Preparing for your Baby’s Hip Surgery – Top 10 List

In honor of Baby Hip Health Awareness Week, here is a  Top 10 List of things I recommend you do before your baby has a surgical intervention for DDH:

  1. Learn all you can about DDH ~  Read through the International Hip Dysplasia Institute’s great website. Get Betsy Miller’s book, The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia, and read it, too. Scour for all kinds of information about treatment options available and what DDH means for your child. The better informed you are, the better advocate you will be for your child’s health. When I found out about Sara, I talked to anyone and everyone I could think of – anyone with any kind of medical background. I talked to my PT, Chiro, friends, family of friends, doctors, pharmacists – I cast a wide web for information and it helped me more than you can image. Start talking to everyone you can think of to learn as much as you possibly can. I can’t recommend that enough.

2. Research surgeons ~Unfortunately, not all surgeons are created equal. I highly recommend you ask for referrals and get a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask your  potential surgeon a bunch of questions. If you aren’t sure what to ask, check out the very extensive list here. Sara’s surgeon said I was welcome to email him questions (because at the time of diagnosis I went brain dead and couldn’t think of a single thing to ask) but I did – I emailed him a very extensive list with close to 30 questions. His response: “Mrs. Marine, I can’t type. Can I call you?” And he did. Three times. Despite his helpful demeanor, we got a second opinion. In fact, we asked him who he would recommend if someone in his family had to go through this. And we went to see that doctor. We drove 6 hours for our second opinion and it was so worth it. In the end we ended up right where we started, but I was only able to feel confident in our decision because I asked question after question, met with another highly recommended surgeon, and asked more questions. In fact, I didn’t just ask the surgeon questions. I asked his nurses. I talked to the anesthesiologists, and the after surgery care crew. It wasn’t until I asked all of those people all of my questions that I felt able to make an informed decision. It took a lot of time and effort, but I don’t regret one second.

3. Network with DDH survivors ~ Join the hip-baby yahoo group. Connect with a group on facebook, find other people who have been through this to help you out. You’ll make some great friends on these groups and you’ll be glad you have them for support. I have a lot of links for support groups here. Connect with a few people and get their email addresses, cell phone numbers, friend them on facebook, get their twitters (can I say that?). You are going to be glad you did! As much as other people will want to help you out, most people just don’t have a clue unless they’ve been through this themselves. One of the things that helped me most was texting a survivor mom while my baby was in surgery. And I’ve been there for other moms. It still hurts to talk about this some times but it’s so helpful to have people there for me and to be there for other people. Connect!

4. Donate blood ~ Find out if you (or someone in your family) can donate blood for your child. DDH surgeries are sometimes so long and so complicated that blood transfusions are necessary. But you’ll only know if you ask, so add this to your list of questions to ask the hospital.

5. Enlist help ~ You’re going to need help. Especially if you have other children at home. My mother drove up from Missouri, my sister flew in from Seattle, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law all helped, too. With three additional children at home, we needed every ounce of help. My MIL went with us to the hospital. My mom kept the other kids until it was time to pick up my sister from the airport. At that point, my sister-in-law took over with our kids, and my sister (a family doctor) met us at the hospital with my mother just as Sara was headed to recovery. We were incredibly lucky and able to go home the day of her surgery. At home, I really needed all the help I could get. My mom and sister cooked, cleaned, entertained my kids while I devoted all of my time and energy to Sara. She needed all the help she could get for a few days. You’ll be very glad you found extra help – even if you only have one baby.

6. Gather supplies and prep meals ~ Some things you just won’t be sure about – how your baby is casted and what that means for diapering for instance. But it does help to be prepared. Here is a list of supplies that helped us. Karen talks about how she prepared here for her daughter’s second operation after she found out 2 weeks post surgery that her poor baby’s hip had slipped back out while her daughter was casted. Having meals prepared ahead of time saved me more than once. I do a lot of cooking for the freezer and was very glad to have lots of bread and meal components ready to go once all of my help left. I tried really hard to keep up good nutrition throughout this ordeal – but it was only possible because of good preparation.

7. Prepare your child for surgery by boosting immunity and visiting a chiropractor. I am not normally a germaphobe, but the few weeks prior to Sara’s surgery, I stayed clear of germ infested areas and took extra precautions to boost her (and my) immunity. After working through a scheduling nightmare with our massively overbooked surgeon, the last thing I wanted was for Sara to be sick on surgery day and have her surgery postponed.  I’m also a huge advocate of chiropractic care. We made sure to take Sara to see our chiro to help her body stay aligned – I’m not sure if this had any impact on her easier surgery, but it could have.

8. Do something special with your other children, if you have any. ~ Not only is the mess hard on you, it’s also hard on any other kids you may have. I spent so much time researching and crying and hiding, that my other kids were {slightly} neglected. We tried to do something special with them before Sara’s surgery and I made sure to buy them gifts that I gave them the night before we took Sara to the hospital. They got nice artist supplies and created a lot of really nice artwork while we were gone. I felt good about that and they’re always glad to get new things.

9. Enjoy your child ~ Allow your baby to do something fun. The weather wasn’t that great leading up to Sara’s surgery and I was avoiding germ infested areas, but I made sure we went outside to play. We went to the park and I let her climb all over everything. The night before Sara had her surgery she spent 2 hours going back and forth from bath to shower and back to bath. That’s not something she would normally have been allowed to do, but I knew she would not have another bath for 12 weeks. And my girl loves baths. Truth be told, I was very worried about how she would cope without baths. And rightly so. After she became mobile in her spica cast, I had to make sure the bathroom door was tightly shut when her siblings were bathing – more than once she tried to climb in the tub, cast and all!

10. Take pictures ~ Before my baby went in for hip surgery I wanted to make sure we had up to date family pictures. I also wanted pictures of just her. I wish I would have taken pictures of her legs – I’d love to compare the unequal thigh folds before and after. I wish I would have gotten a picture of how uneven her legs were when she was on her diaper changing mat. I’m very glad I got a video of her walking prior to surgery, but in hindsight, there are a few photo shots I didn’t get that it’s just too late to do now. Think about what you might like to see befores and afters of and make sure you get plenty of pictures and videos!

Again, please share if you’ve been through this. What things did you do prior to your baby’s surgery?

Comments

  1. says

    I hope you don’t mind if I share this around a bit. I don’t personally know of any other moms facing this right now, but if your list reaches someone who needs it, it would be a godsend.

  2. Shannan says

    Again….I am sitting here with grateful tears falling from my eyes. Such an encouragement & help ~

  3. says

    I am so glad to have found this. We got my daughter’s diagnosis last week and we’re scheduled for surgery on July 9th. (And, ironically enough, our surgeon is your second opinion’s son!) My daughter will be six when she has surgery, and I am sort of dreading the time spent in the cast! I’m about to dig in and read all of your DDH posts. Thank you!

  4. Tanya says

    My mother in law sent me to your blog as we are preparing for my son’s traction and surgery for hip dysplasia in less than 2 weeks. Thank you for your information! To share a bit about us, my son will a few days away from 15 months when he starts traction for a week at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Then will have his surgery, 3 months in a spica cast, another 6 weeks in a brace and then 6 weeks in a nightime brace. To complicate things, we live about 5 hours from the hospital so I will be camping out there for 2 weeks. As well, I am 5 months pregnant and my husband works out of town much of the time in the summer and I still have to work until mid August to make sure I get my year’s maternity leave. It is going to be tough. But it helps to know there are others who have gone through this. Thank you so much for your information! If anyone else has any advice or how to entertain my son during a week of traction, please let me know!

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