Inguinal hernia surgery on four month baby
July 4, 2012 11:52 AM   Subscribe

My four month old baby boy has just been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and will have to undergo surgery in the next few days. I'm freaking out. Help?

Have any Mefites gone through this with their babies? What can I expect from anesthesia, the laparoscopy, the recovery? Also, we have a scheduled vacation to the beach (including a three-four hour flight). The pediatrician doesn't seem to think we should cancel and we'll probably go through the surgery a week before the trip.

Any help, experiences and suggestions are very much welcome.
posted by CrazyLemonade to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was born with an inguinal hernia, and my sister was born with 2 of them. I had the surgery when I was a month old and all that remains is a very faint scar. This was thirty-some years ago before laparoscopy, so I'm sure it's even less of a big deal now. Can't really speak to much else as I don't remember it, but I just wanted to let you know that you needn't freak out.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:34 PM on July 4, 2012

This exact thing happened to my boss's kid. That was over thirty years ago and his son is fit as a fiddle today, actually fitter than most fiddles (he does lots of long-haul cycling events). As a parent of young children who've seen their share of perilous hospital events, it's totally freaky and no amount of logic or facts will completely erase that fear. You have to learn to live with it to some extent. It's the very essence of a completely instinctual, irrational emotion, but just know (and try to remind yourself) that many have gone before and have lived to tell the tale.

This is a very routine surgery and your little one will be just fine.

Your pediatrician is on the right track with not canceling your vacation either; kids recover with astounding speed compared to adults.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:04 PM on July 4, 2012

You are a mom; worrying is your job. You have done that and even posted about your worry. Relax, enjoy a nice safe and sane lemonade. Let the medical people do the worrying from now on.
posted by Cranberry at 1:15 PM on July 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I used to read surgical reports as part of my job. Unless it is "incarcerated", a hernia is not that serious. They repair them so they don't get worse. Some adults live with them for years before bothering to repair them. Adults often schedule hernia repair at their convenience. Assuming there are no complications, this really shouldn't be a big deal. Hover over your baby a little but take your vacation.
posted by Michele in California at 1:43 PM on July 4, 2012

I had one of these when I was a baby (in 1987). My mom, who's a nurse, has never said that she was at all worried about it when it was being treated; apparently it's very common.

The only long-term affects I've ever been warned about is a slight chance that I might get one again sometime in the next few years (i.e. when I'm in my twenties), but that's it!
posted by anaximander at 2:16 PM on July 4, 2012

This a parking ticket on the road of surgical interventions--a nuisance but not a significant issue. This not to minimize your natural and appropriate anxiety--just to reassure. Remember, surgeons are now doing in utero repairs of heart defects/anomalies. Probably your biggest worry should be:it is so "pedestrian" that it needs to be taken seriously. Have a good trip
posted by rmhsinc at 2:42 PM on July 4, 2012

Our daughter had routine surgery at 5 months (ear tubes). The three bad parts were: (1) enforcing the "nothing to drink" rule, which for nursing started I think 4 hours before the surgery, when there was a delay in starting the surgery; (2) watching her being carried away by the anesthesiologist, looking back at us over his shoulder; and (3) realizing the sound that I'd dismissed as "not my baby, she doesn't sound like that" when looking for her in the large, twenty-patient recovery room was actually her -- she was just crying so desperately and hoarsely I hadn't recognized her voice.

But she nursed immediately and slept a whole lot once we got home and was pretty much fine by the next day. Blessedly anticlimactic, after one very difficult morning.

One thing I would suggest is trying to keep him from getting sick before the surgery; the fact that our daughter had a cold the day of surgery meant an extra section about potential breathing-related complications to the informed-consent speech by the anesthesiologist, which I could have done without. In general, I consider illnesses just part of childhood and don't care that there's a kid coughing up a lung at playgroup, but the week before surgery I'd probably try to keep our activities to less likely sources of contagion.

Other than that, it's one of those things that's nowhere near as dangerous as it feels, but I don't know that there's any way to feel it's not dangerous. You feel how you feel, and it won't make the outcome any different, so I'd probably just tell myself it's natural to be freaking out and not pressure myself to un-freak.
posted by palliser at 3:23 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had an inguinal hernia surgically repaired when I was a wee babe in 1978. Of course, I have no memory of this, it has never affected my life in any way, I only know about it b/c my parents told me. There were never any noticeable scars. I have grown into a healthy and relatively normal adult.

Your boy will be fine. Babies are tough little buggers
posted by gnutron at 3:32 PM on July 4, 2012

I had a hernia repaired as an infant. I have a very faint scar now, and the area has always been slightly more ticklish than the area around it. That's it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:12 PM on July 4, 2012

This is all much tougher on you than it will be on the baby. He won't remember a thing after all. I would focus on managing your anxiety, with meds if you have to, and just being clear minded on the day of the procedure and following the doctor's instructions, because that's the part you can do something about.

It will be ok. My kid had to get his tear duct cleared out at a year old and I was a mess. But he is fine and now doesn't get constant eye infections. I was a good parent to let him get that done. You are a good parent for taking care of your kid's hernia. Even if it scares you, you're doing it for him.
posted by emjaybee at 10:13 PM on July 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I do feel less scared now seeing how this is not a big-deal surgery and a lot more common than I thought. Still....a mom's gonna worry...agh!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:33 PM on July 4, 2012

My kid had multiple surgeries as a baby and a child. As someone noted above, for me the worst part was watching the anesthesia take effect (I was in the surgical theater until my kid was "under").

I was amazed at how fast and easily my kid bounced back. She's fine now with blurry memories of any of the surgeries (memory can be wonderful that way), but I actually still, 25 years later, shudder to remember watching that particular sleep-but-not-sleep descend.

Good luck! Just keep looking forward to the vacation!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:32 AM on July 5, 2012

My baby went through this around 8 months old (he's now 3) and my brother had it done too. It's very common. The worst part (as said above) is the not feeding them for so many hours before the surgery and then letting them take your baby away. But once you calm down from that, it's just basic waiting (have something mindless and distracting like a show to watch), and then you get to see your baby again (though there will be tubes and oxygen masks and it will be the saddest thing ever, but then you get to hold them again and all is better). I was ready to nurse mine, but all he wanted was to be held and fall asleep again on me, and the next day he was perky and back to his normal self. I was expecting fussy, unhappy baby, but all was good by the next day. Your vacation plans should be perfectly fine.
posted by katers890 at 10:00 AM on July 5, 2012

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