Owen // four months old.

This baby boy is four months old.  Goodness, time, it is a-flyin’.  Owen is such a chill, smiley little guy and we are so happy he’s ours.  There’s not too much he doesn’t like…being too cold or too hot, formula or a pacifier, dirty diapers, getting overtired…  Those are the only things I can really think of off hand.  He adores these little hanging toys (a lion and a giraffe) on the safari chair, having onesies pulled over his head, smiling and cooing at whoever is holding him, and eating.

Catching Some Zzz’s

We have a really good schedule going right now.  Owen naps every hour and a half or so.  The length of nap varies from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.  He’s wearing the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit to nap and he’s napping in his crib.  He does a great job of soothing himself to sleep and does well between sleep cycles too.  He goes to bed at night in his crib at around 7:30 and he has been sleeping anywhere from 4 to 9 hours during that first stretch.  Truth be told, nine only happened once, but we’ve had a few eight hour stretches and I’d say it’s most commonly about 6 hours between falling asleep and his first wakeup/feeding.  (Except for the past two nights when it has been four hours, which feels cruel after tasting the sweet nectar of longer stretches.)  When he does wake up, Kevin goes to get him and brings him to our room.  I’ll feed him on one side, change a diaper (or have Kevin change the diaper), and then feed him on the other side.  We keep it dark and quiet with sound machines going so things stay low key and he goes back to sleep easily in the bassinet in our room.  He then sleeps for three or four hours and wakes again at around 6:30.  He eats and then I’ll usually lay him on the bed with me and doze for a bit while he sleeps for an hour or so.  He is still wearing the Pavlik harness at night.  In general, it doesn’t seem to bother him too much.

Nom Nom Nom

He continues to be a great eater.  He’s started really keeping eye contact while he eats and sometimes I’ll smile at him and he’ll smile back and those are my favorite breastfeeding moments.  I hate pumping so we bought some formula and Kevin offered him a bottle of it once when I was out of the house.  Owen was not in the least bit impressed.  I have been trying to pump a bit in advance if I know I’ll be out of the house so that there is some breastmilk available, but if he gets hungry enough, well, the formula is there.  I’m usually not away from him long enough for it to really be needed though.

Cool Tricks 

We had an appointment with the pediatric orthopedist on January 25 and Owen had been in the Pavlik harness part time (nights only) for six weeks at that point.  I went into the appointment really optimistic and thought for sure we’d get the okay to stop using the harness altogether.  The ultrasound showed that Owen’s hip angles were still good (68 and 72 and they look for anything over 60), but the doctor wanted us to stay in the harness for two more weeks.  I admit that this threw me into a funk.  That’s what I get for being so confident that we’d be okay to stop the harness. It is only two more weeks and I’ll do more than that if it decreases the chance of more aggressive intervention being needed in the future, but I really am ready for Owen to be out of the harness altogether.  Of course I will forever be nervous before his follow up appointments because hips do regress and we’re certainly not out of the woods. But I’m trying not to borrow worry too much or too often.

Owen is really lifting his head and shoulders up well during tummy time.  He doesn’t mind it too much usually.  He kicks his legs and lifts his bottom and will probably roll himself over accidentally when he gets enough momentum some random day.  He’s such a strong little guy.  He’s reaching out and grasping his hanging toys well.  He loves his play mat and the safari chair.  His hands fascinate him to no end.  They are fun to stare at and chew on and wave around.

Talk to Me

Owen is so chatty.  His sounds are just adorable.  Ava likes to say, “Oh really?  Tell us more, Owen,” which is cute.  I will love hearing their dialogues as he gets more and more vocal.  His smiles are so…genuine, for lack of a better word.  It’s like he’ll be watching us, very serious (he really has such an intelligent, thoughtful look about him), and then a smile will slowly spread and fill his entire face.  It’s very, very sweet.

Lookin’ Good

At the appointment on January 25 he weighed 15 pounds and was 24 inches long.  Size 3 clothes are snug, but still fit okay.  I’m surprised every time I put a 6 month size outfit on him, convinced it will be way too big, but alas, he always fills it out fine.  So I’m moving more and more to the 6 month stuff.  We just transitioned to size 2 diapers.  We didn’t have to buy a single size 1 diaper because we were gifted so many!  I thought that was pretty awesome.  Owen’s eyes are blue and he appears to be bald at first glance, but there is a bit of blond hair there.

He is such a happy, sweet, charming little guy and we fall more and more in love with him every day.

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January ‘18 recap.

I’ve done a monthly recap post, accompanied with a family photo from that month, every month since January 2015. The format has changed through the years and I debated what to do this year. Ultimately, I decided to keep it simple – a family photo from the month and a recap.

