“I don’t know how you do it.” A phrase I heard a lot. And the truth is, it wasn’t easy, but my response was, and is, you do it because you have to do it. You do whatever is necessary for your children and their comfort. You do whatever it takes to better their lives.
My daughter wanted to be held, allllll the time, and you couldn’t sit down while holding her. And she was heavy in that cast. But I would see her getting so frustrated being stuck just sitting there, trying so desperately to move, so I held her. Maybe some would consider it spoiling, but to me, I just wanted her as comfortable as possible, in an uncomfortable situation.
I am very fortunate that I’m a stay-at-home mom. I can’t fathom what this experience would have been like if I was also working; if my little girl was in daycare. The utter exhaustion one would experience between the stress of working, the stress of having a young baby and the stress of dealing with the hip dysplasia diagnosis and Spica cast needs would be overwhelming. I’m sure plenty of parents out there do it (props to you), but I am thankful, I was able to be home and cater to her needs.
It’s time to have the cast removed. I have literally been counting down the days. It was like Christmas morning to me! I load my brood into our van and head to the doctor’s office.
I try to prepare my son, telling him they’re going to use a very loud saw to remove his sister’s cast and that he needs to sit quietly in his seat and not run around. He starts to freak out and does not want them to bring a saw anywhere near his sister, afraid they’ll cut her. It was very sweet to see his protective side come out. I eased his mind that she’ll be just fine.
They remove the cast and I give her a sponge bath. Then I get to pick her up and give her a hug. It was truly one of the best hugs ever. She felt so much smaller and more fragile without the cast in between us.
Next they do an x-ray on her hips. Considering her legs have been in a cast for 16 weeks, they are surprisingly strong, trying to fight the position they want her in. The doctor reviews her x-rays and thankfully they are on track, although her hip still needs further development. We are told to come back in 3 months for a checkup. After that, we will follow up every 6 months to a year as needed until her body is mature. We are also given a brace that she needs to sleep in at night and for naps (haha, they think she naps).
For the first few days out of the cast, she was irritable. You could tell her legs were sore. A little Tylenol and a lot of cuddles seemed to help.
On the go…
As selfish as it may sound, I feel like I got cheated out of those 4 months she was in a cast. I know we shouldn’t compare experiences but those are the months she normally would have started crawling and standing. But she’s making up for lost time quickly. Less than a week out of her cast and she was rolling over at will. Less than a month post-cast she started scooting. She’s still not doing a true crawl, up on her knees, but she gets where she wants to go. There’s no stopping her now!
A little wobbly at times, she did come out of the cast sitting quite well. She’s still learning how to sit herself up, but if you put her down in a sitting position (with pillows behind her – safety first!) she’s play nicely in that position until she’s done and just throws herself backwards.
She is loving the freedom her legs have. She kicks them in the bath, swings them in the high chair and you can feel them grip your side as you hold her.
Night night, sleep tight
Believe it or not, last night was actually the first night she slept in her own crib, in her own room. Sleep training, while no fun for momma, was long overdue. Between adjusting to life outside of the cast, an ear infection, teething, shots, travel, and house guests, the sleep transition kept getting pushed off.
The new brace for sleeping is nowhere as restricting as her cast, her legs are able to rest on the mattress, but she still doesn’t seem to care for it. When she wakes up in the middle of the night and throws a tantrum, she squirms around a lot. This is causing the protective foam that under her leg straps to slide out and all that’s left is the thin strap around her leg. It hasn’t caused too much of a problem yet but I could see this being physically irritating further down the road.
For now, she will wear the brace while she sleeps, at least until she learns how to take it off herself! And hopefully sleeping is what she will do; I’m tired of waking up 3-4 times a night. Quite frankly, I’m just flat out tired!
For any other parent out there dealing with their child’s hip dysplasia diagnosis, I wish you luck, I wish you strength, I wish you patience. I know there are people dealing with cases far more extreme than my daughter’s, and others more mild, but ultimately, you are not alone. You will get through it and your child will be better for it.