How Clubfoot treatment can be FUN!

What? How can clubfoot treatment be fun!?
I’m writing this blog post for the expecting parents who may have recently found out that their baby will be born with clubfoot. I know how scared you feel and how worried you must be for your baby. I’ve been there. (You can read about our experience here). My daughter was born with bilateral clubfoot and we are currently in the 12-hour wear phase of our treatment. It is definitely a long, hard road at times – If I didn’t mention that aspect of the treatment I think I’d be lying. At the same time, like any situation, it is so important to find the good aspects of a difficult time.
Let me start by saying that thanks to medical advances and incredible doctors (specifically, those who have been trained in the Ponseti method) our clubfoot babies can receive excellent and extremely successful treatment. That being said, I want to encourage you by telling you some of the good things you may experience during your child’s clubfoot journey!

1. Your baby will most likely want lots of extra cuddles and snuggles after cast changes. Yes, it is difficult to see them uncomfortable and fussy, but those extra cuddles and lots of loving will mean so much to you as parents.
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2. You will have the opportunity to meet lots of other clubfoot moms, dads, and babies who have gone through what you’re going through! It is so good to know that you’re not alone and talk to other parents about the journey if you have questions or concerns. I have met several parents of babies with clubfoot and this journey would be a lot more difficult without them!

3. You can dress up the casts and make them fun! (Yes, even for boys!!) We used cute little leg warmers, coband wrap, and cute socks to dress the casts up. Before my daughter was born, I was so worried that people would stare and ask me questions about her casts. Well, they did – but instead of being embarrassed or ashamed, I would happily tell them about my daughter’s condition and use the opportunity to spread clubfoot awareness. We rarely (if ever) encountered people who were rude about my daughter wearing casts on her legs. No one thought she fell down the stairs or that I did something wrong (irrational as it sounds, those were some of my fears). People were, for the most part, genuinely curious and had very kind responses.
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4. You will be so proud of every single milestone your clubfoot baby reaches. Yes, every mom is beyond proud of their child for meeting milestones like rolling over, crawling, walking, etc!! There is just something extra special about the clubfoot baby who has overcome so much in their young life in order to make progress. Our daughter is crawling EVERYWHERE now and we are so very proud.

5. You can make up cute little songs and rhymes for the “bedtime shoes” when you get down to the 12-hour wear phase – and you WILL get there. It may seem like it is forever away at times but you’ll get there. I was very worried that our daughter would hate having her feet confined to the boots and bar at night but she doesn’t know any different! She knows it is just part of her bedtime routine and she does wonderful with them!

6. Your clubfoot baby may make you laugh a lot by some of the hilarious positions they learn to sleep in. Imagine if you had to sleep with special shoes on and a bar connecting those shoes. Sounds uncomfortable, right? Well, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the clubfoot kiddos! Our daughter sleeps in some of the most hilarious positions and somehow, she finds it comfortable with her boots and bar. It makes us laugh every time!
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7. You will have the opportunity to meet and get to know some incredible doctors, nurses, and cast techs along your journey! We absolutely love going to Shriner’s and getting to see Dr. Gibson and Stephanie! We are so thankful for everything they’ve done to help our daughter through treatment!

8. You will look back at pictures of your baby’s feet before their treatment began and you will be overwhelmed with happiness for the progress you’ve seen! (Also – make sure you take before pictures, you will be glad you did). These babies are so tough and resilient. It is incredible.
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Imagine your clubfoot baby running around one day on their perfect feet! The clubfoot journey is difficult and seems impossible at times, but it will be so worth it!!

Raising a newborn with casts

“What happened to her legs?”
“Why is your baby wearing casts?”
“Aw, poor baby. What’s wrong with her legs?”

These and other questions similar to these are ones we became very accustomed to during the first 8 weeks of Paisley Grace’s life. I fully anticipated these questions and I prepared myself accordingly. To my surprise, we actually never got annoyed with people asking questions about our daughter’s feet. In fact, we learned to embrace them. Now don’t get me wrong, the first few times it was super weird and I was a little hesitant to answer. However, as time went on we welcomed questions about our baby’s casts and loved spreading awareness and education about clubfoot!

