Our Clubfoot Journey – Part 1

Going for an ultrasound when I was pregnant was always nerve wrecking. Was everything ok? Was the baby growing as he/she should? Am I doing what I should? The questions were always there. We had already been for an ultrasound at 12 weeks. We heard the heartbeat, and saw our baby. All was well. So we were very excited to go for the ultrasound at 21 weeks, as we were going to find out the sex of our baby! We hadn’t found out what sex our daughter was going to be, left it a surprise until she arrived. So this time around we wanted to know so we could prepare.

img137a

What we weren’t prepared for was what I happened to notice on the screen. At around 18 weeks, they do a more in depth ultrasound. So they are measuring everything – heart, lungs, head, limbs etc. We found out it was a boy! We were very excited! But the ultrasound technician was seeming to continually be going over his feet. That is when I noticed that his one foot looked like a little different. So I asked, is that a clubbed foot. I didn’t even know at the time what that actually was, but that is what it looked like, a little foot in the shape of a golf club. The technician reassured me that it was likely the way he was sitting, and nothing to worry about, and that she would send the ultrasound over to my OBGYN right away for her to look at. So we left happy that we were adding a little boy to our family, and hopeful that he was simply just sitting at an awkward position.

The next day, I received a phone call from the High Risk Unit at the Ottawa General Hospital requesting we come in within the week to get a level 2 ultrasound done. It is a more indepth ultrasound to go over everything. My heart sank. There was something wrong with my baby.

So a week later, my husband and I went down to the Ottawa General. Our ultrasound lasted for over an hour and I was moved every which way on the table so they could get all the views and angles that they needed. They not only were looking at his feet, but every little aspect of our baby boy. Then we were sent into a small room to wait for the doctor to come in and talk to us. The 45 minute wait was horrendous. Was there more wrong with our son? Were they discussing us somewhere behind closed doors?

When the doctor finally came in, she was very nice and told us that indeed, our sons right foot was clubbed. Everything else, along with the left foot, was as it should be, which was a blessing, but we wouldn’t know till his arrival how his foot would look or to what degree it was clubbed. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and there was nothing that we could do until he arrived. They would keep monitoring him via ultrasound until then, but just try to relax and enjoy the pregnancy was her advice. How was I to relax and enjoy the pregnancy? There was something wrong with my baby.

I was a mess the whole way home. As soon as I got home, the first thing I did was start Google-ing ‘clubbed foot’, ‘clubbed foot in infants’, ‘clubbed foot procedures’….the list went on and on. And of course, Google is a great source of information, but it can also make everything seem worse. There were horrible stories of children going through many many surgeries, having deformed feet, never walking etc. I was bawling and bawling. I was so afraid for my child’s life. Horrible story after horrible story.

But then I found a website about a Dr Ponseti, who in the past 25 years or so had come up with a new way of correcting clubbed feet in a way less invasive way than multiple surgeries. As the weeks went on, and the more I found out about Dr Ponseti and his methods and their success stories, I was feeling more confident that our son could have a somewhat normal life. My OBGYN and a couple others told us that sometimes they can misdiagnose clubbed feet as well, and when the baby arrives there is nothing wrong. But we still wouldn’t know until he arrived, so still I kept hope that would be the case.

We decided to limit the amount of people that we told. Our parents and a few close friends were it. We didn’t know what to expect and I was very scared of the images people would get of our unborn child in their head. I knew what I first thought of what clubbed foot meant, and I didn’t want him being labelled. To be honest I was a little bit embarrassed. At the time I looked at it as a handicap. I also didn’t want to be blamed (I know now, that there was nothing I did wrong or could have done to prevent this genetic happening).

We went for a total of 7 ultrasounds throughout my pregnancy. None of them ever made me worry less about him or his foot. Every time, the tech lingered in that area until I said, yes he does have a clubbed foot, we already know. To most everyone, I was having a pregnancy full of nausea and I wasn’t overly enjoying it! But what they couldn’t see or know was the anguish that was constantly going on in my mind worrying about our little man.

So finally, 10 days over due, our little Mason decided to grace us with his presence. With the whirlwind delivery, his foot never even crossed my mind until the doctor looking after him said “it seems this big fellas leg was a little squished in there and needs to be stretched out”…and I knew, his foot was clubbed after all.

To continue reading:

Part 2

Part 3

Q&A

Our Clubfoot Journey: At the 2 Year Mark

Our Clubfoot Journey Continues…

I’ve Been Given Enough Now, Thanks (Clubfoot Journey)

A New Round of Firsts (Clubfoot Journey)