Milo’s feet are free!

For 12 hours a day, at least.

Yesterday, we had our most exciting hospital appointment to date. The moment we have been waiting for since we found out about Milo’s talipes a whole year ago.

A visit to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to see the consultant to check on Milo’s progress turned into a bit of a celebration. His feet have been progressing well, which means he is following the standard timeline in his treatment. This means no more boots and bar during the day!

In truth, we knew this was going to happen at around this time, it’s just very nice to hear it from the professionals. I did spend the journey doubting Milo’s progress and a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios were drifting in and out of my thoughts. It’s the worrying mum in me.

I never knew how much I wanted this boots and bar phase to pass until we were told the good news. Milo has taken full advantage of his new found freedom too. He’s tapping his feet together, alternating his leg swings and chewing his toes! It’s like we are discovering so many more developmental milestones with this extra freedom; it’s going to be a fun few months.

I’ve been looking through old photos and I think now is a good time to reflect on Milo’s progress and I want to proudly show off the fantastic work of all of the professionals involved in his treatment, so far!

Milo’s feet, before treatment.

first casts at 2 weeks old (above)

Feet after 3 casts (below) Milo is 6 weeks old here!Milo’s feet (below) after all 8 weekly casts and before his operation Milo’s operation day (above) and recovery in casts (below)feet post operation (above)

First day in boots and bar (below)sleeping skills above!

Standings skills below!

Finally, above two photos show Milo’s straight feet! The use of boots and bar are now to prevent regression.

A Day in the Life of a Talipes Mummy

It sounds like a huge challenge with those boots and bar attached to Milo for 23 hours a day but, it’s normal life for us. Luckily, Milo is our first born so we don’t have anything to compare it to. The first two weeks of his life were crazy so when we finally settled into weekly hospital visits and plaster cast legs, we soon got used to that as being normal. So when it came to having his boots fitted, we were excited for less hospital trips and fun daily bath times.

Milo has his boots and bar on his feet for 23 hours a day, meaning the hour out of them is filled with squidgy cuddles, tummy time, baths and boot cleaning! He has his free time just before the bed time routine so we can tie in his bath and change of clothes with this, minimising the amount of times we take his boots off throughout the day.

Mornings for Milo are quite straightforward and not too different to anyone else’s routine. He wakes us up by blowing raspberries or yawning very loudly, and then it’s bottle time. Mr independent will only take his bottle when holding it himself now so as he’s doing this, lay like a king on our bed, I take the opportunity to get myself ready for the day. Typically it’s activewear thrown on, for actually being active and going to the gym! With bottle thrown across bed and mum all ready for the day, boots and bar come off so Milo can be dressed. There’s usually a bit of a whiff from the boots and Milo’s feet because that area does get sweaty. We try and eliminate as much smell as possible by using a wet wipe on the boots and then using talc on boots and feet.

Boots and bar back on and Milo’s ready too. Heading downstairs with a million things in my arms, including the little man has become the norm. He’s pretty easy to carry, no different from other babies that can hold themselves comfortably on your hip.

The first hurdle we come across happens every morning before breakfast. I usually forget to remove the bar between Milo’s feet to help him into his high chair so try to do it one handed whilst he’s in my arms. Sometimes I succeed, most of the time I have to admit defeat and sit him on my lap and start again. We have a wooden high chair so the metal bar banging against it is very noisy, which we forget are now very used to. We’ve often had visitors asking why we are banging so loud in our kitchen and it takes us a while to correct them and show them who is really making the noise.

Once breakfast is all done and Milo’s bag is packed for the day, we usually head out to our local leisure centre so mummy can have some free time and work out. It’s only about 20 minutes away by foot, and we really enjoy the walk. Especially now that Milo can see the world, forward facing in his stroller. We use the childminding facility for Milo so he gets about 2 hours play time on his own, which he loves. He especially enjoys the attention he gets from the lovely staff that run it. I get a little bit of time to myself too, a chance to blow off steam, talk to adults and relieve anxiety. It’s the reboot I need and will always recommend to any parent that feels like their life is on repeat, day after day.

