by: Trent Heiner
After years of trying for another child with multiple miscarriages, Aleena was our third child to join our growing family of four. We were so excited the day we brought her home from the hospital to awaiting older brother and sister. Each day that passed, our love for our perfect healthy daughter deepened. By twelve months old she had become the center of everything in our home. As she grew older into her toddler years, like all parents we celebrated her first smile, first laugh, and first step. As her new skills developed, her mother began to notice peculiar habits begin to form in the daily routines of our daughter. Never learning to really crawl, she moved about the house by standing on her feet and walking with the help of her hands placed on the floor, forming the shape of an A with the bend in the torso of her tiny frame. At fifteen months, she still struggled to walk like other children. Her walk was accentuated by a gaited motion of her hips similar to the waddle of a duck. Repeated attempts to learn to run always ended with a loss of her balance, followed by a crash to the floor. Multiple visits to doctors, where we as concerned parents were always reassured the symptoms would fade as our daughter aged. Finally, at two years of age with the same symptoms of gaited walking, unable to run without falling, and unwillingness to climb stairs, my wife insisted we see a specialist. In the office of a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, we received the devastating news of a child with misformed hips. Struggling to accept and cope with this new revelation, I now faced the daunting task of discovering everything I could for the treatment for my daughter in hopes of curing her of hip dysplasia. A ten minute interview with this surgeon had changed the course of our lives as we now struggled to accept and understand why our future was to be consumed by surgeries and body casts for our two year old daughter. Often reassured by families and friends, we found little comfort in their words of council of a treatable defect. The truth buried deep in our hearts, concealed the pain of facing an uncertain future for our tiny innocent toddler.
Shortly before being diagnosed with misformed hips, we received the news of another child to join our family in the following months. Our daughter's second surgery was a blurr. In the weeks before her surgery, our third daughter was born by c-section. My wife, determined to be by our daughter's side, found herself recovering from her c-section, caring for a new born child and comforting our toddler as she laid in her hospital bed. At six weeks old, we had our new daughter, Alexa, checked for hip dysplasia by our daughter's surgeon. Confident of good news due to multiple checks by her pediatrician and nurses, we had an ultra sound performed at the request of our surgeon. With a saddened face, our daughter's surgeon broke the news of a second daughter born with abnormal hips. Immediately our infant daughter was placed in a harness which she worn for ten weeks. This time, early detection has given as a bright future of perfect hips without the surgeries and casts.
Four surgeries, coupled with eight months spent in five different body casts, we now find ourselves veteran members of the growing hip dysplasia family. Each day, our group acquires new families from all over the world, seeking answers to their concerns of what hope is there for their child. These new parents battle with emotions and fear as they grapple the simple question, why? Across the world, we reach out to each other for support, answers and comfort as we share our personal stories of our children's battle to overcome this defect. Each of us find strength to proceed as we follow our children's lead. Our children demonstrate courage as they knowing await their next surgery, next xray, or cast. They celebrate out loud when they learn to walk, yet again. Over and over we set in doctor's offices waiting for the results of the next picture of their bones to provide a bases to determine our next steps. Each time we hand over our motionless daughter, our hearts break as our eyes fill with tears as we spend the next hours pacing the halls of the hospital wards waiting for good news as another surgery is completed. Yes, DDH is treatable; however we strive to educate parents and support organizations who seek to raise awareness of new and better methods to detect and prevent this defect. Join us in building a better future for all our children.
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