Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Leaning In

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 Mommy and Daddy walked in carrying you all snuggled up in your car seat.  The brick building was grand and beautiful on the outside.  Cornerstones marked the birth of the original building and there was a hint of datedness about it.  Inside, the lobby was shaped like a carousel. Light, primary colored carousel horses were displayed sporadically inside the white wood moldings around the top. And there was a window. Translucent and large enough to fill the entire center of this carousel-shaped room, it brought in the perfect amount of light.  We were greeted by a warm smile from a volunteer and a gift for you.  A pink fleece blanket and a teething ring new in the package.  How nice, I thought.

 As Mommy and Daddy sat down I couldn't help but notice the sign:  Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children.  Crippled seemed like a strong word, but the more Mommy looked around it was evident that this was a place that was built well before political correctness was a concern.  It's engraved plaques on the wall were proof of that.  Crippled.  

As we sat there waiting to be called back, Mommy noticed family after family come in.  Each had a child who had some type of physical need.  Wheel chairs, crutches, walkers, braces, casts.  As Mommy sat there looking at you asleep in your carseat I couldn't help but think how lucky we were that our situation was temporary.  

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Your first Easter in your Easter dress with your harness underneath.
We knew a little what to expect.  Dr. Knight, your pediatrician, had shared the possibility of you having something called hip dysplasia. Relatively common for girls born breech and also having a family history of it, hip dysplasia, put simply, was an underdevelopment of the hip sockets. The cup that wraps around the ball of your hip hadn't become deep enough.  

During our appointment Dr. Talawalker stretched and rotated your little chubby legs up and down and all around.  An ultrasound was done to see the full scope of your hips and sockets. At the end of his exam he explained that most likely you would grow and develop fine without any treatment, but when you were older you may begin to develop problems with your hips.  His recommended treatment option, a hip harness for six weeks.

Six weeks. When he left the room Mommy and Daddy talked about what would be best.  It was easy to come to a consensus.  Whatever we needed to do to help you live a full life...even if it wouldn't even make a difference until you were in your late thirties! A hip-harness it would be!

The decision would be easy, but reality was a little harder to take in.  The nurse brought in the white felt and velcro contraption.  Straps, belts, booties - it all seemed so complicated.  She showed how the straps fit like overalls and the velcro helped to keep your legs drawn up like a frog.  Her instructions included the requirement that you wear it day and night, only taking it off for baths and for no more than one hour per day. 

Seeing you with it on made it really sink in. How could you be comfortable wearing that every day?  How would we change your diaper, hold you, feed you, strap you in your carseat?  Would you sleep well at night having to wear this? Mommy even worried, Would this change the person you are meant to be? Tears began to well up in Mommy's eyes.   Was this the right decision? 

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You did not mind your hip harness at all!
We were surprised how much you could still
sleep in it! 
Mommy and Daddy took you home and like all parents, we just figured it out.  Truth be told it bothered Mommy way more than it ever bothered you. It made nursing and cuddling super difficult, but it made that one hour a day something to look forward to. Dirty diapers were the worst since your straps were always in the way, but it gave you and Mommy an excuse to go shopping. Since dresses were all that would fit over your harness, dresses were what you wore!  Mommy's favorite was your Easter dress.  

That six weeks seemed to take forever at the time.
Just a few weeks ago Mommy found myself reliving all these memories with you.  The memories were brought back when Mommy had to take Layne in for a follow-up with Dr. Walker.  
Layne at Shriner's just before getting casts.
It wasn't Mommy's first time being there since you.  Mommy had brought Layne in two or three times before because of her toe-walking. You see, your sister loves to walk on her toes. She's done it pretty consistently since she was a little over three.  And while this isn't really a big deal to Mommy (I think she looks pretty graceful on her toes), apparently there could be a problem with her tendons becoming too tight making it difficult for her to walk flat footed.

So we were there.  Sitting in the same lobby Mommy had sat in with you.  Mommy sat watching numerous other moms and dads check-in their children.  That sign reminded me of my first visit with you.  It reminded me, once again, how thankful I felt that our situation with Layne was minor in comparison to some of the other children who were waiting to be seen.  

When we went back, the nurses and doctors did the same things as before.  Mommy went in thinking we would just continue to "watch" how she was doing.  Never did Mommy expect to hear the word casts.

Dr. Walker explained that since Layne can walk on her flat feet but chooses not to, her issue is purely idiopathic - a habit.  To help break her habit,
 Dr. Walker's recommendation was casts on both feet for six weeks.

Layne was beyond excited to get to ride in
 this wheel chair that day!
When Layne heard the news, her eyes grew bright and Mommy could see a little smile coming on.  Of course, what kid of five wouldn't love to have casts, right? Layne thought this would so cool. All Mommy could think of was you.  All the parallels started to come to mind. The same worries, the same questions, the same emotions began to surface. It was all too similar, yet so very different.

That day Mommy walked in holding her hand and walked out carrying her like we had to carry you with your harness.  Awkward, unsure.  A little worried, yet thankful that this was temporary.

Layne has been a good sport about her casts and
 loved that friends and family signed them.
Looking back, Mommy sometimes wishes we hadn't worried with putting you in a harness. After you passed away Mommy found that wadded up ball of velcro and straps that made your harness.  Honestly, it made Mommy mad to think that I lost six weeks of snuggles with you because of that harness. Mommy felt frustrated that we put you through all that so that one day, when you were older, you wouldn't have to worry with bad hips and achy bones.  

Mommy may never understand why things happened as they did.  What I do know is my experience with you and this one with Layne have taught me the importance of leaning in a little more to faith.

Love you, miss you, sweet baby girl...

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