Start at the beginning.
Ryder got sick.
Not a little sick, but significantly so. High fever, double ear infection, unable to breathe through anything but his mouth. He was sad and miserable, but more importantly he was too sick to undergo general anesthesia. I was devastated when I called to reschedule his surgery date. He had to wait ANOTHER whole month.
Another month went by in short order, and all of his pre-op requirements had to be met again. AGAIN, we trudged around to all of the clinics, offices and hospital departments. Again, we arrived at the day before his scheduled surgery, and AGAIN Ryder fell sick. It felt absolutely ridiculous. He was well and normal and healthy for weeks, and then his surgery date approached and he would become intensely ill. I couldn’t help but feel like all of the pre-op appointments were exposing him to germs were were otherwise avoiding. AGAIN, we had to postpone his surgery, and I definitely felt like the dentist office was unhappy with me. I didn’t care. I was already ultra-sensitive to the idea that this surgery was going to take my Ryder from me… I wasn’t about to send him in sick.
In the interim weeks between the rescheduled surgeries, I had my 23andMe genetic profile done, and found myself to carry a double mutation of the MTHFR genes, which state that I don’t process B-vitamins adequately, which also means that my chemical detox pathways are compromised. Because I carry a double mutation, my children all carry at least one mutated copy of the gene. I started doing intense research into MTHFR mutations and nitrous gas, and found that it can catastrophically and possibly fatally lower B12 levels. Maybe it was all coincidence, but on our third go round, Ryder was well, and we requested that the anesthesiologist not use ANY nitrous gas during his surgery.
Days and nights all blurred together, and again it was the night before Ryder’s surgery. He was healthy, and I was terrified. I spent the evening with him – cuddling, nursing and watching him giggle. Intensely drinking in his essence. Asking, begging, praying the universe to keep him with me. I was not ready to let him go. I fell asleep restlessly, imagining scenarios of me running away with him and never letting him make it to the hospital.
Surgery tomorrow. Everything confirmed. Our call time is 6:15am. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight. I am spending as much time as possible with him today. Every moment is clear as crystal. He is so vibrant. My breath is stuck in my chest where my heart beats too loudly. All will be well. All will be well. All will be well.
That night, I dreamed intensely. The most vivid, realistic dream I could recall. I dreamed that I awoke the following morning with Ryder curled up beside me, and his body was cold. I dreamed that I shook him, hard, and started screaming for Brock. I dreamed that my body erupted with sobs and moans of intense grief, as Ryder had simply and quietly passed away in his sleep. I dreamed of the deep, deep ache, the pain in my chest and pit of my stomach, the most awful reality that I could imagine. I woke startled and sobbing. I pulled Ryder’s warm body into my own and breathed him in, my tears dripped into his sweet hair, my lips murmured his name over and over. The gratitude and relief I felt was otherwordly. My baby was not gone, he was here with me. He was okay.
However, the lesson was not lost on me. I immediately realized that I was meant to see how foolish it was to believe that I was keeping Ryder alive by not letting him have surgery; how out of control I was in the entire reality of my life; how it wasn’t my choice to keep my boy or see him go. Ryder could die in the surgery, but he could also die in a car wreck on the way home from the surgery, or he could fall wrong on his way to the car, or he could die IN HIS SLEEP the night before. You are not in control. You are not in control. You are not in control. I heard it over and over, running through my head as we prepared for the day.
We brought our whole family to the hospital with tablets and snacks. Ryder was delightful and beautiful as we got ready to send him back. He charmed the nurses and waved to the doctors and everyone fell in love with him. When it was time, Ryder was given a dose of ‘versed’, which allowed him to relax… reeeeaaaaallllyyy relax. He became so loose and goofy he couldn’t sit up. He couldn’t stop giggling. It was sweet, but it was also really hard to see. Brock and I both cried as our littlest love rolled around on the bed, CLEARLY out of his normal mind, until the nurse came to take him away. You are not in control. You are not in control. You are not in control.
Watching that woman walk away with my boy was the hardest thing I had ever done. The surgery took 3 hours to complete. In the end, Ryder lost 6 of his teeth (two molars were too far gone to crown) and had 8 baby root-canals and stainless steel crowns placed. The same nurse that took him away came back to get me and walk me to where he was. I followed her through the labrenthyene back hallways of the hospital, and suddenly realized the sound I was hearing was my boy, my Ryder, screaming for me. My heartbeat quickened, every sense heightened, and suddenly that woman WAS JUST NOT WALKING FAST ENOUGH. I lengthened my stride and quickened my step, but I didn’t know where I was going. I needed her to guide me. Finally, FINALLY, we walked through the door that had my sweet son on the other side. I rushed over to him and was SHOCKED by his appearance. I burst into tears of anger and sadness for him. I wanted to burn the hospital down. Why couldn’t they let me have been here as he woke up? Why couldn’t I have been next to him as the pulled out the tube? Why did he have to scream for me?
His little face was so swollen and covered in blood. He was hysterical – far beyond what I could calm by assuring him I was there. I held him, and asked for a wash cloth so I could clean away the blood. I squeezed him into me and cried with him until he was calm enough to travel back where we started. I’m so sorry, Ryder. I’m so sorry, sweet boy.
We went back to the pre-surgery suite to sit and wait for the all-clear to go home. I had been warned that Ryder wouldn’t be able to nurse after having teeth pulled, but I had also spoken with many mamas whose littles had needed that comfort after dental surgery, and was confident that the mechanics of breastfeeding were different enough from the mechanics of drinking through a straw to not cause problems. Ryder asked to nurse, and I allowed him and suddenly everything was right in his world. He breathed a deep sigh of relief and finally, truly calmed down. He was okay, and I was okay and everything was okay. All was well.
We travelled home shortly after, counseled that Ryder would likely need pain medicine for the next handful of days and that he would sleep a lot. When we arrived home, Ryder slept for several hours and, upon waking, demanded food. I offered him broth, but he demanded chili. I warmed him up a large bowl, and was incredibly surprised to see him scarf the whole thing down in short order, denying any pain or discomfort whatsoever. I kept asking him if he was okay, if his mouth hurt, and he would reply, “No hurt, mama. Booboo teeth all gone.” It was at that point that I realized amount of pain Ryder was living with, just at a base level, every single moment of every single day. Pain was his normal. His normal was so painful that 6 teeth pulled and 8 crowned hurt LESS than what he had been living with for the last several months of his life.
It felt so incredibly amazing to see him out of pain.
With Ryder’s surgery behind us, I was able to focus on being pregnant, and bringing another life into the world. I was 31 weeks pregnant when the universe threw us another curveball. Brock and I could not come to resolution about where to live, and so it was decided for us: our tenants situation had changed and they were moving. They put in their 30 days notice, and we had 30 days to pack, clean, move in, get settled, and get ready to have another baby.
To be continued…