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Austin's Story
by Mellisa

Here is our story - we had a good one thankfully!

My son was born via C Section due to breech presentation on 7/18/02. He weighed 9.13 lbs. at birth and was 22 inches long.
It was very apparent at the time of birth that he had been pretty squished inutero. His head had several dents in it (they later told me was from my diaphragm) his forehead was protruding on one side and his right hip was clicky. After a sono, the discovered that his left hip was totally dislocated and his right hip was partially dislocated. So, they sent me by wheel chair the 2nd day to the building next door to see the Pediatric Orthopedic (Dr. Steven Tuck in Rockville, Maryland - a fantastic physician that has a very good reputation in our area!!)
They placed Austin in a Pavlik Harness that very day and he wore it full time for 10 weeks. After 3 weeks he was allowed out of it for one half hour/day for bathtime but that was it. We kept having to go in for hip xrays periodically and everything appeared to be working.
As a new Mom I was devastated and very nervous all the time. Trying to learn how to care for a new baby and having to deal w/ the brace at the same time was very stressful and I remember feeling like I had been cheated. I loved my baby boy but I so desperately wanted to dress him in all the adorable outfits I had rec'd at the shower and feel his little legs against me.
It was hard - but we got through it.
After 10 weeks (which felt like 10 years) His xray showed that both hips were looking good and he was then allowed to go part time in the brace (12 hrs/day) I basically would put it on him at night time around 7:00 and I couldn't wait to rip it off of him at 7:00 AM that morning! I got very used to the brace and adjusting it myself did get easier. We actually had to move up to a bigger brace because my chunky boy outgrew the 1st one pretty quickly!
On top of everything else, Austin had mild torticollis (stiff neck) which I was able to correct myself by forcing him to look the other way a lot - feeding him with my opposite arm, etc. He also had horrible reflux which caused him to spit up constantly and cry in pain a lot. It was a challenge keeping the brace clean with all the spit up so I eventually started having him wear towel bibs all day everyday to cover up the brace and keep it dry.
The misshaped head also pretty much corrected itself with time, I never had him wear one of those helmets. He still has a few dents up in his hairline now (at age 3) but his forehead and everything corrected itself.
The other problem I had when he was in the brace was that he had a lot of gas pains - I always figured this was because he was restricted in the brace and couldn't really kick his legs well to get he gas out.
Anyway - after 20 weeks Austin's hips looked great and we were allowed to remove the brace permanently!!! That was one of the happiest days of my life!! After that we had to take him in every 3-6 mths for follow up xrays up until the age of 2. The Dr. explained that they really are not totally in the clear until they are age two and the hips have finally turned from soft cartilage to bone.
Today you would never know that Austin ever had any problems at all - he is a VERY active little boy who runs, jumps and walks normally (no limping at all).
We just recently had another baby boy 3 mths ago and I was so worried that he too would have the same condition. My OB actually let me have my C Section 10 days early to hopefully avoid him becoming to cramped in my tummy. We don't know for sure that that may have contributed to Austin's condition but I was willing to take any precautions I could. With the new baby the Dr. said he had a 1/200 chance of having a dislocated hip too. I had to take him to the pediatric ortho when he was exactly 2 weeks old (apparently this is the age when all the maternal joint loosening hormones leave the infants body) to have a hip sono and they said his hips were "rock solid" I was so relieved.
Anyway, I just wanted to add my story in for those who are just starting out so that they can see that sometimes (most of the time actually) the Pavlik Harness is the only treatment needed!
Unfortunately, most of the stories you will find will be of the cases where surgery was indeed needed simply because a lot of people don't seek support once they are brace free! The good news is the Pavlik Harness has a 98% success rate when the condition is caught early!!!
Hang in there and just be thankful that whatever the outcome, this is a 'treatable' condition!

(If you'd like to leave a message for Mellisa, you can do so by joining the Support Group. Membership is free. )