Going to talk about my son today, Twin A, the Omen. While in utero, he was crossed legged (what we old timers called Indian style before that became un-PC and is now called crisscross applesauce according to my kids). Anyway, he was cross legged, head up, sitting on my cervix. Instant c-section.
I went into pre term labor at 29 weeks and the doctors managed to hold it off for one more week. During that week, I had several Ultra-sounds. The doctors were very concerned because they could not see his feet.
Well, he had them earlier so they didn’t fall off. I wasn’t worried. They warned me they could not rule out clubbed feet or cleft palate(his forehead was always pressed to his brother’s *aww cute*).
I told my husband I was praying for clubbed feet. Cleft palates scared me. There are so many issues attached to the mouth that I was frightened. I got my prayer answered. Omen was born with bilateral clubbed feet. His tiny little feet(he only weighed 3 pounds) looked like backwards seal flippers.
Prematurity was a blessing for him. His bones were not very solid and he had no body fat. The orthopaedic specialist taped his legs into proper position at age 5 hours. Here he is at 6 weeks old.
5 HOURS OLD AND TAPED! He was taped for the entire two and half months he was in NICU. He and his twin came home and he began physical therapy the very next day. Every single diaper change, rotation and stretching exercise. He got fitted for tiny little AFOs.
AFOs? This is an AFO.
Only his weren’t that soft. He needs rigid support. So this is one of his from infancy. He wore them on both legs.
He wears them still, every day, 16 hours a day, except for Sunday. A day of rest for him. He gets to wear regular tennis shoes then, Spiderman or Batman. He loves that.
Every specialist warned me as a toddler, he would get frustrated when his twin learned to walk and then he would be motivated to try and do those same things.
Yeah right. This kid walked first. He was climbing in those plastic boots long before his twin decided to become bipedal. Omen didn’t know what it was to not have therapy daily. I taught him, per instruction, to walk UP the sliding board I put in their room to stretch those tendons. We had play therapy where we walked like ducks and penguins daily. He thinks to this day that standing with his toes on a broom stick and touching his heels to the floor earns him M&Ms. We brought a set of steps into our living room for two years to do daily therapy with him.
I worried, he worked and laughed all the way through it.
They do hurt. He has less feeling in them than normal. But he is very picky about how his socks fit. He cries often because his feet hurt, usually when he has over done it. But guess what, he is walking. One day he will walk across a stage and get a diploma. He will dance at his wedding. He will teach his child to take his first steps. Every daily effort is worth that to me.
Yesterday, I had to take him back for a re-adjustment. He looks forward to this. He looks at it like an adventure. He got to pick strap colors and picked blue this time. He can take them off and put them on faster than I can tie my shoes. He was so very proud the day he learned to stand on one foot. He amazes me.
People are cruel though. This summer, he wore shorts like any other little kid. Adults would stop and ask him what was wrong with his feet. He tells them nothing, the boots just help his feet grow. *sniff* Only once did he get mad and act out. He sat and cried and begged me to fix his feet to work like his brother’s. Heartbreak does not describe it.
How much this child has taught me. In the true sense of the word, he has a deformity. But he doesn’t know that. He knows he can climb and jump and run and make Mama mad by stomping through mud puddles. He worked every single day of his young life to do something you and I do without thought. Stand. Walk.
Don’t tell him he can’t do something because of his legs. He gets angry. At nearly 5, he is very very vocal and will tell you “My mama says I can do anything.” And boy does he. He kicks a ball, he pedals a bike, and you should see this kid climb a ladder. He is working on skipping and he will get it, I have no doubt.
When they are off, he toe walks and limps. His legs get tired easily then. But those are problems growth and gravity will fix. I gave him tools and he mastered them. And then expanded on them more than anyone thought he could. The braces are part of him but they are temporary. He will leave them behind just like he has baby food and bottles and diapers. He will reap the reward for his daily work, work he doesn’t even think about now.
How I wish I could be like my son with that kind of drive. As a writer, my tools are words and phrases and sightless pictures. Every day I strive to get better at using them. I still have my crutches, my braces, that I need at this point in my career. I will grow as a writer. I will leave those braces, those training wheels behind. And hopefully, if I am half as successful as my son has been, I will walk, head held high, into a book store and see my creation on a shelf one day.The pain and work will have been worth it.
Perseverance, embracing learning with joy and struggling through the pain. That is what my son taught me. Like he says, I CAN DO ANYTHING!