Those Beautiful Feet

I am very proud of Daphne's feet. Those feet mean so much to me.

We found out I was pregnant with Daphne in September '09. I just knew from the very beginning that we were having a girl. I'm not sure why or how I was so sure, I just was. Our 18 week detailed anatomy ultrasound was scheduled for mid-January. I waited on pins and needles up until then. This ultrasound, to me, was all about finding out if my maternal instincts were right.

I think every soon-to-be parent assumes that their child is going to be perfectly healthy. Brian and I are young -- it never crossed my mind that something could be 'wrong' with our baby. Until something was. As we waited for the final verdict on the sex, it seemed that the ultrasound was taking longer than normal. When the technician finally asked us if we wanted to know the sex, my heart jumped. This was what I had been looking forward to for months! She told us and I yelped, "I knew it!" and she excused herself to go and review the ultrasound results with the doctor.

I was elated as we sat waiting for the doctor to come in. Then things get a little cloudy. The doctor came in and I remember hearing "there was a finding", and "clubfoot", and "could be indicative of other problems". I felt devastated as the doctor explained what clubfoot was to us. To me, it was the end of the world. All I could hear is "something is wrong with your baby, something is wrong with your baby". The exciting news that we were having a girl was tainted. We were handed pamphlets on clubfoot treatments and an appointment was booked with the genetic counselor.

I was supposed to go into work that day, but I just couldn't. This was not the news I was expecting to share when I came in. I cried a lot that day, off and on. I tried to keep it all in perspective -- I knew this wasn't the worse thing that could have happened. I knew that there were parents out there that had it much worse than us. I still wished that this wasn't going to be our reality. I didn't know much about the treatment for clubfoot just yet -- but I did know that my baby would probably have to be in a cast from birth to a few months old. And then she'd have to wear special shoes. I thought about what people would think when they saw me carrying a baby with a cast on her leg. I thought about all the questions and sideways glances I'd get when I brought my baby girl out with me and she had these shoes on. With time, those worries faded and I began to realize that Daphne would be fine and we would be fine. When I thought about her, I didn't default to thinking about her foot. Sometimes, I even forgot. We had frequent ultrasounds to check up on her and make sure nothing else popped up as a red flag. Each time, I hoped just a little that maybe they had been wrong about her foot. It became more obvious with each ultrasound that it was really there.

I went into labor the evening of June 16th -- a week after my due date. After 9 hours of labor, she was here. And the last thing on my mind was her foot. I was just happy she was here. We had one week of a cast-free newborn. Daphne was put in her first cast at the Rubin Institute at Sinai on June 25th. I sat next to her on the car ride home and couldn't help but cry a little. She was so tiny and that cast was so HUGE. I knew it didn't hurt her, but it looked like it should. It just looked sad. She had a total of 7 casts. One a week until the 7th cast. Before her 7th cast was put on, a tenotomy (which is the clipping of the Achilles tendon) was performed. That was awful for us to watch. It was a simple procedure -- but to watch Daphne scream like that was really painful. Like a stab to the heart. Once it was over and the cast was put on, she was fine. She wore that last cast for 2 weeks and then it was into her special shoes. Her foot was fixed, but to prevent relapse, the shoes would be necessary up until age 4 or 5.

The casts and special shoes definitely created challenges for us that new parents don't usually have to deal with. Those days seem like ages ago now. Daphne wore the special shoes for 23 hours a day up until she was 5 months old. Since her 5 month appointment, she was given the go-ahead to wear them only for sleeping. I was careful to keep photos of her in the casts and shoes off Facebook. Not because I was embarrassed, but because I didn't want to have to answer questions about them in such a public space. Every night we strap her up in her special shoes. Some nights, I think about how lucky we are to have the money and insurance to have her foot treated. How she would be handicap if we didn't have coverage and couldn't afford treatment. Other nights, the shoes are just part of the bedtime routine and I have to remind myself that other people don't put these shoes on their babies before bedtime. So far, Daphne doesn't know any different and the shoes are just as normal to her as her bath is. Things could get interesting in the next couple years though.

I'm always going to remember what we went through to have her foot fixed. What she went through. I remember a Target cashier asking me what happened to her leg. I looked at her matter-of-factly and said "Nothing. She was born with a foot defect." I know what people assume when they see a baby in a cast. And why wouldn't they? Casts are for broken bones. It didn't bother me like I thought it would. I told them about her foot and that was it. As she grows up, her feet will always be very special to me. Probably a lot more special than they will ever be to her. I can't wait to see what she does with them!

Daphne's left clubfoot the day before she was put in her 1st cast.

Daphne's 1st cast. Each cast was dated and numbered. I liked putting a sock on it to keep her exposed piggies warm.