10 Ways I Got Through The Day When My Baby Was in Open Heart Surgery

Hello. Camilla here, a mumma with a CHD baby and your new Heart Kids guest blogger. 

This post was going to be called ‘10 ways to get through the day when your baby is in open heart surgery’ until I realised how deeply personal that is and what works for one person may not work for another.


So it’s now called: 10 Ways I Got Through The Day When My Baby Was in Open Heart Surgery:


When Jesse was in open heart surgery we had just had three days in utter shock after taking him into hospital and him being diagnosed with CHD and put on life support. We were fraying at the seams so we had to take stock. We chatted and decided that we were no good to him as nervous wrecks. It was time to practice some self care and pull ourselves together.


Here are 10 ways I got through:

1. The pumping room was a Godsend:

Because bub was six days old when he arrived at the hospital, it was important that I kept up my milk supply and that meant a lot of pumping. At first, I resented sitting alone in the pumping room... until I came to see it as a little quiet haven. I even met a mother in their whose daughter was going through the exact same Congenital Heart Disease journey with Coarctation Of The Aorta.


2. Actually remembering to eat:

The day of the surgery, I was a wreck. But, in true Italian family fashion, my sister came in to the hospital with a big home cooked meal for me and my partner. Sure, we could hardly finish it but boy did it feel good to have some home cooked food. The Royal Children’s also provides meals for Breastfeeding mums which is really helpful if you’re far from home.


3. Meerkats. Need I say more?:

The Royal Children’s Hospital is home to five meerkats. They are quite entrancing and there is nothing like watching a cheeky meerkat to pass the time. We channeled our inner David Attenborough and narrated their comings and goings.


4. People watching:

The main hall at The Royal Children’s Hospital is full of families. It’s a great place to grab a double mocha and watch the world go by and that’s exactly what I did.


5. I put my phone away:

Well, that’s a lie. The surgeon was going to be calling me at the end of the operation on my mobile phone so I was watching the phone like a hawk and having irrational fears that it would run out of battery at any moment. However, I put it at arms length so I couldn’t get carried away staring at it. They say a watched kettle never boils, eh?


6. Finding my own personal peace:

My sister told me a Hindu belief that baby’s souls haven’t yet decided whether to stay on Earth or not.   That thought stayed in my mind that day and allowed me to breathe.


7. A long walk:

We walked and we walked. The gardens around the hospital are beautiful. You see kids from the hospital playing with their families, staff on their breaks. Somehow it feels like there is a camaraderie in the air.


8. Caffeine:

Big. Big mistake. That double mocha only worsened the nerves. 

9.  Laughter:

When you get three adult siblings in a room, it normally descends into a round of childish jokes and that’s exactly what happened. It took our minds off things. My sister had flown in from Yuendemu and we told some yarns in the sunshine. 


10. And finally, celebration.

The surgeon called. Jesse had made it. It wasn’t yet time to celebrate but it was time to breathe. That night, I slept deeply, looking forward to holding him again.