January 2018 started off with a wonderful blessing – Ava got the okay on December 29 to just wear the rhino cruiser brace at night and she started walking a few days into the new year. Ironically she learned to walk the first time in January of 2017. She is doing really well and we’re so proud of how hard she’s working.  She wears the brace at night and during naps and is a good sport about it.  Owen is in his harness at night and is also such a good sport.  Our kids are just amazing.

The weather has been pretty mild and Ava and I (and sometimes Owen – he’ll often stay home with Grandma) have enjoyed walking over to Kevin’s office a few times a week to walk him home for lunch or to visit in the afternoon.  It’s a nice way to get some fresh air.  Another real perk this month has been grocery shopping.  I’m serious!  We love to grocery shop as a family and when Ava was in the cast and the brace, she would not fit in the grocery cart, so we had to take the stroller and one of us would push her while the other pushed the cart and wore Owen in the Ergo.  Now she can ride in the cart.  It’s a lot more fun for her and just makes the process so much easier.  If Owen is asleep, I can wait in the car with him and Ava and Kevin can go do the shopping.  That was impossible before because he couldn’t push her in the stroller and the cart at the same time.

My birthday was really nice and filled with love from family and friends near and far. More on that here.

Kevin and I went to a post-holiday holiday party on January 6 – the first time we both left Ava and Owen. It wasn’t a late night, of course, but was still nice to spend a little time together without kids. Owen was less than enthusiastic about taking a bottle but did fine and Ava was disappointed when Kevin and I got home. She made Grandma and Grandpa listen to Raffi sing the He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands no fewer than 20 times so they were relieved when we got home around 7:30. :)

We had our kitchen countertops and backsplash replaced and got a new microwave and dishwasher in January. Before and after pics here. We are really loving the improvements. We also had Renewal by Anderson come and replace the four remaining original windows. Nothing glamorous but they do look great and we notice fewer drafts so the improved insulation gets two thumbs up.

My sister came to town a couple of times in January and it was great to see her. We went out to breakfast with family on a few Sunday mornings. I had a few brunches/lunches with friends.  Kevin took his mom to the symphony one Saturday evening.  It was all Mozart (and they went on Mozart’s birthday!  How cool is that?) and they both enjoyed it, particularly the pianist’s piece.

We followed our “strict” eating plan all month which meant no fried food, no sweets, no sodas, no alcohol, no pasta, and no pizza.  We both feel really good.  Starting in February we’ll go to our three cheats phase of the plan which means we can each have three cheats (one serving of any of the above categories) in a week.  We’ve been super into smoothies and overnight oats for breakfast and honey lemon water in the evening.

And that was the month in a {large} nutshell.  Tell me something about your January.

Year in review: 2017 superlatives.

2017 was a roller coaster. I really, really hope that 2018 is going to be low key and downright boring. That’s more my speed than all the ups and downs that this past year included. Here are a few noteworthy memories from the year, high school yearbook superlative style

Biggest Surprise: Finding out Ava had hip dysplasia

Biggest Challenge: Ava’s surgery – out of our sight and in an operating room. It was horrible.

The Silver Lining Award: Focused time with Ava while she was in the cast

The Pleasantly Surprised Award: Labor and delivery of Owen – in a nutshell, quick and easy, but I still got my beloved epidural.

Best Vacation: Stay in hospital after having Owen. Granted, that was the only vacation of the year…  We did have a couple of staycations when Kevin took a little bit of time off of work (of course he was still putting out fires via phone and email on a daily basis by people from work, but at least he got to be home with us.) – one right after Ava’s surgery, after Owen was born, and during the Christmas holiday.

Best Hug: When Ava came to visit mama and meet Owen in hospital. Oh, how we had missed each other! Kevin set her on my lap and she hugged me so tight. My heart nearly burst with love for my sweet little girl.

Greatest Joy: Falling in love with Owen. Realizing there is not a finite amount of all-encompassing love that parents have for their children – your heart loves the second (and subsequent, I’m sure) child as much as the first. That was a hard thing for me to understand prior to Owen’s birth. Also watching Ava blossom into her big sister role with Owen has been a complete joy.

Best Date: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in January or Indigo Crow in September

Greatest Transformation: Master bath

Funniest Quote: One day Ava and Kevin were playing when she suddenly paused, rubbed her nose, and then extended her little hand toward him, saying, “Booger. Thanks.” We’re just over here, living this glamorous life.

Best Fiction Listen: Moon Over Manifest (Amy) and Treason (Kevin)

Best Fiction Read: All the Light We Cannot See (Kevin) and Queen Lucia (Amy)

Best Nonfiction Listen: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Amy) and American Kingpin (Kevin)

Best Nonfiction Read: Team of Rivals (Amy) and The Looming Tower (Kevin)

Best Watch: Billions season 2 (Amy and Kevin) and Daniel Tiger (Ava). Honorable Mention to Curb Your Enthusiasm season 8 – Larry made it worth the wait!

