Until lunch time today there were two 3 year old boys in my ward, both who’d had cleft lip and palate repairs only one day after each other. Both boys were 18kgs and both cried a lot post-op. One was a little smaller than the other, very stubborn and unwilling to be held by anyone but his mother. The other I had a cuddle with the morning before his surgery, but he wasn’t smiley or affectionate.
Post-op both boys cried a lot and the smaller one’s mama sat up all night long, for two nights, with him in her arms, because otherwise he didn’t sleep well. The other boy cried intermittently for his mama, who would crawl out from her mattress under the bed and give him a cuddle.
A few days after their surgeries, the boys discovered each other. Now that they were well enough and had plenty of energy, they liked to hop out of bed and play together. The smaller one always wanted what the bigger one had. Sometimes there were two of the same, but often not, so they played like brothers, fighting every now and then but copying each other constantly.
One day the smaller one had his dressings removed from inside his mouth, nose and lip and he looked like a new boy. The two boys played well together that day and the smaller one actually wanted to be carried by the nurses and cuddled. He became my little friend, who’d grab my hand or pat me to get my attention.
The following day the bigger boy had his dressings removed from inside his mouth, nose and lip. When I brought him out to his mama, he settled into her arms and I was curious what the smaller boy would think of how his friend now looked or if he would notice at all. I walked over to his bed where his mama was laying, with him sitting up beside her. I put my arms out and he picked up his arms to be lifted out of bed. When he saw his friend’s new face, he put out his arms towards the other mama, already holding her son. She took the small one too and stood strong with both boys in her arms. Then the smaller one began to point and use hand actions to the bigger boy. I could read through his actions what he was saying, “Look, he has had his bandage out of his mouth and nose too. They did that to me yesterday and now they have done the same to you.” Several times he told this story with his actions to those watching. The mamas and others in the ward laughed. I thought it was so adorable that I told several other nurses when they walked in and exclaimed how good the boys looked. The mamas knew that I was telling the story again and they laughed. The boys ran around for the rest of the day, playing with each other and the nurses. And today we saw them smile through their swollen lips at the antics of the nurses, willing to do almost anything to provoke a smile.
I hope these mamas swapped numbers and the boys can be friends as they grow up. The surgeries are finished but it will take a long time until their speech improves enough for them to be easily understood by strangers. In the hardest of times it’s nice to know you have a friend, like a brother who is going through a similar experience to you.
|the bigger one|
|the smaller one|
|checking our palates like we checked theirs|
I'll miss these little ones!
PS- this space will be quiet for some weeks as I go on an American adventure in two days time!