Valerie’s Surgery

My brave toddler went for surgery to remove an abscess from her left forearm just 11 days before her second birthday. Such a brave warrior!

The timeline went like this:

10 March: She gets bitten by a mosquito and starts to scratch the bite. The skin around the bite starts to thin and even bleeds a few times as she’d unconsciously scratch the bite at night.

15 March: We notice that the wound(s) where the bite was started to harden and swell up. Kevin even managed to drain a bit of pus from the area before dropping her off in school that day. When we picked her up, the area had already swelled up considerably – it was hard, red and felt warm to the touch. We rushed her to the GP that night and she was diagnosed with cellulitis and given Augmentin to fight off the bacteria infection.

18 March: The swell only got bigger, and harder. We decided to bring her to KKH A&E to get it checked out because it was worrying as the oral antibiotics we had been giving her religiously didn’t seem to be working. The doctors immediately suggested admission so that Valerie could be put on IV antibiotics as soon as possible. I then asked if there was any other oral antibiotic that we could try first because I wanted to avoid anything too invasive. The doctors agreed, but asked to mark out the swell so that we will know if it had grown, or not. So we left with another oral antibiotic (Cephalexin) that was seemingly stronger, and an appointment to see the specialist in two days.

20 March: The night before we were due to see the specialist, we had already decided to admit Valerie for surgery as the swell GREW despite changing antibiotics. The surgeons who saw her in the outpatient clinic agreed surgery was necessary too. And so with a heavy heart, we had to do what was necessary to rid our dear girl of this horrible bacteria infection.

This was how bad the swell was upon admission. Notice how the skin was stretched thin already due to the amount of pus in her arm.

(Bad photo because it was a really quick shot. I barely used my phone that day as I wanted to focus on her 100%.)

So the swell suddenly burst open while I was playing with her and sticky pus flowed out. Nurses didn’t do anything but cover it with gauze as she was due for surgery soon.

Napping before going down to the OT. She was scheduled to have surgery at 5pm but the porter came to take us down at 4pm.

After what seemed like an hour-long briefing that had me signing a gazillion forms, we were finally gowned up! So thankful I was able to accompany Valerie ALL the way until she was put under GA.

Note: Extremely impressed and immensely grateful for the compassion of KKH’s OT nurses who were not only a calming presence for my two-year-old, but for me too.

1. They were always smiling and cheerful, from the moment they greeted us, till I was wheeled up to the ward with her lying on me.

2. The waiting room we waited in for about 15 minutes while the OT was being prepped was a HUGE playroom. I did not expect this one bit, but Valerie waltzed in and made herself right at home. There were cars she could sit in, toys she could play with, and cartoons she could watch. She was so happy and relaxed! I started to relax too. (Thank you thank you thank you KKH, for being patient-centric.)

3. My first impression of the OT was it being a cold scary place. Heck, it was my very first time being in one! But the nurses were reassuring and played with Valerie while they were setting her up (she was sitting on my lap). They were even blowing bubbles at and with her! Then… She was slowly given the chocolate-scented GA mask and gently drifted off. The nurses carried her off me and I (reluctantly) left the OT.

My heart shattered, but I had to be strong and not breakdown.

I can’t begin to describe the worry and anxiety that almost suffocated me while she was in surgery. I could barely eat and my legs felt like led. I was drenched in cold sweat and trembled from head to toe. I only got through it with God’s supernatural strength. Thankfully, she was out in around 45 minutes.

Poor babe had difficulty waking up from the GA, though she tried her best. I sat there, all gowned up, rocking her and singing to her for about 1 hour post-surgery. In the end, I carried her and was wheeled up to the ward.

(Quick shot for memory’s sake.)

She was very groggy upon waking up. Drank a little milo, though she threw most of it up. Went back to sleep shortly after.

But after a 2 hour nap, she was back to her chirpy self and enjoyed (read: gobbled) the pandan chiffon mini cakes I bought for her from Prima Deli. Oh, how my heart sang with joy at seeing her be her cheeky self again!

21 March: My brave trooper was discharged from hospital after the first dressing of her wound!!

It was such a journey. But she walked out of the hospital with a testimony to tell of the goodness of God, and so do all of us. Praise God for His limitless strength and unconditional grace!

Valerie’s Birth Story

31 March | 0945

I happened to have an appointment at KKH with Dr Theresa and Mummy and I were late! Saw the bus arriving when we were crossing the road and we increased our walking speed in a bid to catch the bus. It was after I widened my strides that I felt intense pain in my pelvic area.

31 March | 1000

We alighted at the bus stop opposite KKH as per usual. The pain was intensifying as I crossed the road to the hospital. Got Mummy to wheel me up to Clinic G in a wheelchair as I no longer could walk without grimacing in pain or stopping every few minutes. Still went ahead with my usual consult with Dr Theresa, but she recommended I get checked out at the Delivery Suite since I was at the hospital already. And so I did.

