Monday, February 4, 2013

The One with Carter's Helmet

Ugh! I had been dreading Carter getting his helmet since the day we went to the plastic surgeon and got the crappy news. However, I was happy to know that he wouldn't need surgery on his little head like some babies do. The plastic surgeon told me that it's common for babies who had a long NICU stay to need a helmet because they aren't able to be held as much. It helps to know that we probably couldn't have prevented this from happening. It's also nice to know how common it is for babies to need helmets! That Thursday in January we saw the plastic surgeon there had already been 20 babies in that week for their helmet consultations. Wow!

The next day, Carter had his head measured for his helmet. He had 12 different measurements done, then the next week he went in to get the plaster molding done. Poor Carter was miserable! The process started with him getting a tight ski mask looking thing put over his head, with a large hole cut out for his little face to come through. Those cheeks of his never looked so squishy and chubby. That was probably the only fun thing about this visit! The rest of the time was spent putting plaster strips over his entire head to form the shape of the helmet. After the strips came on, it was only supposed to take about 2 minutes for it to set up. After more than 5 minutes later when the top wasn't setting, the orthotic fitter, Sean, decided we needed to do it again. Carter got to sit through two plaster strip settings. It was horrible listening to him cry and watch him go through that. I felt so bad. Finally the plaster set and we were able to take the molding off his head.

 This is a before shot of Carter's head. It's pretty flat on this back side, as well as a little misshapen through the back. He liked to sleep on that side of his head, causing extra flatness as well as that side of his head pretty much being pushed farther forward. If you look closely at Carter's head, you can see that his right ear is further forward than his left ear. This also makes the right side of his forehead a little farther out than his left side. (My apologies for the lovely pink hue through this picture!)

 On Friday, February 1st, I took Brycen to my friend Erin's house then took Carter to get his helmet. We chose a light blue strap for him and got all the instructions on how to care for the helmet and what to watch for over the next week. When the helmet was first placed on Carter's head, he started to cry. I think he was more afraid of what was going on than bugged by the helmet. Sean had to keep taking the helmet back to make adjustments and cuts so it fit Carter's head just right. Carter screamed and cried the entire visit. This cry was definitely a scared cry, which I had never heard till his appointment. Poor thing. He fell asleep as soon as we got in the car and took a little nap. He was pretty chipper when he woke up!

The helmet sits flat against his head on the front right side and the back left side. There is space between his head and the helmet on the back right side and the front left side so his head can round out nicely. Where his head is touching the helmet on those first two parts, as it grows it will be forced to grow into the places where there is space. We'll come in every three weeks to get the helmet adjusted as his little head grows.

Later on in the day he was completely exhausted. I went to put him down for a nap and he really struggled. He looked SO tired though and started crying harder than I'd ever heard him cry. Sean told me to take the helmet off for his nap on the first day if he cries and won't go to sleep. I was relieved that was an option! Off the helmet went and he took a nice long nap.

I wish I could say he's done well with the helmet! He slept pretty well on Friday night, only waking up twice. The next day was his first full day with the helmet and kind of a disaster. He cried a lot, struggled taking naps, and just looked miserable. We kept up with keeping the hat on though and eventually he settled down. That night Carter was really struggling to sleep. He cried and cried. Tyson and I both tried to soothe him but nothing was working. We decided that Carter needed a father's blessing. After the blessing, I put him back in his crib and he went right to sleep. Just another amazing experience that shows us the reality of the power of the priesthood. Carter woke up multiple times that night, but we expected it after such a crazy day.

He was so tired the next morning! Poor kid. I decided to put him on our bed for a nap, so he slept there while I got ready for church. 

We noticed on Saturday that the part of the helmet in front of his left ear tends to rub against it. I put a cotton round between his ear and the helmet so it at least wouldn't rub him during his nap. We'll be going in next week to get that part adjusted. Until then, we have to watch him so the helmet doesn't hurt his little ear.

Today has been a much better day!

He took a two-hour morning nap and he's currently on his third nap of the day. He's sleeping so much better with it and doesn't seem to mind it as much. He gets an hour break from the helmet every day, where we wash it and his head.

We're excited to be getting his cute little misshapen head fixed! I'm so grateful that he seems to be doing better with his helmet.