House Clown: Rue. Whether she’s stalking Kiki or annoying Ava by batting around one of Ava’s toys or showing a homicidal streak by abruptly flinging herself in front of Kevin or me as we walk down the stairs, she makes each  day an adventure.

Most Likely to be Remembered: Other than the Daniel Tiger moral jingles on constant replay in our brains? Goodness, right now the whole year was memorable! But long term, of course, our sweet baby Owen boy joining the family is most definitely the most likely to be remembered event.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond belief to have lived 2017 together with our little family.  I heard a quote once that basically said some years are questions and some years are answers.  I think we had a combination of both in 2017.  Happy 2018!

Tell me a superlative from your 2017!  Was it a year of questions or a year of answers for you?

Owen // three months old.

Our little guy is three months old today!  He is such a little cutie-pie and I simply can’t get enough of him.  I can’t believe how quickly the past three months have flown by and how big he is getting.  He loves cuddles, chatting with mama and daddy, and the Christmas tree lights. He is so smiley for diaper changes and when we take his Pavlik harness off in the morning, so it’s safe to say he enjoys those things as well.

Catching Some Zzz’s

We are starting to get into a nice schedule.  Owen is napping every hour and a half to two hours, usually in his crib while wearing the Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit.  He is a champ at soothing himself to sleep and then usually settles and soothes himself back down between sleep cycles.  He continues to sleep in three hour stretches, on average, through the night.  He usually only nurses for 10-15 minutes and then falls back to sleep easily, so it’s not too bad.  He is a loud sleeper – lots of grunting and growling.  On occasion he’ll cuddle nap with Kevin or me and he’s the sweetest little cuddle bug.  We really want him to be a good independent napper though, so we try not to do that often and I want to try to avoid it altogether once he’s four months old.

One exciting development is that we’re all sleeping in our room rather than splitting shifts downstairs and upstairs like we did for the first 11 weeks of Owen’s life.  We don’t regret doing that because I think both Kevin and I were better rested for it, but it has been working well to have Owen in the bassinet in our room too. For the past three nights we have even started him out in the crib in his room at around 7:30 and he has slept for around four hours in there each night. When he wakes up we bring him to our room for a diaper change and a nursing session and then put him in the bassinet for the remainder of the night.

Nom Nom Nom

Owen is a great eater.  He eats every three to four hours in general, but I just kind of feed on demand overall.  My preferred troubleshooting philosophy when he’s crying is definitely “offer food.” He’s super efficient.  I have pumped a few times and he will take a bottle when he’s hungry enough.  That’s reassuring to me and gives me a bit of freedom to get out for a couple of hours.  It’s hard to believe he’ll be starting solids in just three short months!

Cool Tricks 

Owen got the okay to go to nights only in the Pavlik harness because his ultrasound (after four weeks of harness full time) showed that his hip angles have normalized.  We are so, so happy that these hip issues are being addressed at this young age.  Owen doesn’t seem to mind being in the harness too much, and he has really been just such a good sport. As mentioned above, he does love to come out of the harness each morning though!

When he is out of the harness he loves to kick and fling his beautiful little arms and legs around.  He has discovered his hands and thinks they are fascinating and the best ever chew toys.  He loves his foot piano play mat (a Christmas gift) and the safari chair with its little hanging toys.

He holds his head up really well and doesn’t mind tummy time too much.  He’s noticed Ava and Kiki and Rue a few times and seems pretty interested in all of them.

Talk to Me

He is quite the chatty fellow.  He’s exploring different sounds and is really into having a dialogue with us.  It’s the sweetest thing to hear his coos.  He is a smiley little guy and his gummy smiles are my love language. We’ve gotten a few chuckles and my mom, stepdad, and great aunt said they heard an outright laugh, but Kevin and I missed it so I can’t speak to how adorable it must have been.  He’s very cheerful and really only gets upset when he’s hungry, needs a change of scenery, or is tired.

Lookin’ Good

At his doctor appointment on December 14 he weighed 12 pounds, 13 ounces, so I’m guessing he’s about 13.5 pounds now.  He’s wearing 3 month and I’ll be busting out the 3-6 month stuff soon. His hair is rubbing off on the back of his head, but he does have a little tuft of dark hair at the nape of his neck.  I think when his hair starts filling in it will be blond.  His eyes are still blue.  He has the cutest little face.  I think he is the most handsome little guy in the world.

We adore our sweet, calm, cheerful little Owen-boy.

Toddler in a spica cast – our experience.

