Baby Blueberry

You can see why we lovingly call the baby “The Blueberry” these days.

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Every so often she tries to adopt a disguise, but only with limited success.

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Overall, though, she doesn’t seem to mind her helmet anymore and it is rapidly correcting her skull unevenness and facial distortions. All with no negative effect on her cuteness, obviously:

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4 thoughts on “Baby Blueberry

  1. so i don’t often see the back of her head in pics, but she also had facial distortions? would you mind explaining how the helmet works?

    she’s cute as a bug in the rug in every pic i’ve seen, i never noticed anything not in the proper place 😉

    • Haha, yes. Cuteness intact. On the back of her head her skull was flattened into a line from a little past midline up to her right ear, vs. having normal round shape or even just normal flattening across the back. In the NICU her head always faced the same direction in her crib – wall on her left, so she had to turn her head to the right to see the action. Early habits formed, and at that point her skull was already flattening on an angle. Off-kilter muscle development, plus a now off-kilter head made it harder for her to then turn her head straight upright, and very hard (took months of stretching and therapy) for her to turn her head all the way to the left so she was even more inclined to keep her head turned to the right even once she got home. Sort of a problem that compounds itself. On the facial distortions side, because she was always laying on the right side, as her skull rapidly grew that side of her face pushed forward rather than her skull pushing backwards on the right. Her face was also getting wider and wider as her skull grew side to side instead of going backwards. It wasn’t something I noticed on my own either (I was a bit lost in “gee, aren’t you cute” adoration, plus she had other skull/ear/face squishing left over from her CPAP headgear in the hospital) but all the experts like her pediatrician/therapist/the orthotists/the neurosurgeons could see it right away because they’re trained to look for it. Measurements confirmed it. The right side of her face and her right ear had moved about a centimeter further forward compared to the other side, which doesn’t sound like much, but a) for a baby, proportionately, is a lot, and b) would only get worse if we didn’t stop and correct it from continuing. It’s much more noticeable once the baby grows into an adult with a non-baby chub covered face, or when they’re trying to get fitted for glasses or that kind of thing.

      The helmet is a hard plastic shell on the outside, but firm foam on the inside. It works by gently but firmly allowing no room for growth in areas you want to hold steady (e.g., head width, or the back left side of her skull in her case) while leaving room for the skull to expand in areas where you want it to round out (e.g., back right side of her skull, or allowing one side of her forehead to catch up with the other). It also keeps her from applying pressure to that already flattened side as she sleeps so that it can grow out. Every few weeks she goes back to the orthotics folks for updated measurements, and they shave the helmet down a bit more in areas where she needs new room to grow. Babies skulls are so flexible (if their skull sutures are still open, which hers are) and growing so rapidly that they’ll happily go wherever you let them as they’re exploding in size. It’s important to catch them at the right age – you don’t want to apply a helmet too early in case a kid’s head is going to self-correct (most do), but too late and it will be hard for it to work because the suture lines in the skull will have closed. Some kids self-correct much later (even three or five year olds), but many also don’t and there’s no way to predict so it made sense to fix it while we knew it would work – especially since she’s likely to spend a life wearing close to the head styles like cornrows and twists that show her head shape vs. having loose hair that can cover up differences, and because she’s likely to need glasses from being a preemie.

      • thank you so much for explaining. the neck/muscle development thing in conjunction with all the lay-flat stuff definitely makes sense. how long does she have to wear it for?

      • About three months, so hopefully it should be off before the helmet becomes uncomfortable from hot summer weather.

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