I recently had to have surgery for endometriosis and ovarian cysts. I wasn’t worried about the actual procedure, but almost went into panic mode with everything that needed to happen while I was recovering. Lucky for you dear reader I took notes in my various Vicodin induced state to share with you my 10 Tips for Surviving Surgery When You’re a Mom of Littles:
1. Have a game plan. I had a few weeks heads-up that my surgery would happen (which is not a luxury everyone has!). I stocked up on food my kids would eat so there wouldn’t be meal time battles, had daily suggestions of activities for babysitters/friends/family, made sure all the laundry was clean, and talked through back up plans with my husband in case the surgery had any surprises. We knew there was a small possibility that I would need to stay in the hospital a few nights afterwards, so I made sure to have lists of MDO programs in the area that were running week long camps with openings still left in them. If my surgery went poorly and we knew I would be in the hospital for a few days, my husband knew exactly who to call to get our kids in a fun camp for the week.
2. Hire help. We are pretty lucky and have both sets of parents in the DFW metroplex, but I know this isn’t a luxury for everyone. While our families did go into overdrive and help in more ways than we can count, we also had some babysitters lined up to be “Mommy’s Helpers” in the weeks after my surgery. Just having another set of helping hands around the house was huge for when I couldn’t pick up a 32 pound one year old or bend over to play with my 3 year old. Additionally, I found out about a really cool organization called Mommies in Need, who, “provide in-home childcare to stay at home parents going through a health crisis. We not only fund nannies for sick moms, but also provide them with someone who is vetted, background checked, CPR certified, and experienced in dealing with situations when a parent is suddenly ill. All completely free of charge to the families.” Um, that is an amazing service to offer moms!! While we didn’t need their services, I know there are so many moms in the Dallas area who could benefit from their services. Check them out!
3. Be honest in how people can help. I did not shy away in asking for help. I know most people are just being polite when they say they’d love to help, but I had a list of very specific needs that we had during my recovery. I was also very up front with the fact that meals would be a huge help while I was recovering. My husband is amazing at many things, but he is a terrible cook. We had meals provided to us by friends every night for a week straight and it was such a relief to not even think about food.
4. Take your pain pills. I’m not good at this. I like to tough out pain and get better faster. News flash: that doesn’t work with surgery. When I called my doctor the next day begging for suggestions on how to feel better she was very up front: double your pain meds and don’t miss a dose. Once I did that for 72 hours, my body finally had time to heal and I started to feel much better.
5. Talk to your kids. My 3 year old is very perceptive, very sensitive and very active. I knew he would know something was up when he came back from his grandparents house. So right before I dropped him off, I gave him a very surface level idea of what the doctor was doing. He asked some questions, looked concerned and then changed the subject. When he came home two days later, he asked to see my stitches and hasn’t asked me about it again!
6. Let things slide. I’m a type A person with a schedule and list of things to do for every day of the week. But guess what, after surgery that just doesn’t happen. There were many lazy days spent sitting around the house, watching TV (gasp!) and throwing toys at my kids to keep them entertained.
7. Binge watch TV. The first 72 hours after my surgery I could barely carry on a conversation, much less read a book. A friend had just recommended The West Wing to me and I may have watched two seasons in 72 hours. At first I felt bad for the amount of TV I watched and pulled out books and easy projects on my list, but then I remembered that I’d just had major surgery and needed to rest. So back to the TV.
8. Remember to talk to your husband. At the end of each day, I was ready to collapse. Trying to interact with my kids from my bed, making sure people still got places at the right time and taking my pain pills every four hours meant the last thing I wanted to do was actually talk to my husband once the kids went down. But then I remembered that he had gotten the kids out of bed, fed them, dressed them, handed them off to the babysitter or family member, gone to work for 8 hours, come home for dinner, played with the kids, changed them and put them to bed. He was craving just a few minutes of conversation with me at the end of a long day.
9. Ask for help. A week after my surgery I was sure I was fine and ready to go. Then a friend saw my wince while taking my kids out of their car seats and jumped to help. Another friend saw me struggling to stand up at the library and chased my kids so I could sit a few minutes longer. Reminding myself that it was still okay to ask for help a week later was huge for me.
10. Have a maid clean your house the day of your surgery. This might seem silly, but we had a neighbor let our maid in after we left for surgery and then locked up when she left. Coming home to a clean house was a huge blessing to my type A personality!