I hope that none of my regular readers (all 10 of you ;-) ) ever need this information, but I wanted to share what we have learned from our experience of having a toddler in a spica cast – just in case it proves helpful someday to another parent who is facing the same journey.  I don’t remember where I read it or I would link to it, but one blogger compared having a child in a spica cast to being inducted into a club that you didn’t want to join.  :)  I think that’s pretty accurate.  So here are my tips, for what they’re worth.

**This is really long but I wanted to keep it all together rather than splitting it up into multiple posts.** 

Backstory 

Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was 18 months old. She had a closed reduction surgery on the left side when she was 19 months old. She was in a spica cast for 14 weeks (and two days, but who’s counting :) ).

The Anticipation 

In hindsight, the anticipation of what to expect during this experience was the worst part.  Well, actually probably the time Ava was out of my sight, in the operating room was the worst part.  But the anticipation was tough.  Most kids go into a spica cast for one of two reasons:  hip dysplasia and femur fractures.  When a child breaks their femur it’s unexpected and usually very painful for the poor kiddo.  With hip dysplasia, you know in advance and have a bit of time to prepare.  Also, for us at least, we don’t think Ava was in pain – or at least not much – beforehand.  But the time in the cast is usually longer for hip dysplasia than it is for a femur break – 12 weeks versus 6 weeks (those seem to be the norm for each from what I’ve read).  So there are definitely differences in the circumstances that bring a child into a spica cast.  When we found out that Ava was going to need surgery on her left hip for hip dysplasia, Kevin and I had different approaches to our online research.  He stuck to medical sites and I scoured the Google-net for tips and what to expect and personal stories written by other parents who had gone through this as well.  I think together we made a good team on gathering info to prepare ourselves.

Anyway, my tips on how to spend the anticipation phase (provided you are allowed that luxury) is to educate yourself on what to expect. I think it’s less scary to face an immobile toddler when you have a bit of knowledge up your sleeve.  Check out the tips on spica care that some medical facility websites have.  Read blog posts about people’s individual experiences.  Watch YouTube videos on diaper changes and how to keep the cast clean.  Request an add to the Hip Babies and I Love a Kid in a Spica Cast Facebook pages.  Most importantly, ask questions of your surgeon/doctor/nurses.  We are incredibly blessed to have THE most responsive surgeon/orthopedic doctor in the world.  He usually responds to my emails within an hour.  He is the one familiar with MY child and OUR situation.  He has more insight (and is more reliable) than anything I could possibly read online.

Cast Care

From the beginning, my goal was to hear the words, “This is the cleanest cast I’ve ever seen,” from someone. Goal met at the 4 week check up!  Both the cast room crew and the doctor said those exact words, and the doctor pushed the cast change, which was supposed to take place at 6 weeks, out to 8 weeks.  And even after being in the cast 8 weeks, it was the cleanest they’d ever seen.  I credit our clean cast to a few things (but really – honestly – so much of it is probably luck, so seriously – don’t beat yourself up about a dirty cast.  IT HAPPENS.).

  • Frequent diaper changes is the first.  We would go through 5-6 diapers in a day for our 21 month old daughter.  Urine leaks in particular are inevitable though.  We would use a blow dryer to dry the cast (there is something called a Cast Cooler that I was tempted to get but I read that it doesn’t work well with a goretex lining, which we had, so I saved myself the 40 dollars) and then a drop of lavender essential oil on the cast.  Fortunately that seemed to work well and we never had a stink problem. I think we had a bit of a poop incident one time and we used a damp cloth wrapped around the end of a spatula to clean that.  Then we used the blow dryer on cool to make sure the inside of the cast was as dry as possible after that damp cloth.
  • The second thing that helped us keep the cast clean was putting an apron over the cast when Ava ate.  My mom made us two aprons and I used the one that I keep (and never wear) in the kitchen.  One of those baby receiving blankets you get at the hospital worked well too – we just twisted the ends into the straps of Ava’s booster chair (more about that below) and it held snugly.  You could use a large dishtowel, or go to a thrift shop and buy up a few inexpensive aprons.  Just something to keep food and drink off the cast.
  • We had a goretex lining on our cast and when it started peeling up on the edges, we put duct tape around it.  Before we went into the cast, Ava and I made a run to Hobby Lobby and I let her pick out a couple of fun print duct tape options (she chose cats and beluga whales and tropical palm trees).  They never seemed to irritate Ava’s skin, but you could put moleskin over the duct tape if it appears to be rubbing on the child’s skin.  Ava liked looking down and seeing the cats on her cast, so it was kind of fun.
  • Honestly – we just didn’t give Ava the opportunity to get the cast very dirty.  She was never really allowed to drag herself around in the cast like some kids do because we were incredibly focused on keeping the hip as stable as possible.  We didn’t want some fluke thing like her army-crawling in the cast to jar the hip and cause it to come out of place.  I can totally see how an older kid would be harder to keep stationary.  Also my cousin Kelly put me in touch with her friend whose daughter had basically the same experience (and even the same surgeon/doctor!) in terms of age at time of surgery, etc. and they live on a ranch.  The nature of their lifestyle was just different and it was inevitable that the cast was going to get dirtier than our “city cast” would.

