- Family and Parenting
Counting the Days Until Surgery
The Birth Defect
Warning: topic may have sensitive issues or topic in it in regards to a birth defect and the surgery that accompanies it. The birth defect is called "Hypospadias" and I felt the need to share my story as "TMI" as it may seem because someone else might be helped by this.
My baby was born on September 11, 2012. After giving birth to him, they shuffled him off to the little isolette to examine him. My husband stood over him, listening intently to what the pediatrician was telling him during the exam. I thought he was perfect, and he was even when the moment came where my husband told me everything the pediatrician told him. Our baby had a touch of palsy on one side of his face, a bruise from hitting my tailbone on the way out, he had a cleft uvula, and then they said he had hypospadias and would need surgery. Don't Google this, the images will haunt you. I cringed Googling it, but I needed to research this.
My first visit to my son's pediatric urologist, the man who will be doing the surgery, I felt uncomfortable. The 30 minute visit would be solely about my son's "boy parts" and it made me a bit uncomfortable. I was more uncomfortable when he informed me if we chose not to do the surgery, our son would be infertile or be in pain during intercourse. My baby was 2 months old, I wasn't ready to hear about him having intercourse anymore than I would be ready to discuss the topic with my 10-year-old. Other problems he would have include self-esteem issues from "looking different" or because he would need to sit down to urinate. There was no question that we were going to do the surgery because I felt it was the best thing to do. There's no reason not to do it. Now let's talk about the condition and the surgery.
Hypospadias is a condition where urethra essentially opens in the wrong spot. Instead of the tip where it normally would be, it ends up anywhere from the underside to the perineum. In some cases, this can also be associated with something called a "chordee" which gives the entire area a curved look. Hypospadias occurs in approximately 1 out of 300 male live births. The surgery for this repair usually takes place as early as 9 months until 3 years, though doctors seems to agree that the repair should be done sooner than later. My son is on a testosterone cream to give the surgeons a more sizable canvas to work on, if you will. There are added benefits, as this cream increases blood flow to the area and can help speed up the recovery time. Thankfully, it's an outpatient procedure and I can take him to recover at his home. Also, recovery time is only a week with only about 5% chance there will be a need for additional surgeries in his case. (He has a first degree hypospadias.)
The recovery won't be a pleasant one. My son's pediatric urologist assures me that most babies are fine after only a few days, but to expect that there's a chance it will be a rough week for all of us. He'll have to wear 2 diapers: one in his normal size with a hole cut in it for the catheter he'll have in place, while the other will be one size bigger so the catheter can be separated to prevent infections. It will be a tough process, but it definitely could be worse. And I have a fantastic partner by my side.
Hopefully one surgery will do it, and we can be done with it. Some problems that can occur are that there could be a leak along the stitches or that the newly formed hole won't grow properly. When he hits adolescence, he'll have to revisit this pediatric urologist to make sure everything is working properly. The numbers lead me to believe that this birth defect is as common as birth defects can be. I hope by sharing this information, that I maybe helped another parent with this issue. He will also have to have a yearly check up to make sure everything is growing as it should, as one problem that can occur after the surgery is that the hole does not grow as it should requiring another surgery to remedy that.
The Emotion and Regret
I thought I heard them them wrong. My baby doesn't need surgery, he can't. He's a baby. As far as surgery goes, this one is fairly routine with few complications, but that doesn't comfort anyone, does it? No one wants to see their baby go into the hospital, being wheeled off into the OR attached to machines and tubes. No one wants to hear their perfect angel was anything but perfect.
I did everything right. I ate the "good" foods. I exercised, I gave up soda and ate as much fruit and veggies that I could. What happened? I sat for the first few days wondering what I could have done differently to make him not need surgery. Maybe I did something wrong to cause this? All those irrational thoughts took over my mind. I'm not sure if it was just the exhaustion speaking or if I actually wondered that.
When things go wrong with our children, we feel responsible. We want to protect them, but sometimes things just happen. My child might have physical imperfections, but he's mine and he's absolutely perfect. We love our children, like we love our partners, for their imperfections as well as their perfections. And the best thing I can do is be strong and face this because no matter how many surgeries he might need, he's my little angel.
It isn't our fault. We didn't wish for this. Any time something like this happens to a family, it can break them. We were lucky; this condition is very treatable and not life threatening. There are families that aren't so lucky. We all have to convince ourselves that, no matter what, it wasn't our fault. Gene pools are a tricky matter, and just like in poker, sometimes you just draw a crappy card and have to deal with that.