Today has been a frenzy of preparation for the next couple of weeks. I've been on the phone sorting out insurance and deductibles and trying to figure out meals and childcare for Eloise and what our daily schedule might look like while Clara is hospitalized. I've been doing laundry and grocery shopping and nesting. And in between, I've been trying hard to be present for Clara and to savor and enjoy her sweet joyful spirit. We haven't explained everything to her yet, but I am sure she senses our anxiety and has heard enough conversations to have some idea that something is up. Her pretend play the past few days has been a lot of "hospital" where she tapes a folded up tissue to her stuffed animals and runs an IV with "all the medicine" to the bandage. When we've been building with blocks, she says the towers are hospitals filled with doctors and nurses and sick people. It breaks my heart that she even knows of this world and how to pretend play in it, but also somehow strangely warms my heart to watch her sorting out her ideas and feelings in a totally developmentally appropriate way. We'll have a longer conversation with her tomorrow to prepare her more for what's to come. I hope she will take it okay and know that whatever she is feeling is fine and we will feel it with her.
I got a few more details today. Surgery is currently scheduled for 7AM on Thursday morning. These schedules are always subject to change, but that's what we're planning on now. I was relieved to find out that they would be able to pretty much knock her out before taking her away from us and that they would do so with oral and inhaled medications, so she won't even have to be aware of the IV. When she wakes up in recovery, we'll be with her again and as far as she will know we will never have been apart. Dr. Petty expects the surgery to be about four hours. He will begin with laparoscopy, but expects to probably have to open her incision to fully close the hole and deal with the sticky gore-tex patch. We'd rather he be sure it's done thoroughly than have a less invasive surgery that might leave something undone. Clara will be intubated again for the surgery which strangely brings back some difficult emotions for me, but he expects her to be able to be extubated again quickly. The hope is that after a few hours in recovery we will be able to be moved to a regular floor room at Brenner. We'll have to see how she does from there, but we're planning on a week in the hospital.
I will mostly be at the hospital with Clara, at least for the first few days and nights. When you don't feel well you just want your mama and I cannot really imagine driving away from there and leaving her, even with other family members who love her deeply. Mama K is coming for the first several days so she'll be mostly caring for Eloise. I'm still nursing her though and wasn't planning on weaning quite this soon, so I'm hoping that I can slip away a couple of times a day to nurse and try to maintain that.
I do not have words for all of the love you've shown in the last 24 hours. The phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages and more have meant a lot to us. Just hearing you say, "This is crummy," and "I wish you didn't have to do this." has shown me that I am not alone. Your offers for food and childcare and errands and coffee runs and company and everything else are such meaningful tangible expressions that show me how willing you are to share some of this burden. I think a younger Chrissy might have tried to stoically do it all, but I won't even pretend this time around. I know I need you and I will be calling on you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for understanding that Clara is our everything and that our hearts will be rolling into the Operating Room on Thursday.
We remain grateful for prayers. Please continue to lift up Dr. Petty and the other medical staff who will be caring for her. Pray that Clara is filled with courage and strength and peace, and that we are too, for that matter. Pray that we are able to balance wanting to give Clara our 100%, but needing to still be there for Eloise, too. Pray that the surgery will be successful and free from complications and that she will have a smooth and quick recovery.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Today, Robert rescued a box turtle from the road. Clara named her Heidi (because she likes to hide-e in her shell) and we kept her for a few hours before releasing her. This child loves animals. Hopefully I've done most of the planning and preparing and tomorrow can be spent just focusing on Clara and enjoying our last pure fun day with her for awhile.