To be completely honest, when we first found out that Paisley was going to be born with clubfoot I was very scared about what other people would think about our daughter. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t have the “picture perfect” family because our baby would have to wear casts and special braces/shoes. I remember crying to my mom on the phone about how all anyone was ever going to see when they looked at our baby would be her casts. I was even very hesitant to tell other people that our little girl would be born with a deformity. When we first found out, I constantly just wished she didn’t even have clubfoot. Looking back, I am pretty disappointed in myself for even feeling that way. It was proud and selfish of me. I wonder if any other moms of babies with clubfoot felt that way? I guess you just always have this image that you will have this perfect baby and nothing will be wrong with them and when you find out something is wrong… it just kind of rocks your world.

I am very thankful we found out about our baby’s clubfoot well in advanced. This gave us time to research, prepare, and embrace the facts rather than wishing they weren’t true. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this…but I did not even know what clubfoot was until the day we found out Paisley had them. Now, I’m constantly reading articles, websites, and stories about clubfoot. Through this, God has given me  a passion for clubfoot education and spreading awareness! (Sidenote, sorry!) Anyway, here’s what it was like going through the casting phase of Paisley’s clubfoot journey:

  • I’ll start from when Paisley was born on August 9th. I remember that even during labor I was thinking about how excited I was to see Paisley’s little feet after she was born. The moment Paisley was born and they put her right onto my chest. I remember very distinctly that after about 45 seconds I looked down at her feet and said “your feet are so beautiful!” There’s something so strange about it but maybe other moms of babies with clubfoot will understand. I instantly LOVED Paisley Grace and I instantly loved her adorable feet!!
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  • August 15th: Paisley was only 6 days old and we went to Shriners Hospital for Children to get her first set of casts put on. For this first casting me, my mom, Gus, Becky, and Kassidy were all able to be there. I was pretty much a nervous wreck. It was pretty early in the morning and they warned us that the first appointment could take up to 4 hours. Well, it did. But it didn’t even seem that long! The hardest part of that first casting wasn’t watching Paisley get the casts put on her legs. Instead, the hardest part for me was when they told me I could pick her up after the casts were on. I instantly broke into tears and said, “I don’t even know how to hold my baby anymore!” It was a really rough day, honestly. I thought it was going to be difficult for a long time after that, but I was wrong. Day one was rough, night one was rough, and the beginning of day 2 was rough. During those rough times we just spent extra time cuddling our baby and loving on her. We held her A LOT. Pretty much constantly just to help her feel comfortable. After about a day and a half in her casts, Paisley had already started to adjust. I think it is just difficult for any baby to get used to something completely new.
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  • August 22nd: Paisley got her first set of casts taken off, and the second set put on! For the second casting, me, Gus, both of my parents, Gus’ mom, and my sister were all able to be there. At this appointment, I was extremely apprehensive about the cast removal. Once they got it started – I realized I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The cast tech, Stephanie did an incredible job and Paisley didn’t even cry! The casts came off and we all just admired the progress of Paisley’s feet. It was completely unbelievable how far her feet had come in only ONE WEEK! This is something I want to encourage other moms of babies with clubfoot about: the treatment is truly incredible! There’s no other word to describe it. You will be in awe at the progress of your baby’s feet in such a short amount of time. After Paisley’s second set of casts, we all had a rough time again for about a day and a half. Then, she got used to her new set of casts and we were back in business!
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    After only ONE WEEK of casting!

