I knew there was something wrong by the last two weeks of what had been an uneventful pregnancy. I was still carrying high, couldn't breathe real well, and any internal examinations by the doctor were excruciatingly painful. When examined at 35 weeks the baby was determined to be head down. We would find out later that the doctor had felt her head and thought it was her posterior!
I was put on bed rest for the last two weeks, because my blood pressure shot up. On July 2, two days before my due-date, my doctor scheduled me to be induced on July 7 - the next time he would have hospital rounds.
I didn't make it. At about 3 a.m. July 6, my water broke with a gush, on the way to the bathroom. We went straight to the hospital because I had tested positive for group B step. They started to administer pitocin, because I wasn't contracting. I had a epidural in order for anyone to be able to give me an internal examination. The nurse declared me "high and tight" at 6 a.m.
At 7 a.m., the doctor on call stopped by to meet me and check my progress for himself. During the exam he proclaimed "this baby is breech!" and ran to get an ultrasound machine. There she was, classic "Frank breech" (rear down, feet up by head.) I was scheduled for a Caesarean-section in a few hours. The C-section was routine, and after all the pain I had been in the last two weeks, it was a relief to know I wouldn't have to push this baby out. Haley was a surprising 9 lbs. at birth.
The next morning I was visited by two of the doctors from the pediatricians office I had selected. They told me that during their examination of Haley, they noticed that both hips seemed to be what they called a "bilateral hip dislocation." They assured me that this was a common result of a first born, female, large sized, breech birth. They would send an pediatric orthopedist to talk to me later that day.
The pediatric orthopedist stopped by and told my husband and I the results of his examination of Haley. She would need to wear a Pavlik harness for four to six months, and an office visit every two weeks. OK, we would get through this, right? It wasn't forever, and everyone told us to be grateful that she didn't need surgery. We tried to be as optimistic as we were expected to be.
At six weeks of age, we were finally allowed to remove the harness for two hours, each day - she could finally have a real bath! At 10 weeks, she was allowed "out" for six hours a day. That was semi-problematic because I had to coordinate that with the day-care she was in at the time. At 12 weeks, she was out for 12 hours a day, and I had convinced my sister to become Haley's day-care provider. At four months, she was able to stop using the Pavlik Harness altogether.
We had a "follow-up" X-ray scheduled for her at six months of age. That X-ray showed that the balls on the top of her femurs were not sitting correctly in their sockets, so a Hewson Brace was prescribed. Needless to say, my husband and I were devastated. It was like taking a step back! They had told us the Pavlik would fix the problem! We searched out two other respected doctors' opinions, and the first said he might wait and see, the second said it was an excellent catch of a rare condition. So we tallied the score and went with the Hewson brace.
Because she was already eight months old by the time we finally got the brace, her doctor wanted her out of it for four hours a day, so as not to impede normal crawling and standing progression. I do have to say that the brace never slowed her down. She learned to walk in it! We kept going back for X-rays every four months, and she gradually was only in it at night.
In March of 2001, the doctor told us that her progress had been minimal in the last four months, and that if there wasn't significant improvement at her July appointment, surgery would be the best course. Surgery! How did we get here?
Luck must have finally been on our side because at her July appointment, she beat the odds. Her doctor was very surprised. So were her parents - we were prepared for *bad news* - it was all we knew!
She now has to continue wearing the brace until November 2001, be out of it completely for two months, and then have a follow-up X-ray, just to make sure that the ball of her femurs are still correctly seated in her hip sockets.
We hope this is the end of her saga.
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