On Sunday, 9/11, Nathan turned nineteen, the country honored the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, and Scott and I left eighteen of our children at home under the loving and capable care of their oldest sister and brother-in-law while we brought Roslyn down to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Roslyn was admitted and started her two days of prep for one of the biggest surgeries we ever do with our children.
The next two days, while not completely bump-free, went better than we’ve ever experienced with any of our kids who have already been through this.
Roslyn faced a really difficult IV insertion by immersing herself in her iPad games and occasionally looking up at us for strength.
Once her IV was successfully inserted by the awesome VAT (Vascular Access Team) here, it was time for the NG (nasogastric) tube placement, which would be used to pump large quantities of bowel-cleaning liquid into Roslyn’s stomach. This is one of the main steps the kids all dread the most. (I don’t blame them). Once again, Roslyn did such a beautiful job of moving through this process with grace and peace. She shed two quiet tears, one of which can be seen in the close-up below, but recovered well as soon as it was done.
The rest of that day was a blur of changing messy diapers, watching the Bengals win their first game, coloring, and playing with her toy princesses.
That night held little sleep for any of us because of ongoing issues with Roslyn’s IV, but none of those was particularly traumatic. Just very tiring.
Monday morning started with plans for placement of Roslyn’s PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line. This will be used for her medications, fluids and lab draws for the remainder of her hospital stay. This can be a painful procedure, but we have a really great PICC team here, and Roslyn once again faced this with courage and a quiet calm.
During this procedure, one of the PICC team members commented on how clear it was that Roslyn trusts us so deeply. She had worked with enough children from broken homes and orphanages to know that this isn’t something that just happens for these kids. The fact that Roslyn drew her strength from having us at her side, that she looked to us to help her determine when she should be scared, and that she honestly believed us when we assured she was safe and tried to calm any of her fears, was a beautiful testimony of the healing that can take place for these children once they come home. We thank God when we see these tangible signs of healing in our children.
Once her PICC was in place, I headed down to the gift shop to pick up a little something special for our brave little girl. She loves dogs, and I found a cute little, very fuzzy stuffed dog that wasn’t very expensive. There were, in fact, two of these dogs—one in a girl version (with pink ears and a pink spot down her back), named Maddie; and one in a boy version (with brown ears and a brown spot down his back), named Murphy. I liked Murphy the best, but knowing this girl and her love of all things pink, I chose Maddie for her.
Roslyn loved this dog so much, but kept forgetting her name and decided to change it to Maggie, which was easier for her to remember for some reason. The bond between the two of them was instant.
While we were talking about where I had gotten Maggie, I mentioned to Roslyn that Maggie actually had a brother in the gift shop, too, and that his name was Murphy.
I should’ve thought that through before speaking, because of Roslyn’s history with Jaden. I can only use the lack of sleep as an excuse for that.
Roslyn and Jaden were raised together as infants in China. They were very close and shared an almost-twin-like relationship. Sadly, Jaden was moved to another facility a few months before we got there to meet them and bring them home. We didn’t know any of this ahead of time, but it was really traumatic for Roslyn when they were separated. When we met them that day in China, it was the first time they had seen each other in months—a reunion for them. They kept calling each other by their Chinese names and stroking each other’s faces. Only later did we learn about the story behind what we witnessed that day.
For the first few months after we came home, Roslyn didn’t want to be away from Jaden at all during their hours awake. She had to watch us put Jaden safely into his bed before she would go to her own room and go to sleep, and they had to go to all appointments together, even if only one of them was seeing the doctor. One night when Roslyn fell out of her bed and cried out loudly, we heard Jaden yelling from his room down the hall and found him frantically trying to get himself out of bed so he could get to her.
When Roslyn heard that Maggie had a brother who had been left behind, she looked a little panicked and kept saying quietly, “He’s downstairs and she’s upstairs?” and “He will be sleeping down there all alone tonight?” It actually seemed really upsetting to her.
As they were taking Roslyn to pre-op this morning, people were asking her what her dog’s name is (Maggie went into surgery with her). At one point, she looked up with a super sad face and said, “She has a brother named Murphy, but he’s still in the gift shop.” It actually brought tears to our eyes. This was obviously touching something deep inside our little girl.
As Roslyn realized it was almost time for her to tell us goodbye, silent tears started to run down her cheeks, and she began to tremble. She snuggled Maggie tightly under her left arm, and clutched a photo of her family in her left hand. She calmed down and trusted us as we whispered in her ear and stroked her hair. She would look at her family picture and then into our faces and draw strength from those who love her so very much.
Very soon after that, the team administered Versed through her PICC line, and she immediately became drowsy and relaxed as they wheeled her away from us and into the OR.
That was at 7:30 this morning, and surgery officially began at 8:30. They have planned eleven hours for this surgery, but it could be shorter or longer than that, depending on what they find inside our baby’s little body.
As soon as she was in surgery, Scott and I decided that it was really important that she wake up and find out that Maggie and Murphy had been reunited. So in spite of a really tight budget at the moment we went downstairs, spent another $13, and rescued Murphy from the gift shop. I think Murphy was actually smiling as we walked out of there.
I think Roslyn will also smile a lot once she is awake and aware of fact that her heart can rest now. I think she will sleep better tonight, knowing that Murphy and Maggie are together and sleeping in her bed.
One important piece of helping our children learn to trust us is knowing their hearts; understanding their needs and their fears and what’s behind those; listening with more than just our ears.
Maybe these puppies should’ve been named Roslyn and Jaden.