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  • August 29th: Paisley got her second set of casts taken off and her third set of casts put on. This occurred every week, if you notice the pattern! That’s part of what makes the Ponseti method so effective. It’s serial castings every week for 5-7 weeks of slowly, gently manipulating the feet to the desired position. If you are going to be having a baby with clubfoot  or if you know anyone who is looking for a clubfoot doctor – I would recommend ONLY seeing a doctor who is skilled in the Ponseti method to treat the child’s condition. Anyway…Gus and I went to this casting appointment together. Paisley did great again when they took her casts off. She did not even cry! Putting them on was another story, but would you expect anything different? It was difficult to see her screaming and crying as they manipulated her feet into the position they needed them in and as they put the casts on. At the same time, I stayed strong because I knew that it was for her own good. I kept reminding myself that as hard as it was to watch her be so upset, this treatment was going to help her and make it possible for her to run around and play someday!
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  • September 9th: Paisley got her third set of casts taken off and her fourth set put on! Gus and I went to this casting appointment together. This was a happy, happy day for us! The serial casting stage was supposed to take at least 5-7. However, the day she got her 4th set of casts put on we got some GREAT news! Dr. Gibson informed us that this would be Paisley Grace’s last serial cast because her feet were progressing so well. It was only number 4!!!  At this appointment we were told that she would be getting surgery (a tenotomy) the following week and then right after surgery they would put one more cast on which she would have for 3 consecutive weeks.  The doctor and cast team said that she has “the perfect clubfeet.” It made me so happy!
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  • September 16th: Paisley got her 4th set of casts taken off, had her tenotomy surgery (which is where they cut the Achilles tendon to allow it to lengthen), and then got her 5th set of casts put on! I was really anxious about this appointment because of the surgery. At Shriner’s, Dr. Gibson let us decide whether we were going to get Paisley put under general anesthesia for the surgery OR if we were going to chose to have them put EMLA cream on her heels and give her a shot of lidocaine in each heel. Every parent is different, but we , personally, decided that we did not want our baby to go under general anesthesia at a month old. Dr. Gibson said that he leaves the choice completely up to the parents. I was a little bit nervous about our decision but looking back, I’m very glad we did what we did. My friend Heidi came with us to this appointment. We were all in there as they took off her 4th set of casts. Then, we got to hold her and love on her little feet while they applied EMLA cream to her heels and then put plastic tape over it to let the cream absorb and take effect. When they were ready for the procedure, they had us leave the room. We went up to the cafeteria and had breakfast together. After the tenotomy was complete, we walked back into the room and Paisley was happily lying on the table with her new set of casts already on! She wasn’t acting any different than she normally did after castings. I was very relieved. They gave us some special instructions and let us know that after the numbing agents wore off, she would probably be uncomfortable. The next few days were full of more rough adjustments but we made it through! We used Tylenol, propped up her little casts with blankets, and gave her lots of extra cuddle time during those first couple of days. It didn’t take her long before she was used to her casts again and she was kicking those things all over the place! That’s another thing about babies with clubfeet – they do not let ANYTHING slow them down!! Paisley was still moving her little casts like crazy even though they seemed like they would be too heavy for her to move! Paisley stayed in her 5th set of casts for 3 weeks. That stretch of time was a lot easier than I thought. It’s nice because it allowed her to really get used to the casts and she didn’t have to make a new weekly adjustment like she had been doing since she was born! Out of all the casts, the 3-week long cast was the one she did the best with.
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  • October 7th: Paisley got her last set of casts off and moved into 23/7 boots and bar wear. This was the end of the casting stage of her clubfoot journey. We are looking forward to eventually sharing details of Paisley’s clubfoot journey as she continues in the boots and bar phase of her treatment!

Here are some more tips for clubfoot moms in the casting stage:

