Hip Displaspia and Harper – how it all started
I was never expecting to end up going through our hip dysplasia journey, everything so far has been a complete shock. But first to how it all started;
February 2016 my 3rd
spawn of satan bundle of joy was born, I’d stupidly bravely opted to have a VBAC as I remember the surgeon at my planned election telling me I had perfect textbook anatomy (I’m presuming he was talking about my insides) and couldn’t see that any reason I wouldn’t be able to give birth via my vjayjay if I opted to have another (just to bring all you readers up to speed my first when catastrophically wrong but no one knew why, they do have an inkling now actually but that’s another blog post)
After a super difficult birth (again that deserves its whole own blog post) I was wheeled into surgery for what felt like forever to have my rather nasty tear repaired, whilst in there my midwife came through saying you’ll never guess how much your baby weighs, I guessed just over 8lb seeing as the previous 2 were just under, nope, I was wrong, she was 9lb 8, my response was…
Yep, I actually said that (I was completely high on god knows what as I’d got super shaky and was weirding out from the spinal block they’d given me)
The surgeon actually had to stop and laugh and tell me she’d never had someone swear in surgery before ( which I thought was kinda weird, surely loads off people swear when they’re off their face being stitched up)
Anyway I’m digressing here, she was a big baby, and ridiculously long too, I’d noticed she hadn’t really been kicking as hard as my other two did when I carried and I guess that was down to her not really having a lot of room. I’m tiny and the tiniest bit of me is my torso, Just to give you an idea I’m 5ft 2 but I cannot wear petite jeans – they’re way too short, most of my height is in my legs meaning torso is tiny and barely any room for a big baby to kick about.
The first signs of hip dysplasia
At her initial newborn check the doctors noticed she had a clicky hip (as well as something called Erbs Palsy; which is really bad nerve damage to a shoulder joint caused by getting stuck during birth) We were told we’d be referred for a scan at some point.
6 weeks on and we have our 6 week doctors check, I’m told her hips sound fine right now so no need to chase the hospital, I too didn’t think anything of it thinking her hips must have just settled and gone back into place. I didn’t think for a second that she would have full blown hip dysplasia.
4 months in and sleep depraved nights whilst looking after 3 kids whilst dealing with the recovery of my own surgery means I forgot to chase up the hip dysplasia scan, Harper had been referred to physio for her Erbs Palsy, I briefly mentioned to her physio that her hips hadn’t been right but the hospital hadn’t actually sent for a scan yet so she decided to check them. I will not forget the look on the physio’s face, I knew instantly something was wrong, she kindly rang through to a pediatrician at the hospital and he immediately put us in for an urgent scan which we attended later that week. We found out her right hip was completely dislocated, not even sitting in the socket, and the left hip although in the socket was not at the right angle, so another urgent referral was given.
You might be wondering why all of this is so urgent and it’s because of age, when a baby reaches 6 months it’s a lot harder to correct their hips with less invasive methods, after the age of 6 months things like soft harnesses to guide the hips are out of the question and you’re looking at surgery to correct it.
The pavlik harness
At our first appointment with the Orthopaedic Harper was fitted with a pavlik harness, a soft harness done up with velcro to hold her legs in a kind of froggy shape to help her hips develop in the right place whilst she grew. This didn’t bother me too much – but boy did it bother her! We were told just as we were leaving the consultant room ‘oh it’s extremely unlikely but if you notice she stops moving one or both of her legs then you need to contact us as it’s a medical emergency’
Home we went and Harper spent about 95% of her awake time screaming and crying, i knew she’d take a few days to get used to it but I hadn’t expected this. I couldn’t put her down, sleep was impossible, after 2 days or so in that evening i noticed she hadn’t moved her right leg at all for the past few hours, there was no one at the hospital so we had a lovely 4 hour tour of 3 different A&Es until we finally saw someone who could help. It was decided she had started to develop a femoral nerve palsy – which left for too long would mean she would never use that leg again, so harness was off (she was very happy!). But we would need to attend the hospital the following day for an emergency appointment.
The fixed splint
At the emergency appointment the consultant decided he would still like to correct her hip dysplasia with a pavlik harness. This unfortunatley failed (signs of femoral nerve palsy yet again) we were put into a fixed splint. Harper was so much happier with this and so was I as it was easier to feed her and pick up without accidentally pushing her legs together (a big no-no during hip dysplasia treatment) – changing nappies was a complete nightmare though, tucking up the tabs in the splint was a nightmare as well as the inevitable poonami cleanups, we were not even allowed to take the splint off to change her. Wearing the splint also meant zero baths so Harper had to be sponge bathed instead. It took some adjustng but we soildered on and got on with it.
After 3 months it was fantastic news, her hip was no actually in the socket and only slightly off angle, so we could switch to just wearing the splint at night, I was so happy I could finally dress my baby in normal clothes again, bathe her and have lots of close squishy baby cuddles (the best type).
Another 3 months past and Harper’s sleep (which had never been great) was taking a turn for the worse, she had learnt to roll over in the splint but only on to her front, so was rolling over in the night constantly and then freaking out, we’d roll her back each time and then almost instantly she’d roll back and start screaming, we brought forward our follow-up and cheerfully went off to the appointment thinking finally the treatment would soon be over.
The hip spica cast
How wrong was I…The splint at night had done bugger all, zero, nada, zilch. We were stuck with the last option of her going in for surgery and being in plaster cast for 3 months with a brace to be worn for fuck knows how long afterwards – I wasn’t happy with this news, in fact I’d been stressing the whole time through our hip dysplasia journey thinking anything but a hip spica cast. Well tough luck to me I’m afraid, Harper goes in for surgery at the beginning of February and I have to say yes I’m dreading it. Absolutley cacking my pants worried about dealing with it all, whilst also trying to take the 3-year-old to nursery and continue to meet all of Chases medical needs.
To help keep me sane (ok maybe i should change this to say ‘prevent further damage to my already disjointed brainwaves’) I’m going to blog about it in our hip dysplasia diary. I’ll be posting short updates everyday about how we’re both coping and how we’re progressing in our journey. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re in the same position if so I hope the hip dysplasia diaries give you a glimpse into life with a hip spica cast and how we adapt our day-to-day lives whilst putting Harper on the road to recovery.
I’d love to hear your comments below, especially if you’ve been through this journey already or are about to set on it yourself. But for now I’ll take a deep breath and do what i do best – slap a shit tonne of make-up and a smile on my face and just get on with it 😀