Brady was our 7th pregnancy and 2nd live birth. At 18 weeks into the pregnancy my partner (Mark) and I went for a scan and as the sonographer scanned his legs I was sure they looked odd. Then, (just like in the movies) he left the room to go and check something. I remember saying to Mark at the time that his legs looked strange but Mark assurred me there was nothing wrong. Of course this was not the case. When the sonographer came back in he advised us that our son had Bilateral Talipes and that we should wait and have a second scan the next week to confirm this. Well I went to pieces. I had heard of club feet but was thinking “are they the people that wear one shoe with a really big heal?” Anyway, we were ushered into the waiting room while the sonographer wrote up his report for my obstetrician.
There we were, me bawling, in a waiting room with all these pregnant women. When I think of it now, they must’ve been thinking our baby had died or something simular because I was a mess.
We rang my obstetrician straight away and he told us to come and see him. He explained that Talipes was not something they would normally do a termination for. This had not even crossed our minds, so after he said it I started thinking , how bad is this thing our son has got! We booked in for a second scan the next week and of course the diagnosis was the same. By then, of course, we had done research so this time I was able to hold myself together. The sonographer and my obstetrician then suggested that I have an amnio because Talipes is associated with other genetic issues. My head was spinning.
I had the amnio and waited 2 weeks for the results. By this time I was 22 weeks and knew that whatever they told us we would be having this baby. He was kicking me (even with his twisted feet) and we had named him the day we found out he had Talipes because I wanted him to have an identity no matter what the outcome. Having babies hadn’t come easy to Mark and I ( I have a Lupus- type blood disorder that causes my blood to clot so I have an injection of Clexane every day when pregnant) and had been in hospital twice during the pregnancy. Our older son Blake (4) was 5 weeks early and had numerous issues resulting in many hospital visits in his first 2 years and this was going to be our “easy” baby.
I read everything I could about Talipes and its treatment and went to see a specialist (who would use a treatment method – the Ponseti – that I believed would be the best) when I was 32 weeks pregnant to discuss what would happen. After that all we could do was wait.
I went into labour at 35weeks 6 days and Brady was born by emergency caesar weighing 6 pounds 1 ounch (the exact same weight as Blake). I had thought I would be a little freaked out when I first saw him but I found him to be so beautiful. He was the twin of Blake and the toes on his feet were pointing at each other. As he was prem, he was in an Isolete so it was a couple of days before I could hold him and really examine him.
His treatment started at 2 weeks of age with weekly leg casts being applied while the feet were slowly manipulated into a more normal position. They score the feet on severity and he was a 6 (the highest and most severe – maybe just the start of him being an overachiever!!). We had to soak of the casts at home the morning before each new set were applied. It took 2 hours the first time but by the time we had to soak off the last set (5 weeks later ) we had it down to 1 hour. At 7 weeks Brady had a procedure known as an Achilles Tonotomy, where they severe the Achilles completely and then put him in plaster for 3 straight weeks. By now I was a little sick of the stares when we took Brady out. Blake had taken to telling people it was rude to stare. Also the plaster was bulky and it meant Brady had not had a proper bath since he was a week old.
After all the plaster was over, he was fitted with a brace known as a Dennis Brown Brace and Bar. It’s 2 boots angled at 70 degrees fitted to a bar. The boots alone cost over $310.00 and they are in no way fashionable!! We have chosen to put Brady in the Mitchell boots with the Horton click bar as opposed to the boots and bar available in the public health system hear in Melbourne. Brady had to wear this 23 hours a day for 3 months and was finally able to move his legs when it came off for an hour.
Now, nearly 12 months later he wears the brace for 12 hours a day (at night) and is finally starting to develop after being confined for so long. He will continue to wear the brace at night until he is 4 and we are hoping that he won’t require any further surgery. He is the happiest baby and an absolute joy. It has been frustrating at times and I still haven’t found an affinity with the brace (it hates me and I hate it) but I hope that my writing this will alert people to what Talipes is and help anyone who is currently preganant with a baby with Talipes. They say it’s a 1 in 1000 but I pass at least 1000 a day and I have never seen another plastered baby or brace.