Eating

As mentioned above, we used an apron to cover the cast anytime Ava was eating.  I think this made a huge difference in maintaining cast cleanliness, because, well, toddlers aren’t the cleanest eaters.  Ava did not fit in her high chair with the cast so we used this First Years Booster Chair because it doesn’t have sides.  It’s also very portable, easy to set up, and it worked great when we ate out in restaurants.  Ava spends time at Kevin’s parents’ house and we eat dinner there once a week so they got the same booster chair.  We’ve been very happy with how it worked for us and I highly recommend.

We were fortunate that Ava’s diet didn’t seem to change while she was in the cast.  I have read that some kids lose their appetites, etc. so it definitely varies child to child, but she did great and was eating spaghetti the night of the surgery.  I do think it’s important to give a kid in a spica cast smaller, more frequent meals/snacks because if their little bellies get too full they can press against the cast and it would just be uncomfortable.  It also stands to reason that smaller, more frequent meals/snacks contribute to maintaining more regular bowel movements which makes a blow out diaper situation less likely.

Sleeping

We bought a bed wedge prior to the surgery and set it up in Ava’s crib on the first night after the surgery.  It wasn’t a perfect fit, width-wise, so I stuffed some towels along the edges (between the wedge and the crib walls) to keep it snug.  The primary purpose of the bed wedge was gravity – we wanted anything coming out overnight to move down into the diaper rather than up her back and into the cast.  I do also think that it helped to prevent the cast rubbing on her skin for her to be angled rather than flat on her back because in the cast, she couldn’t really be flat on her back.  The memory foam cushioning of the bed wedge also seemed like it would be more comfortable than the flat, harder crib mattress.

I was so worried about how Ava would sleep in the cast.  She was accustomed to moving around a lot at night, sleeping on her tummy, sleeping on her side, etc. so we didn’t know how she would do with the cast restriction.  Kevin and I took turns sleeping in Ava’s room on the first night. She was pretty well medicated but had the epidural medication coming out of her system, so I don’t think she was in pain, but she did have a hard time getting comfortable and she was super chatty and kind of wired.  The second night we slept in her room again and she did a bit better about settling herself.  On the third night, we were prepared to go in with her but just followed our normal bedtime routine and she slept great through the night.  In general, she slept so well through the night in the cast.  There were some nights when it was harder to get her to fall asleep initially and there were nights when she’d cry out and not settle herself back to sleep on her own.  Were these because of the cast?  Who knows.  It could have been normal toddler stuff that would have happened anyway.  I was really worried she’d roll herself on her stomach and not be able to turn back over, and therefore we probably checked on her when she was crying a bit more quickly than we otherwise would have.  We did find her on her stomach once or twice, but in general I think she knew that she couldn’t roll herself back over so she’d only go on her stomach if she was really upset.  So again – every kid is different, but have hope – some of them learn to sleep just fine in the cast

Playing

If there is one thing that you NEED, it’s a spica chair/table.  We ordered ours from Ivy Rose Spica Chairs (I ordered it in plain blue and added the wall decals – found on Amazon – to spruce it up) and Kevin’s parents also ordered one from that company.  We each experienced a few very minor hiccups with installation and shipping (I’d recommend asking the owner for the tracking information on the shipment so you can keep an eye on it and I’d recommend an electric screwdriver for installation – and cross your fingers there isn’t a knot in the wood like we experienced in one spot), but once the chairs were set up, any frustrations we had melted away.  Ava LOVES her chair-chair or special chair, which is what we call it.  It has an awesome desk space, she can sit upright rather than being forced to lay back at an angle, and…really.  I just can’t rave enough about how critical this piece of equipment was for us.  There are instructions online for building your own spica chair, and there are Facebook groups where people have them for sale or even offer them up for free.

We tried to introduce new activities or a new toy every 5-7 days and we cycled through a lot of the same toys over and over.  Sometimes a toy would go on “vacation” and be tucked away for a week or two.  Then when it was reintroduced there was a renewed interest in it.

We definitely indulged in more screen time than is recommended for toddlers, but I think that’s normal and I don’t feel in the least bit bad about it.  :) Ava fell in love with Daniel Tiger during her time in the cast. We found that a bean bag (Ava did get really sweaty in the bean bag if she sat it for more than 15 minutes) or this great Infant to Toddler rocker were best for TV time.

