August has been a hell of a busy month. A couple of weeks ago my Aunt Karen and cousin Brandon came to visit. We spent some time at the coast, went to the Tillamook Cheese factory, hit Saturday Market and Voodoo Doughnuts. All the things Oregonians only do when they have visitors in town (but should be done more often). I was so happy to show off my baby to them. Especially my Aunt, who is like my second mom. And I can’t believe how grown up my cousin Brandon is. He’s 16, and probably the most polite gentleman I know.
A couple of days after they left, Katrina came to town. It was like having a nanny who’s your best friend. When she’s around I don’t have to heft the kid because she’ll gladly do it. Not that I’m not happy to hold my child, he’s just incredibly heavy and it’s nice to have a break from carrying the nearly 20 lb. marshmallow puff that is constantly leaking from the mouth.
In between the two visits two things happened.
Thing #1: I got in an accident. Just a little fender bender, and it wasn’t my fault. Max was in there with me, but he didn’t even cry. I couldn’t have been going more than 20 MPH. Luckily no one was hurt and the old man that hit me was easy to work with (even though he tried to convince me to tell my insurance company that someone hit me while I was parked so he wouldn’t have to face a rate increase through his insurance. Ha!). The Prius is getting a new bumper as I type, and for now I’m sporting a Hyundai Santa Fe. Quite the switch from a fuel efficient hybrid to a gas guzzling s.u.v., huh?
Thing#2: Max had a physical therapy appointment a few weeks ago. She was pleased with his progress in neck strength and range of motion. But she was still concerned about his muscle weakness, and more-so the asymmetry in his face and ears. She started talking helmets. This was my worst fear. OK, not really. Surgery was my worst fear, this was a close second.
The condition is called plagiocephaly.
What is deformational plagiocephaly: The term deformational plagiocephaly (pla-gee-o-se-fa-lee), is derived from Greek, plagio meaning oblique and cephale meaning head. This term is used to describe the shape of a head that has become misshapen due to external forces.
Remember Max’s birth story and how he was stuck in the birth canal? Well, due to his positioning in the birth canal his head shape is crooked. Looking down on his face from above his head you can see how the left side slopes, while the right side protrudes. His left ear is set further back than his right (which would be a problem in the future if he ever needed glasses), and his left eye is sunken in and squints more than his right.
The P.T. sent us to an orthotist to talk more about helmets. The orthotist took some measurements of his head. I forget what the measurements were called, but basically a well rounded head would measure at 0mm. Max’s head measured at 21mm. The orthotist said anything above 7mm they would recommend a helmet for. 4 months is the age that they recommend starting the helmets. The older the child gets, the longer they’ll have to wear it for. He gave Rob and I a few minutes to talk it over.
We were so torn between doing it and not doing it. We could just wait it out and see how much his head would correct itself, knowing that the asymmetry would never be fully corrected and his head would forever be a little crooked. We were also torn because the thought of literally molding our child’s skull is a little unnerving. How comfortable can that be? Is it going to cause him pain? The orthotist was honest with us when he answered our questions and said that there’s no real way of knowing because they’re babies and they can’t tell us when they’re in pain. He also said (and I gathered this much from the research I had done) that after about a week they seem to become used to wearing it and it doesn’t seem to bother them.
In the end we decided to go for it. Neither one of us wanted to regret not doing this when we had the chance, and we want to do right by Max. A mold of his head was taken while we were there, which was fairly unpleasant for the little guy, and we’ll pick up our helmet next week. We’ll have to go in every two or three weeks to have it adjusted, and he’ll be wearing it for 22-23 hours a day for 3 months.
I know in the end this is the best thing, but it still sucks. There’s no other way to put it. Everyone keeps telling me how cute he’ll look, and to be glad we’re not dealing with something worse. Yes, he’ll still be the cutest damn thing you ever did see (duh), and yeah things could be a lot worse (thankfully, they’re not), but as a mother this is horrible. Being told there’s something wrong with your baby is like getting punched in the gut.
I’m eager to see how Max handles the helmet and to see improvement. I just hope, and I never thought I’d say this about an Oregon summer, that it starts to cool down soon because I can see him getting hot and sweaty in the damn thing.
It’s going to be fine, but I’m still not happy about it. And I don’t have to be.
On a happier note, Max has started solid foods. We gave him rice cereal for a few days before realizing it was constipating him, so we discontinued that. We gave him carrots (which I made!) for the first time a couple days ago and he actually liked them. Definitely not his mother’s son in that respect. I hate carrots.
I got a baby food cookbook and plan on making all of his food. Today I bought some sweet potatoes to try next.