and witnessing the amazing progress our little wonder-kid has done.

Best of luck to you all
"Father X"
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