Hip to be square

It’s amazing how a little bit of information can make things seem so much better.

As per my last post, an ultrasound has shown that our little breech baby is the one in 50 babies that have his dysplaysia. I guess that proves that, despite my mixed background, she is a pure-breed!

We’re now waiting for Princess Margaret Hospital to contact us for when we can get a consult with the team there to find out more. We haven’t been given a lot of information other than she will have to wear a brace for a while to help move her hips into place, and I guess more will be revealed once we get that consult.

Thankfully, one of my wonderful friends recently heard a podcast from ABC’s Babytalk program where they talked with the founder of Healthy Hips Australia.

Like us, Sarah Twomey’s child was born with hip dysplaysia, and her second one developed it a little later on. Despite being an occupational therapist, there wasn’t a good single source of information around about the condition, despite it being around a 1 in 50 occurrence in Western Australia. So she set up Healthy Hips Australia, which is aimed at raising awareness about infant hip dysplaysia, and more generally equipping parents to look after their children’s hips.

It was an enlightening podcast to say the least, and after listening to it and checking out Healthy Hips’ website, I feel a lot better about the journey ahead for our baby. And it feels less isolating.

My main takeaway was that, on average, a baby with dysplaysia may only need to wear the brace for 6-12 weeks. Given that our baby’s one has been caught early, she should hopefully be on the lower end of that.

Another thing that I never knew about was that babies can develop hip problems if they aren’t swaddled correctly. The basic premise is that while swaddles should be tight around the baby’s arms and torso, they could be looser around the hips and legs, to allow them to come up into the ‘frog’ position.

Similarly, sleeping bags should allow the legs to move up into that position, as should any slings or harnesses you carry your baby in. This isn’t only an issue for kids that have already been identified with hip dysplaysia, but can also help prevent it in other babies.

I must also give a massive shout-out to many of my friends and family who have sent messages of support since my last post. To be honest, that one was pretty raw and may have sounded a little bleak, but we’re in a good space about it. Knowing more about the condition now helps to take out some of the feelings of anxiety and helplessness.

By the way, if you’re a new parent and a bit of a podcast junkie like me, ABC Babytalk has a stack of great ones on various topics. Get around it!

A setback

It wasn’t the news that we wanted: out little breech baby’s hips are not in proper alignment.

It is one of the things that can happen when a baby is in the breech position – ie, with its head up and legs down in the pelvis, or in our case, out to the side – but the chances we were told were small.

The solution is that she will have to wear a specially designed brace for a while. It was caught early, only two weeks after birth, which means that there is a good amount of time for the legs to fix themselves with the help of the brace. If that doesn’t work, she may need to have surgery, but that would be some time down the track.

The rational part of my mind tells me that it’s all going to work out fine. There is no threat to her life, and she’s going to have great medical care to help rectify the issue. Even if surgery is needed, she’s unlikely to bear any long-term issues as a result.

But for now, I just feel deflated.

My wife and I just wanted to know that she was alright, and were looking to the ultrasound of her hips to vindicate our hope. Sadly for us, they just confirmed an issue.

I think I feel it more because of the journey that we have been through over the past couple of months. When out little bun was only 33 weeks in the oven, my wife was being prepped for an emergency cesarean due to concerns about the pressure through the umbilical cord. Thankfully, further scans cleared that issue up.

But then after that, the concern was over the amniotic fluid levels being too low, which again put the likelihood of a slightly premature birth on the table. There were visits to the hospital every few days for CTGs to check for any signs of distress, and one doctor warned us that it would be pretty amazing if she walked it through to 38 weeks.

There’s a lot more I’ll say about those in future posts, and the outcomes of all of those were actually quite good. She ended up going full-term, and was born without any issues. We were really blessed by that, and are incredibly thankful.

Although we knew that the hips could cause some problems, she seemed to be doing well enough. Not so, it seems.

I guess this is the anxiety that any parent feels with any number of issues – big or small – that can crop up with little ones. The same feelings that a parent has over things like fevers, jaundice or even a common cold.

In the grand scheme of things, they are small when they happen to the outside world, but this is happening now in my world – to the biggest person in my world.

I want to have the best for my daughter, and so it hurts me to think that painful physiotherapy or even surgery might be on the cards in the future for her.

But I have to stop and give thanks. Thanks that, despite another setback, this is nothing more serious. Thanks that she can get a good level of care that would make millions of parents around our unequal world jealous. Thankful that she – and us as parents – won the genetic lottery and have a great (and largely free) health system that will sort out our little “froggy’s” hips.

Does it still hurt?

Absolutely. But we’re going to be OK, aren’t we, little one?

Thanks bubba!

It’s been two weeks since our little bundle of joy, which coincides with my birthday. And our little one gave me a great present – six hours of solid sleep!

In those two weeks a lot has been happening. The baby is starting to grow rapidly, and surprised the home visit midwife by being back up to her birth weight within six days. Life is starting to revolve around feeds, nappy changes, burp-ups and spews, and the occasional bit of sleep.

