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A Baby Story: Part 4

<cough>  Uh.  Where did I leave off?

It was Sunday morning, just two days after the birth. I had stayed over at the hospital Saturday night and so reeked of a combination of hospital bed, dirty newborn diaper, and just a hint of BO from the ‘night terrors’ that leave me drenched in sweat. Considering in my disheveled state I was pretty much an embarrassment to humanity, and the exhaustion left me in a ‘drunk Hasselhoff’ level of coherence, I was unceremoniously sent home by my wife so I could get cleaned up, feed the cats, get the mail, check on Narnia, etc.

With great reluctance (and yet reckless speed) I drove home, arriving to a rousing chorus of meows from a pair of cats happy to see me, or more specifically my forefinger, the one that pops open their Fancy feast. After feeding the animals (whose enthusiasm quickly faded once the tuna was gone), I took a shower, shaved, painted my nails and put my face on. I toasted some pop tarts and was reading casually through the mail, enjoying at long last a moment of serenity and normalcy in a weekend that was anything but. Naturally, the phone rang.

“Hey, it’s Kim. The pediatric orthopedist is here. Can you come back like right now?”

There was urgency and trepidation in her voice. And yet there were steaming morsels of Poptarts begging for consumption. Oh the sacrifices of fatherhood, felt so early on! I dutifully hastened to accomplish my homebound tasks, gathering a wide and varied array of items I had been sent to get. Then it was back in the car for a furious drive to the hospital. Finally a mad dash to the elevators, a slow ride up, and then I burst through the door to fond a genial man sitting in the room with my wife, and my newborn child wearing what appeared to be clinical lederhosen.

What had occurred in my absence was the arrival of a pediatric orthopedist to our room, and the subsequent diagnosis that our new daughter had subluximol hip joints. In essence, her hips had the ability to dislocate. While I personally believe that to be a superpower, medical science disagrees, and corrective measures are taken early in life to prevent the issue from causing pain later on life.

To correct the issue, Justine was placed into a Pavlik harness, which sounds like something some Eastern European Cold War doctor dreamed up, which also happens to be how the thing looks. And, in truth, it actually WAS invented by an Eastern European doctor. The harness is designed to keep the baby’s hip joints in the proper location so that everything will form correctly. The timeframe we were given was three months, and since she has a pretty mild case, that should be all.

At first, it was a hard pill to swallow. You have this conception that your baby is perfect in every way, and being told that she has to wear this ‘corrective device’ shatters that notion. But in truth, it’s a small price to pay for a lifetime free of hip issues for her. And further research on hip dysplasia demonstrates that things could be much worse – some kids even need to be in a half body cast for months – which makes the harness seem quaint by comparison.

In any case we had to quickly come to grips with the situation, and figure out the laughable task of trying to weave a diaper around the darn thing. On the plus side, it’s a great stabilizer for her -for example, when space is tight we can hang her on the clothes hook on the back of the bedroom door. And she’s all set with a costume for Oktoberfest.

After the madness of the orthopedist subsided, we got back to our hospital routine of sleeping when possible, entertaining visitors, and trying to decipher the mysteries of breastfeeding. We took full advantage of the nursery, sending Justine off to sleep, get her oiled changed, tire rotation, etc.

Monday night we were able to do a live video broadcast with my parents and siblings, much to their delight. Free WiFi in the hospital is a wonderful thing.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, the hospital decided to kick us out, citing noise complaints and excessive drunkenness. It was an emotional moment, losing the safety net that the postpartum floor provides to new parents. As we buckled Justine into her car seat and climbed into the car, the realization that this wholly dependent bundle of goo was now solely our responsibility started to sink in.

Better stop at the liquor store on the way home…

Posted in Birth Day, Month 9, The Birth. Tagged with , , , , .

  • Writer Dad

    You tell a story very well. I’d love to hear more. I found myself on Alltop yesterday. I didn’t know what it was, so I thought I’d check it out and see who my neighbors were. I found you, but I noticed it’s been a couple of weeks since the last post. I’ll subscribe and see you round next time. You’re probably pretty overwhelmed right now. Good luck.