Hello! My name is Whitney, and my daughter has Hip Dysplasia. We are from East Tennessee, and would love to share our story with you!
Audrey was born in May 2015. She is my second child. I had a healthy, full-term pregnancy. Audrey was not breech, and I delivered naturally. She was a very unhappy baby, who cried all the time, never slept, and was sick daily.
Months later, when Audrey began to crawl, we noticed she would only use one of her legs. The doctor stated that babies crawl many different ways, and saw no concern. Audrey didn’t start walking until she was 15 months old. Again, we were worried, but the doctor stated that babies learn how to walk whenever they are ready, and saw no concern.
A few years went by, and we continued to deal with a very unhappy baby, who still cried all the time, never slept, and was sick daily. She began preschool in August 2018. Her teacher started mentioning that she would complain of leg pain, and would limp when she was tired. I also began noticing that her right femur bone was sticking out further than the left one. I could also feel the difference. Audrey’s 4 year check-up was soon, so I was saving the questions for then.
May 31, 2019 was Audrey’s 4 year check-up. We discussed my past concerns, along with the new ones. The doctor immediately sent us for x-rays. We left the office, then received a phone call about an hour later. The doctor informed me that Audrey was born with Hip Dysplasia, and she would need to see an Orthopedic Specialist as soon as possible. My heart sank, I started crying, and grabbed my phone to research Hip Dysplasia. I had never heard of this, and had no idea what it could be! After several days of researching, I started to get an idea of what it is. I was in shock and very overwhelmed thinking about the last 4 years of my daughter’s life. How her hip had been dislocated, causing her severe pain, and no one even knew because she wasn’t able to tell us. My heart was broken.
June 3, 2019 my husband and I drove 2 hours away to take Audrey to a consultation with an Orthopedic Specialist. The doctor reviewed Audrey’s medical history, sketched out his surgical plans on a piece of paper, scheduled her first surgery, and gave us the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website for additional information. At this point, we were still terrified and highly uneducated on what our future was about to look like.
August 1, 2019 we woke up early and drove 2 hours to the children’s hospital where Audrey would have surgery. She was so nervous, and cried the entire ride there. She didn’t really understand what was going to happen, but could feel it was something serious.
Audrey’s surgical procedure consisted of: Proximal Femoral Shortening, Open Hip Reduction and Capsulorraphy, Acetabuloplasty, and Iliopsoas Lengthening. Yep, I had to research those words as well. When surgery was over, they brought my baby out crying, in a huge pink cast, laying flat on her back. Again, I was in shock. Her cast looked nothing like the ones I saw online. It went from her arm pits, all the way down to her right ankle. We stayed in the hospital over night. She was in so much pain, everyone was exhausted, and only wanted to go home. My husband and I took turns pulling her in a wagon around the nurse’s station, for 4 hours, before we were discharged. Between the confusion, pain, discomfort, and anxiety, that was the only thing that would keep her calm.
To get her home, she had to use a vest harness system in the vehicle. We were given the vest harness in a bag. It came with directions, and a website with a video. No one was able to assist us due to liability reasons. That was also something I never came across online.
We drove another 2 hours home, and for the next 6 weeks, we had to figure out how to live with a Spica cast. How to wash her hair. How to bathe her. How to diaper her and keep the cast clean. We colored, painted, worked puzzles, played with Playdough, watched movies, visited relatives, went for strolls, and relaxed in a saucer swing. Anything to keep her calm and content. Once she started to heal, she was able to crawl in her cast, which gave her a huge sense of freedom!
Finally, the day came to get her cast removed! September 9, 2019 she was freed from her huge, pink, smelly, and very dirty cast. It was also bittersweet because I knew that cast protected my baby for the last 6 weeks. Her leg was very stiff and sore. We immediately came home and gave her a bath. She was unable to sit up on her own or walk.
Over the next several weeks, Audrey began to sit up, scoot across the floor, crawl, then began walking with a walker. At this point, we started to potty train her again. After using diapers for 6 weeks, she had relapsed.
Since Audrey still wasn’t walking very well, she began Physical Therapy November 1, 2019 and continued through June 8, 2020.
Since then, Audrey had surgery July 30, 2020 to have the hardware removed from her hip. This was a minor surgery, and she was walking again within a few days.
Now, she can walk, run, turn flips, ride her Jeep, and live life the way she wants. She will most likely have surgeries in the future, based on how she grows. In the meantime, she will be the sweet, sassy, fearless little girl that she was meant to be!
I would also love to share a book I recently purchased online, Hope the Hip Hippo. We absolutely love it! This book is written by two Mothers, each with children that have Hip Dysplasia. It perfectly describes the experience we had during Audrey’s first surgery, in ways she understands. I wish I would have found this book sooner!
Some of the proceeds from the sale of this book go to the IHDI to further research, education and awareness!
If you made it to the end of our story, thank you. I wanted to provide as many details as possible, because I personally know there is not much information out there. Even though no one’s experience is the exact same, I hope you are able to take something from ours. Reading other’s stories and experiences is what helped me the most, so I wish to return the favor any way that I can.