Enchanted Mommy

Battling Hip Dysplasia

I gave birth to the most perfect and beautiful baby ever.  She came out looking just like my husband and was everything I had always imagined.  We named her Ella Bree!  She was ours, all ours.

perfect newborn baby with hip dysplasia

Look at how beautiful she is!

Before a newborn is discharged from the hospital, their pediatrician needs to give the okay for them to leave.  All was going well until the doctor put her legs together, pushed her knees up and the spread them apart.  Her hips were completely displaced.  There wasn’t even a real click, they just easily came out of socket and her legs practically fell to each side.  Of course we had never heard of hip dysplasia, so we asked a lot of questions.  It is most common in first born girls because of the conflicting hormones of baby and mom (don’t ask because I’m not exactly sure why).  They said she would have to wear a harness that goes on the outside of her diaper for probably 2 weeks.  HEARTBREAKING.  My perfect babe had to wear a Pavlik harness just four days after she was born.  I had so many thoughts going through my head– “people are going to think there is something seriously wrong with my baby”, “I’m going to have to explain this to everyone”, “why me and us”.  Here is what her Pavlik harness looked like:

pavlik harness

She was placed in the Pavlik Harness for 6 weeks.

She was so tiny, only 6 lbs when she got the harness!  Oh man, the day she got the brace, my hormones were raging.  I cried over anything and everything and I was so sore from having a csection.  This just added so much more fuel to the fire.  Life has to go on and you live with each challenge.  Well two weeks with her in the brace, turned into a long six.  Seemed like the longest six weeks of my life, but they were over!  She was checked out and ready to live the nonbrace life!

She went for her three and six month check-up at her pediatrician, no hip clicking.  Thank God!  Then, we went for her nine month well visit.  The doctor felt a click in her hip.  Brian and I were so devastated.  I think I cried for four straight hours.  How could this be happening again?  She was already mobile and pulling up– she would have been walking in no time.  I called her pediatric orthopedist (Dr. McHale located in Annandale, VA) and was able to get an appointment the next day.  Dr. McHale said Ella could have the surgery where she had to wear a body cast for six weeks, but she felt like she needed to go back into harness to see if that would help and then move into another brace called the hip abduction brace. What?!  The harness that covers her whole body.  How would she crawl?  Well, she learned and adapted fast:

crawling in Pavlik harness

She adapted to this so fast!

This was just a couple of days after she was put back into the brace.  Meanwhile, the doctor ordered Ella to have an MRI.  If you know much about MRIs, you have to be completely still = baby needs to be put under.  So, my poor sweet 11 month old at the time, had to have anesthesia to get an MRI.  Thankfully, the MRI came out to show that she did have cartilage there, it would just take a while to turn into bone.  This means she needs to wear the hip abduction brace (which Dr. McHale found from Germany) for a while.  Here is what the hip abduction brace looks like:

hip abduction brace

Hip abduction brace.

Of course Ella’s issue is so small compared to so many other children, but I still had meltdowns every so often seeing that my baby wasn’t “normal”.  She went to the doctor every month to six weeks and got x-rays.  We got the same response every time “she’s winning and I really don’t think she will need the surgery” and “I wish I had a magic ball to tell you how long she would need the brace”.  Thankfully, Ella did not need the surgery AND she learned to walk in the brace.  She walked at one year and one day.  Check out the video.  It will seriously melt your heart.

Pretty sweet huh?

She started wearing the brace at night only when she turned two.  Ella still goes back to the doctor every 3 months and still has to wear the brace at night.  She said Ella will have to wear it at night until she’s three.  My husband said we are taking everyone cake in the orthopedist office when she has her last hoorah at age three.  They have all been so sweet.  They know Ella every time we go in there.  They even tell other patients all about her and how she’s been there since birth.  Even the doctor, who is SO busy (seriously the busiest doctor’s office I’ve ever seen) knows her and said she wanted to publish an article about her case.  I could seriously rant and rave forever on Dr. McHale’s office.  They have all been so awesome.

Lastly, here’s my girl now in her brace:

hip abduction brace

Age 2 1/2 in her brace.

This girl doesn’t skip a beat.  She is one of the most energetic and outgoing kids I know.  Kids do adapt to everything.  I’ve learned to seriously count my blessings.  Now, she even asks for her brace at night.  She’s used to sleeping in it.  I do thank God everyday that she was able to be fixed without surgery and long term side effects.

Please ask if you have any questions.  I love talking with other people about it!

