Thursday, February 23, 2012

What We Did For Valentine’s Day (Part 2)

While going out for the first time in months was a great experience.  What has been even better is getting Eli his new brace.  We started out with the Mitchell Bar (essentially one solid piece of metal that locks his legs together - it’s like a straight jacket for his feet.)   This bar seems seems to work well for a lot of kids.  But definitely not for Eli.  He went from being a happy baby, to crying non-stop. And worse - he actually stopped eating for a few days, and it was all we could do to get him to eat any food.
Unfortunately we had many problems with the brace shop (the company responsible for fitting and manufacturing Eli’s braces) and it took us about a month to get the new brace.  This meant that we had several weeks of no sleep, extreme fussiness, and exhaustion.   Both on the part of Eli and ourselves!
But all that changed on Valentine’s morning when Eli got his new braces.  In the past, doing anything to his feet, whether it was the Mitchell bar, or just getting new casts, meant that Eli would spend the next 24 hours screaming, with big alligator tears rolling down his cheeks.  Talk about heartbreaking! But with the new braces, he cried for about 5 minutes while he was fitted, and that was it. 

It was love (or at least tolerance) at first sight!
Of course that’s the genius of the new brace (called a Dobbs bar).  The Dobbs bar allows Eli to bend his knees and move his legs independently of each other.   In fact, he spends most of the day kicking his legs! Something that we never hoped would be possible.
After everything he’s been through, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing him kick his legs.
And frankly, this was the best part of our Valentine’s day.


  1. Eric and Heather,

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I must say that I am thrilled to find someone blogging about the clubfoot journey. My baby boy was born 5 months ago with Right Club Foot. We didn't find out until the day he was born and from then we went through a roller coaster of feelings and emotions.

    I find your blog reassuring and compelling to families that are about to welcome or have already welcomed a child with clubfoot. My little Nathaniel had 3 rounds of casts and the shoes and bar. Our milestone will occur tomorrow when we see our orthopedic and he gets to wear his shoes only for naps and nighttime. We are thrilled to say the least!

    Eli seems to be doing great! He's got straight little feet and a big smile on his face. Just like my baby Nathaniel. Like you, I never get tired of seeing him kick his little legs!

    A couple of things I wanted to share with you and other parents that may read this blog:

    1. Moleskin worked great when he started wearing his shoes and bar. The ortho told us to have him wear the shoes for one day then take them off and look for red spots and apply a small piece of moleskin to those spots. We did that every night after bath time and Nathaniel never had sore spots after that.

    2. Since the shoes are put on really tight (at least we were told to do that), sometimes his feet would be a little swollen. We put just a bit of Epsom Salt into his bath water and that took all the swelling down.

    3. Sleeping sacks are the best! They prevented Nathaniel from kicking and scraping the crib. The noise is also less and therefore he rarely wakes up we he bangs the crib with the shoes.

    4. At the beginning is very hard to deal with all of this but trust me when I tell you, it gets better. I still remember asking the orthopedic surgeon if I should expect Nathaiel to have a semi-normal life. He frowned at me and said "I expect him to have a 100% normal life". My heart melted and I just smiled. On hard days, I simply remember his words and my faith in God.

    5. Don't be afraid to take your baby out. Nathaniel went with us everywhere ... on the stroller on the baby carrier, car seat, etc. Most people that saw his little shoes commented on how cute they were (I don't think they are cute but hey ... no one every said anything bad). My baby is as happy as he can be ... and the bar has not gotten on the way to any developmental mile stone. Babies are strong!

    6. Lastly, I struggled trying to find the perfect sock for wearing with the shoes and bar. I wanted socks that weren't too thick or too thin or that had lots of threads. I finally found the perfect socks at Target. Each pair is $1 but they are well worth it. They have non-slipping grip at the bottom and they are high enough that they won't bother the boot. Also, they don't have lots of threads and they are just the right thickness. You can find them on the baby section ... (not the where the clothes are but were the baby stuff is).

    Thanks for creating this blog! I look forward to following your adventures.



  2. Catalina -

    Thanks for stopping by and the great feedback. We're thrilled to hear that Nathaniel is doing well! Heather and I will never forget when the doctor delivered our diagnosis. It was so unexpected. So we can relate to your story!

    We tried sleep sacks, but Eli seems to hate them with his braces. He's just like his mom - wants his freedom!