** Be warned, this one gets pretty personal **
It seems as though I've dropped off the face of the Earth...
Having babies seems to always throw me for quite the loop, and this time around was no exception. Nursing was miserable (that's probably a mild description) for the first ten weeks. And Big Sister gave us a bit of grief after we shipped her across the county, moved her away from grandmas and cousin, stuck her in a big girl bed, took away her binky, and potty trained her. Oh and brought home a baby sister who occupies much of the time and attention usually given to her. Wow. Poor girl. I'm only now fully realizing how rough all must be for a two-year-old.
So the first three months were a bit of a roller coaster. After Christmas, I was finally feeling mostly like a normal person again. I was bound and determined to get my crap together. You know, keep my house clean, exercise, lay off the treats, and maybe blog every once in a while.
Then I was thrown for another loop.
At Baby Sister's one month check-up, her pediatrician had noticed a click in her left hip. She said it was probably nothing, but she was going to send us to the Shriner's Hospital "just to be sure."
Our first visit at Shriner's was encouraging. The doctor said he couldn't feel anything wrong. There was no clicking, no dislocating. But he also told us to come back so he could do a sonogram "just to be sure."
I took her in for the sonogram about a month later. On the screen, her hip socket looked very shallow.
The doctor seemed a little baffled. He recommended that we come back in another month for an x-ray. By then, she would be old enough for the socket to develop more, and the x-ray would be more accurate.
Five weeks ago, Baby Sister went in for her x-ray. It showed that her hip sockets were in fact quite shallow and that the joint was not dislocated.
The condition is called hip dysplasia. It occurs most often in firstborn girls, and babies who are breech or have a high birth weight. In young babies it can be remedied with a simple harness. If it is detected later, surgery and a cast are often required.
After seeing the x-ray, the doctor outfitted her with this baby:
It's called a Pavlik Harness and it is designed to push the head of her femur deep and squarely into the socket. This puts enough stress and pressure on her pelvis to cause the socket to grow and harden around the femur.
She wears the harness all day, except for feeding and changing. She will be in it for at least three months, maybe more.
The day she got her x-ray and harness, and those following, were pretty tough for me. I think I ate a whole bag of M&Ms that first day. It was so hard to learn that my perfect little baby was broken. It felt so overwhelming to think of all the extra effort and care she was going to require. I was really in mourning for a few days.
With the harness, she doesn't fit in a swing, or a bumbo, and she can't even use the new jumper she got for Christmas. I mourned over the toys she couldn't play with.
She can't wear pants or even pajamas while wearing the harness, so she sleeps in a long sleeved onesie, and she's wearing 6-12 mo. dresses most days (because she's a little chubby, and the harness adds some extra girth :). She completely skipped most of her 3-6 mo. clothes. I was afraid her fat little legs were going to freeze and I mourned over the cute clothes she wasn't going to get to wear.
She had a really hard time sleeping the first few nights. She had been such a good sleeper, but with the harness on she woke up literally every hour and I was afraid my little sleeper was ruined. I especially mourned over the sleep I wasn't going to get.
I was so scared to have to go through all of this here, away from our family, where I'm alone with the girls most of the time. I didn't think I could handle it on my own. It is completely up to us to make sure she wears the harness. If I give in and don't make her wear it, then it will be my fault if she has lasting complications. Her treatment and healing is almost completely my responsibility. That was a lot of weight on my shoulders. It broke my heart every time I strapped her in, but I knew I was doing what's best for her.
Fortunately, after the first week things got a lot better. The harness has become part of our lives. It's just part of the normal routine now. She still fits in the bouncer, and the frontpack. I bought her a brand new baby-gym-thing-with-the-hangy-down-toys and she loves it. Since she's wearing bigger dresses and her legs are pulled up toward her body, they usually stay covered pretty well without too much effort on my behalf. After about four bad nights, she started sleeping a lot better and she's back to her old self.
She's such a happy baby, the harness barely phases her. I seem to be bouncing back more slowly than she did, but things are looking up. Hey, I even found some time to blog :)
We're so blessed that the pediatrician noticed a problem that was so subtle even the specialist didn't think anything was wrong. If the condition hadn't been found until later, the treatment would have been much more complicated.
This little girl is so strong and healthy. I believe that's the reason the doctor couldn't dislocate her hips. If the joint had been dislocated, she would have had to wear the harness 24/7, we wouldn't have even been able to take it off to give her a bath for an entire month.
While I'd rather not have to deal with all of it, I'm so grateful that we are being watched over. I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us. He is aware of us, and doesn't put us through more than we can handle. It's hard and lonely being so far away from our home and our families, but if we were sent to to this place simply to fix her little hips, then it's all worth it.
We sure love this little girl. We can't wait to get her out of this thing so she can roll and play and wear real jammies :) But most off all we're just excited to get to snuggle her properly again!