Ava was born on March 6th, 2006 with bilateral clubfoot. We had found out at our 20 week scan that she had it – in fact I actually said to the ultrasound technician that the baby’s feet looked a bit odd. It was then that she told me that it did in fact look like she had clubfoot. I was fine with it until about a week later, when I began to completely freak out. I had made the mistake of googling and had started to panic about all of the other problems that she “may” have. I rang my doctor and booked in for another ultrasound so that I could be reassured that everything else was ok. I really wasn’t worried about her feet as I knew that that could be fixed – I was just worried about any possible bigger problems. After the second scan, I began to relax and started researching what the best treatment would be for Ava after she was born.
It became clear that the most effective and least traumatic treatment was the Ponseti method. We found a doctor at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, named Dr Patel and decided that we would leave our daughters feet in his hands. So we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the pregnancy.
Ava was born on a Monday afternoon and it was clear that her feet were quite severe. But how I loved her curly feet! She used to tuck them up under her belly – we used to call her “little frog”. My doctor gave me a referral for Dr Patel and we were booked in to see him when Ava was 10 days old.
When we met Dr Patel, I was amazed at how many other children had clubfoot. The Monash have a “clubfoot clinic” which is run every Thursday so everyone with clubfoot who is being treated by Dr Patel attends the clinic together. This was great as we met so many others going through the same thing.
Dr Patel had a look at Ava’s feet and confirmed that it was clubfoot and told us to come back when she was 3 weeks old to begin casting. He believes that it’s important to bond with your baby, and for both mother and baby to recover from the birth before starting the process. I loved him for that.
So finally our day came, and nervously we went in, not really knowing what to expect. I was terrified that Ava would scream through the whole thing…she ended up sleeping through it! So our casting went on for 7 weeks until we had the tenotomy. That went well and she had the post-op plaster on for 2 weeks, and she was then fitted for the Markell boots and bar. That is where our trouble started. The first night in her boots she was quite unsettled, but I had been told that that was normal for the adjustment period to the boots. I took off her boots the next day and she had the biggest purple blister on her big toe, and one on her heel. It was so awful that most of her skin had come off her toe. We took her to the hospital where she was admitted for 3 days until her toe had healed. She was out of her boots and bar for 3 weeks. After that, there was no way I was putting her back in the Markells, so we ordered the Mitchells from the U.S. We haven’t looked back.
She was in her boots for 23hrs a day for 3 and a half months, and then nights only. She crawled at 10 months and walked at 13 months. She is now 2 and a half and happily wears her boots to bed. She will continue to wear them until she is about 4.