Milo’s time in plaster casts

Being told your child has a condition that can only be rectified through physiotherapy and surgery is quite a lot to take in when you are lay on a bed looking at the little bean in your tummy. It casts a shadow over pregnancy, and you know you have to appear positive and tell everyone that it is going to be okay, but in the back of your mind there is a little thought “what if my baby isn’t going to be okay?” Of course, you can’t really tell people that you are thinking that at the risk of being a Negative Nancy – which is not me at all – and you trick yourself out of if occasionally, but it always comes back.

Milo was born by emergency Caesarean section and I immediately asked what his feet looked like. The surgeon asked why I was picking faults with my child, and although I was high on life, happy as Larry, it was my main concern and I managed to tell the surgeon that my child has got bilateral talipes and I wanted to see how severe it was, immediately! After checking his feet and breathing a sigh of relief that nothing else had been picked up in any of the newborn checks, I started preparing myself for what would be the next step. This is how I deal with life with Milo. I knew step one was for Milo to be treated using the Ponseti Method of casting. I just didn’t get told how long they would leave it or how long this treatment would take until we turned up to our first appointment.

We turned up to the Physiotherapy Department at BCH unaware that Milo at two weeks old, would be casted up right then and we wouldn’t have his little prawn shaped cuddles anymore. So whilst a little warning would have been appreciated, with the treatment we have recieved for Milo, it really isn’t worth dwelling over. As a family, we have all been looked after.

Our physiotherapist is fantastic! The first session we had, started with a consultation telling us all about the purpose of the casts, how they are manipulating the feet outwards slightly by having new casts every week and how we keep them clean and dry. We had a lot of questions and every single one was answered efficiently and with honesty.

After the first week of Milo’s new legs, we had come to realise that looking after him was just the same as before but with just a few minor things to be aware of.

  1. No baths. With Milo so small, he wasn’t really going to get dirty but it was surprising how much dirt accumulated in fingernails and between toes so it was very important to sponge bath Milo every night. The positives outweigh the negatives here though. Milo’s skin wasn’t dried out by baby bath, we kept on top of his hygiene through the day so bathing him before bed was never a chore and we were religious with this cleansing routine so Milo quickly learnt the difference between night and day (not that this stopped him waking to feed hourly, he just knew it was time to go straight back to sleep).
  2. Poo on casts is inevitable, we just learnt to be laid back about it and scrub vigorously with a wet wipe. By day six of the casts, there were so many marks on them that it really didn’t make any difference where they came from. Baby poo doesn’t smell though, so there isn’t anything to worry about! The only thing to be wary of was getting urine on them as it’s so acidic it will burn through the plaster casts and hurt the skin. The physio department are so accommodating though, we could just soak the casts off and get new ones if that did happen.
  3. Milo would often get sore patches from his casts, this is common! The top of the thighs, back of his knees and his toes would look red and skin would seem quite damaged in these areas but healing time would be a few hours after using a barrier cream, so there are no long term sores!
  4. Milo was never in newborn or 0-3 months trousers or dungarees because the plaster casts would make the size of his legs double! The positive here is that he’s been in 3-6 months trousers from birth and now that he has no casts, this size still fits, almost 4 months on.
  5. Finally, soaking the casts off takes hours to start with. It does get quicker, but it’s not pleasant having a newborn baby sit in the bath for about an hour whilst tugging at his legs. Luckily, Milo is breastfed so I used to wait until he was due a feed and do it sat in the bath with him. It took his mind off the uncomfortable feeling of having wet, heavy casts and time used to pass quite quickly. By the time he had finished feeding, his casts were soft enough to just unravel.

With Milo having plaster casts on for 13 weeks of his life, we got used to the weekly bath routine and travelling two hours to the children’s hospital (a trip that should only take an hour, but never did) we soon got used to this extra care that our little one needed and it fitted into our busy lives with little disruption.

Milo became aware of the things he could do with these special little legs. The noises he could make to get our attention and his ab workouts were our favourites! He would lift his legs as high as he could and kick them down again, making everyone aware that he was awake or wanted a chat. It was also reassuring on long car journeys when we would hear his legs knocking together!

Over the 10 weeks of Ponseti casting, we noticed a huge difference in Milo’s feet. Here are a few progress photos after treatment.

Milo’s feet at birth. Turned in and up. 

First casts at two weeks old and a slight manipulation at the ankle. 

Progress after three weeks of casts. Milo’s feet still had a long way to go here but treatment was working well. You can see they aren’t completely turned in anymore and the feet are straight. 

