I begin each meeting to see if they just "get it" on their own. Do they get that our daughter is adopted? Do they see that her needs are slightly different than the needs of the kid down the street? I understand that most doctors are highly driven professionals that go into the medical field to "fix the problem." Often they get so focused on "the problem" and our cultural need to have faster service and instant gratification, they try to "fix the problem" too quickly and fixate on getting it done as soon as possible. I understand none of them became doctors because they wanted to be counselors so they are not exactly going to be "touchy feely" and all connected to the emotional side of things. I get it. But do they get it? I try not to judge them in the first minutes I meet them. They may not get it and that is okay. I am Hannah's mom and I get it. God made me to be her mom so I could advocate for her. I can help them "get it." So I usually move on from the initial impressions and try not to judge too harshly. No, they don't get it. No, they aren't wired to get it. So my next question becomes how open are they to "getting it?" Will they listen to me and allow me to educate them on why her needs are just slightly so different, yet so important? From there, I draw my conclusions. Some might "get it" off the bat, with no educating from me. Others need a touch in the right direction and rapidly open their eyes and minds to the differences. Others, despite my advocating and talking and teaching, they just never get it. The never get it ones are not the physicians we will choose for Hannah's care at this time (all perfectly good practitioners, I might add, just not able to meet eye to eye on the needs for an adopted child).
Today was no different. I took Hannah back to UK to have our initial consultation with Dr. L in the pediatric plastic surgery department (I have to say, I am pretty proud of myself and how I've been rocking the Kentucky Clinic like no other in the last few weeks--that place is huge and daunting, but we're getting it down!). This appointment was to address Hannah's cleft lip and palate, so I went in with my boxing gloves handy, fully prepared for the need to speak louder than the person. This is how part of our conversation went with Dr. L today:
Dr L: So, we can go ahead and look at our calendars and we will get her in here for her first procedure in the next two to three weeks. (Pause) Wait. No. Tell me, how long has Hannah been home with you?
Me:Home with us? Six weeks tomorrow at home, in our arms for eight weeks now.
Dr. L: Oh really? Wow! That isn't long. So, no, we don't want to do the first procedure in the next couple weeks. She needs time to feel safe with you so she doesn't associate you with this new trauma. Usually somewhere in the 3-4 month range in your arms is best, but really, we can do whatever you think is best for her as her parent. I operate on Tuesdays and Fridays. Pick a couple dates and e-mail them to me when you think you are all ready. We can move it up or push it back if that becomes apparently necessary. But we want her to feel secure. If you want it done now, we sure can do it, but don't you agree, perhaps she needs some time?
Me: (Inwardly jaw dropping, praising God, shouting for joy, pumping fists) Well, yes, I would agree that her bond and attachment to us as her parents is of far greater importance at this point in time.
He gets it, y'all. With no guidance from me. He gets it!
I think we may have just found our baby girl's surgeon........
I specifically asked for prayer in this area, for a surgeon who would see Hannah and not her cleft. Yet again, God provided. I am so humbled by the myriad of ways He shows His passion for us and for Hannah. Even in the details of a surgeon who "gets it."
So, what else happened during our appointment? Well, we spent a good bit of time talking things through and answering my long list of questions I'd brought with me. Lots of great information, lots of encouraging things, and some other areas that still need some prayer because this advocate mama won't go down without a fight.
The basics: Hannah will have two procedures done (should we 100% decide to proceed with Dr. L at UK) to address her cleft initially (this is not the one BIG one I had hoped for, but after talking to Dr. L, I see why it is done this way and agree it will be easier on Hannah and also on us as her parents). We will first schedule her lip repair. This surgery is generally an outpatient procedure, but based on Hannah's history of trauma, we will be scheduled to potentially stay the night for observation, however, if she does great, we will get sent home. This surgery is usually fairly easy for the kiddos. We'll address her gorgeous little face and do a little reconstructing of her super cute nose. Best part? NO no-no's! No arm restraints! Praise God for this little nugget of favor for all of us in our household! Lip repair should not impact diet or anything too much, really. About three to four months following the lip repair we'll do the larger surgery to address her palate. Her palate cleft is wide, but Dr. L seemed confident that he could repair it. This is a more extensive surgery and will require us to stay in the hospital at least one night for observation. Obviously, there are pros and cons to so much of this. The longer we wait to address the lip means her palate repair is that much further out, thus delaying her speech even more. However, Dr. L really seemed to think her security with us was of greater importance...waiting to get started will not be a horrible thing given the access we have to great speech pathologists, etc. She might have to wear no-no's after this procedure because she does suck her finger and thumb, but she may only have to wear them at night. We will likely play it by ear and see. We do not want her to stick those little fingers in there and open her palate back up. No, no, no we don't..... Another great nugget of information is that yes, I was correct to think we could coordinate putting tubes in her ears at the same time as one of these procedures. We will have another meeting with a physician at UK to get a 2nd opinion to the ENT we saw last week and go from there. It can be done and Dr. L was totally on board that less trauma at this point is a good thing.
So, what now? We do a little more research. I liked Dr. L today a lot. I've come up with more questions and I plan to e-mail them to him. I fully expect he will quickly respond (he just seems like the follow up type of guy). We pray. Dr. L basically told us that if we want to go with him for her treatment, we just need to pick a date.... This is hard. We adore her just as she is, yet we want her to begin to communicate as she so desperately wants to. Picking a date is hard.
So, the current, ongoing prayer needs regarding her medical needs:
*Pray we have insight as to the timing. It appears to be greatly in our hands and we want to be wise--medically, physically, and emotionally for Hannah. We need to do what is best for her.
*Pray we might still successfully advocate for her with the anesthesia team about her needs as a traumatized child. It is going to be a big deal--I am going to be asking them to bend some pretty hard set rules, but I feel strongly they are necessary.
*Pray we get in to see the new ENT very soon and that it is possible to coordinate all of her care in one surgery.
For today, I'm just going to rest in this: He got it, y'all. He totally, fully got it. It also didn't hurt that I am fairly certain he spoke to her in Mandarin as he was saying good-bye to her today.....
Hannah says Dr. L was pretty cool!
Nothing but big grins today after UK Plastics appointment! (She's killing me in those sunglasses!!)