Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seven Months!

I really can't believe how time has flown by. L.E. is seven months old tomorrow. She's a happy girl; my only complaint is how hard it is to get her to sleep.
Let me back up a bit. We had a six-month check-up with Dr. P. She had x-rays done and was so good while they took them. The cutest thing was the little tiny lead circle they put on her abdomen to protect her. She didn't move a muscle and smiled on cue when the x-ray techs made googly-eyes and coos at her.
We got good news! Her hips are stable and looking great. The brace only has to be worn at night and during naps. Since her nap schedule is an oxymoron, we've taken to just putting the brace on her after she gets home from daycare and taking it off when she wakes up in the morning. Unfortunately, she hates it even more now. L.E. has learned to roll and crawl like a normal baby and loves sleeping curled up in the fetal position. That, of course, is impossible with her brace on. So she cries and fusses when we put her down at night. One night when she was sick with a cold, we took the brace off of her and she slept for a solid eight hours. That was a pretty stupid decision. I know babies aren't supposed to have the ability to manipulate their parents, but L.E. certainly knows how to get what she wants. Her dad is such a softie for her that he will remove the brace just to get her to stop crying. All that does is make me even more upset. I feel guilty enough as it is about her DDH; now i feel as though I'm failing her by taking the brace off. So I made the decision to put it back on her every single night. I haven't slept since.
Traditional sleep-training doesn't apply to us here, does it? I've read books and websites...watched DVDs and nothing seems to get her to go down easily. The only chance I have is to play Train's "Hey Soul Sister" on repeat at least 5 times. She'll at least sleep for a bit after that. I guess my only option is to keep at it and hope she learns to soothe herself while wearing her "friend."
On another note, I can't say how grateful I am for the new website hipdysplasia.org. It's so wonderful to read other parents' stories that are so similar to my own. I wish it was around seven months ago!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Larry the Cable Guy: Dysplasia Hero.

A friend told me about this article today and I couldn't believe it. Looking past the fact that Larry the Cable Guy actually has made more than $5,000,000, he and his wife Cara have a 4-year-old son who was born with DDH. Cara was as shocked as I was to the lack of resources out there for such a common abnormality. Their goal with starting up the International Hip Dysplasia Institute at Arnold Palmer Medical Center is to exchange knowledge and educate parents. The long-term goal is to cure DDH without surgery.
I wish they were around 6 months ago, when L.E. was born and diagnosed. There were very little resources available and I'm happy that the IHDI has such a thorough website.  And I couldn't be more grateful for the Cable Guy family for giving back so much. I might just have to go rent his health inspector movie...

She cried. I cried. And cried.

My name is Hip-Baby Mama, and I suffer from post-partum depression.
I know I've mentioned it in previous posts, but I finally feel OK enough to talk about the first few months with L.E. and the battle raging inside my own head. As a little bit of background, I've been depressed in the past but have been seeing a very nice therapist for the last 5 years. Being pregnant made me absolutely elated so I stopped therapy. A hint of sadness crept up during the final few weeks of being pregnant but I chalked that up to new-mommy jitters. (I just made that term up)
I had a scheduled c-section with L.E. because she never descended into the birth canal. What I know now is that she was transverse and since her hips were dislocated, she may have never dropped. Even if I had a normal labor, it most likely would have ended with an emergency surgery. I know a lot of women who had c-sections feel like they were cheated out of the whole natural birthing experience but I really didn't care at that point. I wanted a healthy baby and if I had to cut her out myself to get her, I would have.
Overall, the surgery itself wasn't a bad experience. T was by my side the whole time and the anesthesiologist talked me through the whole process. I felt L.E. being lifted out of me and she was immediately taken over to the clean/weigh station. (Seems very much like a truck stop, doesn't it?) T didn't let her out of his sight. But I didn't get to hold her for what seemed like forever. Did I miss out on the first bonding experience? Is that what caused the inner anguish I had yet to face?
The next few hours were a blur. I was in the recovery room. I was moved to a regular room. I was a MOM! She was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. (She still is.) Our pediatrician was there about 2 hours after she was born and that's when he broke the DDH news to us. While L.E. was sleeping that afternoon, I grabbed the laptop and began Googling. I was horrified by the photos of little babies in huge casts. I cried. And cried. And pretty much have cried every day since then.
I've come to terms with L.E.'s DDH. This blog has certainly helped. I haven't heard from any other hip-parents that randomly stumble across me but the support I've gotten from friends who've taken the time to read this has been overwhelming. But I still couldn't shake the nagging feeling that I did something wrong, I screwed up, L.E. deserves a better mom than me...since day 1 I've felt this way.
We came home too early. I thought nursing was going well but by L.E.'s 5th day, she'd lost 1-1/2 lbs. Turns out she wasn't sucking properly. One night in the ER later, I was hooked up to a rented breast pump for the next 6 weeks while T fed her from bottles. Instead of bonding with her, I was in the back room pumping milk for her, feeling like a cow, every 3 hours around the clock. She wouldn't smile for me. I cried. And cried. She cried. And cried. I would try to bargain with her...Tell her that we were a team and we could get through this together. She cried harder. I cried harder. T went back to work. I never felt more alone.
I feel compelled to insert here that no matter how upset and depressed I was, I still loved L.E. unconditionally. I would breathe in that new baby smell like a junkie getting a fix. I felt guilty when I went to the doctor and didn't take her with me. I needed to be around her all the time and when she cried, I felt like somebody was stabbing me in the heart. I didn't want her to be in any pain that I couldn't cure. I'm her mommy, I'm supposed to make everything better. But at 4 weeks, L.E. just didn't care who was around. I took it personally; I felt like I was disappointing her.
My parents showed up week 5. I was sleep-deprived, bitter, upset, feeling inept and and just wanted my mom. But Mom was focused on her new grand-baby. Sure, L.E. would stop crying the moment her grandma was in the room. I felt like I was being stabbed. I turned into a teenager again, stopping short of jumping up and down and screaming, "Pay attention to ME for a change!" My dad asked me if I was depressed because I wasn't as skinny as I was before. I almost punched him in the face.
They left the same day L.E. went from her Pavlik harness to the abduction brace. She cried. And cried. Was it the new brace? Or was it that Grandma wasn't there? For my own sanity, I blamed the brace.
I make it sound like the crying was non-stop. It was nowhere near what the parents of colicky babies go through and I almost feel badly for even thinking that I had it rough. But at the same time, I was convinced my baby was going to have nerve-cutting surgery when she was less than a year old. It tore at me every day. I felt that if she didn't have the brace on every single moment, she was going to have surgery and casts. If I didn't get the brace back on her RIGHT AFTER her bath, it was surgery and casts. We flew across the country and she didn't wear her brace on the plane. I was terrified that was going to be the day that her hips would decide to go into their sockets and the brace wasn't there to help so they would fail. I felt like a bad parent every single moment. I cried. And cried.
The weather got warm and L.E. started smiling. She smiles ALL THE TIME. It made my heart burst. I finally felt like I could do this, I could be a great mom.