39 Comments

  1. Abbey

    Feb 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Hey Dana!
    I just linked over from another blog- Ella is adorable, and I actually was in a similar brace as a baby for hip dysplasia myself. Your story really touched me and how my own parents must have felt receiving the same news. 26 years later and I have had zero issues! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  2. Dana Patterson

    Feb 14, 2012 at 3:29 am

    Thanks Abbey! It’s great to hear that you fully recovered without issues, we always hear that when she’s older, she has a stronger chance of getting arthritis. Thanks for the nice comment. It definitely is heartbreaking as a parent!

    Reply

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  4. Rose

    Apr 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Dana!
    My daughter was born with hip dysplasyia due to her being frank breech. She was put in a pavlik harness at one week old. I cried like a baby in the doctors office. After wearing the pavlik for 6 weeks we had an ultrasound on her hips yesterday (4.12.2012) which showed her left hip was still dislocating. My husband and I were devestated. Our pediatric orthopedic surgeon has put our daughter in a fixed abduction brace which she will wear for 12 weeks. If that does not fix her hip she will have surgery in the fall, and have to wear a body cast for 3 long months when she is big enough. I was told we have a 50% chance of the fixed abduction braces fixing her hip.
    Your story has inspired me and its nice to read about your daughters success.

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 23, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Hey Rose,

      I’m really interested to see how your sweet one turned out with the hip dysplasia!

      Dana

      Reply

  5. Dana Patterson

    Apr 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Wow, I 100% feel your pain. It is so hard looking at your newborn when things aren’t completely right. It is so easy to live in the moment too, but I can promise that things will be completely fine and you are a great mom for getting it fixed right away. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your answers from the doctor, I would encourage you to get a 2nd opinion. We went with the long term decision of using a brace verses putting her through surgery. It’s tough now, but it makes you a stronger mom. I also learned how to dress her real cute with the brace on. I can send you pics of ideas if you want! Best wishes and please keep me updated! Everything will be just fine and she’ll never remember any of this!

    Reply

    • Kathleen

      Jun 07, 2012 at 4:15 am

      Hi Dana,

      I just found out that my baby has hip dysplasia (4 1/2 months). Getting the harness this week. I would love to see pictures of your little ones dressed really cute. Somehow reading that you were still able to do so, made me smile. :)

      Thanks,

      Kathleen

      Reply

      • saba

        Apr 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        hi kathleen , my baby will see the doctor age 5 monthes and I think she has the DDH I just would like to know are they going to give my baby Pavlik harness at this age or its abit late

        Reply

  6. Norma

    Jun 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I had two children born with Club Feet AND Arthrogryposis. I worried about people giving me looks I got as I took my children, who were in casts up to above their knees (half way up the calf) and their legs layed up against their chest like a frog, and they went with me to the stores and even at the may hospital visits. I understand how you felt. People can be cruel and you wish they would just come up to you and ask what’s wrong. But isn’t it wonderful how things are now? My children both walk ( after hours and hours upon years of therapy at home and at the therapist office.) And you have a beautiful daughter who IS perfect!

    Reply

  7. Carrie

    Feb 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Hi
    Thanks for sharing your story. Your little girl is adorable.
    We just got back from our 2 month appointment and the doctor heard a click in the hip our little girl. We are being referred to a peditrician and have to wait for a call to get an ultrasound. I am hoping it is nothing but preparing myself just in case.

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Feb 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks Carrie! I would love to hear what ends up happening. I know it’s heartbreaking, but the blessing is that it can be fixed and she will grow up to be completely normal. It is so hard for you to see now. I would love to hear more!

      Reply

  8. Emily

    Apr 03, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I came across this post from a random google search, and I’m glad I did.

    My baby girl is 5 months old now. She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia soon after birth, went into the Pavlik at 6 weeks, and wore it near full-time for 12 weeks. All of her ultrasounds looked great, so a month ago we were told we could go to nightime-use only. She had her first x-rays yesterday at an appointment we were assuming might be our last, but we were wrong. The x-rays showed that her hip is still underdeveloped, and the orthopedist decided she needed to be put into the abductor brace 12 hours a day for at least 3 more months.

    So now begins the new wait. We went into that appointment thinking we were all done, so the news was definitely a blow. Ella’s story is wonderful to read, though, and it helped me so much this morning to see a baby who has adapted well. Thanks for sharing her journey, and I’d love to keep hearing updates on Ella!

