It’s not so bad.  I mean, yeah, it’s a bit unwieldy and rougher against my arm when I feed him a bottle. But it doesn’t look sterile (even undecorated in white) and Little Man looks rather cute in it.  He really isn’t crying or sleeping any differently. He does not like when I take it on and off for his exercises (for his Torticollis) but beyond that, seems to be adjusting well to his new “chapeau.”

After months of feeling guilt for allowing my son’s head to flatten, I’m now feeling HOPE that by wearing the DOC band that he’ll have a base of his skull again.  Even though this has cost us a lot financially, I went to the right place for my son.

I’m going to add a “page” to my blog with before photos and share them with you.  I know there are other moms who are dealing with plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, scaphocephaly and torticollis.  But I don’t want this to be the ONLY focus of my blog.  This is just a part of Little Man’s life—and mine.  Motherhood is full of challenges and celebrations and I want to document as many of them as I can.

Little Man will be my only child and I want to ENJOY his infancy and his milestones and ever-developing personality.

So the helmet is just a part of his life—it doesn’t define him.

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Instinct tells me that a) Little Man will need surgery on his scrotum for his Hydrocele and b) he’ll likely need a DOC Band (helmet) for his positional plagiocephaly.  I don’t know why, but that’s what my gut is telling me.

If he does need a helmet, I don’t think our insurance will cover it.  Though the place I’m taking Little Man for an assessment told me that they DO fight for patients’ and often they will cover at least some of the cost. I’m hoping that, since Little Man also has a diagnosis of Torticollis, that UHC will cover something.

If not… well, I’d rather get us further in debt than NOT correct something that is correctable due to my son’s young age (13 weeks tomorrow).

So I’m taking him to see a urologist and to Cranial Technologies for a free assessment in early December. He’ll be close to 4 months old by then, but I’m told babies under 6 months show the best results. I’d go sooner, but Dude wants to go with me and he won’t have a free day before then. But I don’t feel that it’s too much of a wait.

At this point in time, Little Man seems to sleep best when I “wear” him in my Baby K’Tan sling. He’ll sleep in his crib at night, too. But both times he only falls asleep if I’m holding him (or if Dude is). I want him to be able to fall asleep without one of his parents holding him but he doesn’t seem able to.

I’m not sure if it’s because he’s too young (at 2-1/2 months) or if we’ve set into motion bad sleep habits.  I’ve read online that you can’t spoil a baby before they’re six months old. I’ve also heard that, up to 3 months, a baby is in the “4th trimester” and needs to be held a LOT.  I’m going to have to ask about sleep (and feeding) habits at Little Man’s next well baby visit.

I probably should have bought more baby books with suggestions on how to get your child to sleep. I got The Happiest Baby on the Block and never finished reading it! I think it’s probably too late to implement the techniques given in the book by now. And I’m almost at the point to start de-swaddling my son since he’s beginning to be able to REALLY kick himself free.

Of course with his Torticollis and Plagiocephaly issues, I want him OFF his back as much as possible. So I’m less worried about him being in the sling or sleeping on my chest. I’m so worried about adding more pressure to his flat spot and him needing to wear a helmet.  Less so for the looks we’ll get but more for the cost of the helmet (if needed). I’m told most health insurance companies won’t pay for it (feels it’s for cosmetic reasons) and finding $3000 to pay for it will NOT be easy.

Of course I’m jumping ahead of myself.   I was writing about SLEEP today.

I wish Little Man would sleep through the night. I want to get about 5-6 hours myself!

But he wakes up at least once, sometimes twice, a night and he’s REALLY hungry. So I give him a bottle and he chugs it down and goes back to sleep for a few more hours.

I really need to ask about this. I have SO many questions for my pediatrician and I feel like I can barely get them in.

But, for now, he’s sound asleep in his sling and that’s a good thing.

You get a look of sad looks from the other patients. Nobody wants to see a little baby needing physical therapy.  Yet Little Man is so cheerful (as long as he’s fed) and alert that one would never know there was a problem.  That is unless they looked at his photos and noticed that his head was tilted to the right in each one of them. The Torticollis is obvious to me NOW, but I never noticed a thing before my son’s two month pediatrician visit.

Little Man’s physical therapist, Mary, said to me that she doesn’t usually get the babies with Torticollis at two months and the fact that I’m bringing him now bodes well for his response to the therapy. It’s basically stretches—some that I have to do at every diaper change, which is not easy but I’m committed to my son’s health—and muscle massage and manipulation. He also needs a LOT more tummy time, but he still isn’t a “fan” of it.

The therapy to stretch and strengthen his neck muscle will also help with his flat head. And Mary said that even though the flat spot looks awful to me, it’s not the worst she’s seen that has corrected itself.  So she feels pretty confident that Little Man’s flat head will correct itself and that he should not need a helmet.  Her analogy was that of a water balloon. She said that if you lay one down, it will flatten on the spot that’s on the ground. But if you turn it, it pops back out. So I hope that Little Man’s head “pops back out”.

