My oldest daughter was born with an umbilical hernia. At first, being non-medical parents, we thought she just had a weird outie belly button. But after visiting her doctor, we were told she had a hernia. He said that it would most likely go away on its own and we would continue to monitor it until her fourth birthday. At the age of four, if it was still present, they would surgically fix the hernia. Fast forward a few years and her umbilical hernia was still very present. We scheduled her surgery and met with the surgeon. I am fully aware that this was a very minor and routine procedure, but when it’s your child, it is hard to think of anything as minor.
We scheduled our daughter’s surgery for a Friday, thinking we would have the whole weekend to let her recover. And my husband took the day off, so he could accompany us to the hospital. My in-laws graciously watched our youngest daughter. We got our daughter to the hospital and they explained that she was going to have surgery on her belly button. She has a remarkable memory and remembered going to the hospital when she was younger for pneumonia, which I guess was a good experience, because she was happy to get to go back.
We waited patiently in the waiting room, until they brought us all back to prep for the procedure. After painstakingly reading the materials for the procedure, I had packed toys, books and games, as suggested. However, the staff provided my daughter with an iPad (complete with Daniel Tiger) and she was happy to sit in the hospital bed while they got her ready for surgery. The only toy she used was her stuffed bunny, and it stayed by her side the entire time she was there (even during the surgery). The staff did an excellent job showing her the mask for anesthesia and letting her pick out her cap. And the best part about having bunny along was that the staff put all the medical stuff on the bunny first to show Lilly how it would go on her. While we sat their anxiously, she continued to watch shows on the iPad. We were given the option of going back into surgery with her, but they suggested we wait in the waiting room, because when parents go back they are basically just another patient (which I could understand). After a quick breakfast in the cafeteria, our pager beeped and we met with the surgeon who told us everything went perfectly. They had cautioned us that she may wake up disoriented or crying, but she woke up very slowly with no issues at all. The incision was very small and covered with a bandage. We brought zip up pajamas for her to wear home, so pants wouldn’t be bothering her belly. I thought that she would be tired all day, so I had a stack of movies for her to watch. She watched one and then was ready to play again with her sister.
All in all, the surgery was super uneventful. Of course, my husband and I were a bit anxious, as many parents would be. In the end, the hardest part was following the instructions of keeping her from climbing things for two weeks. But of course that passed quickly and her belly button healed nicely. I’m very thankful to the staff at the Mayo Clinic, as they made the whole process very easy. If you are anticipating your child’s surgery for an umbilical hernia (or anything minor), don’t stress about it. Just follow the doctor’s instructions and chances are you will be more anxious than your child when the day comes!