For my first posting about club foot, I wanted to give a little insight on why I decided to include this in my blog. At my second to last ultrasound during my pregnancy, our tech told us that we were going to possibly have a child with club foot on at least one side. She couldn’t confirm whether it would be both feet. In fact, 50% of cases of club foot are bi-lateral (meaning on both feet). We left our appointment feeling pretty shocked and very upset. What did club foot mean anyways? Sure we would immediately look up medical definitions online after leaving the office but that was no help.
Did this mean that our child would have a hard time walking? Would he be able to play sports? Why did it take so long before someone mentioned this to us? We had been getting very regular ultrasounds throughout my pregnancy because of the size of our little one but this was the first we were hearing that there might be any abnormality with his legs.
I’m not sure if it was just an oversight or if it’s something that developed very late in the pregnancy as he grew. Either way, needless to say the online information was not really very helpful. So I started searching famous people who were born with club foot disability and I found a handful of athletes who have been very successful in their careers : Mia Hamm, Kristi Yamaguchi, Troy Aikman, Pat Summerall, Leroy Butler to name a few. This was comforting news to a parent with so many questions.
I remember feeling such disappointment as I heard one of the nurses exclaim, “He’s got club feet!” after he entered this world. Being a C-Section, I didn’t get to see him come out, and hearing that put me into immediate tears. Even thinking about it now wells me up. As it turns out this test of parenting would only be one of the many so early on. As a mother, I felt like I had done something wrong. Why didn’t I grow him right? Was it something I did when I was pregnant? Would my child have a lifetime of obstacles because I messed something up? I drank my water, I took my vitamins. What happened?
Nothing I could find online talked about these feelings I would have or if it did, I guess you could say I was guilty of not doing very in-depth research in advance mostly because the tech had said he might have it. Well there were a lot of “mights” during my pregnancy and thank God none of them came true except this one. Despite this being a clear and present defect at birth my pediatrician told us to wait to see an orthopedist. Can you believe that? She said, “it might fix itself”. Clearly this something she had never dealt with in the past. As it turns out… these things don’t fix themselves.
Since I didn’t know any better, I took her word for it. We waited a month, and at his 1 month appointment I finally convinced her to give us a referral to see an orthopedist. On our very first appointment we were told that he was glad we had brought our son in so early, but he told us that we should have started him on the treatment immediately after birth. Again, feeling like I had failed as a mother by not having my child’s best interest at heart I was disappointed.
As the next couple of months whizzed by I rarely left the house, especially not with my son, because I didn’t want to have to deal with the attention I realized we got very quickly by having a child in full leg casts. Every time we did go out, I tried very hard to cover up the casts with full leg pajamas or blankets.
Even still, I find myself struggling with this as he is in casts again. I can tell you what helped the most in those early days is that when people did see his casts, they would assure me that everything would be okay. Several of these strangers had experienced club foot themselves, or known someone that had and they made a point to reach out to me – wherever we were – and comfort me. With every confirmation, my confidence in their statements was built up more and more. And so, probably the most important bit of information I have to impart on this blog about club foot to other parents or family members of club foot babies is that everything will be okay.
Seek the proper treatment for your child early, do what they tell you to do (unless you feel it is wrong as a parent, use your instinct!). Your child won’t have any sort of delay in their learning to walk or any other ability if you do. Despite the Habanero being in casts, he gets around just as well as any of the other babies in class. He stands just like they do and true to his age and gender still gets into everything!