I’ve been saying for months that as soon as our new baby arrives, things around our house should finally feel manageable again. Ridiculous, I know, but I’ve been pregnant for 2 years. Like an elephant.
Pregnancy, loss, pregnancy, loss, pregnancy, so sick, loss, moved to a new house, pregnant, so sick, moved to a different house….needless to say, we have been in survival mode for a while now. The safe arrival of our sweet Poppy Marie at the end of January has been the brightest spot we’ve seen in a long while. Yes, three kids is more than a handful and we’re so so tired, but we’ll take it.
Early last week I hit a sweet spot. I started feeling more myself than I have in 2 years. The February sun flooded in the windows of our house as the crazy pregnancy hormones seemed to fly right out. Our sweet and calm baby let go of her newborn sleepy head phase and started searching our faces with her big blue eyes. Friends brought meals, our big kids told everyone they saw about their new sister, I actually left the house and really it seemed as if my whole life just took a deep, cleansing breath.
But you know that feeling- the one where you start to relax because you have finally turned a corner, but then right around that corner is some new hard thing? I was looking forward to cruising for a few miles, but it looks like that won’t be the case.
Our pediatrician noticed at Poppy’s 3 day-old appointment that her hip joints were very loose and referred us to an orthopedist for possible hip dysplasia. I downplayed it and tried not to worry. She was otherwise healthy and this was a very treatable situation. I was born with hip dysplasia, wore a brace for months and I haven’t had any problems with my hips since. And that was in 1974, so surely Poppy’s treatment would be much better.
Our appointment with the orthopedist was last Friday and we (Poppy included) have been frustrated ever since. The dysplasia is severe in both hips and the treatment that will help avoid surgery and future complications is fast and furious. So much information, so many things I didn’t expect. I hear the doctor say that it is vital to get her hips stabilized (not constantly dislocated) as soon as possible and before I know it, the nurse is putting on the harness she will have to wear 24 hours/day. The harness is better than the brace I wore in 1974, but it still sucks. It’s basically a suit of pink velcro straps that keep her legs lifted into a frog position at all times. It’s like she’s a marionette wearing lederhosen and I hate it.
For the next 5 days we were not able to take the harness off. No changing her clothes, no baths, no stretching her legs. And this week we get to take it off twice, for 15 minutes at a time to bathe and change her. Eventually she’ll get longer breaks, but this is our reality for the next 6 months.
Now I know that it could be worse. She is not in pain, she won’t even remember this (I don’t remember mine) and we are so fortunate that this harness is available to us. But right now I am sad about it. They say that babies do get used to it, but for the first couple weeks the harness makes them frustrated, stiff and sore. Poppy has been ticked off since they put in on her. She cries so much more and sleeps so much less. Carrying her, nursing her, changing her, snuggling her, taking her places…are all harder than they were. She can’t wear most of her clothes (she’s stuck with onesies and baby leg warmers) and we’re all just having a hard time adjusting over here.
Our new life involves weekly (and eventually monthly) trips to Rady Children’s Hospital to see our orthopedist. Spending time at a Children’s Hospital is a sobering thing and today as we walked through the halls, my brave and good husband says, “This experience will open up a new understanding for us of what some people face. It will help us minister better.”
I have been caught up in what we are losing through this experience. Losing sweet moments and freedoms, but I can also pay attention to what we will gain and how this will change us for the better. I think I’ll try that this week.