No More Smiling Baby

December 2017

Before KASAI, Patrick has always been a cheerful and lively baby. He always smiles to us. Playful, active and likes to engage with us. He was such a joy. We love him as our son. I could see he loved us as well.

The way his eyes stared deeply into mine, always melt my heart. The closeness of our bodies during breastfeeding made our bonding even closer. 

After the KASAI surgery, he was wheeled into ICU for observations. After two days plus in ICU, he was discharged to normal ward to our surprise. The surgeon mentioned that Patrick was healing well. There were no complications. Why continue to place him in ICU? He told my husband when questioned his decision. 

When we in the normal ward, Patrick was awake.

His eyes, Oh, his eyes.

No longer smiling. No longer having this glowing shine that I used to see. Instead, it was replaced with - Pain, Confusion. Questions. 

To my husband's eyes, Patrick eyes seemed to say, "why???? Why the pain? Why all the pain??"

We were worried we may accidentally hurt Patrick if we carry him in our arms. Our surgeon advised us not to let our fears stop us from showing our love for him. The human touch is very important. Also, not to give Patrick a wrong idea that we were rejecting him.

"We must try to make him understand. Patrick would be thinking we are doing this to him. Giving him this pain. How to make him understand?"

In anguish, I shared my thoughts aloud to my husband.

He decided to tell the truth to Patrick.

My husband gently pat Patrick's wet hair.

"You have surgery. This is done to save your life. Do you understand? This pain? It's to save your life. If do not do the surgery, you will die. If you die, you will no longer see daddy and mummy. We have to save your life, Patrick. Understand, Patrick? Daddy, mummy loves you. Now you don't understand. When you grow up, daddy mummy will explain. Then you will understand."

Patrick's eyes did not appear to register what my husband was saying. 

My husband tried a few more times.

When it was my turn, I kept assuring him that we love him. I apologised to him for the pain. That this pain only short term. Later no more.

Again his eyes gave us this look - why???

It pained me a lot to see him in this state.

I was going to prepare myself to sleep with him in the normal ward when the doctor discharged Patrick. Again my husband questioned his decision. Patrick had a major surgery. We assumed Patrick need to be in the hospital for a few weeks. The surgeon explained his wounds were fine. No complications.As a baby, the wound will heal a lot faster than an adult.

It's better for Patrick to continue to heal and recover at home than to be exposed to possible germs in the hospital.

When he returned to our home, he never once smiled. Whenever I tried to change his diapers or clothing, no matter how gentle I tried to be, Patrick cried due to feeling the stretch of the stitches. The pain killer medication seem to help lessen somewhat of his pain.

Patrick, I will be here for you, no matter what
The next day, Patrick's face looked bloated, unsmiling. He looked like a sullen boy. In fact, he looked as if he was still carrying a lot of pain in him.

I could not take it anymore. At that moment I made a vow to myself and to Patrick. I will make him SMILE once more. I MUST.

I decided to talk to him in a giggly manner. His eyes stared blankly. On occasion he looked away.

I made all kind of faces to him. His eyes were starting to have a reaction. Still, he would not focus on me for long.

Somehow I managed to make some kind of facial expression, comical enough to make him look amused. Yes!

His eyes were now more interested upon me. I continued my antics. I felt like a comedian facing a tough crowd whose funny bone are almost non existent.

Finally, his lips were slightly lifted up. His eyes appeared amused to me. Oh YES! A real smile!

And I continued. His smile slowly became wider and wider.

Day by day, I would do this for him. Making silly faces. Made up silly words. I danced for him. I sang for him. I made up songs for him. I moved my body in an odd manner. I pretended to fall in front of him and so on. I have never been this colourful in expression before. Yet if this can make him smile, I do all I can for Patrick.

Laugh and laugh with me, Patrick!
Not always he responded. When he did, his smiles grew and grew, like the sun rising from the horizon.

With each smile, it encouraged me to continue more with my comedic efforts.

My son, you are returning to us. Please don't ignore us. Always remember we love you very much.

Somewhere mid December 2017, a friend of my husband dropped by to our home when she heard of Patrick's condition. Her daughter has the same condition as well.

Her sharing caused fears in our hearts.


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