Friday, August 5, 2011

August 5, Part 1

I have two long topics for yesterday, so I'm splitting this into two parts.

Today, Isla had her two month doctor's appointment. At 9 1/2 weeks, she weighed 10 lbs, 2 oz (33%), and she was 22.5 inches long (67%). She has totally shot up on the growth charts compared to her last visit! Even though I still feel like she should be eating more at each feeding, she is growing and is that's what important!

That was the good news from the appointment. The bad news did not come as a surprise to me, but it was still not fun news to hear.

I have been worried about Isla's head shape since she was born. Her head is very flat in the back, and it is kind of crooked and funky in the front and top. It is not a normal head shape. It's normal for newborns to have strange shaped heads, so I was hoping as her head grew, it would grow into a more normal shape. But it hasn't. So, the doctor confirmed my suspicions that this is a problem. Fortunately, it is only a cosmetic problem. The doctor didn't see anything to indicate a problem with brain growth or anything like that. But, it is a cosmetic problem that needs to be fixed or she could really start to look kind of funny. Because the back of her head is so flat, it pushes everything up towards the front and can even start to affect the placement of her ears and the shape of her jaw.

Our first course of treatment will be physical therapy. I don't really know what they will do in physical therapy, but I'm guessing it will involve lots of tummy time exercises to help strengthen her neck muscles and get her off her back. The frustrating thing is that I have been much more conscious about doing tummy time with Isla and watching the amount of time she spends in a carseat or swing than I was with Audrey...probably because her head was flat from the start. I feel like I have been taking great care to do everything we can to prevent a flat head, yet her head is still flat.

I did read that one of the causes of this condition (called plagiocephaly) is restrictive intrauterine positioning. I wonder if this contributed to Isla's flat head. The doctors were so concerned about my small belly and Isla's growth. In the ultrasounds, she was always squashed over to one side. There's no way to know, and it really doesn't matter. I just wonder if her position in the womb may have been part of the cause for her flat head.
Now, here is where the bad news begins. Our doctor (our pediatrician, we haven't seen the specialist yet) thinks there is a pretty good chance that she will need to wear a helmet. I am TERRIFIED of the helmet. Ever since I first learned that helmets were a treatment for this condition, I have been afraid that one of my kids would have to wear a helmet. It is a completely superficial and selfish fear, but it is a fear nonetheless.

When people see a kid in a helmet (myself included), they don't think to themselves, "Aw, what a cute little baby." They may think, "Poor baby, has to wear a helmet." Or maybe even, "what is wrong with that child?" Helmets in our society seem to be associated with mental retardation, even though that is not the case at all when they are used with babies. Regardless, people see the helmet and not the baby. I don't want people to judge my baby or think differently about her just because she has to wear a helmet. I am so afraid of what people will think of her, even though I know it doesn't matter what other people think of her. It still bothers me. A lot.

So, with the helmet, she would have to wear it every day, 23 hours a day for months. Some kids wear helmets for up to 18 months, but I would hope she would not need one for that long. I'm already plotting that we will do most of our public outings and pictures during that one hour when the helmet is off!
I'm probably getting ahead of myself a little bit, as we still do not definitely know if she needs a helmet. We will meet with a specialist who will measure her head and give us an idea of how severe her condition is. Then she will do physical therapy, and they will continue to measure her head and watch for improvement. Sometimes, physical therapy is enough to fix the problem. Oh, how I hope and pray that will be the case for Isla!

If not, wearing a helmet will not be the end of the world. I have a feeling there may be some important life lessons for me to learn about superficiality and judging people by the way they look. But I would really prefer to learn those lessons without having to subject my daughter to months of helmet wearing!


Lizzie said...

We have some friends here whose son (about 6 weeks older than Violet) has been doing PT since he was a little older than Isla and no helmet yet.

For what it's worth, I have seen those babies in the helmets and I think they are adorable (and totally know that they aren't wearing helmets because of mental disability).

It sounds like you're taking things as they come which is the best way to do it though - hang in there.

Julie Davison said...

She will still be adorable in a helmet. And everything WILL be okay! Hang in there!!

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