Surviving a Surgery with a Toddler: Things I Learned

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For anyone that missed my blog last week, my two-year-old daughter Morgan, had a minor surgery to remove an umbilical cyst. Here is the first post to get you up to speed just in case.

I am so happy to report that she is doing GREAT.

I learned so many things from going through this experience I wanted to share my tips on surviving a surgery with a toddler.

Many of the things I learned I have YOU to thank for. The support and advice of my readers’ comments were so helpful. I was so grateful I wrote that first post and got such awesome advice. It was easier knowing what to expect going into it.

Morgan’s procedure was fairly minor in comparison to many. We were lucky. But for any parent that has had to endure their child being put under anesthesia whether it be for ear tubes, dental work, or something else, can attest, the thought of your child being put under is downright scary.

Here is what I learned:

1. The surgery was WAY harder on me than it was for her. The day before I felt sick to my stomach and had so much anxiety.  Much more than I expected.

2. The “happy juice” is real.  It is called Versed (Midazolam) and they gave it to her about 30 minutes prior to taking her in to the operating room. It made her VERY loopy and relaxed. I now know what my toddler would look like if she was drunk. The medicine also takes away memory of the event. When they wheeled her off she was so relaxed it didn’t phase her.

3. I wish they had a “happy juice” for moms.

4. The time that the procedure takes seems like eternity. Bring mindless magazines to thumb through and busy your mind any way you can. Seeing the surgeon come into the waiting room with a good look on his face and hearing the words “everything went great” washed this intense wave of relief over me.

5. Watching her come out of the anesthesia was not fun. Thank GOD my readers commented to prepare me that kids can be inconsolable. She was upset and confused and pissed off! She had an IV in her hand and a heart rate monitor on her other hand and those two things set her off. She was fixated on taking them off and was screaming.

My husband and I had to restrain her to keep her from trying to pull them out. But she got so wild she tried to pull out the IV with her teeth. It was awful!

This part lasted about 20 – 25 minutes but it seemed like forever. One of my friends who has been through this said her child was like a “wild animal” – which is a very appropriate description! Once she was settled down, she was fine. The nurse said this part usual takes about 30 minutes and on a scale of 1 – 10, Morgan was about a 4 and did pretty well. So, just be warned that this is NORMAL and to be expected. I also can’t imagine what a “10” would be like…

6.The iPad was a lifesaver. Definitely bring an iPad with shows/movies or a DVD player with you. Once she calmed down, I put on a show on the iPad and they gave her a popsicle and she was much happier. The distraction was just what she needed.

7. I forgot to pack her socks and I wish I would have brought them.

8. I was scared about her being nauseous or throwing up from the anesthesia, but the nurse said that they give an anti-nausea medication via IV when they administer the anesthesia so she was totally fine and we had no issues.

9. If you can, line up childcare for your other children and get help for the rest of the day. My neighbor was nice enough to take Emma home from school for the afternoon so when Morgan went to sleep, I did too. I felt like I got run over by a train and was completely exhausted.

My mom then came down later and brought us dinner and was there to help until my husband got home. All Morgan wanted to do was sit on my lap on the couch, so it was so helpful to have my mom to help with Emma so I could sit with Morgan.

10. By the next day you wouldn’t have even KNOWN she had surgery. She was running around like nothing happened. Kids are pretty amazing at how resilient they are, she was completely oblivious and it was such a RELIEF.

I SO hope that no one reading this has to go through surgery with a little one, but if you do, please feel free to contact me if you need support.  The advice, love and good thoughts from my readers, family and friends meant the world to me. It’s times like this that make you feel so blessed to have the love and support by friends in your life.


Here is my Umbilical Cyst-less Easter Bunny one week later!


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  1. 1
    Beckey says:

    I’m glad everything went well! My 2 year old has an umbilical hernia, and they keep telling me it will go away, well it hasn’t, and I’m sure he’ll have to have it operated on, when that time comes I’ll need to read your post again!

    • 2
      jen says:

      Hope it will be of some help if the time comes! And believe me when I say, that the kids are the tough ones, it’s the moms that need the help getting through it!!

  2. 3
    Holly says:

    Oh Jen, that is SO great that she did wonderfully! What a scary thing to have to go through! Glad you BOTH made it through! 🙂

    • 4
      Jen says:

      Thanks Holly!

  3. 5
    Andy says:

    Thanks Becky! Our 19 moth old son is going in for his umbilical repair and your post has brought me much more comfort. I know my wife and I will take this much harder than our little guy. Glad everything worked out for you all. Thanks again.

    • 6

      Hi Andy – it’s actually me, Jen, whose daughter had the surgery. I am so glad you found my post.

      In hindsight it was a piece of cake, but before, with the anticipation and anxiety, it felt so scary.

      These little ones are so strong – and the good thing is that they will have no recollection of anything. Good luck and and keep us posted!!

  4. 7
    Britney says:

    I had this same cyst! I had it until I was 14 and wished I had it removed earlier. Mine was a little bigger, but it looks so similar. I am now 24 and thankful it is gone!

    • 8
      jen says:

      I am glad we took care of my daughter’s when she was too young to remember! Thanks for the reinforcement that we did the right thing :).

  5. 9
    Elizabeth K. says:

    Even though its over 2 years after your post this is exactly what I needed to read from another mom! My 18 mo son is going to have surgery next month for the exact same thing. Thank you for posting about your daughter and your experience. Happy all went smoothly! Hoping for the same 🙂

    • 10
      jen says:

      Elizabeth – I am so happy you found this post! I am happy to report, two years later that my little cutie has a beautiful belly button :). Looking back, it was a really minor surgery and she came through with flying colors, but at the time it felt very dramatic! Hope all goes well!

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