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 07, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      I’m glad it helped… well some. Nothing is ever easy when you feel like your child isn’t keeping up with the norm. Thank God this is all you and I have to deal with. It took me so long to realize all of this. I hope your little one reacts to the abductor brace like Ella because at the age of 3, she got a perfect check-up on her hips and now she only has to go every 6 months to make sure all is still well. It was a long battle, but SO worth wearing the brace and not having the surgery. Please keep me updated!! Also, glad you enjoy the recipes!!

      Reply

  9. Emily

    Apr 03, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    (P.S., The other reason I’m glad I ran across this page is because it led me to some awesome looking recipes, so thanks twice!)

    Reply

  10. saba

    Apr 04, 2013 at 3:01 am

    the doctor noticed that my baby has a problem with her hip at age of 4 months and 19 days and I dont know if she could recoved by using the Pavlik harness , they gave as appointment on 16 of April and she will be 5 months at that time , I don’t know what should I do ……

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 07, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear about this. I think putting off surgery if possible is the way to go. We could have easily gotten the surgery early on, but who wants it if there are other ways to help. It is such a LONG, drawn out process, but now our almost 4 year old couldn’t be anymore perfect. Best wishes to you and please keep me updated!

      Reply

  11. Erin

    Apr 08, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I am so thankful for finding this hopeful post!! We are halfway through our expected time in a hip brace with our now 8 month old. I would love to see pictures or hear your ideas about how you dressed your daughter cute. I’m finding it a little challenging. :)

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      As far as dressing went, I often just put her in adorable longer dresses. They weren’t that hard to find, especially in the summer. In the winter months, she wore leggings underneath of dresses with cute shoes and socks.

      Reply

  12. saba

    Apr 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Dana can I ask you if the doctor said that my baby is need a surgery do I accept or not , or should I ask him if I use the Pavlik harness for her even if it takes a long time to recover and can I ask why you didn’t take the risk to do the surgery ? is it not good for her, I mean the result , sorry for my bad english language its not good

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      My doctor just said that the surgery should be the last resort. You don’t want to put your baby through something like surgery if it isn’t completely necessary. Besides, it is a lot harder on the parents when dealing with a body cast!

      Reply

  13. saba

    Apr 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I noticed my baby’s legs at age of 4 monthes and a half and the Pavlik harness is useful if they use it from the first month

    Reply

  14. Julia

    Apr 17, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I just want to thank you for your post. My daughter Kennedy who will be 14 weeks old tomorrow just got her brace today. I know it’s the best thing for her and that it could be so much worse but I can’t stop crying. She just so sweet and perfect and I can’t even really explain it but everytime I look at her my heart just breaks. The doctor said its just a mild hip dysplasia and she should only have to wear it for 6-8 weeks. My concern is that I wish we would have started the brace sooner cause she is used to kicking all the time and loves to stretch. Also I’m still nursing part time and I feel like its going to be hard for me to hold her the way I used to. Any advice on how to make her more comfortable cause she loves to sit up like a big girl. And can I do tummy time with her while she’s in it? This is just all so new. I was at a good point with her in knowing what she likes and how to rock her to sleep and I feel like I have to start all over again. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!

    Reply

  15. Julia

    Apr 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Also I would love to see how you dressed your little one! We’re lucky that its the start of warm weather! Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Apr 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Tummy time was really hard, but the doctor wasn’t too worried about that. Ella was already really strong and it didn’t put her behind in crawling at all. As far as dressing her, I had a TON of longer dresses. I feel like I bought some at Old Navy as well as Carters and Gap. I actually just went to the Old Navy site and saw a lot of cute dresses!

      Reply

  16. amummysview

    Apr 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks so much for commenting across at my blog http://amummysview.com/2013/04/23/hip-dysplasia-pavlic-harness-week-3/ I’ve just come over to read your post and it is so heartwarming. Having had DDH myself as a kid I know what it can be like and just how well kids adapt. Your daughter is such a brilliant example and so adorable. I can’t wait to hear all about that visit when she turns three! My daughter’s hips have never been dislocated or out of socket yet (touch wood) so I am hoping that in three months this will all be over. Can but hope! xxx

    Reply

  17. Kelly Watson

    Jun 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I was diagnosed at birth with hip dysplasia and had a full body cast until I was two (when I finally learned to walk). I had double osteotomy surgery at age 9 and finally a total hip replacement with bone graft on one side at age 32. I was limited at that point to a walking radius of about 2 blocks before my arthritis got so painful I had to turn back.