What to Wear

Onesies, sized up one or two sizes so they fit over the cast.  Seriously.  That’s all that’s needed.  We bought 10 or so 2T onesies and cycled through them.  Ava had a little capsule wardrobe while in the cast.  :)  I loved the peace of mind that onesies brought because they were snapped and she couldn’t stick toys, food, etc. into the cast.  She slept in long sleeve shirts, again – sized up and it’s ideal if they’re a bit wide at the bottom so the fit over the top of the cast well.

Now we did have this experience in the summer, so I am not much help for recommending pants that would work during the winter, but I imagine you can size up a bit and use sweats or “track pants”.

Utilizing Your Resources

Ask to borrow toys from friends.  Train some people you trust in cast care so that you can get out every once in awhile and feel confident your child is in good hands.  Join a Facebook group or two to ask questions and learn about what to expect. Have friends come to you for play dates because you’ll be more equipped with seating options for your child.

Outside the House

We ate out a lot less while Ava was in the cast but the booster seat linked above was very portable and worked well for us when we did eat out.

Our hospital provided us with a Britax Hippo carseat.  Ava loves facing forward, so that was one fun perk of this ordeal, from her perspective.  :)

A stroller that accommodates the cast is probably my second biggest must-have (after the spica chair/desk). Ours worked – much to my relief! Getting out for daily walks was so so so good for both Ava’s sanity and ours. And our health! Kevin took Ava to the zoo a couple of times and used the stroller, and we continued to do our weekly grocery shopping as a family with the stroller (Kevin would push her in the stroller and I’d take charge of the cart).

Diapering

Most sites recommended a little diaper (like size 1) stuffed up in the cast with a big diaper (size 5 or 6) wrapped around the outside of the cast.  My friend Shawna put me in touch with her friend who had a daughter with hip dysplasia and she gave great advice – don’t use a small diaper because it is just not able to handle the amount of pee or poop an 18 month old will produce. Instead, use the normal size diaper, tear off the fastener tabs so they won’t rub the child’s skin, and stuff it up into the cast, spreading it out as best you can, so it’s nice and snug. The opening in our first cast was quite small and we still managed to use a size 4 which is what Ava was using before the cast. Then we did use a size 6 around the cast and snapped the onesie over it.

We did very frequent diaper changes through the day, but Ava went 11-12 hours overnight without a diaper change and we had pretty minimal leakage issues – probably because we were using the appropriate size diaper for her.

Bathing

Ava loves baths so we were all sad about not being able to use the tub. She was a great sport about our method of cleaning her though. We would put a blanket on the kitchen counter, roll up a towel and put it by the sink as a prop, and then put her face down on the blanket with her chest on the rolled up towel. We would run the water to fill the sink 3/4’s full or so and she would splash in the sink, play with a few tub toys, etc. We would use a cloth to wipe her down as best we could. When ready, we’d turn her over so her head was over the sink and we’d wash her hair.  I liked to tuck a hand towel around the back of the cast so the water didn’t drip down into it when we picked her up.

Cast Removal

The cast removal was traumatic for all of us. We had tried to prepare her with the episode of Daniel Tiger where the Neighbor gets a cast taken off, but nothing can prepare an almost 2 year old for a loud, vibrating saw being lowered to their body as they’re held down on a table. She was sobbing, I was sobbing; it was horrible. We tried to put headphones on her and played a YouTube video she likes (make that LIKED – she still has PTSD and won’t watch it now), but nothing could block the sound, let alone the feel, of that saw. I have no tips to share here. Maybe ask if they can give the “happy juice” they give before taking the child back for surgery? Or a laughing gas? I don’t know if those are even options. Just prepare yourself and hope for the best. It’ll be over quickly.

While Pregnant

I was 21 weeks pregnant with Owen when Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.  She had surgery when I was 25 weeks pregnant and I had the baby 4 days before the cast came off. So I was in my third trimester for the vast majority of the time in the cast.  It was tough, no doubt.  It became uncomfortable to sit and hold her on my lap as my stomach grew because the cast was completely unyielding.  People would joke about how convenient it was for me to have a ledge to set her on when I carried her, and I’d smile politely, but inside I was rolling my eyes and wondering if they really thought it was comfortable to have a hard cast resting on a baby bump.  (It was not.)  My doctor gave me no weight restrictions on what I could carry and just reminded me to lift and set her down with proper form to keep my chances of a pulled muscle or tweaked back at a minimum since the hormones made those things more likely.  By the end of the pregnancy it was really hard to put Ava in her crib because of the belly interference and the angle at which she needed to be lowered.  But we survived and I was beyond fortunate to have such a wonderful partner in Kevin through all of this.  He always encouraged me to rest, to keep sleeping while he went into Ava’s room if she woke in the night, etc.  I pray that anyone – pregnant or not – who has to have a child in a spica cast has a good support system because that truly is so important.

