Club Feet

Pregnancy and birth can have unexpected outcomes. The way we embrace these challenges both as individuals and as a family forever pave the roads we must travel. Love, laughter, knowledge and compassion can bring out the positives in even the hardest of circumstances. 

"My boys were each born on a Wednesday, they both weighed 8.5 lbs. They were a quarter of an inch difference in height, were born peacefully at home and have made me smile every day since. 

My youngest son was born with bilateral clubfeet. 

His condition was diagnosed at my 20 week anatomy scan, an appointment my partner and I went into, excited to see our growing baby and to find out what his gender was, blissfully unaware of the challenges that lied ahead. I laid on the bed round belly exposed straining to see any snippets of our baby I could on the tilted screen. At first all seemed well sweet smiles from the tech and questions about my pregnancy. His demeanour shifted as I was questioned about my care provider, previous issues in subsequent pregnancies, choice of delivery etc. I found these questions odd but in my innocent state assumed they were routine. My partner and I were shown a quick peek at the screen of our baby and told to wait in the waiting room for our report. Excitedly we sat and waited; laughing that we both thought we saw a snippet of what would soon reveal another son. My partner beaming told me about how the baby looked like it was crossing its legs and even in its underdeveloped state looked like our older son. Finally, my name was called and we raced over to accept the report and reveal who was growing inside of me. We tucked ourselves into a private corner and scanned the paper…”most likely male”  just as we had thought. Another beautiful boy, a brother for our son we laughed, hugged and then continued to read the report …“top extremities: normal, bottom extremities: abnormal”. I could feel my heart sink. We quickly looked to the bottom of the paper where it read “suspected bilateral clubfeet, partial placental previa and echogenic focus”. It felt like bombs going off one after another. I knew these words I knew what they meant but never would I have guessed they would be used to describe my child or my body. My partner quickly began googling information, knowledge being a source of comfort. He googled professional athletes with clubfeet revealing Kristy Yamaguchi and Troy Aikman among others. They overcame and were not limited to this birth defect so neither would our son. Our minds and emotions were racing trying to understand what we were up against. My midwife called me shortly after we left the hospital. They had contacted her with our results and she was calling to inform and support us, we needed both. She ensured me my placenta would likely move up as my uterus grew, which it did and that the echogenic focus was common and usually nothing to worry about, right again. It was in the next phase of our conversation that I started the process of becoming my sons greatest expert and advocate. Clubfeet is the most common birth defect effecting 1 in every 1000 births. Its more common in boys and is quite simply “something that happens”. It is a condition that can be fixed if treated properly through casting, minor surgery and longterm brace wearing resulting in a 95% success rate.  The next steps were to meet with genetic counsellors, have an in-depth ultrasound dedicated to his feet and to start our ongoing wonderful relationship with the orthopaedic clinic at Sick Kids Hospital. Feelings of fear with each appointment, each conversation, and each warm embrace were slowly changing to feelings of empowerment. We could do this. 

My son was born on May 15 at 8:31pm after a beautiful labour. He had a head full of black hair and the most glorious chubby rolls. He entered this world with my husband, mum and older son beside me. My son was born with bilateral clubfeet, the sweetest chubbiest feet. We all looked at varying times to confirm in our hearts what we knew was true but no one talked about it. We laughed at how much hair he had, we marvelled at how fast my labour was, we took friendly bets on how much he weighed and soaked in every second of newborness he possessed. We were a family of four who had two gorgeous healthy sons. We knew what was to come but it wasn't now, this time was dedicated to falling further in love."

- Jo Arnott