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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Cagle

What to Expect When Your Baby Needs Tubes

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

You've found yourself here because your little one has endured months of constant ear infections. And so have you. Your days of watching them suffer will soon be over. I'm assuming if you've stumbled upon this post, you're in the market for a shiny set of ear tubes. Maybe a surgery date is already scheduled, maybe you still have unanswered questions, and maybe you're sitting on your couch at home snuggling that pitiful little babe as we speak.


I am a healthcare professional... but not when it comes to ENT issues. I am writing this from a mother's perspective. No big words or medical advice here. Just a mom sharing her experience in hopes it'll bring you some peace.


PRE-OP


Constant infections, failed hearing screens, and allergic reactions to antibiotics landed us in the ENT's office. I could go into all the specifics for each of my kids, but I'll spare you. Bottom line... both of my boys needed tubes, so why not just knock it out on the same day, right?!


We showed up at our local children's hospital at 6AM. Early morning arrival times may not sound great, but my boys didn't even have time to realize how hungry they were since they weren't allowed anything by mouth pre-surgery. Blessings in disguise (especially for that chunk of a baby). We checked in, paid our dues, and waited to be called back. They had placed two beds in one pre-op room so our family could stay together. The boys got changed into their surgery gear and things started rolling from there.

The little guy got some Tylenol by mouth, and my big boy had some Ativan. No IVs were placed for this quick procedure! Meds were given orally and they used medical gas to sedate them. I did not realize this until the day of and I was so relieved! Anyone else ever had a terrible IV experience?! I'm still trying to forget about the one in my wrist during my 39 week induction. Ouch!


The boys were both taken back to the OR fully awake. My four year old, really enjoying his "happy meds", was more than willing to go for a ride with the nurse that came to roll him back. Their surgeries were scheduled back to back. So we had a brief ten minutes where both boys were away simultaneously.


POST-OP

After a quick procedure (and I do mean QUICK), the boys were brought straight back to us. Garrett, my 9 month old at the time, was crying for a bottle. He chugged ten ounces like a champ, and went right back to sleep while I rocked him. Several minutes later, Myles was brought back to our room. He was still very groggy, but comfortable. After our physician came through with updates and instructions, we were discharged home with two sleep drunk babies.


The rest of the day went by pretty easily. Lots of naps, snuggles, and snacks. Sometimes anesthesia can cause nausea, but we got lucky and the boys seemed unphased.


ENT specialists all have their own specific protocols, and ours called for ear drops twice a day for the first week post op. I'll let you use your imagination when it comes to visualizing this. One preschooler and one infant. "Fights" over who was going first. Lots of bribery. It did get easier as the week progressed and we made it out on the other side.


Both of my boys had some blood-tinged drainage for the first couple of days, so don't be alarmed! Just beware that this might happen and try not to let your older child see his blood stained pillowcase (yeh, don't make the same mistake I did).


Overall their recovery was quick and easy! Within 24 hours they were playing normally and you'd never know they were under anesthesia the day before. Kids are so resilient and I wish I could bottle it up and take it as a supplement.


LIFE WITH TUBES


I did not realize how often we visited our pediatrician until we didn't have to anymore. We were there at least twice a month, but sometimes more. The belly issues from constant antibiotics, the small fortune we were spending on probiotic powders (x2), and the constant misery were a thing of the past.


My baby was taking bottles and eating normally for the first time in months! And sleeping longer than he ever had before. My four year old was pretty fond of his new "magic blue tubies" that gave him super hearing and prevented him from numerous rounds of Rocephin shots.


Do they still get the occasional ear infection? Yes. But now we simply treat them with drops at home... Or at Disney World, or the beach, or GiGi's house. Ear drops are now a staple in my traveling medicine cabinet; right along with Tylenol, Benadryl, bandaids, and other mama essentials.


If you're on the fence about this whole procedure, I hope this brings you some peace. Although I worked in a Children's Hospital for ten years, I was a total rookie when it came to this. Like any other mom, I was full of questions and worry. I wanted a solution to the constant ear drama, but also didn't want to elect to put my child under anesthesia if it wasn't 110% necessary. Find a specialist that hears your concerns and specializes in pediatrics. I have never met another parent that REGRETS getting tubes for their child.


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