8am came and went, it was gone 10am when the phone call came to say that the team were ready for her in theatre. A porter came with a trolley, we put the monitors and oxygen cylinder on to it and Andy carried Emma to the lift, and through the maze of corridors. We went through the double doors into the theatre area, to be greeted by the consultant anaesthetist, all gowned up and smiling, Emma grinned back at him. He showed us into a very small ante-room which was full of people. I recognised Mr P. He apologised for keeping us waiting, but there had been a lot to discuss. They asked if Andy or I would like to hold Emma whilst she went to sleep. I asked to, and was sat in a chair. I can't remember if she was put under by gas or through the cannula in her hand, I think it was the cannula. She didn't get upset, I remember a young nurse distracting her with a doll, and then she was gone. I was asked to lay her down on the trolley which had a sheet rolled up into a tube, this was placed under the back of her neck. We were told to kiss her, and then the ward nurse took us back to Emma's empty bedspace. Then the tears started to flow, for the first time since we had left home. It was totally involuntary. The nurse had tissues. By the time we had got to the ward I had stopped. There was no need for any of those Moms & dads to see me like that.
We were told the operation would take an hour and a half. We were given a beeper by the ward sister and told to go and get a coffee, or pop to the shops. I laughed. This was not a time to go shopping! We had been given a parents room, on the same floor as the ward. We hadn't used it, but we decided to go and get a drink and a sandwich and go to that room. We did what was to become an operation-day-tradition. We bought a handful of those dreadful celebrity magazines. This is the only time we have ever bought them. They were/are so ridiculous we did actually laugh. Looking out of the window I could see the children in the ward on the floor below, children with cystic fibrosis, receiving their physio. The time dragged. After 2hours we went back to the ward and asked for news. No news was good we were told. We were told the same thing after three hours. When we went back after four hours and the nurse seemed surprised that we were still waiting. She suggested going for a tour of intensive care, so we wouldn't be so overwhelmed when we saw Emma. She phoned the unit, and took us straight down.
We got buzzed through two sets of double doors, cleaning our hands in between. It was a huge room, whispers, humming of electricity, beeping of monitors. We followed a nurse around a right-hand corner, she was saying something about this would be like the bed bay that Emma would be in. The bay had curtains drawn between the bed next to it, but not where we were standing. The bed was surrounded by Drs and nurses, including the consultant anaesthetist. In the middle of the bed was Emma, naked but for a nappy. The nurse who was with us froze for just a short while, taking in what we were seeing and then whisked us away. Emma's face and chest was covered in an orange paint, there were cannula in both hands, monitors on her feet, an oxygen tube going into her neck. There was blood, what seemed everywhere. She was fitting, her body arching and shaking. Her eyes were wide open, she was terrified, but there was no noise, she wasn't crying. The anaesthetist was saying something about her waking up too quickly, and needing to put her back under, quickly.
The nurse apologised, and ushered us into the visitors room on the one side of the first double doors. She asked us to stay there, and she would go and find out what was going on. Within a few minutes the anaesthetist came in with the nurse. He explained that Mr P would be down in a while to explain more, but that the operation had been far more complex than originally thought, that was why it had taken longer than originally thought. Emma was stable now, she had woken up too quickly, and he had sedated her again, and it would be a few hours before she came to. He asked if we were ready to see her. We said yes please. Andy held my hand as we walked in. A short German nurse introduced herself as M, she was Emma's nurse for the rest of the day. She explained what meds the cannula were delivering by pumps, and what the monitors were measuring. Emma had been quickly cleaned up, but there was still blood and orange streaks. She was very pale and when I touched her hands she was cold, but her oxygen levels were good. M found an armchair for me, and sat me by Emma's head. Andy pulled up a chair, and held my hand. It was hard to take it in. Emma's breathing made a strange noise, and M explained that she needed suctioning. I nodded. I had no idea what that meant. My turned on a switch on the wall, took the oxygen off Emma and put a plastic tube into Emma's neck in a quick movement, and removed it. The strange noise stopped.
After a while, I have no idea how long it was. M said that Emma would be getting hungry. Did I think I would be able to express some milk for her? It would have to be sterilised, and fed through the nasal gastric tube she had had fitted, but it was something I could do for her. M got me some bottles, she took 2 polaroid photos of Emma for me and I walked back upto the ward. Andy stayed with Emma with instructions to call the ward if there was any change. The nurses on the ward were sweet, and told me not to worry if I couldn't produce any milk, I was under such stress that my milk may dry up. I didn't think this would be a problem. 20 mins later I emerged with two, eight oz bottles full of milk. The nurses laughed. I took the milk back to M who processed it for Emma.
Then a phone call came through to the unit for me. I didn't have a clue who it would be. It was my breastfeeding counsellor, she had found a mother in Yorkshire who had breastfed a baby who had had a trach! Within an hour, another phone call came from another breastfeeding counsellor, she had found a breastfeeding mother in Cornwall of a baby who had had a trach. Andy had called people from home the previous night. So it was possible, Andy & I were so happy. When Emma started to wake up, M went and got my milk, and when Emma started to root, she showed me how to feed Emma through the tube. Mr P flew through the room quickly, he couldn't stop, but he reassured us that the worst was over, and that Emma's airway was secure. When they had operated it was hardly there, it was on the point of collapsing. The hemangiona had displaced her windpipe so much that the trach stoma was way off centre, the usual site for trach stoma, and was almost under her right ear. He would talk to us more on Monday, he told us to try and get some sleep.
Although, she looked so ill, she recognised us and calmed to our voices. I can't remember when Andy went home, M went off shift, and the night nurse came on. The lights were dimmed, and the room became even quieter. Emma wanted a cuddle, the Drs had said to leave her on the bed and not to feed her until the morning. The nurse was the mother of an 8mth old little boy, I don't know how much that swayed her,but in the small hours of the morning she agreed to put a pillow on my lap and let me hold Emma. Instantly Emma started to root, the nurse smiled and nodded, and I fed her. Emma took a full-tummy feed and then it looked like she passed out! She had more colour, and looked more relaxed, and the nurse was able to turn the oxygen down. I knew in intensive care the nurses did not leave the end of the bed without getting another nurse to stand in their place. So when she suggested I get a few hours sleep I felt Emma was in good hands, I had the beeper too. I slept for 4 delicious hours and was back by her bed at 6am. Emma was still asleep!