Mya’s Club Foot Story

When I was pregnant with Mya I have to admit I was a nervous mommy. I wasn’t convinced I was pregnant until I saw her moving and her heart beating in the first ultrasound. I worried about shovelling the snow in the driveway, I worried about running when I had just completed a marathon prior to being pregnant. I read baby books and I worried. On the way to our 20 week ultrasound I drank twice the amount of water I was recommended to drink. I lay on the ultrasound table and feared they would tell me something had happened to my baby. The tech showed us fingers and toes, a tummy, a knee, and I felt completely at ease while staring at unrecognizable images of my first child. At our doctor’s appointment immediately following the ultrasound we were told Mya had a club foot, something I had honestly never heard of. And, because we always want to be cautious, the doctor told us, and club foot can be associated with spina bifida, we needed another ultrasound to assess our baby girl. Your first child, an inherently nervous mother, a word that is scary and unknown, I can attest it was a stressful 4 weeks while we waited for our follow up ultrasound. The good news, we had a perfect baby girl, with a unilateral club foot. When Mya was born I held her in my arms, felt immediate love for my amazing girl. It wasn’t till several hours after her birth that I looked at her right foot, turned and curled, toes touching calf, small little foot, adorable little leg. At 3 days old, Mya and mommy and daddy traveled 5 hours over mountain roads for Mya to receive her first cast. I remember sitting in the office, still in pain from the long drive 3 days after labor, Mya slept through the whole appointment, the casts I felt wouldn’t bother her. It was the next appointment, when Mya woke up, that we realized this easy procedure we’d researched before she was born was not going to be easy. Every week we traveled a long and horrible drive to the hospital and stayed in an unfamiliar hotel room while doctors twisted and stretched Mya’s foot, while she screamed as they casted her leg to just above her knee, while we felt helpless with a procedure we still weren’t confident was working. On one drive home Mya was inconsolable, relentlessly crying half way through the drive. When we got home, stubborn and strong from the beginning, Mya wiggled her foot completely out of her full leg cast. At 3 months old, as per protocol, Mya’s Achilles’ tendon was cut in the operating room, her heel then stretched, with a cast extending from just below her hip. The doctor met us right after the procedure, not confident in their success. After 3 weeks that cast was removed and the doctor had been correct, her foot was not at the success level they wanted, it still yearned to return back to it’s twisted position. I grew up near an amazing children’s hospital that specializes in orthopedic issues. I had never thought to seek treatment there as I felt the hospital within our state at the time was well equipped. It was after that appointment that I called my friend from growing up whose father is a doctor at Scottish Rite Hospital in Texas. Within a month we had put our house up for sale and were moving to Texas. Two days after arriving in Texas, we walked into a hospital with smiling volunteers meeting us at the door, red wagons to carry children to their appointments, a Christmas tree covered in teddy bears. They confidently told me they would fix Mya’s foot, and they did. We went to Scottish Rite once a week for castings. When we graduated from castings they taught me how to tape her foot to fit in a brace they made for her. They taught me how to stretch her foot, to help her stand and walk. The doctors and therapists became our friends, and Mya didn’t cry at one single appointment. On March 27, 2012 Mya had a right tendo Achilles lengthen and a posterior limited release. A 30 minute operative procedure followed by a month in a full leg cast. And her foot was fixed. Castings for almost 2 years of her life, two surgical procedures, countless braces and tapings. Looking back, it’s hard to remember how frustrated we were with Mya’s club foot, how helpless we felt. It seems like a very long time ago. As I put Mya’s brace on now every night before she goes to bed, I always remember how strong she is. She hugged her doctor at every appointment, she learned to walk with a full leg plaster cast. And I still have her purple cast she wiggled her tiny leg out of to remind myself not of a horrible time, but to remember Mya can conquer anything. In December of 2011 I ran a marathon for Scottish Rite, to thank them for many things: for fixing Mya’s foot, for teaching me how to make sure she didn’t have a recurrence, for giving Mya the opportunity to run faster than the kids in her preschool class, and for making doctors feel like super stars in Mya’s eyes. There are many struggles that children and parents face, club foot feeling very minor by comparison, but when your little girl is upset, when you feel things can’t be fixed, even small things feel infinitely huge. Mya’s club foot story will get smaller and smaller as she grows up, as the scar on her heel fades away, but I’ll keep her purple cast and braces in a box labelled “memories of our born fighter. ”

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