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Life is Tough.....So My Kid Got a Helmet - (Plagiocephaly)


So.....I had two awesome blog posts that I wrote when Kollin received his helmet and when he got his helmet off. Unfortunately, they were deleted when the website that I was originally using was bought out. I thought I would do another post just to remind everyone of what Plagiocephaly is all about and if you see a kid with a helmet they are just normal babies.




Kollin was born naturally and had a super cone head at birth. Around 3-4 months old the doctor noticed one side of his head had rounded and the other side was still super flat. He had us start to prop Kollin's head on one side and maybe rub it while I was carrying him. Unfortunately due to the "back to sleep" campaign where babies sleep on their backs now to reduce SIDS a lot of children, including Kollin, are diagnosed with Plagiocephaly, or "Flat Head Syndrome" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiocephaly). The prime time of wearing a helmet to correct this is from 3 - 18 months, because that is when the skull is most pliable, so if something needed to happened we needed to jump on it.

With another check up around 5-6 months old our Pediatrician decided to send us to a Pediatric Cranial Facial Plastic Surgeon located in the heart of the medical center in Houston. (Another reason I absolutely love Houston, largest Medical center in the world.) Also, I can only assume a Pediatric Cranial Facial Plastic Surgeon is a SERIOUSLY MEGA specialty. So, there is Plagiocephaly, which is cosmetic, and there is craniosynostosis, which is premature fusing of the skull and can be serious. So, the doctor wanted to make sure it was in fact plagiocephaly. The Pediatric Cranial Facial Plastic Surgeon then sent us to an Orthopedic clinic here in my local suburb of Sugar Land to have Kollin's head measured and go from there.

There is a scale in which they use to determine if a child needs a helmet or not (and lets be honest if insurance will even considering covering). I don't remember all of the details, but the helmet was about $3500 and insurance covered our visits and part of the helmet....remember it is cosmetic. Kollin was just barely inside the scale of needing the helmet and the orthopedic doctor said it was up to us to decide. My husband and I knew without a shadow of a doubt we were going to put him in a helmet. He is a boy who will at one point have super short hair (and who would have thought the kid would have gorgeous thick long hair) but still if we can prevent kids from making fun of him when he gets older then by god we are doing this.


Here are some before pics....




They used a laser scanner to scan his face and head and he had to wear this stocking cap hat so they could get a proper representation of his skull. It was fascinating because it just popped up as a 3D image on the screen, and just like that we ordered his helmet......




It hit me hard that day, I was a mess. My kid was going to be in a helmet and people were going to think something was wrong with him and I didn't really have anyone else I knew going through this. Needless to say it was hard, but I would do it all over again. I debated back and forth about hiding Kollin's helmet to the world, I wasn't going to put any pictures on Facebook or anything because I didn't want people judging me. But, I decided to face it head on, and that decision changed me and the way I parent forever. It was then that I wrote the blog about it and at the beginning of the blog I talked about how I didn't need anyone's unwarranted advice because I knew none of them had gone through it. And to be honest I still feel the same, unless you have had to put your kid in a helmet, you do not and will not understand what it is like. It wasn't because of something I did wrong. It wasn't breastfeeding, it wasn't formula, it wasn't cloth or regular diapers, it just was what it was. But, I wanted the world to know I wasn't going to be afraid and hopefully this will help others in the end, and it has and I am so grateful I put it all out there. But, I was still a mess at the beginning of the process.

I decided I wanted to create something special and awesome. So we purchased an all white helmet, and Kollin and I headed to Hobby Lobby and I bought what I needed to make this sucker awesome.


So..... I thought Houston, we have a problem a white helmet with nothing on it. LIGHT BULB, what about a NASA astronaut helmet and matching Tshirts. DONE. I mean I was in a sorority and we made shirts for everything, so it only seemed right. So I painted that thing and there it was.









Kollin wore his helmet for 23 hours per day, including napping and sleeping, only one hour to take a bath  or wash his hair. The first week was getting him used to the helmet so he would only wear it for a few hours the first day and then adding naps, and then until he was in it for a full day. We visited the orthopedic clinic for check ups about every 2-4 weeks to see how the helmet was doing and to measure Kollin's head progress and each time the change was incredible. Another reason was to make sure the helmet wasn't rubbing in a weird spot.


