The Roller Coaster That Is Having a Baby with “Special Needs” Part 1

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 The ups and downs of having a baby with physical delays and living in fear that those delays might affect developmental milestones in the future.

Part 1

By: Theresa Odgers, MAT

We weren’t even trying. Tim and I knew we wanted to have children one day, but we were so surprised how quickly we became pregnant.  We went through all the emotions new parents go through when they first discover they are expecting their first child.  We were excited, thrilled, overwhelmed, and most of all, anxious.

We were anxious about the pregnancy, delivery, and being new parents in general.  However, there was one thing I was more anxious about than Tim.  My biggest fear was having a child with special needs. I am a teacher with a degree in Special Education and have worked with many children with special needs. I have seen what families have to go through and what they have accomplished for their children. They fight for their children. They are unbelievably strong. I didn’t know if I would ever have the strength to handle a baby with “needs”. However, little did I know that I would find out exactly how strong I was when Landon entered the world early in the morning on June 6th.

Landon decided to make his appearance almost two weeks later than his due date. On June 4th, I was sent for a Non-Stress Test (NST) to check on Landon and to make sure everything was okay. The results were showing, his heart rate was decelerating every time I was having a contraction. I was immediately sent to labor and delivery to begin the induction process.  I started the process at noon on June 4th, but didn’t start pushing until midnight on June 6th. It took four hours of pushing and Landon finally made his debut.

Everything checked out great with Landon after he was born. He was eating and seemed very content. As Tim and I were about to check out of the hospital, a nurse handed me a bunch of paperwork. She told me I needed to have Landon’s hearing reassessed since he failed the test for his left ear while in the hospital. I was shocked at the news but the nurse reassured me he was probably fine, and this was simply “hospital procedure” to inform us to schedule a follow-up. I took a deep breath, pushed all negative thoughts out of my mind, loaded up my new bundle of joy into the car and drove home.

Around the time Landon was turning one month, I noticed his head was not turning to the left. I started to feel around his neck and noticed a little lump. Being a new mom, of course I panicked and immediately called my pediatrician. He examined Landon and discovered that he had a broken clavicle on his left side. We were sent for x-rays, where the previous finding was confirmed and then Landon was referred to The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia (CHOP).

While at CHOP, we were told Landon probably broke his clavicle during delivery. The good news was the bone had completely healed in the month since his delivery, and the lump I felt was most likely the bone being calloused. However, along with the good news came the bad. The doctor at CHOP diagnosed Landon with Torticollis because of his inability to rotate his head to the left.

Torticollis occurs when there is tightness in the muscle that connects the collarbone to the skull.  This connecting muscle is called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Due to this tightened muscle,  Landon did not have full rotation of his neck to the left and also caused him to tilt his head to the left.  I was told torticollis was common in babies and Landon would have to begin physical therapy to start stretching the muscle. The thought of my five-week old baby going to physical therapy scared me but I figured it wouldn’t be long. We would stretch out the muscle and everything would go back to normal. Little did I know, this was only the very beginning.

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