Equipment

There will be a little repetition here, but our “must have” equipment – all mentioned above in some form or fashion – is as follows:

First Years Booster Chair

Spica Chair/Table – this is the ultimate.  GET A CHAIR/TABLE – if not from Ivy Rose, from somewhere.  It truly is a sanity saver.

Infant to Toddler Rocker

Crib/Bed Wedge

Bean Bag

Stroller – we have the BOB Motion Travel System which is not available for sale online, per Buy Buy Baby’s website.  We’ve been really happy with it as a single stroller and were so relieved that it worked with the cast.

In Conclusion

I promise what “they” say is true – your family will find a new normal routine soon, your child is more resilient and stronger than you can imagine, and the days will be long but the weeks will be short. In hindsight, I can appreciate our experience because it forced us to be very present with Ava. I truly believe that her verbal skills are advanced for her age because she could focus on that development while her gross motor skills development was stalled. Trying to focus on the positive went far in keeping a good attitude (I did a 100 days of happy photo challenge on Instagram.  Day 1 was the surgery.  Day 101 was when the cast was removed.). There were tough moments when I felt really overwhelmed and sad and bitter that Ava was missing out on walking/running, but I know how fortunate we are that hip dysplasia is 100% fixable.  Our journey isn’t over – for Owen or for Ava – and I pray every day that we avoid any future surgeries.  The future is always scary, isn’t it?

I’ll do another post sometime about the rhino cruiser brace and what we’ve learned in it.  And the Pavlik harness (which Owen is currently in).  Goodness, I’m just a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hip intervention equipment, now aren’t I?  :)

If you have questions about our experience, please leave a comment. It was so, so nice to have Shawna’s friend and Kelly’s friend to ask questions of and get feedback and empathy through this process. I’d love to pay their kindness forward someday to another family.

Owen // two months old.

Mr. Handsome is two months old today. He is weighing in at 12 pounds so all his time at the milk bar is really paying off. When he’s not eating, he enjoys diaper changes, being worn by mama, sitting in the safari chair, and listening to us gush when he smiles a gummy smile. We think he’s the bees knees.

Catching Some Zzz’s

Owen has started to wake from his drowsy newborn state of living and is realizing – hey! maybe sleeping all the time is not for me. He naps in 30 minute to three hour stretches through the day and is becoming increasingly cheerful during his time awake. We (Kevin and I) are still splitting our nights downstairs with him. We tried to all be in our room one night and it wasn’t especially restful so we resumed the split shift. Maybe we’ll get wild and try to have him in the bedroom again tonight, since it’s a weekend. Two nights ago the little guy woke every one and a half hours and it was a rough night but last night he woke every three and a half hours, so he definitely keeps us guessing. After the rough night, 3.5 hours felt wonderful so I’m going to try – TRY – to not complain about the broken nights of sleep that come with this stage

Nom Nom Nom

Owen is such a good eater. That’s my go-to when he’s fussy and it always calms him down. My supply has evened out and/or he’s adjusted, so we’re doing well on the nursing front. I pumped a little today and Kevin attempted a bottle. It wasn’t a smashing success but it also wasn’t a total failure, so I guess we’re cautiously optimistic that he’ll eventually eat from a bottle. I despise pumping and am not opposed to formula for the bottle feeds so may ask the pediatrician about that next week.

He is pretty anti-pacifier and not from a lack of trying on our part to get him to take it. We practically beg sometimes and the offer just seems to infuriate him. I’m glad we won’t have to break him of it in the future, I guess. We’re zero for two on kids taking paci’s.

Cool Tricks 

Owen’s hip ultrasound showed a slight issue with his left hip (they want the angle above 60 degrees and his was 58 degrees), so Ava’s fabulous pediatric orthopedist recommended a Pavlik harness. Owen went into it on November 16 and we had a follow up on November 30. There had been improvement (angle was at 60) so he’s in the harness full time for another two weeks and then we’ll hopefully see even more improvement and be able to go to the harness part time. Our doctor will continue to check Owen periodically even when all looks good, just to be sure we don’t miss a gradual dislocation (which is what he thinks happened with Ava’s left hip). Owen seems mostly unaffected by the harness, although he does sometimes cry when we put him back in it after a onesie change. He loves stretching out his legs when the harness is off and you can tell it feels oh so good to him when he can stretch out.