1) Allow your baby time to adjust the first couple of days after a new cast is applied. The doctors who treat clubfoot according to the Ponseti method use gentle massage and manipulation at each cast change to get your baby’s foot to form to the proper positioning. We learned to anticipate at least a rough day and a half to two days after each cast change. Every baby is different, but we learned that it’s helpful if you just prepare yourselves accordingly!
2) Try to not go to the casting appointments alone. It was very helpful to have other people there as a support system during the cast changes. Watching your newborn baby go through something like that pulls on your heartstrings and if you can have other people there to encourage you and support you, it helps a lot!
3) Don’t get offended when people ask about the casts. If I read that tip somewhere before I had Paisley I would probably get mad. But…hear me out! I know it’s none of their business and they really should be asking but people are curious. And I’m going to be honest, I would probably want to ask “why” if I saw a baby with casts, too! (I just wouldn’t have the guts to do it!) It’s pretty neat when you can teach someone about clubfoot who maybe has never heard of it before! Try to view each encounter with a curious onlooker as an opportunity for you to spread awareness of a condition which has greatly affected your own family!
4) Join clubfoot support pages!! I can’t say it enough. I don’t know what I would do without having the other clubfoot moms as a support system. Even through the casting phase, it was great to have a place where we all had so much in common and you knew you were not alone.
5) No footsie pajamas. Sorry, it just doesn’t work. I know they’re cute…and it’s kind of disappointing that our sweet babies can’t wear them…but just think of how exciting it will be when they can wear pants and shoes and be running around playing and dancing because they have corrected feet!! If you’re really desperate and you absolutely are NOT okay with the fact that your baby can’t wear pants or footsie pajamas then you can probably buy them a few sizes too big and slip them over the casts. It’s up to you!
6) Enjoy this stage of life with your baby. As clubfoot moms, we are literally raising a newborn with casts. It’s hard work. Newborn babies are hard enough as it is and when you add the element of casts on their legs it makes for an interesting, and sometimes difficult, situation. Just try to enjoy it as much as you can. I know that sounds kind of crazy at first. The truth is…time really does fly and you don’t want to look back on this stage of your baby’s life and realize that you just constantly wished it away.
7) Two words: BABY LEGGINGS. Paisley LIVED in baby leggings for the first 8 weeks of her life. I mean seriously. We put those leggings on her everyday! They were so helpful for several reasons. First of all, I was pretty worried at first about her getting yucky things in her cast during diaper changes. With the baby leggings, you can pull them up and over the casts so that it creates a little barrier and you don’t have to worry about “stuff” getting inside the cast and making a mess! Also, the leggings made the casts look inconspicuous! And, they’re just plain cute. We had fun with them and loved “dressing up” her casts. Between baby leggings and coband wrap, (yes, the coband wrap you can get at tractor supply) Paisley Grace always had some stylin’ looking casts!
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I hope this helps someone out there. If you’re a mom of a baby with clubfoot and you have any questions about the casting stage of the clubfoot journey, please feel free to contact me! I would love to talk to you!

 

 

The difficult beginning to our journey

I’m going to be completely transparent and open regarding Paisley’s clubfoot journey. I plan on eventually sharing details on the blog about what it has been like to go through the entire clubfoot journey with our sweet baby. My hope is that this will reach other mommies of clubfoot babies and encourage them! I also want to remember, in detail, everything we went through so that Paisley can one day truly appreciate her ability to walk, run,and live a normal life to the fullest degree. I want her to be able to read about this clubfoot journey one day so that she can look back and rejoice that God chose her to have clubfoot so that He could glorify Himself through her. More than anything, I want God’s name to be made great through Paisley’s clubfoot journey and everything He has brought her through.

We were very hesitant to share with everyone that our little baby was going to be born with clubfoot. We eventually decided to share our story and it personally helped me a lot to share it on the blog. If you want to, you can read that post here. I also have a confession to make… When we shared our story, there was a big part I decided to leave out. I left that portion out for quite a few reasons. A huge reason being that we didn’t have all of the answers yet and I didn’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily. It is still a part of our story. I have met several other moms through clubfoot support groups who have experienced it as well so I wanted to share a portion of the beginning of our clubfoot journey that I originally had left out.

