Day 4 of helmet therapy

Today is the last day of the helmet “breaking in” period. Tomorrow we go full blown 23 hours. Yesterday I was really sad and depressed. It was the first very warm day of the year at 72 degrees. I took Jack for a walk in his stroller with his helmet on and he was sweaty and red-faced by the time we got back. I have always so looked forward to summer, but this year might be spent trying to avoid the sun. I am sooo worried about Jack overheating and being uncomfy.

I’ve been following a Yahoo group for kids with plagiocephaly. Yesterday I posted a long rant about how much I already hate this and how sad I am. I got so many encouraging replies back that I feel much better and more positive about today. It seems that every person who has had their child in a helmet is 100% glad they did it, and many parents even push for a longer wearing period than is necessary if you can believe that. I really hope I get to that point where I am so comfortable with it.

Last night was the first time wearing it during sleep. At first he went right to sleep no problem, but then proceeded to wake up every half hour, then every 15 minutes until I brought him to bed with me. I had to rock him back to sleep, which I have never had to do, but after that he slept like a log. I’m thinking maybe he’s just getting used to sleeping with me since he was in bed with us all last week during our vacation and the last few days he has been sick. I hope that is the case and not the helmet.

I’m calling the orthotist today because one side of the helmet is sliping down over his eye. Maybe if we can get that adjusted he won’t even notice the helmet anymore. The good news is it isn’t irritating his skin.

I’ll just have to take this one day at a time and hope I eventually feel the same as all the parents on the plagio board, that this was the best thing they could have done for their kids.

Day 1 of helmet therapy…oh, and a tooth

Yesterday my son got his cranial molding helmet to help reshape his flat head. It was a decision my husband and I agonized over. Since flat heads in babies, or plagiocephaly, is a fairly new phenomenon, there isn’t yet an abundance of information or conclusive studies about it or the treatment of it.

Some people believe flat spots do not need to be treated – that babies’ heads will round out on their own as they get older. Some hail the helmet as the only effective way to treat a flat spot. Other therapies include repositioning, or keeping babies off their backs and/or flat spots, and craniosacral therapy.

I can honestly say we have tried everything – the helmet was our last resort. At our 4 month checkup, the pediatrician noticed how flat Jack’s head was and gave us a phone number to a neurosurgeon, just to see what they would say. I kind of brushed it off until Jack was 5 months old, then I thought I had better call for an appointment. Mostly, I was afraid of telling the pediatrician that I didn’t even call at Jack’s 6 month. I’m not very confident in my first time mom decisions.

It took 3 weeks to get an appointment at the neurosurgeon. I was hoping she would say he has a mild case and treatment is not necessary, but in the back of my mind I knew it was not going to be that easy. She recommended we get a helmet, scaring us with visions of our son not being able to fit into a football helmet in high school or being able to shave his head without getting made fun of. Still, we were unsure, so the neurosurgeon told us to give it a month of intense repositioning therapy and see if his head rounds out on its own. That was by far THE most stressful month of my life. How on earth do you keep an infant off the back of their head, when they are either lying on their back sleeping or playing, or lying in their carseat, or sitting in some other sort of device with head supports? And to top it off, my baby hated tummy time and learned to roll onto this back VERY quickly.

My husband and I decided to just go for the treatment after 3 weeks of stressing. We got a lot of different opinions. Some people made us feel like getting a helmet was the silliest thing they’d ever heard of…after all, WE never had those when WE were babies and we’re fine, right? Well, I don’t know…haven’t seen many of the people I know bald. Others were supportive. I seemed to find the most information on chat forums like Babycenter and Yahoo for plagiocephaly. 99% of those people said they were glad they did the helmet and would do it again.

The fitting process was easy, and the orthotist assigned to Jack, Amy, is super cool and you can tell she loves kids. I felt better after going and getting his head scanned and meeting Amy. It took a week for his helmet to be made. I had to go in for the rundown on it by myself – hubby was at work. My heart sank as Amy told me how kids who have these in the summer have a hard time because they get so hot and itchy, and how some kids skin doesn’t tolerate it and they end up with blisters and we should watch for red sore spots, and how Jack would probably have to wear it for a longer period then we initially thought because he is a little older at 6.5 months than when they would ideally put it on.

The hardest part was when he was crying and I picked him up to comfort him and he couldn’t fit his head in the crook of my neck because of his giant hard plastic helmet. It’s big, and awkward and I can’t cuddle him as well, and I wish I could just tell him why we are making him wear this obnoxious thing.

The truth is, he doesn’t seem to mind it at all. His skin hasn’t been red anywhere, he has napped with it on no problem, and he is happy as a clam. Friends that have seen him in it think it’s cute and no big deal. Everyone on the plagio forums says the kids get used to it so quick and it is absolutely no big deal after the first couple days and the time goes by so quick and they are all so glad they did it. I hope this is the case for us.

Oh yeah, and he also cut his first tooth yesterday 🙂

The Hard Things

I was driving past a church the other day, and the sign out front read “What God sends is better than what we ask for.”

I’ve been trying to make this my mantra for the past week as I am feeling overwhelmed with life and motherhood yet again. We took Jack for his very first road trip last week up to Whidbey Island, Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia to visit friends and family. Jack did pretty well considering we were in the car for 13 hours on the way there. I stressed out more than he did and ended up almost finishing my bottle of Xanax.

There was nothing I wanted more when we returned home than to relax and enjoy the comforts of home, but it was not to be. 24 hours after we got home, Jack’s small cold turned into a barking cough complete with wheezing and labored breathing. I scoured the web and came up with the conclusion it was croup. I called the pediatrician’s after hours answering service for advice as it was approaching 9:00 p.m. and I wasn’t sure what to do. The nurse who called me back listened to his breathing and immediately said to take my son to the E.R. My stomach dropped. Her voice was so serious, and my husband was working at his second job, and everyone else was out of town. Hospitals, especially emergency rooms, give me serious panic attacks, and I wasn’t sure I could do this alone.

At the E.R. Jack was given a dose of steroids to open up his swollen throat and we were sent on our way. Today he feels much better, but today was also the day we went to get his helmet for his flat head. So begins another challenge in my first year of motherhood. Looking back, I can’t believe I have made it through the last 6 months of motherhood and the previous 9 months of pregnancy, but I did. I will make it through whatever comes next.

I will continue to pray for strength to raise a happy, healthy son, for my aunt and brother-in-law suffering from cancer, for my best friend grieving the loss of her son, for myself and my husband to find financial and job security, for my sister to find peace in her family, for my grandpa to find comfort in his time of grief, for my sister-in-law’s luck to turn around, and for the well-being of the earth and humanity. I am trusting that God will send something even better than all of this I pray for.

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