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Adam & Sonya

Brief Outline: Adam and Sonya’s first baby arrived safely, without complications. But at 3 weeks they noticed a lump in her groin. She had a hernia in her groin that required surgery.
Background: Adam is 34 and a technology manager. Sonya is 31 and a primary school teacher. They are married with one daughter.

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Adam and Sonya’s first baby arrived safely, without any complications. They came home the day she was born, and everything was going well. But when she was three weeks old, Sonya noticed that her daughter had a small lump in her groin. She went to see the GP who sent her straight to the local hospital (a large teaching hospital).

They waited in A & E for several hours, being seen by various doctors. Finally, a consultant told them they were being transferred to the children’s surgical ward and that they were booked in for surgery the next day. Doctors had found a hernia in her groin, which they did not think was an emergency, so they were happy to leave it overnight, but it did need surgery.

Sonya spent a worrying night at her daughter’s cot-side, Adam was not allowed to stay overnight. Next morning the anaesthetist visited them, to talk them through the consent forms, and in the early afternoon, their daughter was taken down for her surgery. It was a short operation, just 20 minutes. The surgeon came and told them he had fixed the hernia, and also checked to see if there was another one on the other side. After the surgery, their daughter had to stay in another night and then was allowed home.
 

Sonya felt she was put under a lot of pressure to breastfeed her daughter as soon as she came out of theatre.

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Sonya: And the sister who took me was, I don’t know I can’t think of the words to describe her but she was militant maybe was the right word. Like Livvy had literally just come round and I picked her up and was holding her and she was like ‘Right you need to feed her, you need to try and feed her now,’ ‘Okay.’ ‘Is that normal, is that normal has she normally latched on by now, is she latched on right?’ And it was just like really in my face, quite aggressive, really over the top and the anaesthetist was going ‘Just, just give her a minute she’s literally just come round, just give her a minute.’ And I’m thinking oh my God is there something wrong and she obviously had a check list she needed to get through to see if she was okay after the anaesthetic but it was literally within like a minute of me seeing her.

Adam: And it was putting the pressure on you to diagnose in a way.

Sonya: Yes.

Adam: Like is this normal does she appear normal when you only know what’s normal when the baby’s a three week old baby’s just come out of a general anaesthetic like how are you supposed to know what.

Sonya: And I - you know she is still sleepy so, and the anaesthetist is saying if she’s not feeding in ten minutes then we’ll worry now it’s fine because she’s still, I mean look at her she, I mean she was still like she’d just come round from a ten hour sleep, so I didn’t enjoy that bit it was that kind of initial rush of great relief and wow she’s fine to oh is she fine I’m having all these questions shoved at me with a, a clipboard [laughs]. 

You don’t normally have someone with a clipboard over you while you’re trying to feed your baby either do you so kind of yeah.

Adam: And ten people in the room and whatever and all that business as well so. 

Sonya: And also she didn’t know, I mean obviously I was only three weeks into breastfeeding could have still been really difficult – she hadn’t asked before, all this you know, if things were going well or whatever, so wasn’t great but it turned out she was fine and within a couple of minutes she had latched on and was feeding away.

Adam: Feeding like crazy. 
 

Sonya and Adam felt they had been set their first test as parents and passed.

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Sonya: We said afterwards we felt like we’d kind of passed our first test, first time parent that was kind of when it felt real. Because it was up to then bumbling along changing nappies feeding and it seemed quite easy and all of a sudden there’s something huge and we coped.

Adam: Yeah.

Sonya: I think we passed.

Adam: Yeah I think it was really strange for me because I’d just gone back to work and I was in a meeting when Sonya called and I thought this was a bit unusual so I went out and I just literally I said, ‘I’ve gotta go’ and just left the building, so it was within sort of for me I was snapped, I was in work mode and an hour later I was in the emergency ward so it was even, it was even odder. 

Sonya: It was terrifying.
 

Sonya and Adam described their intense experience in hospital with their daughter when she had a groin hernia operation. It was only three days so they didn’t get time to get into a routine.

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Sonya: Yeah, I mean the lady next to us she had a toddler and they lived about 50 minutes away and so she wasn’t there the whole time she had to go and, so she would come and go. Nobody else was there the whole time as they were kind of longer term.

Adam: That’s what I was gonna say I think it’s different, ours felt sort of quite short and intense and obviously not obviously their condition was much more, their children.

Sonya: More serious.

