We called on Thursday to get Max's first orthopedic appointment. Jay called, because I just couldn't bring myself to do it. We scheduled his first appointment for the following Monday. Max would be 8 days old- the same age as Oliver when he got his first casts. I had really hoped we could wait until later in the week because I just did not feel up to doing it just yet. I so wanted more time with my baby.
Scheduling that appointment hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like a hard slap back into reality that THIS was soon to be our reality. Not leisurely days on the couch snuggling my baby all the time. Soon Jay would be going back to work, I would be handling three little ones, getting Oliver to and from preschool three days a week, and making weekly trips to Indianapolis which is about 2 hours away. Deep breath...here we go.
The same day that we called to get his appointment I was supposed to have my home visit with the nurse from the birthing center where I had Max. Due to some scheduling conflicts, the nurse called that day and wasn't able to come. I was soooo disappointed that she couldn't come that day. It had me in tears. My midwife called in the early evening to talk about what had happened, and I tried to talk through my tears about how sad I was. I told her that I knew I was acting rather irrationally; that given normal circumstances I would not have been that upset about not seeing the nurse. It was just an emotional day and I felt sad about not being checked on and having our visit. I had no ill feelings towards anyone for the visit not happening; it really was just a manifestation of all the feelings that I was now facing when our clubfoot reality was coming true.
Just like she did during my pregnancy, my midwife listened and talked with me while I processed over the phone with her how I was feeling. I got off the phone feeling much better, and she offered to be there anytime I needed to call or text her to talk about things. Seriously, she is an amazing care provider.
On Friday (the next day) Max had his first check-up. Our family doctor had never had a baby born at the birthing center and wanted to get him checked out soon after he was born, so we got in when Max was 5 days old. I had been worried that he wasn't eating enough because of how quickly he nursed. Thankfully we found out that he was 8 lbs, 12 oz! He was born at 8 lbs 5 oz so that was awesome to find out. Our doctor took a look at Max's foot and said he was glad that we had chosen to go to Dr. Kayes for Max's treatment; he felt like Dr. Kayes was the best in the state that we could have chosen. Later that day, we had our home visit with the nurse and that went well.
We also took newborn pictures that day. They turned out so amazing. The same photographer that was there to photograph his birth also took his newborn pictures and she did an amazing job. Jennifer Jones of No Other Love Photography is so talented and a dear friend. During some pictures with Max, I teared up and could barely contain the emotions. I had had so much anxiety about his birth, about his foot, and now he was here and he was amazing. Despite all that we were going to go through, we had had a wonderful first week together. I was so, so blessed.
|His precious foot. I specifically asked Jennifer to make sure to get some shots of his foot so we can always remember from where he started.|
|I just love this shot. Holding those precious feet in my hands.|
That weekend I truly dreaded Monday. It didn't seem possible that my baby would soon be in a cast. I just kept thinking, "This can't be real...didn't I already do this once? Oh yes, I did..." I worried about how Max would do on the ride down. I worried about how Oliver and Lucy (particularly Lucy) would do being away from me each week for an entire day when I was so used to being with them all the time. I worried about how I would feel traveling so soon after having a baby, despite feeling like my recovery was going extremely well. I worried, and I worried, and I worried...
And I prayed. Oh how I prayed. I begged God to make this whole thing go away. I prayed that Max would take to the castings easily. I prayed for Him to heal my heart that was shattering in a million pieces every time I thought about it.
I fought with God. I was confused and hurt that He hadn't "fixed" this before Max was born. How awesome would it be to be able to tell people that despite numerous ultrasounds and doctor confirmations, my baby had, in fact, not been born with clubfoot? What a great testimony that could have been! I realized that that was not God's plan, but I wasn't happy about it.
Because of how great I was feeling, we decided to go to church that weekend. Max was only one week old. I wanted to go and feel "filled up" before making the trip for his first appointment. And I wanted to pray with our pastor and others. During the alter call, we took Max down to the front to pray. Our pastor came down from the stage and asked us to sit down and he wanted to pray after the service with us. I thought that sounded nice, but had no idea what to expect, exactly.
After the service ended, our Pastor gathered several people to have them pray with us. Because there was going to be a meeting after service with many people from our congregation, there ended up being a LOT of people praying for us. Our pastor annointed Max's foot with oil and prayed heaven down over him. It was absolutely incredible.
|We are BLESSED by an incredible church family.|
|Praying over that little foot.|
The prayers were so powerful and intense that I honestly thought Max's foot may turn straight right then and there. But it didn't...Again, this was not God's plan.
On Sunday night we took footprints of Max's feet. With Oliver's feet, we had done footprints with paint onto a canvas each time we took his casts off. Since we weren't going to be taking Max's casts off at home, we decided we still wanted to do something similar but easier for me to take to appointments. We decided to do ink prints onto cardstock each time and we would frame those.
|Getting ready to do his footprint. This little baby slept all the time!|
The night before his first appointment was very hard. I was a mess. I couldn't even think about it without crying. The morning of his appointment was hard as well. It was my first morning alone with all three kids and I had to get Oliver ready and out the door to preschool. Then I had to come home and get myself ready and Lucy ready. My mother-in-law picked Lucy up and Jay got home from work shortly afterwards. I was so, so thankful that he was able to take time off to go to Max's first appointment.
