As the new specialist for Luke said last week, “it’s good news, bad news.”
Let’s start with the good news.
On Monday morning, I had my 20-week high-risk OB appointment with my maternal fetal medicine doctor. We had Dr. H during my pregnancy with Luke so he is no stranger to my history. He was, however, a stranger to the baby I was carrying all those weeks. Finally, he and Luke met. I cannot begin to tell you the emotions that ran through my heart in that moment. Dr. H and Luke share the name Timothy and that was definitely on purpose.
I wish you could’ve seen the doctor’s face when we told him. “That’s a mighty fine name, young man,” he said. I happen to agree. If you’re new to the blog, you may not recall that the day Luke was born, we were going back and forth on finalizing the boy name. Scott opened up his copy of the Magnificat (the fancy name for the book that has all the readings for daily and weekend Masses) and discovered that the readings for the day were from the books of Luke and Timothy. And, thus, the name was born.
Back to the reunion. While there was some anxiousness about the visit, I was really at peace. As Dr. H began the ultrasound scan, much of our life from four years ago came flooding back. But, instead of me having horrific flashbacks, I was comforted by the soft cadence of the doctor’s voice. “Heart, oh, looks good. There’s the four chambers. Beating nicely,” he said aloud. “Nose bone, I like that. Looks good and solid. Excellent, the lips are formed perfectly. No sign of a cleft,” he continued. It was as if his thoughts were spoken aloud. Medical lingo rolled off his tongue as he glided the wand across my belly, checking all the major organs, limbs and placenta. Scott grabbed my hand, the technician standing beside the doctor smiled and Luke glanced up from his lap, pointed to the TV monitor and said, “Hi baby!”
And in that moment I felt God’s grace. Dr. H leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and said, “This looks like one healthy baby.” Music to our ears. And then I just couldn’t help myself. The thank you’s came rolling out. I choked up once, but powered through. The thing is, maternal fetal medicine doctors aren’t usually the bearers of good news. Their day is typically hard conversation after hard conversation. We’ve been there. But on that day, we were the bright spot. The shining example that miracles happen. And, when I caught Dr. H’s eye, as he admired Luke, I felt blessed. Blessed that God put this man in our life, to guide us, to inform us, to be a voice of certainty and honesty when we needed it most.
The world needs more doctors like him.
As we shared Luke’s shenanigans over the last four years, I could see the reality and gravity of his journey register in Dr. H’s eyes. He knew, intimately, what those hurdles entailed. And then he admired Luke and couldn’t stop smiling. It was incredibly affirming to know that we had survived. And survived with grace, to boot. That kind of certainty only comes from above.
We left that morning with an increased sense of awe at what had just happened. It was surreal, really. This was the place that had once held so much fear and now it was filled with hope. I’ll head back for two more visits, one high-res scan of the baby’s heart in four weeks and then another growth scan in my third trimester. “Here’s to a boring pregnancy,” the doctor said.
A to the men.
And now for the not so fun news.
Luke officially has a new specialist. I’ve been increasingly worried about Luke’s walking pattern. In fact, we’ve seen three different orthopedic surgeons because I just couldn’t shake that something wasn’t quite right. When our last two orthos said to take him out of his SMOs (foot braces), I did so with great hesitation. It just didn’t sit well with me.
In a stroke of ‘thank you Jesus’ a good friend, no stranger to the NICU trenches, called and told me about a new specialist her son was seeing. “He’s crazy awesome,” were here exact words. She’s a nurse and a bit of a tiger mom like myself, so I knew that when she said this guy was golden, he was.
We visited with our new specialist, physical medicine, last Friday. Y’all. Y’ALL. I learned more in 45 minutes with Dr. W than I’ve learned in hours and hours and freaking hours with orthopedic surgeons. It was liberating and maddening all at the same time. I almost walked over to the ortho office and let them have it.
All I know is this, I will never darken the doors of another Austin- or Houston-based orthopedic surgeon EVER AGAIN. In fact, I left the visit infuriated with what they had missed. It seems as if Luke’s femur bone, in both legs, is moderately twisted to the outside. His hip bones are located exactly where they need to be, but his feet are taking the brunt of that ill-formed femur. What that means is when we walks, he lands incorrectly on his feet. And, if not treated, he will most definitely need foot surgery. But, ultimately that is just the symptom of the problem. So, all these doctors that prescribed SMOs never thought to look up and make the connection. They were treating the symptom, not the cause.
And of course the ideal time to reform the bone is at 18 months of age. By age four, the bone is mostly formed and will never return to its normal position. At this point, we have two options. The first? Movement. We can continue with physical therapy on a semi-regular basis and insert a different brace around his feet to ensure his heel bone and arch hit the ground at the right position. It’s possible that could correct the femurs enough that he would either skip surgery or be a lifelong foot brace wearer. The second? Surgery. For the freaking love. At age 8 or 9, we would do a planned break to both of his femurs and reset the bone. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
For now, we’ve decided to focus on movement and bracing and then at age 8, we’ll tackle surgery, if necessary.
I could go on and on with my crazy mad rant with our previous doctors but I know that it won’t do any good. What’s done is done. In the process I’ve learned to always trust my instinct (and to have awesome friends like Bea who always have my back). After I got my tears out, I put on my big girl undies and now we’re tackling the next race.
Luke. That kid always has a surprise up his sleeve.