It kills me that the official medical category for Madeline’s clubfeet is “congenital defect”. As I sit here rocking my over-stimulated because big sister needed a bit more Mama time than anticipated baby, there is absolutely nothing defective about her.
But her condition (though treatable, and for that I’m enternally grateful) breaks my heart. I can remember at 5 weeks old fighting back my own tears as the doctor kept telling me “we need to get her to calm down before we can keep casting her” as she wailed on the cold examining table. I barely knew who she was yet, let alone how to calm her (for the record, the doctor was very sympathetic and understanding, even if my brain refused to realize that at the time). And daily there is some kind of reminder of what is missing from our relationship because of her ongoing treatment. And there are days that it breaks me and I wallow in misplaced guilt (there is no way in which I caused or could have prevented it) and pity (for Madeline and myself). And on those days, I need to remind myself to shift the focus to shift the attitude.
- Missing newborn cuddles: she is still able to snuggle in like a kitten even if it’s not as small. But her ability to snuggle in close with two casts on her legs shows how much she loves and needs me. And already she’s given me more cuddles than C ever did.
- No footie pajamas: I loved buying pajamas for C. To this day, I consider it a victory when I convince her to wear footie pajamas over her preferred two pieces. And twice as happy when they have cute animal faces on the feet. But between casts and braces, footie pajamas will only become an option at age 5, well past the age that she should be wearing footies. But you know what’s damn adorable? Onesies and leg warmers (and way easier at diaper change time).
- Watching her scream through casting: I know it doesn’t hurt, it is just frustration that someone is holding her leg and OMG kicking is fun! But casting is quick and I know there are no serious side effects. But the alternative? Sitting in waiting room as your child undergoes multiple surgeries. Yes, I will take the screaming.
- Difficulty babywearing: swelling can happen in casts, and the bar attached to the boots limit which carriers work, making running errands and household chores a little more difficult. But that gives me all the more reason to put chores aside until naptime and just enjoy the time with my girls when they are awake. Plus, it’s nice to be able to just take C out grocery shopping on Saturdays when Scott can look after M, so we get some one on one time
- Fighting with M to put on the boots and bars every night for 5 years: there will always be fights at bedtime. The black bear pajamas will have jam on them. The lotion will be too cold after bath. The one book that you HAVE to read will be missing. It’s just all part of being a parent and I wouldn’t want to parent anyone else.
And I wouldn’t want her to be any different because she’s perfect.