On the way down I could barely look at the clock. I just kept thinking, "In less than two hours, my baby is going to have his cast on....In less than one hour, Max is going to have the cast on." It was gut wrenching to count down like that but I just couldn't seem to help it. As we got closer Jay took my hand and kept reassuring me that it was all going to be okay. I wanted to believe him but my heart was hurting so badly. I just could not grasp that we were going through this again. How was it that I had two babies born with something like this that needed fixed?
My dad works in a town not far from the hospital where Max goes for his appointments, so he came to meet us. He sat with us in the waiting room beforehand and waited til we were done to see us afterwards. It was so surreal, sitting there waiting. Here I had my baby with his cute leg and foot completely out in the open where I could touch and see it. As soon as they called us back, it would start the process, and when we came back out to that waiting room, his leg would be in a cast. Just surreal.
|He certainly wasn't worried. :-) I asked Jay to take this specific picture because I have a very similar one of me holding Oliver before his first appointment.|
My stomach was in knots the whole time. They called us back and had us take Max's clothes off so that they could weigh him. He weighed 9.3 lbs- he had gained even more over the weekend! We went and waited for Dr. Kayes to come back. It was such an awkward wait. Max was getting hungry; do I nurse him now? What if the doctor walks in right as I start to feed him and I need to stop? Was he really hungry or was I just wanting to make sure he wasn't hungry during the casting? Should I wait until afterwards so that he ate as soon to leaving as possible so he wasn't hungry on the way home? I hated dealing with stuff like this.
Dr. Kayes came in and it was nice to see him again. He remembered us from the summer when we came for our consultation and remembered that we had brought Oliver with us. I thought that was nice. As soon as he walked in, though, it was like, "No, no, no, you can't have him. Don't come in yet. It can't be time." He and his PA quickly got things set up. We laid Max on the table and it was like flash backs from Oliver. My baby laying on the table, me sitting and leaning over next to him, and Jay beside me. I immediately teared up at the memory and at my current reality. I felt like I could puke.
Dr. Kayes took a look at Max's foot and decided that instead of doing a dramatic turn of his foot (Oliver's had been turned a LOT at his first casting), he first wanted to get his toes in line and smooth out some creases that were on the bottom of his foot. I was able to breathe a little easier after that, knowing that Max wasn't going to feel that turning of his foot right away. Dr. Kayes said that in the end, it may add one more cast to the whole process but that it would be easier on Max. I was all for that.
Before I knew it, they had my baby's leg wrapped in cotton gauze and they were applying the plaster. It just didn't seem right. His leg had JUST been free and open for me to play with and love on. It seemed so quick that it was then covered up. Max fussed just a little bit but took a pacifier dipped in sugar water. He actually handled the casting quite well, and because of that, I did too. I only shed a couple of tears. Dr. Kayes commented that Max was doing well when Max then pooped on the table. Haha! Everyone got a chuckle out of that.
And then it was done. My baby had a big, heavy plaster cast on his leg. Dr. Kayes thanked us for coming down, and said that most babies have 4-8 casts before the tenotomy and we could be able to tell in a couple of weeks how he was responding. He told us that we could expect about 24 hours of fussiness or so, but if it got bad or went on for longer than that to give them a call. He told us to keep an eye on his toes to make sure that the circulation was good.
All I could think afterwards was, "It's finished." What really surprised me was how normal it felt to hold a baby with a cast. I remember how horribly awkward it was to hold Oliver after he was casted. He also had casts on both legs which made a difference. But still...holding Max with a cast on did not feel all that strange. For me, having a newborn with leg casts wasn't all that strange. When that reality hit me, I wanted to cry my eyes out all over again. How unfair that this seemed normal.
Max adjusted well to the cast. He was unsettled that first night but didn't seem to have nearly the pain that I expected.
|My handsome little guy in his tiny cast.|
My sweet boy had a cast on his leg. My heart ached to see his foot and his leg again, to feel him curl up on my chest. It was hard to get used to diaper changes with one leg casted, and getting him in his car seat was hard. I cried putting him in his car seat after his appointment.
|Getting him in his car seat was enough to make me cry. It was so hard to do.|
I felt so sorry for him. How horribly strange that must be for an 8 day old infant to suddenly have his leg immobilized by this big heavy cast. I hated the look of it.
I remember walking back out to the waiting room after his appointment in a strange state of mind. Hadn't we just been out here moments earlier with a baby without a cast? Yes, we had. In just a few short minutes things seemed to change so much. It seemed strange to come back out with a baby in a cast. My dad was waiting for us, and I didn't have a lot to say other than "Here he is." My mind was numb and I was emotionally exhausted. That feeling would remain after every appointment and turn into a physical exhaustion soon enough.
Sometimes it feels odd to show someone my baby who has a leg cast on, yet...I've already been through this. It isn't so strange after all. I feel like that is the constant that has stayed with me during this time of Max's casting. Something that should be so different-- it is and it isn't. The fact that it isn't makes me crazy some days. I fight and I fight and I fight with the fact that WE HAVE ALREADY DONE THIS. That sentiment screams in my mind on a daily basis.