This is how I would wash Kollin's hair after wearing his helmet all day
Helmet hair is always fun

During this time, Kollin was a complete and normal kid.....getting into everything and getting food all over his face. His helmet didn't bother him.



Sleeping in his bed was no biggie
Riding in his carseat was no biggie
Rolling

Playing



Eating
Mega Cuteness

However, some people just didn't get it. Sometimes I was ridiculed for doing "plastic surgery type stuff" on my baby, some people thought he was mentally handicapped and some people just thought it was part of a costume. I had one major incident in which someone was fired for a comment they made about him, and that day was heartbreaking for me. Some people are just downright cruel. I just kept reminding myself anytime someone said something stupid just to educate them about what is going on, but that day was just.....bad. It's always the people that are mad you have your baby out and about too early at the grocery store, but want you to make dinner for your hard working husband that have something to say about Kollin and his head. (If you are a mom and have had that happen to you with your newborn you totally understand what I mean about that comment.)

People started remembering who we were in some stores that I frequented and they just loved Kollin and that always made me so happy (no joke I just had a tear spring into my eye....um, wow I guess this still gets me all emotional). The only thing I wanted for our family was just to be normal and not have people worry about my kid, because he always seemed to be the topic of conversation wherever we went.

Our first major outing other than Hobby Lobby was Moody Gardens Aquarium and he did great, and we got some looks, but we took him everywhere in the helmet. I began to workout with a mom group and I could tell some of the moms were uncomfortable around us. It seems like some people just didn't know what to say, I mean saying "Hey, so why does your kid were that helmet?"isn't really the right way to go about it, so many of them just avoided the subject unless I brought it up.







After three months of wearing the helmet, it was time. We were done. Seeing the change in his head was INCREDIBLE. I couldn't believe it worked, I mean obviously I knew it would or we wouldn't have done it, but it was great. I wish I could remember all of the number stats because it was truly amazing, but I don't all I have are pictures.




Left: Before  Right: After




And here are some after pics.....














Here is where the but comes into play..... Kollin wore his helmet during prime motor skill development and had no physical therapy during this time. Since his helmet was so heavy and most kids learn to crawl during this time, Kollin didn't. His way of getting around was scooting, which unfortunately didn't develop the correct muscle strength he needed to walk. So I was back to where I started with "Oh your kid isn't walking, wow mine has been walking since blah blah blah" GUH GOOD FOR YOU...was what I really wanted to say, but I didn't....because instead of my kid developing motor skills he learned to communicate what he needed instead of going to get it. The kid wouldn't and still doesn't stop talking. HA. I mean it was crazy, but seriously he doesn't stop talking.


We enrolled Kollin in a physical therapy program called ECI around a year old (I think) and he finally started walking around 17 months or so. We ended up also putting him in a bunch of activities to help him develop including swimming, The Little Gym, and once he started walking we enrolled him in school. (Another issue some of the moms had to say something to me about "well he is just so behind, you are just going to throw him in, aren't you worried he is just too behind socially and mentally and physically") Yeah, let's just say those words didn't go over well with me.

Kollin turned 3 in December and is happy as a clam (are clams happy, why does this saying exist?) He absolutely loves school and is excelling in many areas. He is now swimming on his own at swim lessons and is in a sports class without parents at The Little Gym. Needless to say he is all caught up and I would do it all over again.

My mom always says "Go with your gut, it won't lie to you" I knew getting Kollin a helmet was the right thing to do all along, sometimes the leap is the hardest part. I still have Kollin's little helmet in his closet and look at it from time to time and it helps keep me grounded and appreciative.  I just hope that our family's story can inspire others and help others when it comes to the Plagiocephaly Helmets.

My mom will always call me and tell me she saw some little kid in the store wearing a helmet and she went up to them and told them about Kollin and my mom says that they always end up crying because they are so grateful she talked to them about it, and I think I would have done the same.
This is Kollin now at The Little Gym

This is Kollin now at swimming
Kollin LOVE yoga

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