One of the main reasons for my hesitation to share with everyone that Paisley had clubfoot was that for a few weeks, the doctors were not sure if it was an isolated incident of clubfoot or not. Apparently when a baby has clubfoot, it can either be a completely isolated problem or it could occur in combination with other musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, or chromosomal problems. The 26-week level 2 ultrasound with the maternal-fetal medicine specialist was the ultrasound which confirmed Paisley’s clubfoot. We had that ultrasound on April 1st. At that ultrasound, we also were told that they found something called an echogenic foci in her heart. I had never heard of an echogenic foci before. Just the fact that they found a spot in her heart was enough to scare this already nervous first-time-mom. They made it clear to us that this echogenic foci would not, in any way, cause her heart to function abnormally. What a relief! However, they also made it clear that the finding of an echogenic foci is considered to a “soft marker” for chromosomal abnormalities. If they had only found the echogenic foci at this ultrasound, they wouldn’t be alarmed at all. If they had only found the clubfoot at this ultrasound, they also wouldn’t be alarmed at all. However, according to the doctor, the combination of those two findings (or, as they described it, “soft markers”) increased our chances for having a baby who would be born with a chromosomal abnormality. As I was lying on the ultrasound table and the doctor was relaying all of this information to us, he was trying to convince me to get an amniocentesis to know for sure. Here I am, pregnant for the first time, nervous as can be already, and now even more scared that something might be seriously wrong with our precious baby. The doctor was trying to act like the amniocentesis was no big deal at all. “You’re tiny. I will go get the supplies and be right back. It will only take ten minutes or so. It will be quick and easy.” I just felt unsure about it. It was so much to take in at once and I wanted time to register everything before we made any decisions. I knew that no matter what the results of the amniocentesis were, we would still keep our baby. I told him I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have the procedure done or not. He reluctantly gave me his business card and told me to call the office if I changed my mind. Gus and I went home totally unsure and devastated that day. We found out our baby had clubfoot AND that our baby may have a chromosomal abnormality and the only way we could know for sure was if we got the amniocentesis done. We let our families and a couple of close friends know about the echogenic foci and the clubfoot, but we weren’t ready to tell anyone else. We had to go to genetic counseling to discuss the findings.

The unknown was scary, but I finally gave it all up to God and put my trust into him regarding our precious baby girl. On April 3rd, 2014, I wrote a private journal entry on my blog to my unborn daughter. We were waiting for the test results and I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Gus and I had a long discussion that night and I finally began to embrace whatever God might call us to. (Like I said, I am going to be very transparent and open on this blog…so I will share that with you):

Sweet baby girl,
Mommy and daddy love you so much already.
We found out on April 1st, 2014 that you have something called bilateral clubbed feet. We also found out that they found an echogenic foci in your heart. These two findings indicate that you could possibly have a chromosomal abnormality or a neuromuscular disorder. Guess what? We are going to love you no matter what. Want to know why? Because God made you absolutely beautiful and nothing in the world will ever change that. We don’t know exactly what these two findings entail. On one hand, this could mean something major which we will have to deal with as a family OR it could simply mean that you have to be in casts for awhile after you’re born to help your little feet heal. Either way, you will be loved. Either way, we will trust God and know that He has a perfect plan for all of us. Either way, we will pray for you every day. We will do anything and everything for our little girl. I never knew I could love someone so much and I haven’t even met you yet! I know we are just going to absolutely adore you when you do get here.
We love you, Paisley Grace.

After a lot of prayer, research, and discussion, we eventually decided that we were not going to have the amniocentesis done. A little over a month later I let my regular OB doctor know that we had decided against the amniocentesis. He was very understanding and encouraging. He also made it clear to me that because of the two soft markers, they were concerned as far as proper prenatal care and my delivery. The hospital I delivered at did not have a NICU and they also did not see high-risk patients. Having a baby with a chromosome abnormality would require me to switch doctors in order to have proper prenatal care and a NICU available for any complications which may occur during delivery. He encouraged me to think about possibly getting a genetic test done called the maternal T21. T21 stands for trisomy 21, which is otherwise known as down syndrome. This genetic test can be done by taking a sample of my blood and then picking up traces of the baby’s blood cells through specialized testing.This would eliminate any of the risks to the baby that are associated with an amniocentesis.  After more research, prayer, and talking with family members, we decided to have the maternal T21 genetic testing done. We had the test done at the end of May and the results took 2 weeks to come back.

Exactly two weeks after I got the maternal T21 test done, I received a phone call from my doctor’s office. I was so nervous as I answered the phone. The nurse on the other end of the phone must have sensed how anxious I was and she quickly got to the point. In a sweet, energetic voice she informed me that the test results indicated that there was less than a 0.001% chance that our baby girl would be born with any kind of chromosomal abnormality! I instantly began to cry tears of joy. I was so thankful! In all reality, Gus and I had begun to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves to potentially have a baby with serious special needs. I was overwhelmed with joy when we discovered that our baby’s clubfoot was, in fact, simply an isolated incident as far as they could tell, with no additional involvement. I cannot begin to describe to you how we felt.

