My pregnancy with Samantha was nothing out of the ordinary. At 7 months, I was at risk for high blood pressure (which I had before I got pregnant anyway) and was put on bed rest for 3 weeks. After that, everything was normal. My ultrasounds were fine with the last one being on Halloween.
Labor for me was quick. Even though Samantha was my first baby, and my husband and I were expecting a long labor – it didn’t happen. My water broke at 2am, by 3:30am I was contracting at 3 minutes apart. I was at the hospital by 4:30am contracting a minute apart and was 1cm dilated. Upstairs in the labor room, at 5am I was still 1cm with contractions coming at a minute apart. About 30 minutes later, they found me at 5cm dilated and a minute apart and decided to have me walk down the hall to my room where I’d deliver. At 5:56am – Samantha was born, all 6lbs, 14oz of her.
A midwife at my OB/Gyn did the delivery. No complications, everything went so smooth that they didn’t even get an IV into my arm (no drugs whatsoever). Immediately after delivery, the midwife checked Samantha’s hips. She said they didn’t feel right, that they were very “loose”. My pediatrician showed up 2 hours after delivery and checked her hips immediately. He confirmed the midwife’s suspicions – Sam had loose hips. It was time for an ultrasound to be safe and confirm what both medical professionals were discovering.
At less than 5 hours old, my husband accompanied Samantha for an ultrasound on her hips. Within a few hours we would know exactly what was wrong. We were later told that Samantha had two dislocated hips. Her hip sockets hadn’t formed properly and we would need to see a pediatric orthopaedist. I began to wonder what could have caused this to happen. According to my pediatrician (and the orthopaedist), this condition is common in first born girls and those of Italian decent (my dad’s side is half Hungarian and half Italian). It’s also common in breech births (which Samantha was not). But before the hips could be taken care of, we had to get rid of the Jaundice.
We were referred to the best pediatric orthopaedist in our area. As matter of fact, he won’t even treat adults – only kids. After two weeks of battling the Jaundice, it was time to find out what to do about the hip problem. First thing to try – a Pavlik harness. It basically went from her back to her toes and kept her legs in a certain position to try to fuse the hip ball and socket together.
After a month, right side fused, left didn’t. The doctor told us we were looking at a Hip Spica cast. Devastated and not knowing anything about this problem, I scoured the Internet and came up empty handed. That’s how my web site got started. My doctor couldn’t even tell me how to care for Samantha other than “trial and error”.
Samantha had to be placed in traction for about two weeks to help the blood circulation to the hip before being placed into the cast for about 3 months. The hip didn’t seem to bother her, as she liked to stand supported and “walk” around with weight on both legs. Nonetheless, we were told that if we didn’t do this now, the chances of Samantha walking later in life were going to be slim and she would be in constant pain.
She was admitted to for overnight observation and sent home with the traction unit to be attached to her crib. A technician came out daily to check her and make sure she wasn’t uncomfortable. Throughout this process, Samantha had “caught on” to the fact that she wasn’t able to move her legs while in traction. We had to periodically take her out for a few hours and give her a rest before putting her back into her crib.
She had to go into surgery to have the cast put on, as the doctor had to nick both tendons to be able to manipulate her legs into the right position. The cast was finally removed after 9 weeks instead of 12 weeks.
When Samantha went for her 12 month checkup, the doctor asked how she was progressing. I told him she was walking and he didn’t believe me. That was until he watched with his own eyes her walk across the room. He told me that she did the impossible, that she must be one very determined child. He told me that she should not have started walking until almost 18 months old.
Today, Samantha is 4 ½ years old. She doesn’t have any visible scars from the tendons being nicked before the cast was put on. She’s in gymnastics twice a week (and I’ve noticed lately that she can really get her legs and hips way out further than the other girls). She swims, runs, rides her bike, and does everything any other 4 year old does.