Here is Milo after his Ponseti treatment! Only a slight turn in his feet and ready for operating!

Milo’s operation is to snip his tendons and position his feet correctly, the procedure is called a tenotomy. It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times, read all about it in my next blog!

Life After Birth… The Newborn Blur


This. This is all I really remember in those first few weeks. Trying to play with my baby and both of us lasting a maximum of three minutes. Time well spent? I’d say so! Let’s look at real life here and stop feeling bad about not following new mum rules, because let’s face it, sleeping when baby sleeps? Doesn’t happen with visitors around!

I got told I should limit my visitors. This is something you desperately try to do, but you don’t realise how many people you actually know until you have a baby. Texts and calls quadruple, random knocks at the door and neighbours hovering on their driveways a little longer to catch a glimpse of the new arrival. You feel obliged to invite everyone in for a ‘quick cuppa’ because you know, you are British! You are also excited to show off your little bundle because he is the cutest baby to ever be born. We had every intention to spread our visitors out but when you have friends at work, 6 – 7pm is prime time to ‘pop in after work’ and there’s a two week window before your baby isn’t brand new, so you just brave it, invite everybody round, and you actually feel fine. And baby? Sleeping soundly, ignoring all of the fuss!

 This is the time I should have taken to nap whilst daddy was around to help in the day. But this is exactly the reason I didn’t want to nap, because daddy was home for two whole weeks and we were excited to spend time together, awake time! 

We would take trips out into town or go for coffee, because maternity wage hadn’t quite kicked in and if my money wasn’t being spent on baby goodies or prosecco, it was going towards coffee dates! This is where we would get bombarded with members of the public because babies are stranger magnets! We would get asked those annoying questions, deemed acceptable questions to ask new, emotional and sleep deprived parents… ‘Is he good?’ Well actually, he’s a baby. He sleeps, eats and poops. He cries if I’m needed, even if it is just for a cuddle, that’s fine though because newborns smell and feel so good! It makes you feel good to cuddle that little dot and know that you are all he needs right in that moment. So is my baby good? Well, yes, he’s doing what he should be doing after all. 

One of the other things I remember in the newborn phase is going out for a walk in public – 6 days after having a ceserean, not recommended! I would constantly be asked the age of my baby and then be greeted with shock if I answered anything less than two weeks old. I got a lot of ‘oh wow, you’re out already? But he’s so young’ or ‘well done you, it must be hard coming out with him so tiny’. You can’t respond how you’d like to – yes it is hard, my nipples feel like they are bleeding every time I move my arms, I feel like I’m being cut in half again and I just want to cry – whether you’re being nice or not. 

Let’s face it, it’s 6 weeks of feeling like your life is complete and a complete mess all at the same time. Listening to strangers telling you that they grow up too fast, you don’t believe it and think you have all the time in the world, but it’s not long until you realise they are right. 

Milo’s newborn phase seemed to only last two weeks, because this is when he started treatment for his talipes and his legs were in full casts. 


We totally enjoyed his ‘baby looking like a prawn’ phase! 

Let’s Talk About Birth…

Almost every pregnant woman will have gone through scenarios in their heads – good and bad – about how they are going to release their little human into the world. For some, they live in fear of that day arriving with all of those ‘what if’ ideas circling their already racing minds (that was me) and for others it’s how they are going to completely boss the situation and have the perfect birthing image (that was also me). I was only the latter after I discovered hypnobirthing.

I embraced pregnancy, the highs and the lows and all that graces you on the way. I invested so much time in Doctor Google and seeking advice from mums that got shit done that it’s no wonder I came across hypnobirthing – marketed as pain free birth! YES PLEASE! Anything to make that final hurdle to meeting my baby a little easier. I then researched the fudge out of it! I’m glad I did.

The whole concept makes sense – the fear, pain, tension cycle. Breathing slowly in and out to relieve painful contractions. Positive thoughts. You’ve probably heard of how to release oxytocin and endorphins and techniques in hypnobirthing help you to do this during childbirth! This seemed impossible to me to begin with but being educated on these methods made it all seem so simple and straightforward.

In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t have booked a course due to the cost of it. But, the proprietor of Cotswold Birthing – through facebook – broke down the cost of her one to one, tailor built package. It was so personal to my husband and I, we were sold instantly!  Cotswold Birthing are very reasonably priced at first glance, and when you look at what your course includes and hear of the success rate (it worked for me) then it is well worth the money!

