Hip Hip Hooray!

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A year has passed since that momentous day when Lucy was put into her luminous pink spica and I spent a long night in the hospital, sleep deprived and wondering how we were all going to cope with the challenges of the three months to follow.

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Having a cuddle on the couch

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My little purple frog legs in her second cast

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Feeding time! No small challenge keeping the cast clean while teaching a baby to eat solids…

There have been twists and turns and surprises (seldom pleasant) along this DDH journey but our most recent check up at Princess Margaret Hospital has given us some reassurance that the worst is behind us.

When the doctor pulled up her X-ray on the screen to review her progress he started out by saying that the projection is slightly different to the last one. My heart sank. Did this mean that the angle had widened, in other words, regressed again?

What he meant, though, was that the angle of the image was slightly different to the last one – PHEW! He measured the angle of the acetabula and confirmed that Lucy’s right hip was still absolutely fine (which has always been the case) and her left hip was now a perfectly healthy 21 degrees (20 +or-3 being normal for her age) – HOORAY!

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Beautiful hips! January 2015

Our check-up appointments will now be every six months rather than every three. This will probably continue until she’s about three years-old at which point they will be able to tell whether her hips have stabilised or need further intervention.

But for now – NO MORE PAVLIK HARNESS/RHINO BRACE/SPICA/SLEEPLESS NIGHTS/SKIN TRAUMA/ETC!

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Walking like a little champion!

I like to think that I have fully earned the right to a very cheesy title for this post ūüôā

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And we’re brace free! Sort of…

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After a journey involving:

*two weeks in a Pavlik harness
*a scary but fortunately short-lived stint of femoral nerve palsy
*a month in a Rhino brace full-time
*three months in a Spica after a closed reduction (cut short by two weeks due to skin damage)
*a further three months of full-time Rhino bracing
*three months of nights-and -naps Rhino bracing
*plenty of visits to the hospital complete with ultrasounds and x-rays

my fifteen month-old Lucy has finally been given the thumbs up to stop bracing!

We took her for her check-up last week and the doctor is very happy with the improvement he can see in her left hip socket.  While the angle of the acetabulum is still a bit out of the normal range, it has curved nicely which means the femoral head will sit comfortably in the socket and not slip out. He feels confident that as she becomes more mobile on her feet the left socket will gradually catch up to the right socket and even out. He says there is little to no chance that she will need any further treatment when she is older but we will continue to have check-ups every few months to keep an eye on it.

We are absolutely delighted with this positive report but have decided to keep on bracing Lucy when she sleeps at least for a couple more months in the hope that it will prevent any regression from taking place. She isn’t at all bothered by the brace and sleeps through the night most nights.¬† Summer is on the way, though, so when it gets uncomfortably hot at night we’ll stop bracing her. We told the doctor our intentions and he said that was absolutely fine but from about eighteen months on the bracing will stop being effective so we shouldn’t bother to continue from that point.

Lucy is growing in confidence daily with her movement. She is standing and able to walk herself along if she’s got something to hold onto. It shouldn’t be long before she is able to walk unaided. Eighteen months is apparently the age by which babies should be walking so she’ so still within normal range and we have no cause for concern that the bracing has set her back.

Last summer we weren’t able to enjoy the beach and go swimming because she was braced and in a cast – we are certainly going to be making up for lost time this summer! Bring on the sand, sun cream and sandcastles!

Sensory Learning Experiment #2: Finger Paint!

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This experiment was a little more ambitious than the first and required more preparation (and cleaning – boy oh boy did I clean…)

Sensory Learning Experiment #2: Finger Paint!

Aim: Do something arts and crafty with brace-clad bub

Hypothesis:¬†She will love getting her hands full of colourful paint and creating a ‘picture’

Equipment:¬†1 x plastic tray; 1 x tub of plain yoghurt; variety of food colouring; plastic containers for each colour ‘paint’; 1 x camera

Procedure:

1) Mix plain yoghurt with food colouring.

2) Seat baby at spica table.

3) Place protective cover over carpets in a 1 kilometre radius.

4) Place plastic tray upside down on the table to provide a canvas to paint on.

5)¬†Roll up baby’s sleeves.

6)¬†Place ‘paints’ on table.

7) Guide baby by demonstrating how to paint with the coloured yoghurt on the tray.

8) Step back and enjoy your little Picasso in action!

 

Safety risks:

1) Baby’s clothes may never be the same again.

2) Baby’s nails may be dirty browny/purple colour for several days.

3) Your plastic tray may not come completely clean.

Results:¬†Lucy enjoyed the feel and taste of the paint! The beautiful green, pink and blue colours very quickly merged and became one big purple smudge on the tray. She was completely covered in paint by the end and it was nearing her nap time. She was getting grumpy and impatient which didn’t help the long-winded cleaning up process that was necessary before she could sleep. I was worried about her clothes being stained but after a good soak in Napisan they came out spotless.

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Conclusion:¬†Make sure you do this activity when your baby is feeling fresh! It’s quite a lot of work for you so you want to make sure your baby gets in a decent play session make it worthwhile. Dress your baby in old clothes just in case the colour doesn’t come out.