31 March | 1050

Registered myself at the Delivery Suite. CTG scan showed irregular contractions. Baby’s heartbeat was strong and responsive. VE showed that I was still dilated only 1cm. Was also made to do a comprehensive ultrasound and results were great – baby was at 3.298kg and water level was good too. All looked normal.

31 March | 1300

Gynae reviewed my case notes and recommended inducing labour for two main reasons. One, I was already at 38 weeks, in a lot of pain and couldn’t walk without assistance. Two, baby was at a very good weight of 3.298kg. The plan was that induction would be done at 6pm. I was admitted to the hospital at 2pm.

31 March | 1845

Was wheeled down from the Ward to the Delivery Suite for induction of labour to commence. Before bidding goodbye to Mummy, she kissed the top of my head and told me to be brave and that the next time we see each other I’d be a Mummy myself! Hearing that completely overwhelmed me and I thought to myself: THIS IS IT.

31 March | 1900

As per usual KKH Delivery Suite Triage protocol, I was strapped to the CTG machine to monitor contractions as well as to track the baby’s heartbeat.

31 March | 1945

The first tablet to induce labour was inserted into my cervix. Was still only 1cm dilated when this happened. Lay in the Delivery Suite to be monitored for another 3 hours to see if my contractions would intensify and put me into active labour. But nope, nothing happened. Still 1cm dilated after 3 hours.

31 March | 2245

I was wheeled back to the Ward to rest before the second tablet was due to be inserted at 2am later that night.

1 April | 1200

I finally fell asleep at midnight but was awoken only after a measly 45 minutes of rest by noises in the Ward. Soon after that, a midwife came to my bedside and strapped me to yet another CTG machine to monitor my contractions.

1 April | 0250

Was wheeled back down to the Delivery Suite for the insertion of the second tablet since I showed no progress in the past 6 hours. But this time round, I was not placed in Triage but was wheeled straight to the Labour Ward!

1 April | 0350

VE showed that I was still dilated 1cm. Waterbag was also still intact. The second tablet was inserted into my cervix. Was monitored for the next 2 hours and the Gynae even told me that if there was no progress in my labour after the third tablet was inserted, I would have to go for a Caesarean. That was scary news because I really wanted to deliver naturally!

1 April | 0500

VE showed slight improvement and I was now dilated 2cm. An IV drip was put in to ensure I was well hydrated. Back contractions intensified so much more, and I even experienced back spasms. It was bad. My contractions were apparently so close together that the baby’s heartbeat dropped as the contractions were too intense to handle. Was a critical moment for awhile, but thankfully, lying on my left helped to ease the contractions, and thus prevented further distress to the baby.

1 April | 0620

Finally rested for a bit. That hour of deep sleep felt amazing. Woke up with a slight fever, though, but it was probably from the chill of the room. It was set up like an Operating Theatre!

1 April | 0815

VE showed that I was still dilated only 2cm. Gynae told us that the plan would be to manually break my waterbag and start epidural at 10am. Hubs and I agreed.

1 April | 1000

No advancement in labour as I was still dilated only 2cm. My waterbag was manually broken by the Gynae. Pretty uncomfortable, but it was bearable. The breaking of my waterbag kick started the labour process. My contractions intensified so much and I barely survived 45 minutes of extremely painful contractions while waiting for the anesthetist to administer the pain relief of my choice – epidural. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart during this time.

1 April | 1045

A urine catheter was inserted. And the anesthetist finally arrived with my lifesaver in the form of epidural! It was honestly so so difficult to stay absolutely still during the procedure as my uterus was contracting every minute or so. Really thankful for a kind midwife who was reassuring and comforting. I was terrified and trembling to be doing this alone as Hubs had to leave the room as per hospital policy but she calmed me down.

1 April | 1150

VE which was done revealed that I was dilated the full 10cm! We couldn’t believe it. I was still only at 2cm at 10am. That means I dilated 8cm within 2 hours?!? The final waiting game began – just that this time I was waiting for the sensation to push.

1 April | 1250

I mentally prepared myself for the labour I had to do to deliver Valerie into this world. There was so much pressure down below and I was fighting the urge to push. The few minutes before I could start pushing were torturous.

1 April | 1305

I started pushing. Followed the midwife’s instructions to push when the contractions came as I was already numb thanks to the epidural! When a contraction came, I would take a deep lungful of air, and push downwards with all my might. Repeating 3 times, at 10 seconds each.

1 April | 1329

Gave one big final push as her head emerged, and the rest of her body slipped out.

1 April | 1330

And so, Valerie Kate was born!

WhatsApp Image 2018-02-11 at 12.00.44 AM

Birth Date: 01 April 2016
Birth Time: 1330

Weight: 3.368kg
Length: 48cm
Head: 35cm