We’re going to PT twice a week for the first few weeks.  Last week was week one and we’re going next week, too. Then Mary is on vacation for a week.  The Monday before he goes back, November 9th, he finally will go for his ultrasounds. I hope that his hip is fine and that I’ll get good news re: his Hydrocele. But somehow I have a feeling Little Man will need to see a pediatric urologist to take care of the latter. The swelling hasn’t gone down in two months and I don’t see another few months making much of a difference.

All of this weighs on me.  When you have a baby, you want him or her to be perfect. You pray for health and you want your child to survive.  I had a crisis the first few days after Dude and I brought Little Man home from the hospital. I wanted to breastfeed but found it too frustrating to continue (and Little Man was Jaundiced and dehydrated, so I quickly moved to formula) and felt horrible guilt about giving up without truly trying.  Dude says that if I HAD breastfed, I would have been a wreck due to how much Little Man eats and he says that I shouldn’t feel guilty. I don’t anymore, but I did for a while. And I guess I’m feeling somewhat the same way about the Torticollis and flat head (not sure what “type” he has).  I need to get past that, but I haven’t yet.

Though I AM grateful that Little Man’s health issues are treatable and, relatively, minor. I hear stories of babies with heart problems. Premature babies who are in NICUs for months and months. Children with Cerebral Palsy or other health issues. And what we’re dealing with, in the grand scheme of things, is just a glitch.  But it weighs on me—and not the finances, though it IS a struggle—and I do wish that this hadn’t happened.

This blog post is pretty much a copy and paste job from my former blog that I wrote on October 16th, two days after Little Man’s two month well baby visit to the pediatrician. It’s quite relevant to this blog as it deals with mommyhood and the ups and downs of one’s child’s health. That’s all anyone can hope for—health. And I have to say that even though I had a very emotional day then, I am so grateful that my son is healthy and his issues are treatable.

This is what I wrote:

Little Man is two months old.  He went for his well baby visit at the pediatrician on Wednesday afternoon and while overall he’s very healthy and doing very well for his age, there was some “not-so-good” news.

First with the good stuff.  He’s healthy. He’s thriving.

At birth he weighed 9 lb and was 20.5 inches long.

Now he’s 13 lb 8 oz and 23 inches long.

That’s 90th percentile for weight and 50th for height. I asked if I should be concerned about the disparity (ie. weight) and was told at this age it’s not an issue. He’s not overly chubby, so I guess he’s just SOLID. My coworker calls him “Bruiser” and I often do, too. He’s just a strong baby.

He’s meeting milestones. He smiles, he laughs, he’s a happy baby, really. And he only cries when hungry, wet/messy diaper and when wants to be held. All normal and to be expected for two months.

But there was some “not-so-good” news, too. I’ll start with the most minor one.

Little Man has an umbilical hernia, which apparently is very common in babies and most times close up by the time they turn one.  I was told not to be concerned about this.

Next is the  Hydrocele he was born with. It hasn’t gotten smaller since he was around two weeks old and the pediatrician wants Little Man to have a testicular ultrasound to make sure it IS a Hydrocele and not a hernia and also to make sure all is OK. If this doesn’t recede on its own, he’ll need to see a Pediatric Urologist and could possibly need surgery. I’ve known about this issue since his birth.

Fine. But I’m having problems finding a facility that’s IN-NETWORK for my insurance that does this on babies. If I go in-network, it’s covered at 100%. Otherwise we pay out of pocket since we have a $5000 family deductible. So I’m doing some research and trying to find a place to get this done. I do know of a Pediatric Urologist, however, if he does need to see one.

Lastly are two related issues. My son has a something called Torticollis (a condition in which a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck causes the head to tilt to one side) and also  positional plagiocephaly, or flat head, which is due to babies spending so much time on their backs. It’s also most common in infants who have Torticollis.

Since a small percent of babies born with torticollis will also have other problems such as hip dislocation, Little Man is also getting a hip ultrasound at the same time he’s having the testicular one.

Basically Little Man needs physical therapy to correct the Torticollis. And hopefully the PT will strengthen his neck muscles and that, along with MUCH more tummy time, will correct the flat head. I’m praying for that… I don’t want him to need to wear a helmet or, worse, have a permanently misshapen head! But my pediatrician said we caught both conditions early enough and I hope she’s right.

I’d been having terrible guilt about the flat head until I read that it’s related to the Torticollis, which I had no control over. But I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. I literally SOBBED in the shower. Part of it was due to my son’s issues and the rest was due to lack of sleep—as he also got his shots and did NOT sleep on Wednesday night (thus nor did I).

Motherhood is SO hard. And while I knew it would be, the reality is somewhat overwhelming. And I often get comments like “get used to it” re: the lack of sleep. But I’m sorry, I don’t function well on the limited sleep and it’s taking its toll.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I absolutely adore my little boy and am so grateful he’s here and—despite his “not-so-good” issues—is healthy.