When Henry was born in March 2014 I had never heard of hip dysplasia. At his newborn check a ‘clunk’ was picked up. We were then referred for an ultrasound at our local hospital (which he slept through!) and they confirmed that it looked like he had hip dysplasia, so referred us to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). It was at this appointment, when he was 4 weeks old, that he was diagnosed and immediately put into a pavlik harness.
Before the appointment at RNOH I had looked up what might happen if he was diagnosed and seen pictures of the harness, however I thought there’s no way Henry would have something that meant he had to put into something that looked like that. It was a scary and upsetting to see your 4 week old put in it and it was definitely a shock for me and my husband.
We had to go back to RNOH weekly so Henry could be taken out of the harness and have a bath. I was suffering quite badly from post-natal anxiety at this time, which made things even more difficult.
After four weeks in the harness our consultant told us that it was not working so it would be best to stop using it. He told us that Henry would have to have an operation called an open reduction and then be put in a Spica cast. He decided that it would be best to wait to do this until he was a little bit older, so the operation took place when he was 8 months old.
RNOH prepared us well for the operation, however it was still a difficult and often upsetting time. The operation took 2-3 hours and we were able to go to see Henry in recovery as soon as he woke up. He was upset at that point, however as time went on he was absolutely fine. I was lucky enough to be able to get a bed next to him for his overnight stay, and my husband stayed in accommodation on site. The next morning Henry woke up with the biggest smile on his face!
I think we were lucky that Henry coped with the harness really well. He learnt to crawl in it (commando style!) and didn’t really keep still. We bought a bean bag for him to sit on, but it was barely used! The spica cast is, to be honest, somewhat difficult to deal with. You have to carry your baby in a certain position and it’s heavy. We had too many poo explosions to count and there’s only so clean you can get the cast, so I ended up putting essential oils around the nappy hole to try to mask the smell! On the positive side, Henry slept well, with a towel under his legs to keep them up and in a big enough sleeping bag that wasn’t difficult to find.
We were lucky that we didn’t need to buy a new pushchair, but we obviously had to buy a new car seat. We were able to use this after he came out of the cast and he was in it until he had to move up to the next stage.
Henry came out of the cast just before his first birthday and we were able to enjoy the summer whilst he learnt to walk – which he did at 18 months. The advice from consultants and registrars had always been for him to do anything any other child would, so he started swimming at 18 months and rugby at 2.
After he came out of the cast we had to go for regular check ups at RNOH, where Henry would have an x-ray. His hip looked to be developing well at every visit, so at his check up just before he turned 3 the consultant said we could start going back every two years. His last check up was in May this year and everything is still looking great. His hip is still developing, but everything is as it should be at this stage.
Having hip dysplasia has not stopped Henry doing anything. He’s such a happy boy who loves to play with his friends and does everything they can do. Although this has been, and still is to some extent, a difficult process for us as parents, seeing him coping so well and living life to the fullest makes everything so much better.