Londyn’s Story: Part III
We returned to our ortho for Londyn’s 6 week post Pavlik harness x-ray and Kyle and I both were chatting on the way there about how we anticipate good news, because she’s been doing so great. Before the doctor came in the room, I saw Londyn’s x-ray that loaded on the computer screen. Even with my untrained eye I could tell her left femur head was higher than the right and it didn’t look right. Then when our ortho walked in I had that sinking feeling that he didn’t want to say what he had to say. Sure enough, he said a line that I hear over and over and over in my head even to this day, “Despite our best efforts, her hip dysplasia remains persistent.” And then he explained that due to Londyn’s larger size, the Pavlik or a brace would no longer be effective, we needed to move on to a closed reduction and a spica cast for a minimum of 12 weeks.
The word “spica” embodies my nightmares about hip dysplasia since I first learned Londyn was affected. We sat in silence while our ortho explained the procedure he’d perform to try to correct Londyn’s hip. I desperately tried to hold myself together and listen or form a complete thought but it was nearly impossible. Thankfully, my two year old was with us and his constant comments and questions helped keep me present until we were finished with the appointment. As we were walking out, my husband took the kids while I went in a bathroom and allowed myself to cry like Grayson does when I take away his pirate sword for fighting our cat. Such disappointment, disbelief, anxiety, and frustration. My baby needed surgery. The world was not okay.
Stages of Grief
Over the next two weeks, I was surprised to watch myself move through the stages of grief with Londyn’s prognosis. I couldn’t talk about it without crying the first few days and it all felt like a nightmare that I’d wake up from any minute. I told my family and friends and most of my comfort came from just looking at Kyle and both of us agreeing, “this sucks.” In desperation I searched the web for spica ideas, blogs, and other mamas who had lived through it.
I found a few extremely helpful blogs that listed must-haves, tips, encouragement, and even week-by-week recaps of having babies in spicas. I was able to research and buy a lot of supplies that helped me gain a sense of control over life and plan for our difficult weeks ahead. The comfort I drew from these blogs inspired me to re-instate my own little blog and write about our journey. I pray there’s at least one mama reading these words who is a bit comforted to know she’s not alone in her grief and hip dysplasia journey!
For our last night before her surgery, I had Kyle take some photos of us giving her a bath, knowing this would be our last one for at least 3 months. It was therapeutic to document, and I love having photos of her little chunky legs that will probably look a lot different (probably longer!) once she’s out of the cast.
Though our first surgery date was postponed due to a nasty cold, the day eventually came for us to take our sweet baby to the Children’s hospital. I had done everything I knew how to prepare myself for the day but in the end the only way I made it through was through God’s grace and the prayers of so many of my friends and family! We were fortunate enough to have my parents come into town to be with Grayson during the day, which freed us up to not even worry about him. The nurses and doctors at the Children’s hospital were phenomenal and really helped to put Kyle and I at ease. I was telling Kyle, you have to remember that this is all so scary to us because it’s our baby and we’ve never had her in the hospital- but these doctors and nurses do this all day! They are used to pre-op and post-op care and are thankfully good at their jobs! It was emotionally difficult to not nurse Londyn before her surgery (she couldn’t have breastmilk for 5 hours prior), but they provided me a private lactation room to pump in and Londyn was perfectly content to hang out with Daddy.
They went over the procedure a hundred times with us and asked if we had any questions a hundred more times. When the time came to separate, they had Londyn all happy on Versed and she was half asleep anyway. We waited in a huge room with a lot of other families sitting beside their empty strollers. My heart broke overhearing the different conversations, about 9 hour surgeries, and children with cancer that were amazingly still fighting and hanging on.
Our ortho came out to tell us everything went wonderfully and soon enough we were allowed to see Londyn. She was furious when I saw her, and the nurses were asking me to breastfeed her so we could make sure she was just hungry and not in pain. I didn’t even know how to pick her up with the cast on and I was scared to hurt her, but thankfully her kind nurse stepped in and just handed her to me as he directed me to sit in a rocking chair. As soon as she began nursing she fell back asleep and was content. Thank God for breastfeeding, and what a comfort it was for me to know I had what just she needed- warm arms and warm milk =)
The rest of the day was quite a haze, just holding Londyn while she rested and came out of the anesthesia, and figuring out how to hold her and change her diaper in the monstrous cast. When we got home around 6pm that evening, I could not believe how much my entire body ached from carrying so much stress all day. We had Londyn’s crib set up with a crib wedge and she passed right out soon after we got home. I took a shower and laid in bed and felt every fiber of my being aching, but thankful that we were home, and the first day of the spica cast story was over.
Click here for more of Londyn's story.