Yesterday morning Theodore had his final set of casts removed. I was so happy to see and feel his legs again. He was then fitted with bar and brace to ensure he won’t suffer a relapse.
Just when I thought the casting phase was difficult, the first day in bar and brace was HELL. Nothing I could have done to brace myself for what we have to go through.
1. Discomfort (pain?)
The shoes are tied down really snug. As if that’s not enough, Theodore can no longer move his legs individually. Neither is he able to lift both legs because the bar weighs a tonne.
Yes, babies learn and adapt really quickly. The whole world tells me the obvious. But when my baby boy can’t do what he usually enjoys (kicking in excitement), his Mama feels the pain. I try to help ease the weight of the bar by placing cushions under his feet and “teach” him some exercises, but all these take time. In the meanwhile, my darling boy can only cry.
2. It does get better
The most dreadful words from well-meaning people. It jolly well get better. Given the amount of research I’ve done since he was a day old in the hospital, I know clubfoot is treatable. Still, no amount of research mentally prepares any parent from what you have to practically do each day.
It is only with practice that we will get better. However I shall be truthful and tell you that reality sucks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me “wishing” my boy didn’t have to go through this. It’s what any normal parent would wish for. But yes, 4 years down the road and when I read back on this post, I’m sure I’ll tell you it does get better because we would have survived it.
“It does get better” should only be said by parents who had to struggle to unbuckle those bloody shoes and put them back on without breaking their babies’ legs. Tried it last night without the confidence of NOT causing more pain.
When it DOES get better for us, I’m sure to let you know. I’m confident it will get better too.
3. What is sleep?
Some babies are pretty good with accepting the bar and brace. Unfortunately not Theodore. He hasn’t had a proper sleep since he got his shoes and bar. Unlike him, he would now sleep for maximum 30 minutes on me before screaming. He did that the entire night. He was never a clingy baby but now he just needs all the comfort we can provide him at the expense of our sleep. Walking zombies we are.
It’s a vicious cycle since the lack of sleep makes me more emotionally vulnerable. Theoretically it’s so easy to say I should be calm. Now, 2 hours of light sleep with constant screaming, clingy and crying baby – you ought to have received enlightenment to still be calm.
Still, I do try and make bracing a “fun” experience for him by singing and playing with his feet. He hasn’t found it fun yet so Mama has to put in more effort.
4. Where is my boy?
He’s physically sleeping on me as I blog but at the same time, he’s not quite the usual Theodore – smiley, cheerful and playful.
Every waking moment now is him realising he’s in discomfort and being upset. He just gazes into space and look absolutely listless.
I am well aware that he’ll adapt and he’ll be back to his usual self in no time. However at this point in time, I’m missing my boy. I’m looking forward to having him back.
So, Day One of bar and brace isn’t exactly all rosy! We totally can understand why some parents didn’t comply with the 23/7 rule and removed the bars and shoes. While they’re there to prevent a relapse, our actions seem to put our babies in more discomfort. However, to ensure that his treatment will be a success, we’ll need to be firm on NOT getting rid of the bar and brace prematurely.
I hope that by blogging about our experience with caring for a clubfoot child, it will help me:
1. Deal with the treatment that requires hell a lot of determination
2. Document Theodore’s amazing progress (he has already improved so much!)
I can only hope that my boy overcomes the new experience real soon so we can have some sort of “normality” again.