Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Before Leander went into surgery all our worries were about those long hours and how he will manage. I did not care about the days or weeks in hospital as long as he survived the surgery alright. I surely did not care about the time home after all would be over. And nobody told me about it either. It all just happened bit by bit.

The first nights at home were quite relaxing. Leander slept 4 hour intervals. This was not possible in hospital at all and I was happy he went straight back to his sleeping pattern. But he didn't. He was just exhausted. A few days later it all started. It was almost impossible for us to put him down for the night. When he finally slept he would wake up an hour later, accepting nothing but Mama and her breast. A few nights we took him into our bed, this way I could "feed him to sleep" and rest myself. Something I never wanted to do. But I figured that this was an extreme situation and needed extreme care.

The days weren't much easier. Leander was hardly able to stay by himself on his blanket or in his playpen. Even with us being around, sitting next to him and talking to him. He would not just cry but scream loud and painful. The fact that his voice was all croaky from the chest tubes in hospital made it sound even worse. More painful for him. And for us. He would just lie on his back, not turn onto his belly, not try and crawl as he did before the surgery. I felt like we had traveled back in time.

I was close to a break down. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream loud. At the same time I wanted to help him, to show him that it's done, that we are home, that we are there for him. The more he cried (screamed) the less I felt able to convince him. Jan and me took rounds in holding him, the other one recharging batteries. Then we would swop. Some nights I went to the toilet because it was the room furthest away from Leander's room and even there I would cover my ears and hoped it would all just stop.

I was not prepared for this. I cared about his heart for 6 months. I was worried about the surgery. I was full of hope that by Christmas it would all be over. I simply did not think of the postoperative trauma and what it would be like.
I took him to a therapist. Craniosacral therapy was what a lot of people told me to do. To help him recover. To help his mind recover. The therapist, a lady about my age, asked me many questions and I told her about his behaviour and the "sleeping only by feeding". When she asked me if this was a problem for me and I said yes, because after a few days it WAS a big problem for me. For me as a person. For me as a woman. For me as a mother who surely wants the best for her son but also be herself and therefore be a good mom. Honest and Careful. She told me that I sounded like her grandma, the generation that "let the baby cry by himself", that had proper feeding hours. I was annoyed. I was angry. This woman knew nothing about my situation and how hard it all was on me. For a moment I felt yet again as if I would not be doing EVERYTHING I could to help him through this tough time. But then I left and took a deep breath of fresh Viennese autumn air, knowing how to care for my son.

I focused hard on the days. I tried to give him everything he needed but also tried over and over again to put him on his blanket, I stayed with him in his playpen and was happy when he played for as little as 5 minutes. When he cried I would hold him. The days were when I had most energy to try and try. I talked to him, explained the situation. Told him that I understood. Throughout the nights I was a wreck. I would get up, feed him until he was back to sleep. No matter how long it took. No matter how tired I was. Jan was there too but could only do as little.

What can I say? It all worked. Leander is playing all by himself for long periods again. I can manage to cook for him while he is playing. I can do the laundry. He his practicing hard to be finally able to crawl. He is angry that it does not work, so he gets loud. But he does not scream.
Last night I fed him as usual after he slept for four hours straight, I changed his diaper and thought I try to put him into his bed just like that. Awake. He turned onto his side and went back to sleep. He decided to give up on his daytime naps. Which is what he did before the surgery.

While my battery is pretty much down to zero I am happy that Leander is the boy I know.
Again patience is the key. Not the "giving him everything by giving yourself up completely" but the care, the explanations, the trying over and over. It will take some time until my battery is fully recharged but watching him active and smily after what he has been through gives me some reload every now and then.

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