Oli, proprietor and your hypno midwife is a wealth of knowledge and her experience and passion reflect on what you will learn. I picked up so much, and retained a lot of information just from her stories and I was fascinated.

As well as running Cotswold Birthing, Oli is a full time Midwife in a Gloucestershire hospital wanting to start a masters degree, she is actively involved in a midwifery charity, The African Maternity Link and is a mum herself. She is Super Mum!

Now, hypnobirthing… Prepare to get hippy and spiritual, you and your birthing partner, it’s great! You are taught relaxation skills that you can apply to all aspects of your personal and professional life too. This helps you gain the mindset of a more easy going version of yourself. You will begin to ooze positivity and day to day mundane errands don’t seem pointless anymore, everything has purpose. It doesn’t change your life’s dynamics, it changes the way you see things.

You learn about your body and what you go through during pregnancy and labour and this is vital to eliminate any fear surrounding your birthing journey. The whole concept of hypnobirthing is amazing and it works. In my journey, I had to be induced which was not what I had wished for and then I ended up having an emergency cesarean section which I also did not want, but I asked appropriate questions throughout, had knowledge of what was going to happen to me and dealt with pain from my contractions, drug free, and with breathing techniques I had been taught and that experience did give me the birth that I wanted.

And then, hello to our Milo Jack. 25th June 2017 and our whole world was made.

For those of you in the Cotswolds, and interested in hypnobirthing: https://www.facebook.com/cotswoldbirthing/

And for information on this charity: http://www.theafricanmaternitylink.co.uk/

 

Pregnant with a clubfoot baby

Pregnancy should be a breeze, it’s the most natural thing that a woman can do. Right? Really?! Then, help! 

This was my view, pre-pregnant Liss, pushing my body on the regular at gym sessions and running or on the flip side, drinking lots of beer and gin! But that’s nothing in comparison to the miracle growth inside you, and everything else that comes and surprises you before that little baby makes their appearance. 

First trimester – sent to test you physically, mentally and emotionally. The morning sickness, extra toilet stops, broodiness, mood swings and that lovely shade of grey in your skin that only disappears when you look slightly flushed from throwing your guts up in the morning! A real morning work out! It’s a mixture of emotions in these 14 weeks or so, right up until that first dating scan when you realise your baby is doing okay and you get your ‘D-Day’ confirmed. For us, it was June 12th. And waiting for this date was like we were 5 and a half and waiting until our 6th birthday party because jumping on a bouncy castle after jelly and ice cream is the best day of your life! What a great few weeks to look back on. 

Onto the second trimester – when we found out our little baby boy would be born with talipes (clubfoot). Mentally and emotionally, the second trimester was the toughest. I spent hours a day on google trying to find as much information on clubfoot as possible but no matter how much I searched, I was getting told what I needed to hear. I spent some days so far into a google search that I would wake up in the night after nightmares about my parenting skills. What I really needed to be told was that everything was going to be fine and my baby boy would be beautiful! Now for my physical changes, where luckily, I felt fabulous! My once small boobs were finally growing whilst my stomach was still relatively flat and I was still frequently visiting the gym without rushing to the toilet to throw up. I felt on top of the world when I completed a spin class and stood up to reveal my baby bump and when asked how long I had left I would happily reply ‘only 10 weeks to go’ and that feeling lasted for a whole 3 days. When you feel as though you’ve only got 10 weeks to go for about 12 weeks, you definitely start feeling a bit deflated and that’s when the third trimester feels kick in!

Oh, third trimester, how I was glad to say goodbye to you and really miss you all at the same time! Having a lovely round baby bump gives you the confidence you never had to wear those tight dresses and plunging necklines because you look great! Personally, I love to see beautiful mummas to be embracing their fantastic ever changing bodies and showing off their lovely lumps and bumps. It really is something to be proud of, your body goes through so much and you have the opportunity to talk to strangers in public about your excitement towards your upcoming family life. I loved the excitement people felt for you because you felt it too and it’s refreshing to have the positivity surrounding you. It was a breath of fresh air for us especially, because although we were over the moon that we were bringing a life into the world, we also worried about the care and treatment surrounding us and as new parents you want to be as prepared as possible but when even professionals can’t give you a timeline of events, you are left in the dark.

I spent months looking for ‘clubfoot essentials’ and methods that the doctors may use to correct his feet but now it’s here, I don’t think it was much help. In future posts I will truthfully talk about what has helped and what has been a time waster or money waster! 
Please also remember, I am from the UK so Milo’s treatment will be slightly different to other countries – or counties even!