Hip dysplasia??? Until 4 months ago, I had never heard of it either. In the most basic of explanations it’s a misalignment or deformation of the hip socket. While I am not a doctor and am certainly not an expert on this subject, I thought sharing my experience may help another mama (or dad) dealing with their child’s diagnosis and in knowing they’re not alone.
Click Goes the Hip
We were at the pediatrician for my daughter’s 4-month checkup; with 2 kids, it’s a place we’re at all too often. My pediatrician and I were causally chatting as she was looking over my daughter when she suddenly went, “Huh?”; a sound you never want to hear when your child is being examined.
Baby girl’s right hip “clicked” as it was rotated. It may be nothing but a sonogram and x-ray of the hip was recommended. A week later we had an appointment with Radiology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. A few more days go by and a follow up call from my pediatrician’s office is referring us to a pediatric orthopedic specialist. And now the anxiousness sets in.
We met with the doctor and the questions began. Was she my first child? No. Was she breech? No. Was she premature? No. Does hip dysplasia run in our families? Not that we’re aware of. We didn’t have any of the common indicators but a quick review of her x-rays showed she did in fact have hip dysplasia. Her hip was essentially resting out of its socket. The doctor had me feel her hip pop as he rotated her leg. And it was a pop indeed. I wanted to cry. My poor, poor baby.
The doctor recommended surgery for Friday. But today is Thursday; that’s tomorrow! I don’t even have time to process this. Why so soon? My daughters hip seemed to have worsened in the month from it being detected (as a small click) to now (a full-on pop) and he didn’t want to let much more time go by before we start to address it. And, quite frankly, he had availability for the procedure.
Because hip dysplasia is often caught a birth, babies can often be put into a harness to hold their legs in place as the hip socket forms. Our daughter was now 5 months old and very active. She had just started rolling over like a champ! For her, a harness wouldn’t work, she needed a cast. She would be put into a spica cast, a cast that went from just under her chest, down both legs to her ankles. A tendon in her hip also needed to be clipped to avoid interfering with the repair process. For this cast application (and the 2 that followed) baby girl had to be put under anesthesia. And now I’m in a full-on panic.
As we leave the doctor’s office, I’m not even to our car and I have my mom on the phone. I’m in a daze as she asks me questions I don’t have answers to. True to who my mom is, she’s packing her bag to come help with my son (and to be there for me) before we’re even off the phone.
As we get home a tremendous amount of guilt sets in. Is this my fault? I swaddled her longer than I should have because honestly, I forgot. It had been 3 ½ years since I took my infant care class. I forgot you stop swaddling at 2 months, and there we were at 4 months, still with her as a cozy burrito. We later learned that my husband’s Great Aunt had hip dysplasia as a baby so it does run in our girl’s genetics. That helped with the guilt, some.
Exhausted, my husband, little one and I arrive at the hospital at 6:45am for our 8:00am procedure, we work our way through check-in and are placed in our pre-op waiting room. And waiting is what we will do.
They bring us the tiniest hospital gown and the nurses check over baby girl to make sure she’s healthy enough for the procedure. They tell us the anesthesiologist and our surgeon will be in soon to answer any questions we have. We wait some more. My mom arrives after dropping my son off at preschool around 9:15am. We’re still waiting. I’m trying not to get aggravated because we’re in a hospital and who knows what kind of extreme situation could have caused our delay (there was a child waiting to have brain surgery); I do ask a nurse when we should see our doctor. Turns out our procedure was push back, but no one bothered telling us.
I am in disbelief at how well little one is behaving, as are the nurses. It’s been about 6 hours since she last allowed to eat and she is hanging in there, amazingly. We finally see our doctor and the anesthesiologist. And now for the hard part, I carry baby girl while we walk as a group to the end of a hallway, I give her the tightest of hugs, my husband and I both kiss her, tell her we love her, and I hand her over to a nurse. They walk through the doors on the left, we walk through the ones on the right. I impressed myself, I didn’t cry (even though I kind of wanted to).
We’re given a restaurant style pager and now have a couple hours to try and distract ourselves. When the pager finally goes off, I virtually sprint back to the check in area. Our doctor tells us things went well, she still needs x-rays but we can see her while she waits. As I get closer all I hear is wailing and I know immediately, that’s my little girl crying. I pick up my pace forcing the nurse guiding me to pick up hers. When I get to her area, I can’t find her, I just see a pile of blankets, then I realize, she is that pile of blankets. They were to keep her warm post anesthesia. I pick her up to calm her the best I can. With the cast, she’s heavy and awkward to hold but I’ll figure that out later, right now I just want to console her.
It’s 3:30pm by the time x-rays are complete; a long time from the start of what should have been a fairly quick day. I finally have my little one in my arms, trying to figure out how to nurse with this new cast in the way and realize this is just the beginning of our journey.
Come back in 2 weeks for more of our story. I’ll be sharing our adventure in getting her home, our life in the months to follow, and helpful tips I learned through trial and error while dealing with a spica cast.