After a little bit of me time, I always feel a lot more positive about motherhood. I remind myself I’m doing a good job, then I reward myself with coffee and cake with friends! Milo enjoys this part of the day too. He has someone new to entertain and show off too and they aren’t bored of singing his favourite songs to him, so he’s completely spoilt with love and attention the whole day.

We usually throw in another walk around our area, or walk to the shop (especially now it’s creme egg season again). Outdoor time is so important and good for the soul, it exhausts us both too, enough for Milo to nap and mummy to have a quick clean up!

House cleared, Milo well rested and dinner cooking and it’s finally time for a cup of tea. The stereotypical afternoon ritual of stay at home mums everywhere! It’s well needed and definitely deserved though. So, never deny yourself of that quick 10 minute rest whilst you can because as soon as you know, your husband comes home from work and that is the equivalent of 3 children returning home – a whirlwind!

Milo’s dad comes home and gets fed, then it’s their time together until bedtime at 7! In this time, I sit back and watch the two nutters play together and remember how lucky I am. Yes, sometimes I wish those boots and bar could be stored in the cupboard and never see the light of day, but Milo was born with talipes and that is a small part of him. He’s a tough cookie, he copes just fine and we will have great stories to tell him when he’s old enough to learn about his condition. Until then, we will continue to encourage him to be the best version of himself and enjoy life.

I think we’re doing a good job, and Milo’s pretty darn lucky to have two crazy, loving parents like us.

Happy New Year!

A big Happy New Year from all of us, especially Milo! We have been so busy over the Christmas period so I decided to take a small social media break, put pen to paper and plan my 2018 goals.

I spent some time reflecting on my year too. I started 2017 pregnant and sober and watching the London fireworks on television. I remember how odd it felt that I wasn’t drunk and cheering in the New Year with friends or dancing to our favourite band but it was so exciting knowing our baby would be born a few months after. I also only had 15 weeks left at work and it was the best countdown, especially as my bump grew and I had inquisitive pre schoolers asking me all things baby. Maternity leave arrived pretty quickly and in time for the May bank holiday. It should have been a relaxing time but as the days were long and warm, I did anything I could to stay outside. Mostly hanging out with my niece or my friends with kids, because they love to play outside (and so do I). When my due date arrived, so did the hottest days of the year and many trips to the farm shop for ice cream. I was greeted with a lot of “ahhhh, when are you due?” Or “how long have you got left?” At first it was funny when I told them I was due 4 days ago or Monday, last week! I soon got frustrated that Milo wasn’t here yet though and instead of staying close to home in case something happened, I went where I wanted and most of the time I was completely under prepared. Who knew you should carry your maternity notes everywhere?! 12 days over due and my husbands birthday, the day I was getting induced. I decided to take him out for a birthday breakfast, 30 minutes away. We knew Milo wasn’t going to come on his own so we really weren’t worried, although, everyone else was slightly concerned that we were so relaxed about it.

Milo arrived and we have been happier than ever. Although time has passed so quickly since then, we’ve enjoyed every single day together. We had a few bits of bad news last year that have changed small parts of our lives and the way we look at things. Despite this, we remain positive and grateful, even if it’s for five minutes that day.

Positivity is my main focus for the year, and as much as I used to cringe at those “New Year, New Me” posts on social media, I now welcome them because it means somebody has the positive outlook that they need to make improvements to live a happier life and I think we could all do with those kind of people around us.

I’m also going to make an extra special effort to praise people because I often think it, but never say it. So, lady I’ve seen running up the same road for the past 2 years… good job and great improvement!

With only 6 weeks until I go back to work, I will remain positive, prepare for my return and make the most of my coffee and cake dates!

Happy New Year!

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!