Our Clubfoot Journey: Bracing On

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.20140709-111450-40490137.jpg
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.

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8 thoughts on “Our Clubfoot Journey: Bracing On

  1. Nurain

    Hi Yolande, I came across your blog while searching on clubfoot in Singapore. Our daughter had her first boots & bar today and it has been aweful. We had a different bar, a bended bar without any click on. She barely sleeps and scremed everytime she moves her legs. I have no idea if I’m hurting her cos it really feels like I could break her bone each time I put the boots on back again. (Her left boot kept coming off). I have no idea if there are any support page for clubfoot in sg? I am so depressed right now I don’t know what I would do.

    1. Hi Nurain, I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is having a tough time. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any clubfoot support page in SG. However, it is normal for them to feel uncomfortable the first few days as they get use to having the boots and bar on. It won’t break their legs though… they are very resilient! That said, the boots should NOT slip off at all for treatment to go well. Might be worth checking with her doctor if the boots are the right size and whether it has been put on real tight.

      When we first started, I was really scared that I was putting on the boots too tight for my son, but after being shown how to do it, it was fine.

      I absolutely understand how tough this is for you, but if the bar has been adjusted for your child, and the boots are correct, she will settle after a few days. As a mum, I know it’s awful seeing her scream and lose sleep over this. But this treatment is the best thing you can do for her for her feet to be corrected. Don’t give up!

  2. Hi Yolande.
    Our boy Jack is 32 months and born with bilateral club feet.
    Have you heard of the Horton Click bar….it clips on and off the boots and makes the putting them on without a “broken leg” much easier!!!
    At the moment I am sad too. Jack has relapsed. The scary and crappie part about it is that his feet look great! Unfortunately his x ray says different.
    I hope you get some sleep soon…and little Theodore too …
    I just wanted to share with you, I hope it hasn’t scared you, I just wish now that I knew some others’ stories early on in treatment. I guess writing it down helps me too. Much love. ♡◆□>□

    1. Oh dear! Sorry to hear that it has relapsed for Jack. Does he need to be recast?

      We were given the Alfa Flex brace which just clicks on the boots too. The difficult part I struggle with is the boots themselves. I’m still not used to getting them on and off as they’re so tight. Never quite sure if I’m hurting him but I suppose with practice I’ll be more confident.

      Keeping you and Jack in my thoughts. Great to know from fellow clubfoot babies’ parents. It’s very treatable yet extremely heartbreaking journey to embark on. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    1. Thank you! He’ll be in them 23/7 for 3 months and then 12 hrs per night plus 2hrs nap time till he’s 4. Seems like forever to me but I’m sure it will be all worth while in the end..

  3. foodessen

    It sounds like you are doing your best to stay positive and I strongly believe this plays an important part in anything we go through. Although I don’t know you in real life, my thoughts are with you. Stay strong, hang in there and before you know it you will have your happy boy back!

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