Adam: Yeah a more serious condition and so I don’t mean to belittle that but they, they were in there for such a long time I think it had become a daily routine to them so they were going for lunch and then coming back and they were going to sleep for seven or eight hours upstairs and things like that. And it was very different for us cos we were there for three days we just stood by a cot for three days and stared at her [laughs]. So I think you can’t really compare what they were doing to what we were doing and the woman next to us had been in there three weeks already I think hadn’t she.

Sonya: Yeah in the end.

Adam: So

Did you chat much to them or, or was everybody sort of very much in their own private space?

Sonya: A little bit not hugely. I mean she was very nice when we first arrived and when you left and I just sat holding Livvy with just tears running down my face she was very nice and chatted and asked and we obviously we talked about her daughter and what was going on. But then it was quite, I don’t know quite separate and.

Adam: I have to say you actually got a decent amount of privacy in that respect although it was quite sparse there was a lot of room between us you could draw the curtain and it felt like you were in a quite separate space which again if people are there a long term is a good thing cos it didn’t feel like we were on top of each other at all did it. And I think they spoke more between the people that had been there longer which again you’d expect because they’d been talking to each other for three weeks so we were in and out a lot quicker so. Yeah so we did speak but not really to any great length.
 

Although their daughter only needed a simple procedure to correct her hernia, Adam and Sonya were worried about her having a general anaesthetic. The meeting with the anaesthetist reassured them.

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Adam: I think we saw the surgeon in the morning of the operation that came round.

Sonya: I don’t think we saw him at all I think we saw, you saw him afterwards.

Adam: Yeah I definitely saw him afterwards but...

Sonya: The anaesthetist, the word I can’t say, came to see us before.

Adam: Oh that’s what I’m thinking of yeah, actually yeah so we didn’t see, yeah you’re right.

Sonya: We didn’t, I didn’t see the surgeon at all you saw the surgeon, the surgeon came and spoke to you while I was going to get her from recovery.

Adam: So yeah the, I mean they explained the surgery to us and what would happen and it was obviously it was a very simple procedure from their point of view and it is simple and easy. And I don’t think we were overly concerned about the surgery aspect it was much more the general anaesthetic at three weeks and.

Sonya: And actually that’s what they were most worried about.

Adam: Yeah it was and they talked, which is why I think probably why the anaesthetist came to see us instead of the surgeon. And I think in particular as first time parents she seemed tiny and frail and sort of very small to send her off for a general anaesthetic, it felt a big deal wasn’t it.

Sonya: It was yeah. And that’s why we then had to stay in overnight, cos they- 

Adam: Yeah.

Sonya: Monitored for apnea.

Adam: That’s afterward

Sonya: And all the concerns were yeah all the concerns were about the effects of the anaesthetic not the surgery.

Adam: But another thing they asked us to consider was well I think they did it in a really good way and in a way I was happy with that the overall I don’t know what her title is but the sort of head paediatrician of the unit, off the entire unit her policy is that if you have a hernia on one side is to open up the other side as well under general anaesthetic to check whether there’s one that side cos the likelihood once you’ve got one one side goes up to the a level that is not insignificant or that you’ve got one, either got one or you could get one.

Sonya: Or the start of one.

Adam: And she said that’s her policy and it was a sort of opt out which we’re much more in favour of that kind of approach to things because we consider they know best so we were happy for her to do that and also we, the thought of her not doing it and then maybe in three months having to go back under general anaesthetic let’s just make sure it was all done in one.

Sonya: Luckily we did.

Adam: Yeah as she had another one on the other side.

Sonya: And they repaired both sides.
 

Adam and Sonya felt that it was a shame that only one of them was allowed to go in there with daughter as she went through for the anaesthetic.

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Adam: This is really my only complaint about the whole, not just this sort of - I don’t blame the staff because they were all excellent but the way everything worked was that only one of us could go in with her.

Sonya: Yeah.

Adam: Which I can understand it overnight to an extent although it was a bit annoying but it seemed crazy to me that only one of us was allowed.

Sonya: Yeah so I went with her and went into I don’t know what, like the rooms called not, obviously not the theatre but.

Adam: It’s also I think they called it the recovery room because it’s where she goes afterwards as well.

Sonya: No it was a different room.

Adam: Oh was it?

Sonya: Where she went afterwards from where I picked her up from.

Adam: I walked to the door anyway and said goodbye.

Sonya: When I went in and I although I basically just had to hand her over I didn’t stay until she was asleep.

Okay.

Sonya: So I just gave her a kiss and handed her over. And the anesthetist then was very nice as well and he said oh, I can’t remember his exact words but basically put his hand on my arm and said, ‘You know we’ll look after her,’ which was lovely, made me cry again [laughs]. And then we left and we had they said it would be about half an hour, the surgery was 20 minutes tops but by the time they got her to sleep and gave her a bit of coming round time it would be about half an hour which was probably the longest half an hour ever.

