Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Clubfoot Story - Part 1

Clubfoot definition - A congenital deformity of the foot usually marked by a curled shape or twisted position of the ankle and heel and toes.

I haven’t talked much about the fact that my son with born with severe bi-lateral clubfoot, but I know that I probably should. I believe that by telling our story, from learning about the birth defect when I was only 20 weeks along in my pregnancy and all the way through his treatment, can help other parents to know that they are not alone. Because you are not...there are others that have been through the same things...and we made it. It was tough, but we made it!

How our story went…

In the beginning:

I found out that I was pregnant in April of 2006. My husband and I were so happy. We had been married for 6 years at the time and were finally ready to start our family. We had long ago determined that we were only going to have one child. We didn’t care about the sex of the baby…we just knew that being parents was something that we wanted to be and healthy was all that we were hoping for.

Everything went great in the beginning of my pregnancy. I was one of the lucky few women that never had morning sickness. I was able to sleep each night, go to work each morning and other than gaining weight…there really was no change for me. We went to our first doctor’s appointment at 12 weeks. Listened to the baby’s heartbeat and cried. Cried tears of absolutely happiness. We went back to the doctor at 16 weeks and again at 20 weeks. Note that my husband and I went a different route with our doctor…most women choose to go to a ob/gyn, but our family doctor can deliver babies and we LOVE her, so we opted to have her take care of me during my pregnancy. And because of this when it was time for me to get an ultrasound, I was sent to a clinic that specializes in ultrasounds instead of having it done in my doctors office.

The day of the ultrasound my husband and I were on pins and needles with excitement. We couldn’t wait to finally “see” our baby and find out if we were having a boy or a girl! We met up at the clinic and waited in the lobby for our appointment, holding hands & giggling like children. We were called back and the technician began our ultrasound. She walked us through what we were looking at…the heartbeat, the spine, the kidneys, etc. She then told us that we were having a boy!

But I started to notice that she wasn’t showing us anything on the bottom half of my baby’s body. I found myself asking her over and over, “Everything’s just perfect, right?” And with each question all that I got was either no response or she just started talking about something else. Then came the dreaded words from her. She told us that she believed something might be wrong but that she needed to get a second opinion from the physician, a world-renowned perinatologist that owned the clinic. The technician wouldn’t tell us what was wrong…she just left the room. Turns out that the physician that she consulted with was working that day at one of his other clinics and that he could look at our ultrasound from there. My husband and I silently sat in the exam room crying. Both of us were crying because we had no idea what was going on…

When the technician came back into the room she informed us that the perinatologist wanted to talk to us, so she picked up a phone in the exam room and handed it to me. The doctor then informed me that our baby had a birth defect called severe bi-lateral clubfeet. I don’t remember much more from the conversation…he went over statistics, and treatments and other stuff, but I pretty much just kept hearing “birth defect” over and over and over. I handed the phone back to the technician and told my husband what the doctor had told me. And we both cried. I remember the technician telling us that it would be ok and she also went over the statistics of how many babies are born with it, how it is treatable and other stuff. But I didn’t really hear her. I was in a daze. Next thing I knew we were back in the lobby making follow up appointments, being given literature and getting a printout of some photos from the ultrasound along with a disk of the images.

An ultrasound image showing one of my son's clubfeet.

I was just at such a loss…I had never imagined that the appointment would turn out how it did. I just thought we would go in and find out the sex of our baby…I imagined I would shed tears, but tears of joy not of sorrow and uncertainty. I didn’t know anything about clubfeet other than a few photos that I had seen of children in third world countries. I wasn’t something that I was familiar with…no one in my family or my husband’s family had had this, all of my friends had healthy babies. All that I could picture was that my baby boy wouldn’t walk or that he would have to have multiple painful surgeries.

That night I called my doctor, talked to my family & close friends, cried with my husband & started to research exactly what clubfoot was and how it was treated. I was scared and sad but I knew that I needed more information…

To be continued...

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