Our clubfoot journey may not have started the same as any other, but it will end like any other. You see, as I sit here with my sleeping babe on my chest, casted leg draped on my side while my other two kids play in their room. I wonder if she's also dreaming about her boots and brace she's getting in 24 hours because that's what's been on my mind.
Our pregnancy started out different - but for other reasons. I had an IUD in - so when the bleeding complication appointment turned into removal due to being pregnant with an IUD in place, I was surely in shock. Once the IUD was removed, we had to wait two long weeks before we got to hear her heartbeat. With the risk of miscarriage higher after IUD removal, we all hoped and prayed for the outcome of this surprise blessing we needed. In two weeks, we went back, and when the screen lit up, there was a wiggly little baby on it with her heart beating away. It was instant love, and just like that, we were now a family of five.
The weeks went on progressing like any other pregnancy. My belly grew, I took my prenatals and kept my weight down. We awaited the big 20-week ultrasound to see her - of course, her siblings both wanted a brother or sister. so someone was going to be disappointed. We started counting down the days. When the day finally came, it was not the experience we hoped for. The tech was short and rude - we didn't get pictures of her brain or heart, no gender ideas and I left a little defeated. She was too active and a bit camera shy. You see, I had an idea on the risks or possibilities of having a pregnancy with a hormonal IUD in place, or missing seven weeks of crucial prenatal vitamins. I knew what could happen. That is a downside of working in healthcare. I had waited all this time to hear I was growing a healthy child and now I had to wait even longer.
The next few weeks, I kept busy, so my mind didn't stray to a far. Before I knew it, it was time for the rescan. We saw her two kidneys, four chambers of her heart, her growing brain, intestines where they should be, ten fingers and ten toes. One left foot and one right clubfoot. And she was perfect.
After we had told the kids it was a little sister; big brother was a bit defeated. Her big sister was overjoyed. And we went home and I started reading. I read books, journals, blogs and research papers. I joined birth clubs and forums. I learned about the methods that are out there. Our checklist before baby changed from adorable little shoes to pants that are wide enough to fit over casts. Baby swings that could handle both casting and braces. A wrap for the fussy days when we got new appliances. A sock of every brand to see what would fit best under her boots. Mountains of footless rompers for the 3 months of 23/7 wear.
I felt like I would be prepared if I had one of everything that other families had recommended. I slowly checked everything off the list as they came in the house by store or mail, but the truth is, although this maybe so minor in the scheme of birth defects, nothing can prepare you for the unknown. There is no study that will say the IUD had caused this, or her isolated case was based off of genetics, or if those few weeks without prenatals may have contributed. No matter how guilty I felt, and how much I worried, this is my baby. My baby I've carried in my womb for 9 months, nurturing her off my own body. The hormonal drive and connection are so strong. The truth of how her little foot got so curved may never be known. And really, it doesn't even matter - because I love this little girl with every single bit of my being.
I was two days overdue when finally my blood pressure wasn't cooperating enough to continue on waiting for natural labor. We were induced, and within ten hours, I had my sweet baby girl on my chest. I soaked up her soft fuzzy hair, little squeaks and peeps, and her tiny little fingernails. She had perfect skin and wide bright eyes. Just like her big sister, she was already raising her head up to look around off my chest. She was so flawless. A while later, the nurse came in to ask if she could show her foot to the resident. For that time, I had forgot about her little crooked foot. Of course, I agreed, and one right after the other, six residents came into the room to get a lesson on clubfoot.
Once we were discharged from the hospital, we went the same day to meet the doctor who would be correcting her little foot. We loved him. We opted to have one week before casting to recover, let my milk come in, heal and snuggle. We took newborn pictures and soaked up every minute of her little foot. We went back the next week, and she was casted for the first time on her tiny leg, to assure a proper future for her. We made new friends with families going through the same journey. We shared tips and tricks, concerns and cries. Like I said before, there are some things you can't be prepared for.
Every week, we went back after we signed and decorated the cast. Because let's be real, no one wants to be the one without a decorated cast. And every week, we made more and more progress. Another thing you learn to appreciate is how resilient kids are. Not just Maggie and her casting every week, but also her big brother and sister. They never once complained about being dragged to appointments or about the extra attention the new baby was getting. They were the most nurturing, gentle, and caring - acting like it was every baby standard to have weekly casting appointments. And to us, it was.
There are many comments and almost sympathetic gestures to her little foot from strangers and family. Some even tell us their stories. We know what it could have been, and some ailments are way more severe. We go on to educate and explain about clubfoot and the steps of treatment and where we are in the process. There's no need for attention or sympathy - no need for poor comments. Because this is us. And this is Maggie. And this is our family. And this is our voyage we are all on. So far, it has taught us how to come together, to be strong, to educate and accept, overcome and adapt, to encourage and embrace change, make friendships I will forever cherish. Mostly, like we have been told and now go on to tell, we are just making her perfect foot, straighter.
Submitted my Amy G.
*The Clubfoot Store is posting these stories with the permission of the submitter. At any time a the submitter can request the story removed. None of the information is to be taken as medical advice. Seek medical opinions from your doctor if you have questions.*