Emery’s Helmet Journey-Part 1

Wednesday, March 29th, Emery got her helmet and our journey with it officially began. This process has been hard on me at times but I KNOW that this is what is best for our girl and as her parents, we will always do what’s best! So I wanted to share our story in hopes that it might reach someone else that might need it. Someone whose child might need a helmet and they are struggling with that. Or even for people who, like me, were just uneducated on baby helmets. Now, I’m not saying that I know everything and there are definitely more reasons out there for needing helmets. I’m just here to share our story, nothing more and nothing less. So I’ll start at the beginning…

Leading up to finding out that Emery needed a helmet:

Around 2 months old Brad and I noticed that Emery was mostly only looking one direction and when lifting her head up, it would only tilt one way. We were both concerned but didn’t bring anything up to a doctor just yet. We simply started softly turning her head the direction she wouldn’t turn it on her own and we would place toys on the side she didn’t like to look. After just a couple of days of doing these things, she improved a ton and to be honest it hasn’t been an issue since! Now that I’m on this side of things and have done some more research I have learned that the issue I just described is known as torticollis. This basically just means that her neck muscles were really tight and it was causing her to only look one way. So the stretching we did really helped! To help give you a visual, imagine when you wake up and realize you slept on your neck wrong. It’s hard to turn it one direction because your muscles are so tight. That’s what was happening with her.

I believe that she had this longer than I realized which resulted in her flat spot on the back right side of her head. She favored that side of her head which meant that she laid on it more than the other side. Also, Emery is such a happy and content baby who loves her personal space and is a pretty great sleeper. These things caused her to be on her back which just added pressure to the spot that she favored.

Brad will tell you he noticed her flat head around 2 months old. If I’m being honest, I will tell you the same thing. But I will also tell you that I was in denial about how flat her head actually was. I just didn’t want to think that it was flat, so I just ignored it. Well around her 4 month well check visit I noticed a spot in the back of her head that seemed a little indented. I mentioned it to her pediatrician and she said she wasn’t overly concerned but wanted to refer us to a plastic surgeon at Children’s Mercy Hospital just to be on the safe side. They are the doctors that deal with head shape and they would be able to tell us if this was something to be concerned about. This instantly made me anxious but CMH got us in quickly and I was hopeful!

The appointment that told us she would need the helmet:

Seeing the plastic surgeon went quickly. He came in and asked us what was up and I told him that I was concerned about the indentation in her head. He looked at me and said that was just a soft spot and nothing to worry about. The only reason we could see it though was cause her head was so flat and that she’d need a helmet. He said he would send in the Orthotist and she’d talk to us about the helmet and get Emery fitted for it. I was in shock as they moved us to another room. I just wasn’t prepared for this news.

Shannon, the Orthotist, came in to talk with us. She was SO kind!! She explained what a helmet was and how it helps. She had one to show us so that we could feel it and look it over. Then she explained that she was going to take some measurements to see how Emery’s head was shaped and if she’d need a helmet. I immediately became hopeful that her measurements wouldn’t be severe and we could opt out of doing the helmet. That was definitely not the case as 2 out of 3 of the measurements they take were severe.

The first measurement they took was from her ear to her eye. They should be the same distance on both sides. Her right side was slightly smaller than her left side but that measurement was just mild. The second measurement was from side to side vs front to back. The measurement from front to back should be longer than the side to side measurement. Her head measured longer from side to side than front to back, so the opposite of what it needs to be. The third measurement was the diagonals of her head. So front right to back left vs. front left to back right. These measurements should be as close to the same as possible and her measurement was 12mm apart.

Shannon left the office to take care of some insurance stuff and I lost it. I just knew that this was all my fault! I was the worst mom. I didn’t hold my baby enough and it caused her head to become severely flat. I was devastated and just started sobbing to Brad telling him what an awful mom I was.

Well I’m pretty sure Shannon saw me about to lose it before she left the office cause next thing we know the plastic surgeon had come back into the room. He apologized for the shock of all of this and talked me down. I told him that this was all my fault and he quickly and confidently reassured me that it was most definitely not my fault. Now I’ll be honest, that felt so great to hear but took a long time to actually sink in. I think as moms we’re all doomed to feel like it’s our fault if anything is wrong with our children. He assured me that this was purely cosmetic and if we didn’t want to get the helmet we most definitely didn’t have to! That was so great to hear but I already knew what we needed to do. It wasn’t fair to not get her the helmet which was in her best interest just because of my own insecurities and what people would say and think.

So we left the office that day knowing that no matter what insurance said about covering it, we were going to get Emery the helmet and do what was best for her long term. We had things that we needed to do to see if they helped at all–switching the side we changed her diaper and clothes on, switching her in her bed so she’d look to her left instead of her right and we switched her and Sadie in the car. All of these changes made her look to her left more than to her right since that was the side she favored and was flatter. We also had an appointment set up 2 weeks from then to measure her head again and scan it to get the helmet ready. We would also find out if insurance was going to cover the cost of the helmet. We were hopeful they would since her measurements were severe. So Brad went back to work and I headed home to start processing everything.

Details on her next appointment/scan and week 1 to come…