This whole “baby wearing a cast” thing requires a lot of trial and error no matter how much research I do. This week includes trying yet another sleeping position, introducing solid food a bit early in an attempt to avoid diaper blow outs and looking for a stroller that she’ll fit into. But so far, we are surviving and folding it all into our daily lives. Dare I say that it’s starting to feel kind of normal?
Almost every day Brian says to Poppy, “Sorry you have to wear your hard pants today baby.” Of course she just smiles because daddy is talking to her, but it’s still hard to see her all stiff and restricted. Our sweet little one has to wear her hard pants all summer long and I’m pretty sure it’s more difficult on us than it is on her.
She will have a total of 3 casts if all goes according to plan. Her first cast change was this past Monday. It was like surgery day (they even called it surgery) but without as much worry or pain. Our babe went under anesthesia again, lost the smelly cast, got x-rayed, got bathed and came out with a new cast. It was a long day, but as usual she was a little baby champ.
Right after the procedure we met with our doctor and the report is that both of Poppy’s hips are progressing well. The one that was fixed surgically is holding and should continue to grow together properly. The “good” hip that was responding well to the non-surgical treatment (pavlik harness) showed that the socket is deepening as it should be and looks great. Phew.
He said that Poppy will be in this cast for 4 weeks. We were expecting 5-6 weeks so I got excited. Then he said that her final cast will likely be for 6 weeks but that hopefully it will be a “bermuda shorts” style cast. That would be like wearing hard shorts instead of hard pants. Woo Hoo! The “May Gray” and “June Gloom” we have here in coastal southern California has been a welcome sight so far, but having a smaller cast when the hot days come would be such a relief.
So I walked out of that consult room feeling good. Anytime things are better than we expect it boosts our spirits. Each new challenge requires digging up some gumption and asking God for the grace to accept the reality. So when something is better than we thought it would be, it’s like a treat. A little reprieve, a lightening of the load.
But just as easily, something worse than we expected can take the wind out of our sails. We went back to see her in recovery and after kissing her sweet face, I pulled back the blankets and realized that her new cast (although clean and fresh) is not better than the last. It seems huge. It goes up higher on her torso and comes down closer to her ankles. Her legs are even further apart. My heart sank. Big deal right? It’s just a couple more inches. But it felt like a big deal. The cast covers more of her body than it did before and that makes me sad.
But then the recovery room nurse asks me, “Is she always this happy?” Yes. Yes she is. People ask me how I get her to smile for every picture and my big trick is this- I say “Hi Poppy” and she smiles. Her cheerfulness is regularly pulling me away from my pouting and replacing it with big doses of perspective.
Up and down, up and down. These things can feel so discouraging at first. But then this strange work of peace happens and I feel myself adjusting. Again. Adjusting to the harness, adjusting to the idea of surgery, adjusting to the cast, adjusting to a different cast…and before I know it, things don’t feel impossible anymore. There’s no question that having my 4 month old living in a spica cast is wearing on me and I am counting the days until it comes off, but we’re doing it.
It’s amazing what we can get used to. The human capacity to adjust is incredible. Something about having this bulky cast now will make the final stretch with the “shorts” cast feel like a breeze. From where I stand now, the months we thought she’d be in the harness doesn’t sound so hard at all. Call it survival or perspective or resilience but I am thankful that God placed it in the hearts of the humans he created. He sure knew we would need it.