Let me introduce to you my eldest daughter Ashley. Ashley is 6 years old. This entry is a little about her Hippy Journey.
As an infant Ashley would wake up 7x minimum a night, and it was never a lil cry she would be screaming, the local childhood nurse who visited us at home insisted we swaddle her. We were shown how to do it by the nurse. It seemed to calm her and she would only wake 4 or so times a night. We swaddled Ashley till she was 9 months old, basically till she could escape it. Being first time parents and the nurse a professional we thought she knew best and our bub was just a grumpy bum.
At 10 months my cheeky lil monkey was walking, we were bragging to everyone how well she has been doing walking. My mum came for a visit from the Seychelles and asked if we’d had Ashley checked. Checked, for what? Apparently she walked weird. We look at home videos taken now, and yes, she waddled like a duck and flung out a leg when walking.
Since my mum had me now paranoid, we took Ashley to her doctor. Doctor Lancaster was fantastic, he asked Ash to walk to him from the corridor and he immediately sent us across the hall to get her x rayed. The waiting for the results wasn’t so bad, but when we got to Doctor Lancaster’s office and he sat us down and said the results are not normal. My thoughts straight away were cancer and I was numb and not listening. He headed out of the room for a few minutes and my husband asked if I was ok. He then had to have the doc explain everything to me, again. My baby didn’t have cancer; she has developmental Dysplasia of the hips (DDH). We went home and I did the silly thing and googled it, big mistake, I didn’t sleep after all I read.
Ashley was immediately referred to the awesome Dr Geoff Donald. Armed with my information from Dr Google, we went and saw Dr Donald, who booked Ashley in for a proximal femoral osteotomy. We hadn’t had time to wrap our heads around any of this; it was all going a bit too fast. We had no support, just my husband and I, all our family reside overseas.
Surgery day came; Ashley had been fasting since midnight. We get into the hospital and wait for Ashley to go in, only to have had our fasting infant wait 18 hours without eating, only water to be told to come back tomorrow as there had been a massive accident and the orthopedic surgeons were needed. I was a tad, ok I lie, I was ticked off, but then people’s lives were needing saving and Ashley’s surgery could wait. So we came back the next day, with our fasting baby, she’s prepped for surgery, and daddy takes her in. I’m too much of a basket case to leave her. My husband comes out minus our girl. My heart sunk, we have never been separated from her, and I mean never, if I wasn’t with Ashley my husband was. So for us both to be out of the operating theatre and her in there with strangers was sickening.
“Go have something to eat”, says the nurse. Yeah, um, no, my baby is in their on a table having her legs yanked and sliced and you want me to eat? We were shown a room where parents could wait for their kids getting tonsils out. We opted to sit in a smaller waiting room. After 2 hours we headed back to Ashley’s bed. As we sat an hour later the nurse said they are bringing Ashley up, and everything went well, but the surgeon would like to see us. Why? That can’t be a good thing. Oh by the way, I’m not the most positive person you’ll ever meet, I always prepare for the worse and hope for the best.
In they wheel my baby in her new armour, bright pink armour also known as a hip spica cast. She didn’t wake up for some time, but it was her nap time. When she did wake up, she didn’t care about her new attachment, she was hungry. While she sat and ate, my husband and I were attempting to get used to handling her.
Ped ortho surgeon Dr Donald came and saw us prior to leaving. He told us Ashley’s hips seemed to have improved from the triple diapering he asked us to do a few weeks before surgery, so he didn’t need to do an open reduction and a proximal femoral osteotomy. Ashley had a closed reduction and tenotomy. She received a blood transfusion and as long as we kept her pain relief up and made sure the wound was fine, we could take our bub home.
Ashley stayed in the hip spica for 3 months in total, with 1 cast change conducted in the operating room, to accommodate growing toddler and to adjust the position. Her cast change was done Christmas eve 2009. They found a ball of poop in her 1st cast. We have kept her first cast, not the second, it was horrid.
After sawing the spica off, she was then placed in a rhino cruiser abduction brace for just over 6 months. She could walk in the rhino brace, just like a cowboy. Ashley was in the hip spica’s during Australia’s summer. She broke her second cast, as she learnt how to flip herself in it and used to slam her cast into the cot rail. I tell you what though, nothing stopped her in the cast, she was climbing in and out of her pram with it on and army crawling (more dragging) herself across the house. Being in the spica she was not allowed to bathe, so it was sponge baths. Her immunization had to be done in her arms, nappy changes were a challenge. Every nappy change you use 2 nappies, one inside and one outside to hold the inside one in place, and if you have a poo explosion or urine leak, too bad, the specialist will not change or remove the brace unless the urine or poo is infecting the skin. We managed to keep it clean. The cast isn’t very heavy but it is bulky.
After having Ashley and the whole hip issue, we have learnt that swaddling if done incorrectly is no good. Also jumperoo’s, jolly jumpers and those kids as well as walkers and bumbo’s infant seat are horrid for undeveloped hips. Having the right infant carrier is also very important; the ever popular baby Bjorn is the worst one on the market for infant’s hips.She has been given the clear from doctor Donald and told to come back in her teen years.
We waited 5 years to have another baby, and during labour the nurses asked if I had any requests. My only demand was DO NOT swaddle my baby. Babies are creatures of habit, they learn to adapt. Zahra has adapted fine. We had her in sleepy wings to stop the Moro reflex. Zahra has never used a walker, jumper or any of that. She had Ergo carrier but didn’t like it. I would rather go weeks of an unswaddled cranky baby than go through all of that again. Not all babies will get DDH from incorrect swaddling, but the one’s who are prone to it, it’ll just make it worse.
This is my story. If you’d like more information on Hip Dysplasia please visit the International Hip Dysplasia Institiute if you are a parent or guardian or someone with DDH please feel free to join my support group Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) Babies, Kids & Adults
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