He doesn’t mind tummy time in general, has started to show a real interest in his hands, and likes the crinkly sound that some of his little toys make. He sits in the safari chair and seems to enjoy the little dangling animals, especially when we make them rock back and forth.

He has started smiling gummy social smiles and we are in LOVE. Kevin is his favorite and makes him smile the most.

Talk to Me

He has started cooing and sighing and exploring the vocals. The sounds he makes are so sweet! He’s a loud sleeper – lots of grunts and shifting. He loves the white noise on the sound machine and the sound of running water and the sound of the furnace when it comes on.

He’s getting more okay with just sitting and staring at whoever is holding him, but he usually starts to fuss if he’s sitting in the same spot for awhile. He likes to walk around change up the view.

Lookin’ Good

Owen weighed 11 pounds, 14 ounces on Thursday at his doctors appointment so I’m certain he’s over 12 pounds now. He’s gaining a pound a week (had weighed 9 pounds, 11 ounces two weeks prior). Ava – our little 3rd percentile lady – didn’t weigh 12 pounds until she was 4 months old, so some silly part of me feels smug that I can grow a 43rd percentile baby. He’s wearing 0-3 month clothes. He has pretty light colored hair in the back and a little peach fuzz on the top. His eyes are blue and Kevin noticed today that he has Kevin’s ears (unattached lobes). Owen’s baby acne has cleared up and he has a nice complexion.

Sitting around and staring at him is in my top three favorites right now. He’s just perfect and we love him.

That’s a wrap {November}.

Links to Love:

  1. Kevin showed me this and it’s hilarious – farting in public with attitude.
  2. The other day I feel down the rabbit hole that is subscription boxes.  The mother load can be found on Cratejoy.  I found one for basically everyone I need to buy Christmas gifts for and a few I want for myself.
  3. The cheapest and most expensive states in terms of real estate.  New Mexico is somewhere in the middle.
  4. Did you find any awesome deals for Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  (Which are both basically a week long now.  Consumerism.  No joke.)  I may have indulged in a little shopping on the Gap and Nordstrom websites.

 

Making Memories:

  1. We hosted Thanksgiving!  It was a lot of fun to have my extended family and Kevin’s parents and their close friend over for the day.  Ava was like, “Whoa – what’s going on here?” because we usually lead a very quiet life and there were 30 adults and 15 kids in her space, but she did great and we appreciated not having to travel!  The food was great – (we do potluck so it’s not like I have to cook for all those people when it’s at my house) and the weather was fantastic.  We have a pretty big space and a good layout in our house for entertaining, but it still would have been crowded indoors if the weather was bad.  We were thankful for a clear day in the 60’s!
  2. Kevin went to a 30/80 party for a judge he formerly clerked for. The Judge was celebrating 30 years on the bench and his 80th birthday. He’s an exemplary man and Kevin loved working with him and learning from him.
  3. Owen and I went to a friend’s baby shower and I had the chance to catch up with some friends from my elementary school days. I really enjoyed it.
  4. Owen started melting our hearts with social smiles this month and Ava continues to make us so proud as she learns to pull up and stand and balance in the brace. We sure do love these kids of ours.

Bookish:

  1. In November I finished Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (5 stars – really recommend this one.  I listened to it, but think it would read really well too.), Chestnut Street by one of my favorites – Maeve Binchy (4 stars), and I listened to The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell (3 stars).
  2. I just downloaded Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bumni Laditan but haven’t started listening to it yet. I am a few pages into Do You Come Here Often? by Alexandra Potter. I started Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly last month but it was due back to the library and had holds on it so I couldn’t extend it. Maybe I’ll pick it back up someday. I have A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett going on my phone/iPad but haven’t made much progress.  I also am working on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Lots of book irons in the fire.
  3. Kevin finished listening to Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and gave it 4 stars. The series is set up for a fourth book and he said it’s starting to get a little ridiculous.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  
  5. Ava has been loving The Little Blue Truck and That’s Not My Owl. 

Challenges:

  1. We had our pediatrician refer us for an ultrasound to get Owen’s hips checked out and it did show that a slight issue with his left hip.  We got him in to see Ava’s pediatric orthopedist two days after the first ultrasound and he ordered a second one to review himself. He agreed that there was an issue and put Owen in a Pavlik harness, which he’ll be in until the hip normalizes.  Because they grow so rapidly at this young age, hopefully it’ll normalize quickly and we are sooooo grateful that it is being addressed now rather than when he’s 18 months old, like Ava was when we found out about her hip dysplasia.  But it was still a blow and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the thought of having a toddler in a brace and an infant in a harness.  We’re making it though!

Sustenance:

1. I think the only new recipe I tried in November was this spaghetti bolognese. It was fine but not something that blew me away.

How was your November?