    My pelvis was so underdeveloped I had to have c-sections for both of my two children even after the hip replacement. Since it is hereditary I was actually terrified that my daughter might have it as well but she seems to be in the clear at 14 months (she’s my youngest). It was nice to hear your positive story. I’m planning to have another child and if she does end up having it I’m a little less terrified knowing it isn’t alway the ordeal that I dealt with.

    I guess mine is close to the worst case scenario for hip dysplasia but my ortho doc did say that if it hadn’t been for all the treatment I got when I was young I probably would have been in a wheelchair. So I count my blessings despite the pain and I really don’t think of myself as any less able than most people and so much luckier than many others.

    Reply

  18. Barb Adamski

    Sep 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    My daughter (first born) was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and is in a brace at 9 months old. She sounds very much like your lovely Ella. The brace has not slowed her down one bit. She is not crawling yet but I see it happening very soon. We just had our first check up and our doctor said that she is progressing but is a very long way from being “normal”. It breaks my heart to see her like this but I know that it’s for the best. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in this.

    Reply

  19. Kim Jeong Lae

    Nov 11, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I’m korean orthopedic’s doctor
    my patient, female 9 month baby need hip fixed abduction brace today
    can i get this brace today???
    please send me mail…

    Reply

  20. Raelle

    Dec 11, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Wow, I cried reading this. I was told my daughter had severe HD in both hips the day she was born, we were discharged from hospital the same day (I really just wanted to go home and have my meltdown there because I was devastated). She was put in her harness at 3 days old. It was so heart breaking to see my tiny baby in such an awkward position in a strange looking contraption. We were told 12 weeks and she would be out. Well 12 weeks was last Thursday and we were advised that it would be at least another 4. I know it’s nothing compared to some illnesses that some poor little babies and children go through, but it’s insanely heart breaking all the same. My partner works offshore so it’s a huge struggle coping with this as well as my little fire cracker 2 year old. Can’t wait to just look back on this as a memory. Your story and daughter are beautiful. I wish you nothing but health and happiness in the future for you and your family. Merry Christmas Xxxx

    Reply

  21. Amy Lafferty

    Jan 29, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Hi. I just want to say reading your story made me feel better since my daughter just turned 10 months and had to have another check up for her hip dysplasia and she was put in the hip abduction brace only st night and tonight has been rough. I remember when my daughter was in the pavilic harness for 4 weeks and she was progressing so they took it off her. 6 months went by and she had no need for brace. This time she did and my heart breaks for her

    Reply

  22. Samantha

    Feb 08, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Hi,

    I just read your story, what a heartbreaking but wonderful story at the same time. Your story hit so close to home, it was like I had written it. Our daughter is a beautiful, happy, & active 7 mo old. She was breech so we were warned at her birth that she could have DDH. We we’re told to get her an ultrasound at 1 mos and an X-ray at 6 mos. Her one month ultrasound came back clean. So when her pediatrician told me to get her 6 mos X-ray, I took my time, because I figured she was fine. Plus she had turned breech at the tail end of my pregnancy so I figured she wasn’t in that position long enough to do any harm… Well, we we’re told today that she does have a mild form of DDH & that they recommend the pavlik harness for 4-6 mos :-( She was given the brace today. I am devastated! I saw my cousin go through this when she was around 8. She had the double cast. She was traumatized as a child. So naturally I’m concerned this experience is going to traumatize my sweet baby girl and suppress her big personality. Please tell me I’m being a crazy overprotective mom… Tonight has been a rough night, she’s cried non-stop for hours. I checked everything harness related and the usual suspects (diaper, hungry, etc). But nothing made her feel better. She likes to sleep on her belly so I called both the orthopedic office and her pediatrician to see if they were ok with me putting her to sleep on her tummy. They both said it was ok. After alternating between picking her up to console her, letting her sleep a bit on my chest, and putting her down on her tummy, she’s finally asleep! Please tell me this will get better too… She’s been sleeping through the night for a while now, I’m hoping we’ll get back to that point again? Anyways, thanks so much for sharing your story. Ella is gorgeous! I look forward to hearing from you. Take care!

