On May 4, 2003 after an incredibly wonderful pregnancy I gave birth to a precious baby girl "Caroline Sophia". She was born vaginally without any complications just three days past her due date. I was terribly exhausted and hungry, but beaming with excitement about her arrival. The next day in the hospital Caroline went to the newborn nursery for her hearing screen and physical examination by the pediatrician. When I went to the nursery to check on her and bring her back to the room, the nurse practioner who was examining her told me that Caroline had some clicking in her right hip. She said this was not uncommon and that it indicated hip dysplasia. She told me that she would have a pediatric orthopedic surgeon check Caroline out to determine what treatment would be necessary. I walked down the hall with my new baby . . . in a daze. I was in shock. I could not believe that there was something "wrong" with my little girl.
When the orthopedic surgeon came to our hospital room to examine Caroline, he found that her right hip was subluxated but also that her left hip was completely dislocated. I half expected that the orthopedist would find that everything was okay, but instead it just kept getting worse. The orthopedist said she would be put in a Pavlik harness and monitored with ultrasound every 1-2 weeks. He told us that this condition usually resolves in four to six weeks. Shortly thereafter, a lady came by to fit Caroline into her Pavlik harness. She was warm and kind as she manipulated the Velcro straps of the harness to fit my little girl. But when I saw that she had a prosthetic arm with a hook at the end, my emotions/pregnancy hormones got the best of me and I ran to the bathroom crying.
Every week, my husband and I took the one-hour trip to visit the orthopedist and have Caroline's hip ultrasound. After one month, the ultrasound showed that the right hip was normally seated but the left was without improvement. We were given the choice to let her be free for the next two months at which time she would face a closed reduction and spica cast for three months, or to try an abduction brace for a couple of months. My husband and I decided to try the brace in attempt to avoid the surgery and spica cast. The brace was a nice change, in a way. We could take it off for diaper changes and baths. But it did have its drawbacks. She could not sit in her car seat wearing the brace. We tried several other car seats, but could not find one that would accommodate the brace, so we had to remove the brace whenever we traveled in the car. After four weeks in the brace, Caroline's ultrasound showed more stability in her left hip. It was no longer dislocated, only subluxated. We were thrilled. We also got to taper off the amount of time Caroline spent in her brace, from 24 hours to 18 hours then down to 12 hours in monthly increments. When we took Caroline back in August, two months later (she is now almost four months old!), we were expecting to be rid of the brace for good. Once again, we were disappointed to learn from her x-rays that the left hip was still not positioned correctly. Four days later, Caroline got her first spica cast under general anesthesia. Her orthopedist did an arthrogram, which actually showed that her hip did not need to manipulated into position, but that her left socket was flat and had not begun to ossify as it should have. We battled the awkwardness of the cast for six weeks, and then she had to have it replaced to accommodate her growth. Changing her diaper, keeping her clean, breast feeding, and just carrying her around anywhere was a challenge, but we managed to get through it with the support of our families, friends, and church. In November, Caroline had her spica removed and was again put back into the abduction brace for 20 hours per day. What a relief to just be in the brace after that bulky cast! In March, her x-rays showed some improvement in her left hip. The socket is beginning to curve and to ossify. She is now in the brace for sleeping only and it is WONDERFUL! The doctor says she is "not out of the woods yet" and still may need an osteotomy in a year or two, but we're praying it won't come to that.
The past year has certainly been an emotional roller coaster. I hurt that my baby had to go through this. And I'll admit that I felt cheated that she was in a hard "turtle shell", that I couldn't cuddle with her and feel her baby soft skin, that I couldn't put her in the bathtub and let her splash, that many of her pretty clothes would not fit over the bulky cast. She cut her little hands on the fiberglass cast before I realized I needed to cover it with tube socks. And I felt guilty for that. Nothing anyone could say made me feel any better about it. And it sometimes made me feel worse, when they would say things like "well at least it can be treated" and "at least her mi