I kept trying to write the opening paragraph about Jay's eye surgery next week because I was trying to start the story from where it began, and then kept realizing that this is a thing he's dealt with literally his entire life.
Jay was born in Utah and we first noticed him crossing his eyes around three months. We brought this up to our pediatrician who told us that infantile eye crossing was actually really common, and normal, and that he should grow out of it by the time he was one. For the most part, during that first year we really didn't notice it too much and it seemed to go away for the most part, at least enough that Derek and I weren't thinking about it on a regular basis.
Fast forward to when Jay was 18 months and we were living in North Carolina. We noticed that he was starting to cross his eyes quite a bit and so we brought it up to our new doctor who told us to wait it out for a few months and to take him to an eye doctor if things didn't correct themselves within six months.
Then my entire pregnancy happened and because I was in and out of the doctors almost every week, getting Jay's eyes checked kind of fell to the back burner. January of last year after Em was born, and Jay was two and a half, we finally brought them both to the eye doctor. The doctor told us that Jay has prominent epicanthal folds near the inner corners of his eyes. This basically means he has a little more skin there then normal because the bridge of his nose hasn't fully developed yet (should be fully developed by the time he's 7), and that his eyes have the appearance of being crossed because of the extra skin, but they weren't truly crossing. In fact they did about ten different tests with him in the doctor's office to make his eyes cross and never once during the exam did he truly cross his eyes.
They said because he had the prominent epicanthal folds that this put him at a high risk for developing a cross eye. They also said the peak time for that to happen was between ages two and three, and to have him checked again in a year.
Yesterday was that one year mark and we brought Jay and Em in for their annual check-ups. The doctor took down all of our medical history and then examined both of the kids. Jay has pretty bad anxiety around doctors (the consequence of watching them torture his younger sister for the last 18 months I suppose), and while we were in the office I said a silent prayer that Jay would cooperate and do all the tests for the doctors when he started to cry at the beginning. When I had finished, Jay was sitting up in the exam chair playing all the games with the eye doctor and wouldn't even let me come over. He said, "No! I want to do it all by myself mom!" The doctor was able to do a really great thorough exam and at the end told us that there was no doubt that Jay is crossing his left eye, and that it needed to be corrected.
In a lot of cases with crossed eyes, kids are compensating for poor vision, or weak eyes, so they're able to correct the problem with glasses, or an eye patch and the kids stop crossing. The problem with Jay is that he actually sees really well it's just the alignment of his eye muscles are off, similar to when your car needs a new alignment. So next week we will go in for a routine eye surgery where they will make a small incision in the muscle under his eye, fix the muscle, and then sew it back up. They'll do the procedure to both eyes, and within a couple of days he should be pain free.
It will take a week or so for the stitches to heal and dissolve. After that it will take about 3-4 weeks for his eyes to fully heal and for his brain and eyes to make the new connections for where to focus and align the eyes. After a month we'll go in for a follow up where they will be able to tell if the surgery was a success or not. 85% of the time it's a success on the first try, the other 15% need a little more tweaking in a follow up surgery.
When I left the office I felt like our doctor kind of rushed right into the surgery boat and I was second guessing whether or not he was right with what he thought needed to be done for Jay. Later that afternoon a friend who takes her daughter to the same doctor for a similar problem, told me that he's working on her daughter's eyes right now with eye patches, but that she too may need surgery in a few months. It was comforting for me to know the doctor is well aware of the other methods to help cross/lazy eyes (and he even uses them!), but he knows that this surgery is what Jay needs to help fix his specific problem. Then again, just minutes later, I was texting with another one of my mommy friends from church, and she was telling me how her kids go to the same eye doctor, and how much she loves him. I know without a doubt that that these seemingly insignificant conversations with friends were a tender mercy from Heavenly Father confirming that this surgery is what's best for Jay right now.