There’s something I haven’t mentioned publicly yet, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. I’m still not really very comfortable with it, but there’s no more avoiding it if I want to keep showing you pictures of my sweet baby.
Jack was diagnosed at birth with Developmental Hip Dysplasia. It’s really not a big deal at all. It just feels like it. Both of his hip sockets are too shallow for the top of his little thigh bone to fit securely into and his left hip is actually dislocated. If the condition goes untreated it could cause big problems for him later in life, like a limp, uneven legs, and severe arthritis before he’s even out of high school, but since it was caught right away those hips will hopefully be good as new by his first birthday.
We saw the pediatric orthopedist on Thursday and she fitted Jack with what’s called a Pavlik harness. It holds his legs up and out in a frog-leg position in the hopes that things will come together properly as he grows. If that left hip is back in the socket after three weeks then we’ll keep wearing the harness for…I don’t know how long. A while. If not, the doctor says we’ll give up on the harness and plan for surgery and a spica cast once he’s a few months older. I can’t even bear to think about that so I’m just hoping and praying that the harness does its job.
There’s a lot to be grateful for–that it’s 100% treatable, that it was caught early, that he’ll never even remember this–but that doesn’t take the sting out of seeing your squishy little newborn strapped into an orthopedic device at two weeks old, or hearing his doctor discuss surgery as a very real possibility.
I have such a love/hate relationship with this harness. I want so badly for it to work, and I’m so grateful that it exists, and at the same time I’m incredibly resentful. Everything is harder with it on. Changing his shirt is a major ordeal. Putting a clean diaper on him requires feeding the tabs through a very narrow space between his waist and the side straps. And the baby who was so easy to please just last week is now nearly impossible to settle, wanting to nurse and be held almost constantly. He seems so uncomfortable and it’s hard when you can’t find a way to make your baby happy.
I know we’ll all adjust, that before long the harness will fade into the background of our daily landscape and I’ll hardly even notice it anymore. And if he ends up needing a cast for months and months I’ll be longing for the days when only fabric and velcro restricted his little limbs. And someday hopefully not too far off we’ll look back and this whole thing will seem like it was really just the tiniest bump in the road. But right now it feels like a big ugly mountain.