Londyn’s Story: Part II
Thank God for A Good Doctor
We drove an hour to Londyn’s first appointment at her orthopedic surgeon’s office. We had absolutely no idea what was going on with her hips, due to the stellar service from our pediatrician’s office, but that it obviously wasn’t good news. Our ortho walked in with his nurse, Jen, and instantly calmed us with his professional and kind demeanor. He asked about her birth and health history and then asked us what we knew. We told him, “nothing!” and he expressed his surprise and disapproval at how we had been treated while he explained to us what was going on with Londyn. She was then officially diagnosed with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip, DDH. He showed us on her ultrasound how her left hip was dislocated and her right hip wasn’t quite deep enough in it’s socket. He proposed his treatment plan, which was 6 weeks in a Pavlik harness and then we re-evaluate. I remember the nurse (whom I have since come to befriend/ and love, as all nurses should be worthy of ha), coming in with the Pavlik harness. She asked us to undress Londyn and then asked if it was okay if she fit the harness to her. The doctor stepped out and I just cried as I looked at this ridiculous, medieval looking contraption they were strapping on my perfect baby. Jen saw me crying and said one of my favorite lines that I may use when I’m working again, “It’s ok, everybody cries.” and promptly handed me a box of tissues. I felt so dumb for crying when I know it could be so much worse, but being told my baby was anything other than perfect felt like legitimate grounds for crying! Jen put me at ease and explained how to care for Londyn in the harness. Though I love these healthcare professionals, they did grossly under emphasize the reality of living with a baby in a Pavlik harness when they told me, “It may take her a day or two to get used to it.”
Tears and Femoral Nerve Palsy
We all cried that first night, Londyn more than all of us as she adjusted to her harness. We didn't sleep for more than 30-40 minutes at a time all night, as we got up to comfort Londyn. I called the ortho nurse help line the next day just because Londyn was crying so much- she is such a happy baby and this was terrifying to see her like this! The nurse said she is probably just angry and letting us know about it. My sweet friend stopped by our first full day with the harness to hold Londyn and bring me a coffee and a warm chocolate chip cookie. Honestly, it’s a small kindness but I will never forget it. Just knowing I had someone stopping by helped me get through the first day.
The second day I noticed Londyn would kick her right leg but her left leg hung limp when I held her. I kept an eye on it but called the nurse at the end of the day when I still hadn’t seen any movement. I recalled the doctor telling us a very rare complication that can occur is femoral nerve palsy, where the leg is temporarily paralyzed due to the harness or angle of her leg pinching the nerve. The nurse asked me to remove her harness and see if she moved her left leg. Well, she didn’t, for over an hour. It was very scary to see her right leg excitingly bicycling in the air while her left leg hung limp. We were told to leave her out of the harness until we could see our ortho the next day or two. I was happy she could be free from the harness but scared that now the harness had failed us and we’d have to move to more invasive methods.
When we saw our ortho after the palsy incident, he loosened up her harness so that her legs weren’t so tight up to her chest and we all decided to continue the treatment in the harness. I remember him saying, “This is a discussion. I want to make sure you agree and believe in this treatment also.” We didn’t want to deal with the harness but the alternatives were worse, so we went home. The next 6 weeks were thankfully not so eventful. Well, aside from a couple suppositories after my poor baby didn’t poop for her first 10 days in the harness! We learned the things she liked to do in the harness- her swing, riding in the car, eventually lying on her back on her playmat, and towards the end we got her to do tummy time with her chest propped up on a pillow. My friend leant us her rock n play and shockingly Londyn started sleeping through the night and napping just fine as long as she was in that little thing! We even traveled to Ohio to see family with Londyn in her Pavlik harness. I can’t believe that it became normal to change her diaper in the harness even in the car! (I was crying about the impossibility of diaper changes the first few times, and lordy, so was she!) It was encouraging to see what we all could adapt to, as a family. One of the most heartbreaking moments, I remember I was trying to change Londyn on her changing table with Grayson watching. And she was screaming, because it was one of the times in the beginning, and Grayson was saying “Take that off of Londyn!” - meaning the harness. It broke my heart because how I wished I could!
Eventually her follow up ultrasounds confirmed that the harness was doing its job and her hip was no longer dislocated. After 6 weeks, her hips had normalized and we weaned her off the harness over two weeks. We were told to go home and treat her like a normal baby for a month and a half and then she’d have an x-ray to make sure her hips remained in place. We were so relieved and hopeful about the weeks ahead!
Click here for more of Londyn's story.