Thoughts on a Thursday: Babies in surgery? Noooo! Edition

eye gunk makes us sad..

It’s her left eye (look on the right, that’s her left, right? right.) See the gunk? We wipe it out, she sleeps, it comes back. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The doctor referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist at her last appointment.. I’ve tried not to dwell on it, but it keeps me up at night. It tortures me while I’m awake. Every time she rubs her eyes, or I have to warm a washcloth to wipe the gunk out. It’s been getting a lot more noticeable lately, and people ask about it. If I explain the science to adults, they go, oh, and if I mention surgery, get a real understanding. Kids don’t get it. They look at me weird. They look at her weird. But that’s okay. She’s just a baby with a congenital issue. It’s not her fault. It’s not my fault. But it’s an issue.

She has a beautiful smile, a gorgeous giggle, and a fabulous personality. She’s my baby. Who will probably need surgery before she is a year old. Maybe in the next month. Soon.

Surgery. On my baby.

Now, I love both of my girls. But Keeley is 3.5 years old. If we explain things to her, she will understand. We could say, you’ll have some food as soon as your surgery is done, no big deal and she might be pissy, but she’d go to sleep and be distracted and be fine. This does not work with an infant. One that wakes up all night when she’s teething because she’s in pain. and NURSES when she’s in pain. One that will NOT take tylenol but spits it out, so there’s no way to ‘help’ her with anything. She only wants mommy. Fast forward to surgery. You KNOW they don’t let adults eat after midnight. It might be later for babies, but probably not much.

I don’t think that people really get what it’s like when a baby cries for you when you’re in the bathroom for 30 seconds. Let alone if she wakes up at say 12:01 and wants to eat, but can’t. Eight + hours of non-stop screaming? Then there’s the fact that the nursing relationship could be irrevocably disrupted from this. She’s only 9 months old. If she decides that mommy was mean to her and wouldn’t feed her at the right time, she might completely refuse the breast. This has happened to people because they spoke loudly over their baby’s head while it was eating. The baby would never eat again, and they were forced to use formula. I can’t imagine having to do that because of a stupid surgery.

We haven’t talked to the doctor yet, but a brief internet search says that it’s a very short surgery and works about 90% of the time before 1 year of age. It doesn’t say what happens after 1 year of age. There was a mention of ‘care’ afterward but not what kind of care is needed. I’m thinking probably an eye patch or goggles or something to keep her from rubbing it. But how do I get her to keep it on? Will it be for weeks? Insane. Then there’s the anesthesia.

I don’t care if it’s for 10 minutes, that’s my baby you’re conking out with drugs. Adults go under and don’t wake up. Or they aspirate, or they what? lose their minds.

I can’t lose her. She’s my happiness every day.

She’s my smiles, my light, my little love. Yes I love Keeley, but it’s SO much easier to love a baby who just wants to eat, be held and smile and dance with you. One that doesn’t talk back, or refuse to put on her pajamas because no one will help her. She just giggles when you tickle her and tries her best to help out. She’s pure love.

I need her love in my life… and I’m scared. Plenty of people say ‘well my kid had surgery.. and’… well that’s GREAT. That’s your kid and it was years ago. This is my baby right now. I don’t think we would survive if something happened to her. I wouldn’t survive. Our marriage wouldn’t survive.

But how do you not give your baby the surgery it needs if it’s necessary and will help them live their life better? How do you deny them on the rare chance something would happen? How do you live with yourself if something DOES happen?


  1. Does she have a clogged tear duct? Ashlyn had that for months when she was a baby. They told us if it didn’t open up by 1 year old that they they would have to probe it open. Thankfully, it DID open on it’s own.

  2. Surgery on your kid is nerve-wracking and scary. Mine was 4 & 5 when he had his surgeries and it was STILL scary. None of them were life-threatening, but scary all the same. The thing is, after the initial waking up (he cried), his life was improved so much it was worth it. For the second one, it wasn’t as bad because I knew what to expect.

    Why is the doctor pushing surgery right now? Your other commenter’s doctor had a wait-and-see approach. Perhaps you should talk to B’s doctor about this again.

    I also know the sadness of having breast-feeding cut off prematurely. I was in a car accident when my boy was 9 months old and the drugs they gave me prevented breast-feeding for a couple of weeks. In that time, he realized that the bottle was much easier and wasn’t interested in the breast after that. He still loved snuggles, but he wanted them with a bottle. Still makes me sad.

  3. Stacy Wolfmeyer

    I’m sorry. Your baby in surgery is SO scary, even knowing that it will help her and even knowing that the odds of something bad happening are so small. Can’t wait until it’s over (hopefully clearing up on its own, but if not, the once the surgery is over), so you aren’t so scared and worried. The anticipation is the hardest part.

  4. A little late responding here, but wanted to make sure I got back this weekend to do so.

    I have known four people whose little ones had clogged tear ducts. None of them ended up needing surgery, even the one who spent almost two years clogged. Eventually the duct opened up. They did massage and warm washcloths etc, but it mostly just needed time.

    I was going to suggest a 2nd opinion, too.

    I’m sure you’ve done some reading on the internet to find out more, as well.

    Surgery on a little one should really be the last resort, not the first choice, you’re definitely right about having misgivings.
    I can’t advise you on what to do, but you have moral support on whatever you decide. As parents, we 2nd guess ourselves enough without having strangers on the internet tell us we’re right or wrong!!


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