On June 27th Elisabeth and I traveled to Spokane to have her spine fused at
Shriner's Hospital for Children. We spent the day in appointments, meeting with all the people who would be assisting in the days and weeks ahead.
That night in the hotel I remember feeling a bit of guilt as I watched her play innocently in the bed. She had no idea that her world was about to change; that although for the greater good, she was about to go through something very painful and difficult.
One thing I felt from the start:
The hardest part will be that she won't understand what is happening or why.
Finally the big day arrived. We woke early and I thoughtfully picked out a yellow ribbon to tie in Elisabeth's hair. Yellow is happy, yellow is optimistic - it seemed like the perfect choice.
Then we were off...
[En route to the hospital!]
Once we checked in, I changed Elisabeth into her hospital gown and snapped a few pictures of us together. I tried to soak up how she felt in my arms. I knew she would be a lot taller and stiff as a board afterwards. No more curling up into a tight ball. It was a little sad to me...but also exciting. It is strange how life can be opposite things at the same time.
One final before shot:
Then off to surgery she went.
While she was away I prepared her room.
I brought a few things from home including a colorful quilt.
(We don't do drab.)
After that, there was nothing to do but wait. And think.
I wore a little pacifier charm on my necklace that day in honor of Elisabeth. I held it in my hands and thought about the unique parenting experience I was having. You see, typically the goal is to teach children independence, to discover their passions, and to develop their talents. That's not the case with Elisabeth. Elisabeth is a forever-baby. The goal is simply to protect her, nurture her, and fill her world with joy and love.
Which brought us to that waiting room. I knew that she needed this surgery not only to improve her quality of life, but to preserve her life.
[Moments after they brought her to her room.
My first thought was 'how is she so beautiful after going through such major surgery?']
Up next: Part 3, The New Spine.