I posted a few weeks ago about my 2YO DS needing to undergo GA for dental work. Wanted to provide an update...
After 6 months of stressing, educating ourselves and researching options to fix our 2YO's teeth, we finally have closure!
We had our dental appointment at our local surgery center using general anesthesia yesterday and it couldn’t have gone better. We’re so thankful to have the agony and stress out of our lives. I wanted to share our experience to help other moms who are in the same situation.
Back in October we noticed some decay on the back of his two upper front teeth (he was 18 months). We visited 4 dentists (the first 2 said it was from night nursing and to wean immediately
) and found an awesome dentist that helped us explore all our options. Since two of the teeth were slightly chipped and had cavities she said they would require pulpotomies(mini-root canals) and would need to be capped. Plus he had other tooth to fill. We finally decised on general anesthesia since the repair would be too invasive and painful under any other circumstance. (We actually tried nitrous oxide with an earlier dentist and it was HORRIBLE and caused him much fear and trauma.) While under GA, the dentist agreed to clean all his teeth and put sealants on his molars.
The day began at 3:00 am. I had just fallen asleep a few hours earlier and forgot to wake DS up to nurse at 2:50 for his last nursing session prior to anesthesia (no breast milk 4 hours before). So a little after 3:00 he woke up wanting to nurse like usual. For the first time, I had to tell him no. That was one of the hardest parts of this whole experience. This isn’t something everyone can truly understand, but as a nursing mother it goes much deeper then milk and the boob. A lot of nursing moms describe feelings of abandonment and fear their little ones feel they are being unattached. Not to mention the sucking need many little ones have at this age. He didn’t take no for an answer. We tried everything we could to soothe him and get him back to sleep, but ended up in the car driving around town at 3:20 am. We told him we were going to the store and talked about all the different fruits and vegetables we could look for at the store, trying to distract him from the fact that for the first time we were denying his needs, no listening to his words and pushing him into a situation he wasn’t comfortable with. After 20 minutes of screaming “No (s)tore…home night-night boo-boos” a little fussing and reaching for his boo boos, DS finally fell asleep in the car. We drove to the eastern edge of the metro to the western suburbs, stopped to get gas; then did it over and over again.
After almost three hours of driving, we arrived at the surgery center at 6:00 am to check in for our 7:00 appointment. DS woke up in am amazingly good mood, played with the toys in the waiting room, happily accompanied up to the private room where he willingly got his blood pressure and temperature taken. He played with a few “ new” (borrowed) toys, fell in love with Mr. Potato Head, peeked at my friend’s baby and looked at pictures of himself at his first sleep over on her camera (fantastic idea). I was so worried he’d beg, plea and grab for his boo boos during this time but surprisingly he only asked for them once and was easily redirected. My friend had a great idea for me to wear a hooded sweatshirt, which I never do, to help make them inaccessible and it worked! The dentist and anesthesiologist talked with us for a bit and they gave me permission to accompany him to the surgical room so I could be there while the administer the gas mask that puts him to sleep (this is not their normal practice). I just couldn’t imagine him being happily carried off with someone other than his mommy or daddy, I really wanted to be there for him and I felt this was something I had to face as hard as it was. And it was HARD.
We went back to the surgery room and DS realized something was up. Before this point, I honestly thought we was either at his regular Well-Baby check up or just paying a visit. The anesthesiologist let him smell the bubble gum scented mask and I smelled it right along with him. Then I laid him down on the bed, at which point he started fussing and kicking/arching to get up. I leaned in over him, buried my face in his chest and hugging him tight and started singing his favorite comforting song “Mommy’s here…mommy’s here…. it’s okay because mommy’s here.” His breaths got raspy, slower and quickly the kicking stopped. Within seconds he was asleep. I didn’t have the strength to look at him this way, and I couldn’t bear to see his eyes glossed over and couldn’t live with that memory forever imprinted in my mind.
This was really difficult for me to have faced because I watched my mother take her last breath as she passed away cancer just 8 weeks before DS was born (her first and only grandchild).
About 1 1/2 later the nurse directed us to a private room where his dentist gave us an update. Everything went wonderfully, she was really pleased and DS did amazing. She did descover two areas where new cavities were forming, which we hadn't know about earlier. Then we were called back to see him in recovery. I had tried everything in my power to be by his side before his eyes opened, but there are no centers in town with private recovery rooms. It’s a HIPPA violation to allow people back where all the patients are recovering. When we got back, he was sitting on a nurse’s hip being carried around and distracted until we arrived. I grabbed him out of her arms so fast, and we escaped to reunite. Most toddlers come out of anesthesia screaming, crying and inconsolable. DS only cared that an IV was in his heel and he fussed as she ripped the tape off. That’s all, he was okay!!! Nothing horrific and devestating as I had heard about and feared. It took him a few minutes to latch on but once he did, I knew we had survived.
An hour later we were home. We ate, relaxed, watched tv, then napped for 3 hours. Once he woke up from his nap, he was back to his same old self! And he really doesn’t act like anything happened. I was so scared he wouldn’t leave my side, would be traumatized, would develop oral issues and not let us brush his teeth. But thankfully none of these concerns came true.
His dentist called later on in the day to make sure we were doing okay. She said the dental issued DS had were mostly hereditary. She sees twins and triplets, all who receive the same dental care with the same diet, and some have cavities while their siblings may not. We’ve been brushing three times a day for the last year and are now committed to brushing every time he eats. It sounds exhausting, but it’s what we have to do to so we never have to walk down this path again! Plus we're going to minimize refined sugard and processed foods in his diet.
Through this experience I’ve learned that, as my dear friend reminded me (several times), my job as a mother is to love him unconditionally, provide safety, security and raise him with confidence. My job is not to eliminate everything that might cause him fear. This had been a hard concept for me to grasp.
I would remind any mother out there contempating GA that the risks are really low. I read that there are deaths with 1/ 250,00 people, or .000004%. This includes GA being done in dental offices (which is riskier if they're not equipped as hospitals and surgical centers, something we wouldn't do). Children have the same risk as adults, though our LO seem to vonerable. When we were at the center, 6 other kids were waiting for their turn for GA, almost like an assembly line. I was so scare, anxiety ridden and skeptical of this "extreme" and "radical" procedure. But for me and my family, there were no other humane options and the decay was too extensive to try to reverse it.