 

Happy Havoc

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During the course of today I have found my 13-month-old daughter

  • merrily sucking on dog food pellets (fish and potato flavour)
  • removing every single book from her bookshelf and scattering them around her room
  • eating dried up carrot peelings from the kitchen floor
  • attempting to pull a bottle of wine from the wine rack
  • climbing into the dog’s bed and giving her cuddles
  • pulling clean laundry off the clothes horse and onto the floor (several times)
  • redistributing the contents of the kitchen cupboard all over the kitchen
  • wearing my lingerie on her head

and I can honestly say that I LOVE IT! I love that she is finally cast-and-brace free and motoring around the place causing havoc, making up for lost time. It’s as if the whole world has opened up to her and she is having the best time discovering it all.

The added bonus for me? She’s sleeping so much better and I can only attribute it to that delicious tiredness that descends at the end of a busy day filled with physical exertion.

I will keep this short as I need to get some sleep. Must be fresh tomorrow for another round of Chasing Lucy…

 

 

Sensory Learning Experiment #1: SPAGHETTI!!

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Thanks to the fantastic feedback to my post¬†20 Spica (and Brace) Friendly Ideas to Keep Babies Happy¬†I am inspired once again to find fun ideas to try out with Lucy while she’s braced. A few people suggested sensory learning activities, including this simple and inexpensive one involving spaghetti.

Sensory Learning Experiment #1: Spaghetti

Aim: Keep baby stimulated and engaged while restricted in her brace by using cooked spaghetti

Hypothesis: She will have oodles of fun playing with noodles

Equipment: 1 x plastic tub; 1 x batch cooked and cooled spaghetti; 1 x camera

Procedure:

1) Seat baby at spica table.

2) Place protective cover over carpets in a 10 metre radius.

3) Check that the cooked spaghetti has cooled all the way through.

4) Present tub full of spaghetti to baby.

5) Step aside and start snapping pics while baby explores/eats/throws/wears the

contents of the tub.

Lucy tentatively prodding the spaghetti at the start of the experiment

Lucy tentatively prodding the spaghetti at the start of the experiment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety risks: Baby may eat large volumes of pasta and with this comes a choking risk.

Results:¬†1 x enormous mess; 1 x full but happy baby; 1 x full but happy staffy; 10 x priceless pics for blackmail purposes in 15 years’ time

My little noodle monster

My little noodle monster

Conclusion:¬†This sensory learning activity is heaps of fun! Be prepared for a fair bit of cleaning up afterwards and only use this idea if your baby has been eating solids for a while and is unlikely to choke on the spaghetti. I was rather alarmed by Lucy’s capacity for eating pasta (something she has inherited from her dad!)

 

 

3 Months’ Full-Time Rhino Bracing – TICK!

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After the horrors of the dreaded spica, life with a Rhino brace for three and a bit months has been pretty painless. About a month in, Lucy learnt how to crawl around in it so the bracing hasn’t held her back in that regard. Some days we’ve even forgotten to take her out for her ‘happy hour’ because she has just been so content in the thing and we’ve come to peace with it too.¬†

This morning we went to the hospital with the usual mix of hopefulness and anxiety that comes from having thought our baby had conquered DDH only to find her hips had regressed and required further treatment. Our appointment today involved an X-ray and a verdict on whether she could reduce her bracing to ‘nights and naps only’.¬†

1405514324562The X-ray showed that the angles of her acetabula haven’t changed either for better or worse since she came out of the spica. The right acetabulum is well within normal range and curving nicely. The left acetabulum’s angle is slightly out of the normal range and needs to ¬†curve more. Both femoral heads are sitting in their sockets as they should be.¬†

We’ve been given the go-ahead for Lucy to wear the brace for sleeping only and for a period of three months. If she is not tolerating it well then we must aim for a minimum period of six weeks. It is hoped that when she starts walking it will provide the necessary stimulus for the desired curving of the bone around the femoral head.¬†

We’ll go back for a check-up in three months’ time and if all is still on track then the appointments will be scheduled for every six months. Between the ages of three and five, the doctors will be able to assess whether the sockets are properly formed or if surgery will be required.¬†

I write this post feeling encouraged that my baby can now start catching up with her peers in her physical development but also weary because I know we’ve still got a few years ahead of us before we can officially close this hippy chapter that has taken up a lot of time and emotional energy in Lucy’s first year of life.

Having a celebratory coffee (and cuddles with Nanna) at Greens in Leederville after Lucy's appointment

Having a celebratory coffee (and cuddles with Nanna) at Greens in Leederville after Lucy’s appointment

 

The Chariot! (also known as Lucy’s new spica table)

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There are many reasons to be part of a DDH support group, one of them being that people kindly pass on their spica tables and other such useful paraphernalia once they have finished with them. I was fortunate to be lent a spica table when Lucy was in her cast but when she transitioned into a Rhino brace she no longer fitted into this table.

In the midst of teaching full-time and pretty much building our house full-time too, my amazing husband arrived home one evening having knocked together a custom-designed, compact and super-funky little table for Lucy, using scrap timber, nails and ingenuity.

It has become known in our house as ‘The Chariot’ and is used several times a day for meal times and other activities. To secure her on the seat, we simply use a strap from a weekend bag around her waist.

I highly recommend that if your baby is going to be in a spica or brace you get your hands on something similar or make it yourself if you’re a handyman. It has been indispensable for us!

 

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