I got back to work just over a week after the birth of our girl, and that has been something of an adjustment. I work from home, so I can still be there to help with the baby which has been great, as my wife recovered from her C-section. There’s been a couple of times when at short notice we’ve had to head back to the hospital, and thankfully my boss has been really helpful and supportive.

Managing on broken sleep has been a bit of a challenge. As a writer, I have to make sure that I’m on my game, so I’m getting used to waking every couple of hours to help with a feed and then getting up to work. I feel bad when I sleep through the feeds – which averages a couple of times a night – but my wife’s recovery is now getting better and so she’s increasingly more able to handle the baby by herself.

The baby herself is starting to get into some routine, particularly at night. And even with all the difficulty that comes with, she’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and I love her so much.

So, in summary, it’s been quite a ride. But one that I am so happy to be on.

When she hits home

Sure, life changed when our baby was born five days ago, but it hit home when we took her home.

 

As I wasn’t able to room in at the hospital, most nights were left to my wife to take care of the baby with the assistance of the midwives. She had a couple of horror nights and a couple of good nights in hospital. Sure, I helped out during the days when I was at hospital, but I hadn’t done a full night shift with our little bundle of joy.

And then I did. And… yikes!

Getting used to the idea of waking up every few hours for a feed was new. Slowly I began to realise that my sleep patterns would need to change radically very quickly. And it made me rethink how long I needed to take off work. With the wife still in a lot of pain from the C-section, I often had to wake up to take baby out of the bassinet and put her on mum for a feed. Thankfully, the feeding has been going well.

While the wife was able to get some sleep between feeds, but I struggled. Later into the night however, a touch of a headcold saw me pop some cold and fly tabs which did the trick. Thankfully, our little baby slept through solidly from around 3am to 8am – sheer luxury!

It’s a night like that which made me confront just how big the change of having a family is. Knowing that my work nights will no longer be for sacred rest for the next day, and instead marked with late night feeds and nappy changes.

But, you know what – I’m cool with that.

For all the challenges, there is such a strong bond with this little, helpless little girl. She has become my sweetheart, in a way totally different to any other love that I have felt before. Being able to calm her with soothing words, changing her nappies and just holding her have become my world, and I love it.

The first 48 hours

A note: I did write this a few days ago, but have been too busy with other things to post it until now. Hope you enjoy it still.

It’s been just over 48 hours since the birth of our little girl, and the elation is still running high.

Being in a public hospital has meant that I haven’t been able to stay overnight with mum and bub, so I’ve been heading in each day. I’m kinda glad for that actually, as I tend to get a bit freaked out in hospitals anyway.

For mum and I, there’s been a whole lot going on. My wife’s taken really well to breastfeeding, and it seems that the mothering instincts are just taking over. Which is good, because the C-section has really knocked her around. As the first spinal didn’t work, they had to do a second, and also added in an epidural just in case. That has meant that, as well as a sore belly from where they baby came out, she had a sore back. In-turn, that has meant a tough 24 hours of minimal sleep.

Thankfully the second 24 hours was a lot better. My wife managed a good second night’s sleep at the hospital, but is obviously still out of whack. And now the baby is feeding like there is no tomorrow, waiting to bring the milk in.

It’s about this time that I feel a little helpless, not being able to feed and comfort by daughter. I was able to give her some milk through syringe the other day, and I’m finding that my little finger is making a good substitute for a pacifier – but don’t tell that to the midwife who yanked my finger out, without any discussion while I was comforting her.

At the same time though, I am so thankful that I can just be around to help move pillows, hold the baby at times, and totally fail at swaddling her. My beautiful wife has been through so much, and been such a trouper – something she will admit is a little out of character – that being able to help her in even the small things is just magic.

And there have also been great times of just watching this beautiful little girl come to grips with the world. Feeling her fall asleep in my arms, or watching as her eyes lock onto things, trying to figure out what’s going on. And there is such a trust placed in us to look after her, to provide for this little life and see her through into her adult years – and beyond.

As I’ve said before, I wasn’t much of a baby person, but now I never could have known that I could love someone else so much.

And there she is…

I knew it was going to be emotional, but I didn’t expect to be that emotional.

Watching the surgeons lift out the small, complete body of our baby girl, hearing her unleash her first of many cries, and holding this new life in my hands have all become the most unbeatable moment in my life.

I wasn’t much of a baby person before, but she had me at hello.

At that moment, all of the hospital visits in the weeks before, all of the emotional rollercoaster of a possible premature emergency caesarean, all of the anticipation meant nothing.

Because here she is. And she’s perfect.

As she was being lifted out, there must have been a load full of dust was released into the operating room, because my eyes just became running taps. I was thankful that one of the med students had offered to take the pics for me, because I just couldn’t stop crying in sheer joy at seeing her little body there, at seeing her amazing mum go through the pain of two spinal taps and all that goes with such an operation.

In fact, I don’t even care if there was no dust – I was overwhelmed by joy.

The joy that comes knowing that life will never be the same again. The joy of knowing that a whole new ball game starts here. The joy for many years of sleepness nights, nappy changes, getting many things wrong and a couple of things right – all of that in one moment.

Welcome to our world, little girl. We’ve got so much to show you.