I drafted this post while sitting next to an empty hospital bed. I frantically scratched it into one of my eldest son's Hilroy exercise books with a coloured lead while I waited for the return of my youngest son.
It is made of nervous energy and nerves and random whizzing thoughts that popped into my head in an attempt to stultify my fears.
And there is some relief in it too. For, you see, my youngest had to be put to sleep. He needed an MRI to assess for tumours due to his Neurofibromatosis. And young children need to be put to sleep for MRIs.
My eldest also had a test for which he had to be put to sleep when he was just a little older than Emerson is now. I feared and stressed about it. We bought him his favourite wooden rocking horse as a gift if he promised to awake. Because it's not the procedure that scares me, but the forced sleep.
What if he doesn't wake up?
My fears are not completely groundless. My mother reacts very badly to general anaesthetic and I have had my share of bad experiences with it as well - though not so severe as hers.
So. What? Who can promise me my son will wake up?
Before we entered the hospital doors I said to my husband "I know he'll be fine" and held my hand to my head, "but I don't know he'll be fine" and held my hand to my heart.
Once he was asleep, though, my head and heart seemed to be in agreement. We knew he'd be fine. So though there was a nervousness it was nothing near the fear I had felt for my eldest.
Because I was the one to put him to sleep. Not an anaesthesiologist, not an IV. Just me and some meds.
Back to this morning. When we walked into the prep room one of the nurses commented on how tired he looked.
"Yeah he woke up at 4am and we had a hard time getting him back to sleep" I replied.
"It's hard when they can't have anything." (He had had to fast beforehand)
"Yeah, normally I would just nurse him back to sleep. It was really hard because when I tried to hold him all he wanted was my breast and I couldn't give it to him."
I saw the two nurses grin at each other, a conspiratorial look between them. My hackles went on high alert, sure they were going to say something about my nursing a two year old to sleep.
But I couldn't have been more wrong.
They were excited. They didn't want to give my baby boy and IV anymore than I wanted him to have one. Chloral Hydrate, the oral hypnotic/depressant is preferable with young children, but it's also easier for them to fight.
But because he was tired already. And because they knew I could nurse him to sleep, they were excited to have the opportunity to use it.
I held my son and syringed the meds mixed with grape kool aid into his mouth. And then I held him to my breast and began coaxing him to sleep. He fought it, arms flailing, stuttering susserating syllables urging from his mouth. He flopped and "no"ed and generally acted like a nasty drunk. We gave him a little more meds. I walked him and sang to him and shushed him and then settled with him once more to nurse him.
And as he latched on, I felt the fight flow out of him. And the fear flow out of me.
I put him to sleep and I can wake him up.
And as he drifted off in my arms, ready to face the dragons in his dreams, I heard the nurse whisper to my husband :
"It's great they have that comfort"
Yes it is. It's great we have that comfort. Both of us.
This post in the first in a series I will be doing this week in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2010 in Canada, Oct. 01-07. If you have a breastfeeding story to share, come back tommorrow and link up. I'll have a McLinky up for the next week.
Looking for a great breastfeeding resource? Buy or borrow The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solving Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America, Revised & Updated Edition. It was my bible when my first was born.