No matter what the results of that genetic test were, we would have loved our daughter just the same. We prepared ourselves for bad news and hoped for good news. Looking back, we can see the goodness of God even in that trial. We put all of our trust in Him at a time where trusting Him seemed impossible.  No matter what the outcome of the test was, we were thankful for the baby he gave us the privilege to raise.

Being a mother is a special calling and a precious privilege. Having a child with special needs is a very special calling and, dare I say, an even GREATER privilege. Our daughter has a very, very mild deformity which can be treated with castings, corrective shoe wear, and surgeries. I don’t even consider her to have “special needs,” per say, just “special feet.” There are other babies and children out there who have more severe deformities and disabilities and their mommies and daddies have to face a lot more challenges than the everyday parent. I am amazed by those parents. I pray for those parents all the time. I cannot begin to imagine the daily trials they face with extra doctor’s appointments, surgeries, therapies…the list goes on and on. I’m sure they have some really, really rough days. I also know that they have some truly amazing days spent with some of this world’s biggest blessings. Children with special needs have some of the biggest, kindest hearts. God hand-picked each parent to care for those “special blessings.” I admire those parents. Your child is a beautiful part in God’s perfect plan and they are made perfectly — EXACTLY how He created them to be.

If you’re a mom or a mom-to-be who is reading this and you have found yourself in a similar situation regarding clubfoot and the echogenic foci finding, I hope this is an encouragement to you. I have met several moms through clubfoot support group pages whose babies also had the echogenic foci finding in their heart who were born with isolated clubfoot and no associated conditions. Doctors may unintentionally cause you to worry. There are so many clubfoot support groups on Facebook. It’s completely understandable to be scared of the unknown. Reach out to other mommas who are going through the same thing you are! You’re not alone. 

Perfect imperfections

World Clubfoot Day Happy World Clubfoot Day! Today is a day designated to bring awareness to this condition and I thought it would be a fitting day to tell others about our own little girl’s clubfoot journey.

On March 20th we found out that we were having a baby girl. Gus, Kassidy, and I were all able to be there together for the ultrasound and find out the good news! We also found out some other information that day which I haven’t yet shared with everyone. After the ultrasound we went to a back room where the doctor asked if he could speak to Gus and I alone. At first, I assumed the doctor always spoke to the expectant parents after the full anatomy ultrasound, however when he asked us to take a seat my heart completely sank. Gus and I sat down across from the doctor as he explained that we would need to go to a specialist for another ultrasound because it looked as though our baby girl may possibly have clubfoot. He explained to us that it may just be the way the baby was positioned in utero, however they would need to do a level 2 ultrasound in order to confirm it. I left that appointment feeling a little bit worried but I honestly just assumed that it was simply the way she was laying and that when we went for the ultrasound at the specialist everything would probably be fine.

When I was 22 weeks pregnant, we went to the maternal-fetal medicine specialist. There they did a very long, in-depth ultrasound which seemed to take forever. That day the specialist confirmed that our baby does has bilateral clubfeet. Clubfoot is a birth defect that affects about 1 in 1,000 infants. Of those cases, about half of these babies are born with bilateral clubfeet, as opposed to unilateral, in which case only one foot is affected. The doctor came in and showed us our baby’s clubfeet in 3D. That’s when it became real to me. The feelings, emotions, and fears I experienced that day are so much different than they are now. At first, I was completely terrified and heartbroken that our little girl would have this deformity and would need  to have her little legs and feet corrected. I was angry at myself for some reason and I felt extremely guilty that somehow this problem was my fault. Now, after much prayer, research, and talking to other moms of babies with clubfoot, I’ve been able to have a lot of my questions answered and most of my fears have subsided. Although some days I still have questions and fears, I’ve come to realize that although our baby will have a little bit of a rough start, after corrections she will be able to develop like any other child her age. All of her major organs are functioning perfectly. She doesn’t have a life-threatening disease or disorder which will be debilitating to her throughout her life.  Our baby  has a deformity which is thankfully able to be fully corrected through casts, a minor surgery, and bracing. God allowed our sweet baby girl to have this specific congenital deformity for a reason. In our eyes, she is perfect because we know she is fearfully and wonderfully made by a powerful and loving Creator.

