I remember thinking “these babies are going to be very close together, but as long as no one is in a cast I will be able to handle it.” I spent my entire pregnancy praying for two things for my unborn baby, that baby would be a good sleeper and that baby would have good hips. I was given one out of the two.
Hazel was the Christmas gift of the year for our family. Born a week before the big holiday, she surprised everyone by actually being a girl. We are among the few who love to not find out what we are having until their own big debut on delivery day. With Hazel, I was so certain that she was a boy that I almost took the girl going home outfit out of my hospital bag on my way there. My mom even had a present under the Christmas tree for Sam, our boys name. So when she came out and revealed herself to be a girl the whole room erupted in cheers and tears!
I erupted in tears again the next day when the rounding pediatrician came in to do her standard check up. As she examined my newborn I sat nervously on my bed, held my breath then said “How are those hips”
“Are you concerned about them” asked the Dr.
“Her sister had bilateral hip dysplasia and was in a Spica Cast for 9 weeks” I replied.
She moved to her hip exam and says rather abruptly “Yep she has it”.
I burst into tears. Knowing exactly what I would be facing, for a second time, and knowing exactly what I would have to give up and say good bye to, for a second time was sad. Plain old sad.
We made the obligitory appointment with our hip dr and set out to see him when Hazel was 10 days old. She had an ultra sound and a physical exam and, as luck would have it, her hip sockets were shallow but looked like they would firm up on their own. No casting.
She was checked again at 3 months. Still shallow hip sockets but no Pavlik Harness and no casting.
She was checked again at 5 months. Casting.
At 5 months old, somehow, her right hip had not ‘firmed up’ and was completely dislocated. Her legs were nearly an inch different in length. Our hip Dr. was as surprised and as frustrated as we were. Again, I was crying. No other option but a Spica Cast.
Spica Casting heals my daughters, yes. Praise the Lord for modern medicine and that they will not be crippled for their entire life because of some genetic default in the way my husband and I make daughters. But casting also takes so much away. In a matter of about 3 hours on casting day, you go from having your sweet squishy newborn who loves to cuddle, loves to nurse her early morning feeding in bed with you and snuggle the sweetest baby snuggles, and you knowing exactly how to hold your fussy baby to calm her down to having your baby in a body cast and only being able to touch their torso, arms, feet and face and hardly being able to comfort them at all for the first few days. Its heartbreaking.
Hazel also had to have her tendon snipped so that they could get her hip into place inside of the cast, which is common and not too drastic, but it does hurt and my little 5 month old was doped up on morphine and anesthesia. She was so confused and pissed off for a little while there.
But, as children are, she was amazing. These little babies adjust to their new cast within days and go back to being your sweet child filled with their unique personality. That first time you see them acting as themselves again, after all of the anesthesia has worn off, the pain and discomfort of the initial casting has calmed down and you see your child is still your child is the first time you breath in about three days.