Part One | Max’s Polydactyly Reconstruction

The other week we had Max’s pre-op appointment for his polydactyly reconstruction. That’s the fancy name for having his extra thumb removed. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning – the first surgery of the day actually. We have to be at the hospital at 6 am which means we’re leaving home a bit before 5 am! It’s gonna be an early day!
I spoke with an anesthesiologist last week to confirm the fasting plan as that was one of my biggest concerns in our preparation for surgery. Max loves his mama milk and withholding isn’t part of his plan for any day. The handout from our pre-op appointment said I needed to cut off breast milk at midnight for his 8 am surgery, but after talking with the anesthesiologist I got the okay to nurse him until 3:30 am since he’ll probably begin anesthesia around 7:45 am for his 8 am incision time. That’s the info that fell in line with my reading, so I was happy to get confirmation from the expert. Although it did take 6 phone calls to actually talk to someone with answers.
It took us awhile to make our decision about the surgery. I think mostly because in my mind it’s somewhat elective since his unique thumb isn’t impeding any function right now. To me, it is special and beautiful. It’s so a part of Max and who he is and I love everything about him. I already know that I’ll miss seeing his little hand and extra thumb. But, thinking through his upcoming years, Dominic and I felt that the social stigma of being physically different could create some uncomfortable situations for him. I imagined him hiding his thumb when meeting new friends or being shy when coloring or playing ball. Max has such a sweet and gentle spirit and I never wanted someone’s harsh words to hurt his heart when I had the opportunity to prevent it. 
Part of me really wants to wait until Max is older – maybe 7 or 8 – so we can have a conversation about his wishes for his extra thumb. It is his body, after all. But after learning more about the surgery it was apparent that the 12-18 month window is both the best for patients and surgeons with a polydactyly reconstruction. This is due to the brain mapping that goes into how our fingers work and respond to brain signals with grasping, pinching and holding crayons and toys. Also, as babies grow, bones solidify and more drastic measures (saw versus knife) have to be used to complete the surgery. So, even though I know it will be really hard to hand over my little baby to the nurses tomorrow, now is the best time for Max.
As a perpetual planner I’ve tried to think through all the details for a successful night before surgery, surgery day and recovery. Jemma is spending the night tonight and all day tomorrow with her aunt so Dominic and I can focus on solely on Max. He’s going to get a good scrubbin’ in the bath tonight since he’ll have a cast on for the next two weeks, hence making bath time touch and go. Max won’t take well to the idea ofno splashing, that’s for sure! I’m packing our hospital bag with a few pairs of jammies and sleeveless shirts as I’m guessing his regular shirts won’t stretch over his cast too well. I’m taking his favorite blanket for recovery snuggles and a bunch of towels for the car in case he tosses his cookies on the drive home. Really hoping that doesn’t happen. Extra shirts for Dominic and I too because wearing barf clothes is just icky. Dominic’s parents are coming to hang with Jemma on Saturday and Dom’s dad just called to tell me he has dinner covered – yumminess for the grill! 
That about covers everything I know right now. I won’t lie and say I’m not nervous. I tear up every time I look at his little hand and every time I look at the clock I imagine what we’ll be doing tomorrow at this time. 
Today, staying busy with packing and holding fast to the Lord’s  promises of peace, healing and comfort …
O beloved, I plead with you not to treat God’s promises something to be displayed at a museum but to use them as everyday sources of comfort. And whenever you have a time of need, trust the Lord. -Charles Spurgeon
Well, that and trying to decide what color cast Max should get … decisions, decisions. 
I’ll probably be MIA from here for a bit while I super snuggle cast boy – but I’ll be sure to update Instagram (@thatmamagretchen) and Facebook after his surgery so be sure to follow me over there.
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  1. Diana Opong-Parry says

    Praying for a successful surgery and healing!

  2. ThatMamaGretchen says

    Thanks, Diana!

  3. says

    Prayers for peace and comfort for you and your sweet boy!

  4. Lucky 11 says

    Oh lucky him to have a great parents, I wish i had a choice to do the same thing as you guys did. : ) Growing up it did effect on me on several moments like one time my friends find out and the way they reacted still pictured perfectly in my head.

  5. Tsion says

    hey Just wondering how the procedure went and if physio was needed after. Preping for my little guy for his procedure soon and came across your post.

    • Gretchen says

      Everything went just fine! No follow up needed at all in our case. If you have specific questions or want to chat more, feel free to email me –

  6. Angela Gallo-birkley says

    Our son Anderson underwent same surgery. On his left hand

    • Gretchen says

      It’s so hard to send them into surgery, but just the same I’m very thankful for skilled doctors. I hope all went smooth for you and Anderson … I love that name!