    Reply

    • Dana Patterson

      Feb 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      I am so sorry for what you are going through. First, this only makes you a stronger mother. I PROMISE it will get better. Kids adapt so fast and you are being the best mom ever by giving her the medical help. This is what your daughter needs and you are helping her. I was so embarrassed to take her out at first and have to explain the story to everyone. Now, I’m proud of it. She survived, she walks perfectly, and she’s a wonderful, sweet and honest girl. Keep your head up. It will get easier. XOXO

      Reply

  23. Betsey

    Feb 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Dana,
    Our daughter was diagnosed with DDH and is on her 2nd day of wearing the Pavlik brace. It is so hard to see her in it and know that this is going to be a long process. Our doctor wouldn’t let us put any clothes under the brace and now the straps are rubbing on her skin. I saw that you had a onesie under your daughter’s brace. Any tips? Also, how did you put leggings on her with the brace? She was 8 weeks early and our friends just threw us a shower on Saturday and we received a ton of cute clothes and she can’t wear any of them! I know it’s what’s best for our daughter, but this is just SO hard.. How did you travel with your daughter in her car seat too?
    Thank you so much for your story, I was so happy to find it. With the cold weather and her being a preemie we haven’t been going out, only to doctor’s appointments so cabin fever and hormones on top of seeing her in the brace has been hard this week.

    How long did it take your daughter to get used to the brace?

    Thanks for answering my questions!

    Reply

  24. Michelle

    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Dana,

    My friend is going through what you went through with her daughter. Her daughter is not 3 months old yet. My other friend and I wanted to get her clothing that would make it easier for her and her daughter Clara. So far we got her knee high socks, do you have any tips for dressing a newborn who wears a brace? I would love to be able to help my friend. Thanks for the information.

    Kind Regards,
    Michelle

    Reply

  25. Julie

    Apr 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    My daughter is 6 months old and she just was put into the hip abductor brace. Did you prop pillows or anything under your daughters knees at night so her lower leg was supported? I’m just trying to find a way to make her comfortable at night

    Thanks

    Reply

  26. Ana

    Apr 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I found this page from a google search and I am so happy that I did. Your daughter’s story is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing! My baby boy was diagnosed with this right after birth and has been in the abduction brace since our first night in the hospital. At our 2 week checkup we were told he is doing fine, but will still have to wear it until our next checkup at 3 months =( As a first time mom it is devastating to see my baby boy like this, but reading Ella’s story and hearing that it does get better is just what I needed to hear! I’m just staying positive and hoping for the best!

    Reply

  27. Radia Baker

    Apr 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Dana,
    I want to say thank you for sharing your story, it makes me feel better knowing other kids that went through this turned out OK, and gives me hope for my little girl.The day my daughter was born the doctor placed her on my chest and to my surprise her right leg was up next to her head. As a first time mother it freaked me out and the doctor said it was normal and just the way she was positioned in my womb. The next day the pediatrician looked at her and referred us to a specialist who confirmed that she had hip Dysplasia and she would have to wear the Pavlik harness for 3 months. She was fitted for the harness two days old. As her mother i felt like i did something wrong and couldn’t believe this was happening to me. But she didn’t seem to mind it and she wasn’t in any pain. As we went to her check-ups we were so happy to find out that the harness was working and she won’t have to be in the harness for the whole 3 months, it’s only been 6 weeks and she is already able to take it off once a day and hopefully in the next couple weeks she will be able to take it off more until we can take it off completely. Reading your story and others who have commented has made me feel more relaxed to know that this does happen and it is treatable. Thank you again to all of you who commented and told your stories it really helped me deal with this better :)

    Reply

  28. Thanh Tuyen

    May 09, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Hello,

    First time i would like to thank you for your sharing story. My baby girl also had hit Dysplasia. the pediatrician looked at her and referred us to a specialist who confirmed that she had hip Dysplasia and she would have to wear the Pavlik harness.

    Now she is 4m years old.

    But i’m in Hochimunh City, Vietnam. I would like to buy harness. And i don’t know where to buy it. Please kindly help me the shop i can buy it. If possible, please email to me. Is it ok? Thanh Tuyen tutuyenzou@yahoo.com

    Waiting for your hearing soon.

    Thank you so much.

    Reply

  29. Chelsea

    Sep 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Hi, I just found your blog and found it to be very encouraging so thank you! My baby girl, Sadie, is 10 1/2 months old and was also born with Hip Dysplasia in both hips. At 2 days old, she was put in the Pavlik Harness. At 2 months old, after having an ultrasound, they switched her to the abduction brace. Since then, she has had several x-rays. Her doctor ordered her to have the brace on for at least 22 hours a day for now. She has an appointment to get another x-ray tomorrow and we are praying that there is improvement so that she can get out of the brace and avoid surgery. Your video of Ella walking in her brace gives me hope as I have been so worried about the development of my sweet girl. Sadie does crawl and stand in her brace now, but has yet to take any steps. Again, thank you so much for sharing her story. It has helped me to stay positive :)

    Reply

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