At 20 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound showed that my little boy was breech. They said he had plenty of time to flip around, but at 36 weeks, he was still breech, and as we later learned was a bit stuck in this position so that his hips never had the chance to fuse properly. At 38 weeks, our 8.5 pound healthy little boy was born via C-section (due to breech positioning). We were so happy and overcome with emotion, that it barely registered when we were told within the first few seconds of his birth that we should have his hips evaluated. When the pediatrician visited us in the hospital the very next day, she confirmed that it seemed his hips were not functioning properly and may be dislocated. She encouraged us to call a pediatric orthopedist and get an appointment immediately. I must admit, it was very overwhelming to learn all of this immediately, and we really didn’t understand at the time what it meant.
We saw an orthopedist when Nate was just 1 week old and he confirmed bilateral hip dysplasia with both hips dislocated. As a mom, I immediately feared what this would mean for my baby, but the doctor assured us it was caught early enough it should be very treatable and that he was in no pain. We were told not to swaddle and to be gentle with his hips and I remember being so fearful even slightly maneuvering his legs for a diaper change. He was placed in a Pavlik harness after 3 weeks once the ultrasound confirmed the dislocation and the doctor was certain it was not going to heal on its own. He was in the Pavlik full time for 6 weeks, at which time we saw fantastic improvement in both hips, and then another 6 weeks part-time.
As other parents have noted on here, it is difficult to navigate the Pavlik, but within a short time, it did become a new normal for us. It was hard not taking it off, but Nate didn’t seem to mind. I was very emotional, but my sweet little boy was incredibly brave and strong. We found ways to make it work, we found an online community of support, we learned a lot and we advocated for our little boy. Around 4 months the Pavlik came off, and at 6-months, a confirmatory X-ray showed his hips were perfect! The doctor said it was one of the best improvements he had ever seen with the Pavlik harness. We were thrilled and thought this was the end of our hip journey.
Nate was a bit slow to crawl, and when he did, he dragged his legs behind him. As suggested, we had a hip follow-up for him at 1 year and while we fully expected good news, even though he was not yet walking, we learned his right hip growth had fallen behind and the femoral head on his hip was not ossifying as it should. The advice at the time was “watch and wait,” which made me nervous about what was to come, especially after I thought his hips were fully healed. My little guy did learn to walk at 15 months and by 18 months was running everywhere. I began to think that at our next visit we would get the good news he was cleared, but at 1.5 years, his right hip was still quite behind. The doctor encouraged us to be optimistic as there was progress, but in my heart, I remained scared. Nate is nearing his 2 year old check-up and I hope and pray his hips are improved. He still has trouble climbing, but otherwise, you would never know this active toddler had hip dysplasia.
I realize reading the stories of surgery and hardship that we are one of the lucky ones and I am so grateful for the early diagnosis and treatment that clearly made a huge improvement. But like may others on this page, I worry whether his hip dysplasia will ever fully be cured. I hope surgery is not in our future, but I write this as a story to tell all parents that supporting early diagnosis and treatment is essential and that no matter what your hip journey brings, I applaud you for your strength. Hopefully we all see the light at the end of this tunnel and can watch our children grow up happy and healthy.