Anya’s Recovery

Back in January (holy monkey, has it really been so long?), I blogged about Anya’s cleft palette and the upcoming surgery to correct it. The palatoplasty was seven weeks ago, and those of you following me on Twitter got to read about the recovery both in the hospital and then later at home. It was a harrowing experience seeing my baby go for such major surgery, but she did extremely well. It took a long time to get a decent amount of fluids in her afterwards, which meant staying at KK Hospital two days longer than expected, but eventually she was cleared to come home.

The first few weeks were … well, “nightmare” isn’t really the right word, but they were exhausting and frustrating and stressful times. I had to go back to work, and Janet was having trouble coping by herself (Anya was still on a medicine regimen, and her diluted formula never seemed to be enough; Janet has more details at Paint Stains), and I was doing the best I could to help but had student marking pressing down on me, in addition to dozens of other work duties. Thankfully, Janet’s father’s sister flew down from Hong Kong and was able to help us tremendously to get over the worst of it (she’s since gone back, but the next sister in line came to visit and help out too, and she’s still here).

Anya was incredibly clingy for four weeks after the surgery, refusing to be put down in the crib, only falling asleep if someone was carrying her. It took her a long time to recover emotionally from the trauma of the surgery, longer than the physical recuperation. But at some point after Week 4, we were able to start putting her down, and it has gotten progressively better since. Janet was able to put her back on the sleep schedule Anya’d been on before the operation, and getting regular naps and sleeping longer at night did a world of good for her disposition, and all the rest of us as well.

She still has her cranky times, when she’ll cry and cry and refuse to sleep and we have to go through a whole routine (which includes reading Goodnight Moon) to calm her down so she’ll conk out. But for the most part, she’s sleeping much better.

After the surgery, we had to feed her via syringe, squirting the food into her mouth, because she couldn’t take a bottle (for fear of disturbing the stitches) and after one time of liking formula in a MagMag sippy-cup refused to take it from there anymore. But we’ve slowly been weaning her away from the syringes and relying on the MagMags more, and now she loves it. She’s discovered how to create suction in her mouth now (something she couldn’t do without a palette), and she hoovers down formula at an amazing rate.

The biggest development recently, however, is that we’ve started her on solid foods. We had to wait until the palette was pretty much healed, and decided last Thursday that she was ready. It’s astonishing how well she’s taken to it, trying lots of different combinations of both store-bought and homemade mush. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash seem to be the current favorites. She loves sitting in her high chair and eating at the dinner table along with the rest of us.

Anya’s also been trying out lots of new sounds now that she can make them properly. Nothing terribly coherent at the moment, but you can tell she’s trying to have a conversation. Janet’s pretty sure that she said “MUM MUM” last week as Janet was bringing in her food (mum mum is slang here for food, and Janet’s dad refers to it that way every time Anya has a feeding). She could have been referring to Janet (mum), but it’s more likely she was excited about lunch. No real repetitions yet, so we can’t confirm it as a first word/phrase, but it’s still exciting.

But the best thing is her smile, which has returned big time. The first four or five weeks of recovery, she was very serious all the time; still in pain and discomfort, and dealing with this weird new feeling in her mouth, and possibly feeling a bit betrayed that we would put her through it. But she’s smiling regularly again now, and it just melts me every time. I still have a helluva time getting her to laugh, but that’ll come too.

This is the last week of classes for Term 2, and I have some work-related things through Wednesday next week, but after that, for the rest of June, I’m on holiday. And because Anya’s doing so well, we’re all three going to take a trip to South Carolina for a bit of a family reunion. My mom was able to fly to Singapore last December, but my dad and sister have never seen Anya outside of Skype calls, and the rest of my side of the family has only seen pictures. My grandmother and aunt will fly in from Illinois, my sister from NYC, another aunt will drive up from Columbia, and there’s a possibility that my godmother might come up from Atlanta.

We’ll be in the States from 8-22 June, and though there are lots of family things planned, I have a desperate desire to drive up to Raleigh for a day trip. I miss my hometown like you wouldn’t believe, and it would sadden me to no end to be so close and not come back for a bit. A trip to Quail Ridge Books is quite likely, but other than that, I have no specific plans. Raleigh peeps who would like to meet up, let me know in the comments, and when we have a more definite date and time, we can work something out. My parents have agreed to take care of Anya for that day, so it’ll be just me and Janet, but it would be lovely to see some of y’all again.

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