Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Helmet

Ha ha...funny photoshop edit a friend did.  
I figure I should document this annoying part of the last few months: Andy's helmet.  At Andy's 2 month well child visit, the doctor pointed out that his head was starting to get lopsided; she recommended trying to help him to sleep on the right side instead of the left to help.  We tried...he was a stubborn little guy though.  Our new doctor in Texas didn't say anything about it at his 4 month visit, so I figured it was fine. (This whole time I was the one saying, "It's fine...he'll grow out of it, it's not that bad," etc.  Cam was the one wondering if we needed to get a helmet.)  At the 6 month visit, Cam brought it up and our doctor said we could get a consultation if we were worried about it.  I still was skeptical and didn't think it was severe enough to warrant a helmet.  We had consultations at the two companies here in Austin that do the helmets--Cranial Tech. and Hanger. Both companies recommended Andy get a helmet; his case was actually pretty bad.  The official name for the condition is Plagiocephaly.  It can also create some facial asymmetry.  (Andy's wasn't super noticeable, but one his ears was a little higher than the other, one eye was a little bigger...)  At this point I realized this was something we actually needed to do.  It doesn't affect brain development or anything serious like that--it's just cosmetic.  Cranial Teach was much more expensive, so we ended up going with Hanger.  He finally got the helmet about Feb. 8, with the projection of having to wear it 3-4 months.

  • Does it bug Andy?  It definitely did that first week we were getting used to it.  Especially the loud sound of the velcro.  Now it doesn't seem to bug him.  However, when we take it off he itches his head like crazy. And when we go to put it back on, he starts itching again. :(  
  • How much does he have to wear it?  23 hours a day.  We take it off for an hour before bed for bath-time, etc.  
  • How long does he have to wear it?  Intially, it was projected he'd need it 3-4 months.  It depends on how quickly they grow.  The helmet redirects the head growth.  He started out at 12 mm of asymmetry and is now down to a 5.  Our clinician, Hayley, says it's looking like another month until he's at a 2 or 3, which is when he won't have to wear it anymore.  Just in time for the Texas heat, thankfully.  Fingers crossed!  
  • Do we have to clean it?  Yes, every day we spray it with rubbing alcohol and wipe it down.  Pretty easy.  About once a week we clean it with soap, water, and baking soda to help with the odor. We also put baby powder in it every night to help absorb some of the sweat.  
  • How often are his appointments? Every week we drive to Dell Children's Hospital in downtown Austin for a quick appointment.  She checks growth and shaves out more room in his helmet, if need be.  
  • What made his head get flat?  He had a couple things working against him.  He has a giant head and was super small when he was little, so it was hard for him to maneuver it around.  Plagiocephaly is much more common now that it's recommended babies sleep on their backs and not their stomachs.  
  • How much did it cost? We were *lucky* enough for our insurance to not cover it. (A lot of companies do...curse you United Healthcare.) So, we paid for it all out of pocket--$2265, all upfront.  Soooo much money!  We try to not think about it.
  • Do people comment on it in public?  Yes.  It doesn't bug us, but some of the comments are funny.  One man ran up to us in Walmart and dramatically asked, "What happened?!"  Oftentimes, people think it's to protect him from falling.  Most people are really nice and just say, "Can I ask why he has to wear that?"  Being the big football state Texas is, we also get a lot of comments about starting him off young as a football player. :)  
  • What do we like about it?  Nothing.  :)  Except for the fact that his head is looking so much better.  And it does provide some extra padding for the tumbles and falls that happen all the time these days.  And it does match his eyes--super cute.  
  • What do we hate about it?  Everything. :)  The cost, the way it looks, not being able to see his sweet head, not being able to kiss his chubby cheeks, nursing and feeling a big plastic thing instead of his sweet head, the smell (which is HORRIBLE), driving to his appointments, having to take the helmet off to dress him....I could go on but I'll stop there.  
Here's the before pictures.  I think it's pretty obvious why he needed one! 
Left vs. Right
You can really see it here.

We are really glad we did it, but we're sure excited for the helmet to be gone.  We plan on having a big party to celebrate its departure from our lives!


  1. I still think he is the cutest! His smile is as big as ever, even with the helmet! I can't wait for it to come off, fingers crossed for only a few more weeks, he is so close!!

  2. Oh, Steph! What a pain this has been. What a blessing, though, that technology like this exists. It looks like the end is in sight! Hang in there!