My Maggiebaby was born with an extra thumb. Christian told me, after he had been to see our newly born babies and as I was being stitched up post-delivery, that our girl had a tiny extra digit. I thought he was kidding, but he told me that he "was strictly instructed not to make any jokes at this point," which was good advice.
It was never a big deal to us, this extra thumb -- we claimed our right as new parents to call our daughter perfect regardless, and meant that description with all our hearts. Since then I've smiled to myself whenever I hear soon-to-be mothers and fathers wish for ten fingers and ten toes. Um, how about eleven fingers?
Christian and I put off having this little thumb dealt with. At first, perhaps, because she was such a tiny baby and we couldn't bear the thought of her going through surgery. After that point I blame exhaustion, and the fact that it was such a nothing issue for us. We made a few "what has three thumbs?" jokes, and planned to show what would be embarrassing pictures to her future boyfriends, but otherwise almost never thought of it. Eventually, though, we made an appointment to see a pediatric orthopedist, and then scheduled surgery to have that eleventh finger removed.
It was at this point I began to worry. My Maggiebaby under general anesthesia? My Maggiebaby not allowed to eat anything after midnight? I prayed to allay my fears, and did my best to have faith.
The night before her surgery, we kept Maggie up extra late in the hope that she would sleep longer. In the early morning I listened closely for her sleepy voice, and ran in to give her a pacifier every time she stirred. At 8:00, however, she was definitely awake, and we still had an hour before we even needed to leave for the hospital. When she realized I wasn't going to feed her, I found it necessary to employ techniques I had learned from mothers with colicky babies, and we vacuumed the living room for 45 minutes. She did a good job in her car seat, and waited patiently while I checked us in and gave out our insurance information. At 10:30 they took us back to the waiting area where I changed her into the smallest hospital gown ever made. I prepared myself to keep her happy for another hour and a half until she was scheduled to go back for surgery.
My Maggiebaby, who before yesterday I might have described as "a little fussy at times," has proved herself to be a champion among babies. The sweetest, the best-natured, the absolutely most patient baby. Maggie was not taken into surgery at 12:15. Maggie was taken into surgery at 3:00. Our doctor was delayed by an operation that took much longer than expected. And my darling girl, my adorable firstborn child, who usually waits no more than five hours between feedings, was miraculously content with her pacifier while we waited. She dozed for long periods of time on her pathetically small gurney, occasionally waking and wanting to be held, or to watch TV.
At one point, when my patience was wearing thin and she let out a weak little cry, I began sobbing to a sympathetic nurse about how she hadn't eaten for fifteen hours, and should we just give up and go home already? I'm not ashamed to admit, I think my baby is a better person than I am. She is amazing to me.
The surgery, once begun, only lasted 15 minutes. She didn't even need an IV, and thank goodness -- I've had enough of baby IVs. I was told it was a simple procedure that went well. She has one stitch, which is dissolvable and should fall out on its own. The bandage on her hand, the doctor told me, could be taken off at home if we felt it was too tight. We could give her baby Tylenol if we thought she was in pain.
When I was allowed to go back to Recovery, she was in the arms of a comfortingly mothering nurse, sucking down her second bottle of Pedialyte. When I held her, she let me know just what she thought of the events of the day. All of the frustration and rage she had been holding back were now vented on me. She yelled until she suddenly fell asleep on my shoulder. I quietly packed us up, and as we were driving off the hospital campus, I cried again and said prayers of gratitude that the whole ordeal was over.
Maggie is doing well. She's been a little more sleepy than usual, I think is the biggest difference. Her hand seems a little sensitive when we pull it through the sleeves of her clothing, but she doesn't mind gnawing on the bandage when the urge to suck her thumb strikes. And now, ten fingers and ten toes -- that's what's important, right guys?