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Explaining Your Hysterectomy to Children

From the Pre-Op Hysterectomy Articles List

Woman explaining hysterectomy to her childrenI’m having a hysterectomy next week and my problem is my 6-year-old son. How do I explain to him what is going to happen to me? I’ve tried to talk to him and he cries and doesn’t want me to go. I am so worried about him.

Many mothers of young children have dealt with the same issue you describe. The following are suggestions and sentiments on this topic shared through the years by members of Hystersisters.com:
  • “My son knew for two months that his mommy was very tired and sick, so I told him that I was going to go to the hospital for a couple of days to get better, and that did it. I felt that, at 6 years of age, he didn’t need to know about all the cuts and stitches. It's not changing the truth -- it is treating a 6-year-old as a 6-year-old.”

  • ”I had my son build me something with his Legos, to take to the hospital with me. He also got to pick out a stuffed animal to keep me company. Let him be a part of it -- but try to make it an adventure, not something he will be so afraid of.”

  • “Before my surgery, I told my son that I had a pain in my belly and the doctor was going to make it better, and that I needed him to be a big boy and maybe he can help afterwards. It’s always hard to give advice about kids since they're all so different, and what works for one may not work for another.”

  • “I explained to my kids that hospitals are where doctors fix people. I then told them that I would have surgery and that the doctor wants me to stay at the hospital for 3 or 4 days to make sure everything is good. My 6 year-old son certainly did not want to hear any details about the cutting and stapling. He did want to know why I was having it done. I explained that things were not working right and it caused me pain. They were still upset about me being in the hospital. Nothing you do or say can completely take away the anxiety. I think it is important to acknowledge it and tell your children that you will miss them, too.”

  • “Don’t give too much information. A child's greatest fear is losing a parent. Downplay it as much as possible. Just say that you will be gone to the hospital for a few days and when you get back your stomach will be sore and you might need his help. Answer his questions, but only give the basics. Be sure to reassure him that you will be just fine. Have him come up with ideas of things that he can do for you when you return. Children love to be helpful and feel needed, but most of all, they need to feel secure that you will be okay.”

  • “I have a 7-year-old son who was also very upset about my surgery. He cried often, and I was more worried about him than about myself. I found that just spending extra quality time with him before surgery was more calming to him than the talks.”

  • “I struggled, too, as to what to tell my 7-year-old daughter. I finally decided to tell her that Mommy was going in the hospital so they could make me better and I wouldn’t hurt anymore. She seemed okay with that. We talked about it whenever she felt like it. I tried to answer her truthfully, yet gently, and in words she could understand. I also informed her teacher about the surgery, and forewarned her that my daughter may be a bit anxious for the next few days.”

There are some good books available about hospitals and surgery, and it's often easier to explain if you have a book to help. For younger children (age 3–7), "When Mommy Had a Mastectomy," by Nancy Reuben Greenfield, and "Dakota's Mom Goes to the Hospital" by Annie Thiel have been recommended. For older children (8-preteen), "Let's Talk About When Someone You Love Is in the Hospital" by Marianne Johnston might be helpful.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

08-21-2007 - 03:14 PM


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