Thursday, September 20, 2012

What They Don't Tell You About Clubfoot Braces

Eli has a love hate relationship with his braces. He loves to hate them. (See what I did there?)

When Eli first got his braces, we were told by Eli’s orthopedist (who we love) and by the people who made his braces, that he would adapt to them. We even heard stories about how some kids love their braces so much that they name them. While we’ve named the braces, usually with 4-letter names, I’m not sure Eli will ever grow to like his braces.

You want me to wear WHAT to bed?
This is one of the hardest parts of dealing with clubfoot. Because Eli hates wearing his Dobbs bar, which, by the way, is infinitely better than the Mitchell brace, everything becomes a fight. It’s a fight to put him to sleep. It’s a fight to feed him before bed. It’s a fight for him to get comfortable. It’s a fight to keep his braces on at night. And it’s a fight to simply keep him asleep once he’s asleep.

And it’s only worse when he’s sick.

Right now we are in approximately week 6 of ear infections. Which means that Eli is in such pain as he tries to sleep that he thrashes his little body trying to rip his legs out of the braces. It’s as if he can only deal with one problem at a time: his ears or his braces. Dealing with both is just overwhelming for him. It’s rough to watch as a parent. And it’s rough to enforce keeping his braces on his feet.

Usually we like to use Faith Feet & Love to encourage and show people that there are solutions, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But sometimes, the truth is, it’s just miserable. And that’s important too. Understanding just how hard it can be is an important part of surviving it.

Of course we hope that your experiences with clubfoot braces is better than ours. From what we hear, Eli’s reaction is on the extreme side. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Eli has his mother’s love of freedom, with a healthy dose of his father’s stubbornness. So you might be luckier than we are. In the meantime, we expect Eli to start naming his ear aches before he names his braces.


  1. I just found your blog and am struggling with the brace right now. Our baby kicks his way out of it and will not sleep until it is off. We're pretty positive people but are feeling pretty low right now.

    1. Hi Stacey, Would you like to talk over email? I would be happy to try and help you out. My email address is: Both Eric and I know just how hard the brace/sleeping/frustration is and are always happy to help out :)

  2. Hi Stacey. First just let me tell you that we're sorry. There is a special circle of Hell that looks an awful lot like what you're dealing with. When Eli struggled with his first brace, (The Mitchell Bar), we had to switch to the Dobbs bar, which has made an AMAZING change. Eli doesn't even want the braces off in the morning until he's ready to play - to him they symbolize sleep.

    So that's the first place I'd start. Our doctors were at first resistant, but we insisted. Sleep-deprived Mom's tend to get their way!

    Secondly, looking back, a lot of Eli's problems were related to other health issues. Ear infections and tonsil issues, to be specific. He didn't really "sleep" in his braces until we dealt with both of those issues. (They both required surgery.)

    In the end, if you feel something is wrong, keep pushing that with your doctor. Trust your instincts, you know baby better than anyone else!

  3. We are nearing the end of my son's clubfoot treatment with the Ponseti method.. .. only about 6 months until we are brace free! Now that he's old enough, he has figured out how to undo the buckled straps and keeps taking them off. Is there any advice to keep them on? Has anyone else had this problem?

    1. That's awesome! Congratulations. :)

      While we had some of that problem at night, Eli never really escaped too much from his boots. I don't know of any fool-proof method, but I have heard of other parents using tube socks to pull over the velcro / straps. But if your son can undue the straps, he can probably figure out the sock. :)