Adam: Yeah but it’s also the different experience because you went into that room and although you didn’t stay for the whole point in you handing her over there are a lot of people in that room, there was a lot of medical equipment it suddenly, I think for you it was quite intimidating for somebody like, actually this is a big deal, you know, she’s actually having surgery here. All these people checking her vital signs and things like that and it seems like a big emergency procedure which I think is hard, it was hard for you. Yes at the same time I didn’t have that, she disappeared through a door and then I think - I don’t know which was better or worse in the end but I think both would have been better if we could have been together I think that’s the difference say it, yeah.
 

Adam was reassured to see the surgeon who told him their daughter’s hernia operation had gone well.

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Adam: And so I had 15 minutes of worry then I saw the surgeon and he was great and he just told me that it had all gone well and he talked through the operation and things and he said that they found the hernia on the other side but nothing had come through on that one but they’d sown that one up as well. And so it was all good and then I was waiting but I was much more relaxed now thinking oh they’re okay and it was like a huge it was like a coronation procession that came round on the bed and 20 people round her it could have been dramatic music and it would have been amazing.

Sonia: They wheeled me back feeding her like on this bed.

Adam: Through the whole hospital.

Sonia: And then the whole ward.

Adam: And then in the ward yeah. So she came round and I mean I was trying to look at Livvy and she had no interest in me. She fed for ages didn’t she.

Sonia: Well she’d gone like four hours hadn’t she so it was the longest she’d ever- at that age.

Adam: So I didn’t really get a look at her for another hour after that yeah it was- .

Sonia: Oh that was quite funny.

Adam: And you had a massive grin and you were crying coming round the corner.
 

Adam and Sonya’s daughter had a hernia operation. Feeding her was the main focus as soon as she came out of surgery.

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Sonya: And the sister who took me was, I don’t know I can’t think of the words to describe her but she was militant maybe was the right word. Like Livvy had literally just come round and I picked her up and was holding her and she was like ‘Right you need to feed her, you need to try and feed her now,’ ‘Okay.’ ‘Is that normal, is that normal has she normally latched on by now, is she latched on right?’ And it was just like really in my face quite aggressive really over the top and the anaesthetist was going, ‘Just, just give her a minute she’s literally just come round, just give her a minute.’ And I’m thinking oh my God is there something wrong and she obviously had a check list she needed to get through to see if she was okay after the anaesthetic but it was literally within like a minute of me seeing her.

Adam: And it was putting the pressure on you to diagnose in a way.

Sonya: Yes.

Sonya: Like is this normal does she appear normal when you only know what’s normal when the baby’s a three week old baby’s just come out of a general anaesthetic like how are you supposed to know what.

Sonya: And I - you know she is still sleepy so, and the anaesthetist is saying if she’s not feeding in ten minutes then we’ll worry now it’s fine because she’s still, I mean look at her she, I mean she was still like she’d just come round from a ten hour sleep, so I didn’t enjoy that bit it was that kind of initial rush of great relief and wow she’s fine to oh is she fine I’m having all these questions shouted at me with a clipboard [laughs]. 
 

Adam and Sonya were shattered when they bought their daughter home from her surgery, but it felt they had passed a test as first time parents.

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Sonya: Yeah that Saturday afternoon and Sunday we didn’t do anything did we, just zonked on the sofa.

Adam: Yeah and then I had to go back to work which.

Sonya: You didn’t go back on the Monday, did you go back on the Tuesday, and I think you might have had Monday off.

Adam: Oh maybe. It was tough because I, obviously I was tired but not anywhere near as tired as Sonya was because I had been coming home again sort of at least a few hours whereas you’d just been up straight hadn’t you so it was tough going back to work I think on you, because you were then with her and she was still, you know, very young and demanding and things. But that, it helps that she was sleeping well so.

Sonya: Yeah we’d been quite used to not a lot of sleep anyway.

Adam: Yeah.

Sonya: So and then it just, I dunno.

Adam: In terms of how I guess emotionally how we felt about it I don’t know how you felt but in some ways I did see it as that we’d passed the test.

Sonya: I felt that we could cope with anything now.

Adam: Yeah and I think it alleviated lots of fears in a strange way about being a first time parent because you always, yeah you’re always worrying that are you doing the right things you know can you do this, it’s all, looking after another life and it’s quite sort of an intense time anyway. But when that happened afterwards suddenly it all seemed quite easy cos, cos it was easy compared to the three days of her going through that.
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