I have very exciting news to share! A few weeks ago, after wearing her brace for 23 hours each day for three months, Harper's doctor gave us the OK to move forward with the next step - brace wear during nights and naps only!
I've had a few people stop by this blog who are also dealing with clubfoot in their little one (hi!), so I'm writing these Clubfoot Files to share what we are going through and what we are learning. I know I like reading other parents' blogs about it - the more info you can arm yourself with, the better! It helps to hear what real people are going through. If this isn't your cup of tea, feel free to skip this post. I'll keep posting about other stuff here too. :)
To make it to this milestone seems like a huge accomplishment. I remember Tony and I discussing everything we would soon go through, while I was still pregnant, and we looked to this day as the one where it would all be downhill from there. It seemed forever away. Yet here we are.
So what does this mean? It means she is supposed to wear her brace for roughly 16 hours each day so it can continue to function in a "retainer" sort of way - keeping her foot from turning back in like it is inclined to do (think about it like a retainer you wear at night after having braces). Now, this sounds like a long time, but really it means EIGHT hours a day that she does not have to have it on! You can imagine what this feels like after going three months only getting 60 minutes.
Harper is happier. I just know it.
Sure, it might just be where she is anyway along her developmental track, but she's so much more active now - kicking, squirming, rolling - and full of smiles. Her legs are so strong from lifting that brace up, and I've already seen how this free time is allowing her to catch up in the moving department.
My scowling baby is even becoming a thing of the past.
Harper currently takes three naps a day (well, 2 good ones and one so-so one...). So this would mean taking her shoes on and off three or four times each day. I'm practically a pro at it now, but it still takes about 10 minutes or so, since I take my time to keep her relaxed and to ensure I do it right. That's a lot of time!
So for now, I put them on at bedtime (7 pm) and keep them on through her first nap, taking them off around 10:30 when she gets up. She is usually pretty sleepy in the morning when she gets up at 7, awake long enough to eat, smile at me while I drink my coffee, then head back to bed. So I don't feel too bad about her wearing it during some awake time. It is so worth it to have the rest of the day free!
I've quickly learned how inconvenient it is to not have a nice little bar connecting her feet that I can easily lift out of the way during especially messy diaper changes. Also - how in the world are you supposed to keep socks on a baby??? It feels like we are getting to experience a whole new facet of babyhood.
She gets to wear leggings! I can carry her on my hip! She can nurse in all sorts of crazy positions if she's so inclined!
I'm not sure how long we will be in this phase. Eventually she will get her time reduced further, only during night time sleep. That will be nice too. But now, I'm relishing the time she gets and thanking God that we have been so blessed.
I want to preface the rest of this with the note that Harper's clubfoot was mild. She's responded especially well to the treatment and she's a generally relaxed and flexible baby. Not much phases her anyway (something which we are grateful for each and every day!). Each baby is different and so many others have a much more complicated treatment process and respond to it much differently. We are lucky.
But I just want to go back in time to that pregnant girl, scared and crying inconsolably, locked in the bathroom stall at the OB's office, afraid to come out and face her husband and the reality that something, anything!, might be wrong with their baby. I want to tell her that it's going to be ok - ridiculously, amazingly, OK.
This clubfoot issue has been but a hiccup in our journey so far as parents. Inconvenient at times? Sure? But minor in comparison to so many other things.
We have a beautiful daughter that we get to snuggle and hold in our arms each and every day. She is healthy and happy and loved beyond measure. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Check out all of my other Clubfoot Files posts here!