Recently a good friend of mine and I were in an elevator. I was wearing Emily and holding Romeo on his leash. A woman riding with us turned to me and told me I should be careful with my dog. She said I should never let my baby ride him because her daughter did that and got bit.
I politely responded that Emily wasn’t really on the move yet, and that we wouldn’t be letting her “ride” Romeo anyway (duh!) Afterwards my friend turned to me and said, “Do people say stuff like that to you a lot? Just give you advice?” I told her yes. She said, ”That just made me so mad.” I was shocked to realize I wasn’t mad because those kinds of comments often do get to me. Case in point this morning.
I took Romeo out for his walk in the park while wearing Emily in my Ergo carrier. This carrier is specifically designed to be ergonomic, which means it offers healthy support for a baby’s hips. Emily is essentially in a frog leg position when I wear her. It’s pretty adorable.
So anyway, a woman I see sometimes said, “When she starts walking she’s going to be like this.” She started mimicking walking with her legs really wide like a cowboy.
I know she was just making an offhand remark that was meant to be funny. Even so, I got pissed. I responded by saying, “Yes maybe if she was in this all day.” And then explained to her that this is actually a healthy position for Emily’s hips. Afterwards, I found myself stewing in anger like a cartoon character with smoke coming out of her ears.
What the woman at the park doesn’t know is that Emily was “frank breech” for my entire pregnancy. This means that she was in a pike position, butt down and feet up by her head. Firstborn girls who are in this position in the womb have a higher chance of being born with hip dysplasia. In the more extreme cases, these babies need to wear a harness 24 hours a day for months to get their hips back in the sockets.
While I was pregnant it was a big fear of mine that Emily would be born with hip dysplasia. I read about it endlessly (damn you Dr. Google!) and while I knew that there was a non-surgical way to correct this, it was hard to come to terms with the possibility that I had “squished my baby.” It felt like a failure as a mother to not carry her in the right way. It felt like if she had an issue with her hips it was entirely my fault. I know none of this is rational or true, nonetheless it FELT true as do all of those very powerful mama-guilt feelings.
THE ROLLAR COASTER EXPERIENCE
Because of her breech position, when Emily was 6 weeks old took her to get an ultrasound to check her hips. This was an all around frightening experience. It was scary having her in a hospital setting before receiving her vaccinations. It was scary having to lay her on a table, get gel put all over her hips, and to have the very aloof and cold doctor say to us, “Don’t be alarmed but she has mild hip dysplasia in her left hip. She may need a harness.” It was scary for those two days between that appointment and our next appointment with a pediatric orthopedist to accept something might be wrong with my precious little baby.
It was terrifying when I was at the next appointment (with my amazingly supportive mother-in-law) when the nurse told us Emily would indeed need the harness. And then it was confusing and a HUGE relief when the doctor came in and told us, “Actually, her hips are totally normal. The measurement on the ultrasound was done incorrectly.” (Grrrr to the aloof and cold doctor who did the ultrasound!)
After that whole roller coaster of an experience, I was beyond grateful to have a healthy girl with healthy hips.
I want to acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things had Emily had hip dysplasia and needed the harness it would have been difficult, but she would have been FINE. My postpartum cloud and having a tiny newborn baby made this whole experience a bit more elevated.
BACK TO THE COMMENT
I do understand from a rational point of view that it is silly to become so angry from a random comment. Being a mom isn’t always rational though. Being a mom is a calling from deep within my soul. It’s FEELING and it’s all-consuming. It’s a voice that I can never shut off nor do I ever want to. And although she didn’t mean to this morning, the woman at the park set me off on a spiral of negativity.
I think it’s human nature to make judgments and we all do it, myself included. That being said, since we never really know what another person is going through it’s usually best to keep judgments to ourselves (Or you could share them with your best friend. Thanks Beth for listening to mine!)
THE GOOD NEWS
Writing and reflecting on the experience with Emily’s hips has been pretty therapeutic. So- maybe it’s a good thing that the woman at the park told me my daughter was going to walk like a cowboy?
Okay maybe not. I’m still glad I wrote this though.