Penny’s {DDH} Story {Part 1}

“In the simplest terms, Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip {DDH} is where the ball and socket of the hip joint fail to develop correctly.”

{Natalie Trice | Cast Life: A Parent’s Guide to DDH}

In true {wannabe} perfect housewife style I decided to quickly tidy up my hospital bay whilst my one day old baby slept soundly in her cot.

Recovering from a c-section but feeling refreshed after my first post-birth shower {when you know you know} I smiled and hummed to myself as I folded her tiny clothes and put a fresh nappy out ready for when she awoke. My perfect little girl.

As I was tidying a paediatrician came round to undertake Penny’s Newborn Infant Physical Examination {NIPE}. I waved her in happy to let her continue whilst I pottered about in my new baby bubble. “She has a clicky hip”. I remember stopping and thinking ok, that does’t sound so bad. “She will probably have to wear a harness for 6 months to a year”. What?!

The consultant happened to be in the bay next door {also in our room was a baby with a spinal abnormality, another with a broken arm and a mum recovering from a traumatic birth}. He popped in to give a second opinion agreeing that Penny’s left hip could be easily dislocated whilst I sat in shock trying to take in what they were saying.

After they left I did what any normal person would do. I googled clicky hips. The words Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip {DDH} flooded my phone screen along with pictures of babies and young children in harnesses and plaster casts. I stared in disbelief and shock. How could this be happening? What does this mean for Penny? Will she need operations? Will she be able to develop normally? Will she be able to walk? I sat alone {with P] and silently wept. A sense of loss flooded me. Would she miss out on things? Will my baby {and our family} be subjected to a I just couldn’t make sense of it in my mind.

My midwife then came in with a box of tissues and explained that Penny would have an appointment with the specialist the next day. I remember thinking that at least I’d be able to take her home for a bath. Fast forward 24 hours and we were being wheeled down to orthopaedics {Penny in her cot and me in a wheelchair, unable to walk more than a few yards post c-section}. I was alone for the appointment as Mr H had to work. We met with the specialist consultant who concluded that not only Penny’s left but also her right hip could be dislocated, most likely due to the fact she was breech for the majority of the pregnancy, and she was to be fitted with a Pavlik Harness straight away. She would have a hip scan to determine the extent of the problem and wear the harness 24/7 followed by ~6 weekly reviews.

Straight away? So I couldn’t bath her? {For some reason the bath became the thing I focused on}. It was all happening so fast. Penny was 2 days old. We were wheeled straight into the hospital’s plaster room where she was fitted with an extra small Pavlik Harness. She screamed through the whole fitting. I just sat in my wheelchair staring. Useless. Unable to help her. Not able to process what was happening as this contraption was strapped to my new baby surrounded by patients having plaster casts put on or removed. Fat tears rolling silently down my cheeks.

Back at our hospital bed I held her for the first time post harness. She felt strange. Stiff and box-like with her legs strapped apart. I went to breastfeed trying to find the best position to hold her, suddenly afraid of hurting her. How do I change her nappy? How do I dress her? Penny on the other hand wasn’t bothered in the slightest. The harness was obviously not causing her any discomfort. In fact she actually seemed more settled. Maybe it made her hips more comfortable? Mr H arrived as soon as he could. Sadness and love etched into his face at the same time. Our little princess.

{Penny at 2 days old} | {Her full Pavlik Harness}
{Getting to grips with feeding} | {Finding outfits that fitted over her harness}

{Part 2 of Penny’s story coming soon}

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