As we start our countdown of less than a week until we return to Children's Hospital for a three-day stay, it amazes me how easy it is to slip back into the routine. The routine of mental and physical preparedness for our stay. It has been almost two years since Clare was at Children's for a procedure. That alone amazes me! I feel as if we are finally on the path of Clare outgrowing her pulmonary stenosis. Her cardiologist always told us it would happen one day, but I never truly believed her. It's hard to see that as even a possibility when faced with the harsh reality of cath after cath, as we were in Clare's first year. And just when I had a glimmer of hope and Clare was able to go 15 months between caths - BAM - she had two more back-to-back. But it's been 22 months since her last cath, and she does not return to the cardiologist until... I can't remember now which month she has to go back. That is progress!
The downside to not being in the hospital as frequently is that I do not know what to expect out of this hospital stay. Since I always seem to have a nursing baby these last few years (and that nursing baby is NOT Clare anymore!), Shawn is the parent who will stay with Clare overnight. Violet and I will be with them all day Tuesday, then stay in a hotel down the street from the hospital that night, so we can be there almost all day Wednesday as well. As long as the procedure goes well, though, I will head home Wednesday night to be with Jamie and Simon again. Clare was 2 1/2 years old that last time she was admitted at Children's. Now she is over 4 years old, and I have a feeling that there will be much trauma involved. She has reached the age where she knows what's coming (as in nurses with needles), and the anxiety over any procedure (blood draw, IV stick, x-rays, echo) is worse than the actual procedure. I am already preparing myself that the worst moment in terms of Clare meltdowns will be when they insert her initial IV. And I know the worst moment as a mother will be when the doctors take Clare away from us. That's how prepared I am at the moment. And, of course, I know that you are truly never prepared for any of it.