Stefani's most-fantastical-reads book montage

Crooked Kingdom
Six of Crows
Yellow Brick War
The Wicked Will Rise
Charm & Strange
Their Fractured Light
These Broken Stars
Big Little Lies
I'll Be There
Red Queen

Stefani's favorite books »

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cohen's Surgery...

Today was the day.

I kissed my baby boy and handed him to a stranger in scrubs {albeit a nice one} who took him away to a surgical suite. He was put under general anesthesia, given an IV, and a plastic surgeon removed the skin tag and underlying cartilage from his right ear. In return I was given a Motorola pager and told to report back to the desk when it went off. I have to say, it was not a fair trade. Derek and I went upstairs and got ourselves some Starbucks for breakfast and waited nervously for the stupid thing to beep. We finally gave up and decided to go sit in the lobby so we would be right there when they paged us... it went off as we stepped into the elevator. We waited in a room for the surgeon to come and update us and started to get panicked when we heard that the family that was put in the room next to us was receiving 'bad news' {we don't know what, they closed the door}. We had also been put in one of the two 'private' counseling rooms, instead of the more public cubical conference rooms in the waiting area. Every terrifying thought that can go through a mother's head started right then and by the time the doctor came in to tell us that everything was fine, the tears were welling up in my eyes. But, EVERYTHING WAS FINE. We waited again, this time for him to come out of recovery so we could cuddle him and feed him and snuggle him... and it felt like we waited forever. But finally, a blanket with a familiar fuzzy head came around the corner and my boy was back in my arms, hungry and demanding food, which was a wonderful sign. He ate, we snuggled, I finally took a full breath and after three hours of waiting for it to be over.

When Cohen was born I didn't even notice the ear tag... everybody always jokes about how they count their baby's fingers and toes to make sure everything was perfect but it took the pediatrician pointing it out at his first check-up (12ish hours old) for me to even know it existed. And for some reason, that fact made me feel so awful - how could I have not noticed this thing on my child that a perfect stranger picked up on in a few seconds. And then I felt awful because I couldn't believe something was 'wrong' {this was 12 hours postpartum, exhausted, hormonal me thinking - not me now} with my baby and so I felt the need to point it out and explain it to everyone, so they wouldn't wonder what it was. And then I felt awful for deciding to have it removed. I know it was the right decision - it would continue to grow and could impact him when he's older. The chinstrap on a football helmet would rub on it or the jerks in middle school would say something mean - and we wanted to prevent that if we could. But honestly, I fell in love with that little nub. It was part of my boy - my perfect, sweet, amazing little boy. And a part of me feels that by opting to remove it we are somehow sending a message that he wasn't perfect, that he needed to be 'fixed' and that is something that this mama's heart is going to have to wrestle with. I know to the rest of the world it's a small matter - but I want my babies to know that I love them unconditionally and they are perfect and beautiful - no matter what. So today was bittersweet... I believe that we did what was right and healthy {this type of defect can [rarely] be a sign of other developmental problems but Cohen doesn't have any of the signs. However, the nub was sent to the pathology lab just to be safe.}.

So it was a hard day - a long trip over the mountains in torrential rain, an early 3am feeding, followed by a happy baby who thought 3am was the PERFECT time to play and chatter, a 4:45am wake-up call to get ready and get to the hospital, a 6:45 am check in time, an 8am surgery, and a 10am drive back home. Luckily, Addison was ready for a nap {as was her brother and parents}, so we all got a two hour siesta and were surprised by our neighbor who brought us a delicious home cooked meal. 

At the days end, the only thing that matters is that my baby boy is sleeping soundly in his crib and that his sister's first words when we got home were, "Is baby Cohen's ear all better?". I love my babies, so much that sometimes it hurts.

Cohen was DETERMINED to steal Daddy's ID badge... it was a fun game while we were waiting for surgery.
My Bub's little nub...
All ready to go and rockin' the hospital gown... Derek wouldn't let me take a picture with his little bum hanging out :)
A much deserved meal after a long morning!

This was almost as painful for me to deal with as the surgery... :(

No more nub, just a band aid and some stitches... sorry it's blurry - 6 month old boys fresh out of surgery aren't particularly cooperative when it comes to picture taking.
 {Thank you Instagram for allowing me to document this entire process AND edit photos at the same time...}


  1. Stefanie! My little Ezra was born w/ the exact same thing last month! So far we've done the renal us and hearing test and everything is normal. We still have to do the 6-12 month hearing test later on. Anything else your dr recommend? Also, did a plastic surgeon or ENT do the surgery? We are told to consult both for insurance purposes. We have already decided not to do the surgery if he has to be put under but to do it if Can be anesthitized locally. Did they say why they couldn't do cohens w/ o general? Any info would be helpful. Thanks!

  2. Amy... It's amazing how many people I've talked to who have dealt with this same issue but I had NO idea it even existed before Cohen was born! We did the hearing tests with Cohen while we were still in the hospital and everything looked fine but our pediatrician mentioned something about if we wanted it removed we needed to talk to either an ENT doctor or a plastic surgeon. We live in podunk, USA and I didn't want any of the doctors here operating on my son - particularly on his face where there was going to be a potential scar.

    We met with a surgeon from Seattle Children's Hospital and he explained that when the ear is forming it's made up of all these little buds that start out at the corner of the mouth and eventually work their way up to the side of the head, do a magic swirly dance, and end up looking like an ear. Sometimes, as in Cohen and Ezra's cases, a few of those cells weren't paying attention when the teacher gave directions and they ended up setting up camp somewhere random - for Cohen it was right at the base of his ear lobe. This whole process is happening at the same time that the kidney system is forming and apparently there can be some (small) link between these ear tags and kidney issues. There is also a condition {that I can neither remember the name of or spell} where the face is misshapen due to deformity and ear tags can be an indication of that as well.

    We had two choices - do the surgery when he was little but have to deal with the anesthesia or wait until he was old enough to sit still while it was removed {which, if my daughter is any indication, would be when he's about 25}. The surgeon did recommend we wait until six months of age because at that point the risk of complications with anesthesia are lower than driving in a car {they kept telling me that, but I was far more freaked out about the anesthesia than the car ride there...} So, to answer your question, yes it can be done with local anesthetic - but they have to be able to hold still for it. No one mentioned whether or not we could do it with local when he was itty bitty - and I didn't think to ask. It might be worth looking into now, while he's so small. I'm sure if they can be circumcised at an early age with local anesthetic then can remove an ear tag as well.

    So... for us we wanted to do it early. I don't want him to remember the process and I don't want him to be old enough to understand the misgivings I talked about in the post above. We are lucky enough to have Seattle Children's so close to us - if we hadn't had them available as a resource, I'm positive our plan of action would have been much different.

    I don't know if that helped at all :/ but I'm here if you want to talk. Cohen's recovering really well from the surgery and is back to his usual antics already - which means I should get to bed because he'll have me up again at 2am. Take care and keep in touch! Happy Halloween!



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