It was right about this time last year that my mother and I brought my daughter Megan, who was almost 1 years old, to her pediatric orthopedist appointment. We were laughing and chatting and completely confident that Megan would get a positive check-up. She had been out of her harness for 6 months and seemed to be developing perfectly. We were sure that the hip dysplasia that she exhibited at birth was cured since she wore a harness for several months and all her scans had showed great improvement. She was in the "normal" range.
The doctor's expression when he entered the room dashed our hopes that all was well. "I'm not thinking surgery...yet," he said and my mind swirled with confusion. He said her x-rays showed that the hip alignment was not where he would like it to be and sometimes when children become weight-bearing that happens. Megan had just begun standing on her own. He explained to us that she would need to wear a brace that would keep her hip bone in the socket more securely. She would need to wear it all the time for 6 weeks and then we would re-evaluate.
"Will she be able to crawl? Will it slow down her milestones? Will she be delayed walking?" I had so many questions but the doctor didn't seem to have that many answers. He emphasized that now was the time to do this because she would never remember it but if we didn't correct this problem now, she would have many painful issues in the years to come.
All of this happened as we prepared to celebrate Megan's first birthday. We got her fitted for her brace and tried to think of ways to help an active baby, who would suddenly be forced to be sedentary, busy. We bought crayons and books and tried to steel ourselves for her frustrated outbursts that would occur when the brace was strapped on.
But, wouldn't you know, all of my tears and sleepless nights worrying about how Megan would cope with the brace were for naught. The minute we put her down, she found a way to crawl in it, albeit awkwardly. She got better and faster each day. She learned to stand in it and even started walking. She started doing tricks, like this one:
And so it was a lesson for me, in the futility of worry, in the resourceful pluckiness of Megan, and in that famous line, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." My fears were unfounded, Megan was happy as can be, and we were working to help her hip improve. A year later, Megan runs, climbs steps, walks on the balance beam and hangs from the rings at her Little Gym class. Tomorrow we will go back to her pediatric orthopedist and hope for better news and a brace free future. No matter what, I am betting that my Megan will be just fine.