The Aftermath

December 18, 2015

I woke up cloudy and in a haze after having my gall bladder removed. Without my glasses I couldn’t see anything and I was in so much pain. My stomach hurt and I was so nauseous. I was scared because I didn’t know if I would start to feel better quickly or not. All I could choke out was the word nauseous over and over again. Thankfully the anesthesiologist quickly came and upped my pain medication and anti-nausea medicine.

Surgery PIc

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Physically, I was feeling better. But all I could think about was my son. Because before he was 31 days old, we consented three times for a surgeon to cut him open and save his life. Is this was he felt? Was he scared and in pain? Was he looking for me, and not able to find me? Did he know what was going on? And why?

Tears were streaming down my face and I asked my nurse if she thought little babies felt like this coming out of surgery. My throat still hurt from the tube they had just pulled out so my voice was scratchy and it took all I could to choke it out. She took my hand and asked why I wanted to know. As best I could I explained that my baby had three surgeries before he died and all I could think about was him. She started crying and said she didn’t think so, that she thought they gave the babies more medication than adults.

Still, my mind could not shake the feeling that this is what he felt. I was starting to wake up more and the beeping started registering in my ears. There were monitors all around me and I asked her to make them stop. I told her they just brought back the NICU more and more. I couldn’t stop crying now. She promised me she’d get me out of recovery as soon as she could. A few minutes later she came and wheeled me into a post-op room. I told her I didn’t understand why I was feeling like I was- that my mind could only focus on my son. She told me it was okay and that a lot of time the anesthesia brings out so many emotions for people.

Another nurse got my husband and they told him I was very upset. Quickly he took my hand and I feel into a deep sleep. Even later when I woke I couldn’t get that question out of my mind: Is that how he felt? Was he as scared as I was? Was I a horrible mother for doing that to him three times?

I never thought he would die. Each time we signed the surgery consent forms I thought it was because we were saving his life. Not prolonging it. Had I known he was going to die we would have done things so much differently. But I never thought it would happen. I always thought we’d bring home both of our twins- not just one.

It’s been a long time since I have questioned those decisions we made over six years ago. Time has been my friend and I have gone through a lot of healing.

Before I became a mother I had gone through a lot of surgeries. For a variety of reasons a lot of my college years seem to have been spent in the operating room. Since then, I’ve been through three c-sections and one D&C. When I found out I needed my gall bladder removed I figure it would be a ‘no big deal’ type of surgery. Physically, it has been.

Mentally it has been a whole different experience. The surgery was the only experience I have had that I have been able to compare to what my son went through. I did not anticipate waking up and feeling the way I did. A quick Google search will bring up dozens hits on being emotional after surgery. Apparently it is quite common.

This has hit me hard. I’m so worried that his whole life, or at least most of life, he was feeling the way that I felt. I am so worried that we put him through too much. I know there is nothing that I can do to change history, but my heart so badly wants to. I don’t know what we would have done had we known he was going to die. I know we never would have put him through all that we did.

We did it all with the hope that he would live. We did it all expecting he would live. But his lungs were too little. His will to live was not able to overcome all that he was dealt. All of our love was not enough to save him.

Death was his story.

And in its aftermath we are left with the pieces to pick up. The questions will forever remain unanswered. My heart will always want to know more. And this ‘little’ surgery is all a piece of grieving for the little boy I didn’t get to keep.

  • Megan Skaggs

    Megan is mother to identical twin boys, Will and MJ, and daughters Maci Jayne and Thea Rose. MJ was born with a severe birth defect called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and passed away in her arms at 35 days old. All four were conceived after battles with infertility, along with a fifth baby who was miscarried after her twins were born. Megan runs a division of Project Sweet Peas called MJ's Memories and also blogs here.

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