After showing us her little legs and feet in 3D, the sonographer could tell we were upset. When the doctor left, she turned the 3D ultrasound back on and showed us a beautiful picture of our baby girl's face!

After the doctor showed us her little legs and feet in 3D, the sonographer could tell we were upset. When the doctor left, she turned the 3D ultrasound back on and showed us a picture of our baby girl’s face!

Gus and I were referred to Shriners Children’s Hospital after our appointment with the specialist. It’s not simply a coincidence that we happen to live only 10 minutes away from an incredible children’s hospital which specializes in orthopaedics. Even in that, we can see God’s provision. After our ultrasound with the specialist, they set up another appointment for us at Shriners. The next week, Gus and I went to Shriners Hospital and met with our daughter’s nurses and cast technicians who will be helping us through the clubfoot journey. There, the nurses discussed the plan of care and correction after our baby gets here. The Ponseti Method is commonly used to correct clubfeet. One of the doctors at the Shriners Hospital we will be going to was actually trained in the Ponseti Method by Dr. Ponseti himself! The severity of each baby’s case of clubfoot (or clubfeet) cannot usually be determined until they are born, and because clubfoot can range in severity from mild to severe, the Ponseti method can be tailored accordingly. Although the time frames may need to be adjusted according to her specific case and severity, the general plan of care for our baby is this:
– They will start the casting regimen with our baby as soon as we’re ready. They recommend beginning castings within the first week of her life. The nurse told us we can call them after delivery when we’re still in the hospital and before we bring her home we can come to Shriners and get her casts put on.
– For the first 6-8 weeks of her life, she will have to wear plaster casts on each leg from the tips of her toes to her upper thighs. She will most likely have to have a new cast every week (they recommend changing the casts every 5 days) for these 6-8 weeks. Changing the casts each week allows the bones to gradually align properly.
– After the serial castings, she may need a small procedure to allow the tendons in her foot to lengthen. Most babies with clubfeet require this procedure.
– The serial castings will be followed by a single cast on each leg which will need to be worn for 3-6 weeks.
– To prevent relapse, she will need to wear special bracing equipment 24 hours a day for the next 2-3 months.
– Her corrections will be evaluated and if no further casting is needed, she will transition to only needing to wear her braces at night and at nap time until she is 3-4 years old.

Like I said, each case of clubfoot is different and the Ponseti method is tailored according to each child’s specific needs. I’m thankful that we were able to meet with our daughter’s phenomenal nurses and cast techs and get an idea of what we are about to jump into. When we got to Shriners, they took us down the casting hallway and into one of the many cast rooms. They showed us molds of the serial casts and the braces and special shoes our baby will be wearing. It could have been overwhelming and scary, but instead it was extremely informative and we left feeling more prepared then either of us thought possible. The nurses and cast techs were so excited about our baby coming soon! They referred to her as their “special baby” because she’s just like any other baby, she just needs a little bit of special care at first.

Although we may not know exactly why right now, we know that God has a special reason for giving us a little girl with clubfeet. We hope and pray that throughout this journey, God will be glorified and that others will see Him do awesome things. We want to encourage other parents of children who have special needs – whether it be clubfeet or something more serious. God has entrusted these special children to special parents and He will give the grace and strength needed to get through each day.

We love our little girl. We love her from head to toe – even with her little adorable, perfectly imperfect clubfeet.

clubfootribbon Over the past couple of months, I’ve been able to do so much research and I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about this condition. If you’re interested in learning more about clubfeet or the Ponseti Method, you can check out the links below!
http://www.clubfootclub.org/about http://www.ponseti.info/clubfoot-and-the-ponseti-method/what-is-clubfoot/ponseti-method.html http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001228.htm http://www.ponseti.info/clubfoot-and-the-ponseti-method/what-is-clubfoot/learn-about-clubfoot.html