Our Doc Band Journey: Part Four & Final!

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Four & Final!

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First of all, how is my baby almost a year old?! Just thinking about it makes me want to burst into tears! I fear my emotional state on his actual birthday…;)

As of last week, Gavyn is officially done with his Doc Band! I knew twelve weeks would go by quickly, but I didn’t think it would go as quick as it did. We are happy to be done with the bi-weekly appointments and the daily cleaning of the Band, that’s for sure! Lucky guy even got to keep the mold of his head — I mean how many people can say they have a head mold from when they were a baby? Right?!

Our final appointment consisted of more picture-taking and final measurements, and Gavyn was not a fan! He was a lot more still the last time than he was this time around. I was glad when the pictures were officially done, and I think he was too!

I wanted to share the “official” before and after photos of Gavyn’s head. Gavyn was on the older side of getting a Doc Band, so his head is not “perfectly” shaped. He is still young and his head will continue to grow and mold, so while we achieved great improvement with the Band, there is still some remaining asymmetry. However, even given this, I would do the Band again in a heartbeat. I’m 100% positive that we made the right choice by giving it a try. His cranial vault went from 15 mm of asymmetry to 5 mm of asymmetry. His skull base went from 8 mm of asymmetry to 4 mm of asymmetry. And his orbitotragial depth asymmetry went from 6 mm of asymmetry to 3 mm of asymmetry. His overall length-width ratio greatly improved, as you will see in the picture, as he lost a great deal of “extra” height in his head.

So, with all that said, here are the pictures (left side is before; right side is after):

Gavyn Head #1

  • Gavyn didn’t have much facial asymmetry so the first set of pictures doesn’t show much other than how much more grown up he got in twelve weeks!
  • You can see more roundness on the back of his head in the second set of pictures, where he had started out with a general flatness on the whole back side.

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  • The first set of pictures here (showing his left profile), show that his head is rounder on that side than where it started out.
  • The second set (showing his right profile), show that he lost some height on his head (see how it was pretty “sloped” to begin with?) and again gained roundness.

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  • The first set here shows the biggest improvement to me. Look how the flat part (on his right side) really filled in and rounded out when looking at his head from this angle.
  • The second set shows how his forehead did bulge just a little bit on the right side of his face, and really went down after the Band was done.

I wanted to share this whole journey with you, because I know how common the Doc Band (and other similar Bands) are today, and I am hopeful that if any of you are going through a similar situation that you will find my posts encouraging! Going into this whole process, we were pretty unsure about what to expect and I found other people’s insights to be the most helpful.

I know that there are those of you who went in for a consult and chose not to do the Band, and since I believe that we all as parents are trying to make the right decisions for our kids, I am definitely not here to say that this is the only way to go. For us, the Doc Band made complete sense and was the right choice. I know that I will look back at this short time and be glad that we gave it a try!

If you have any questions about our experience, feel free to contact me!

In the meantime, I am enjoying snuggling my little almost-one-year-old without the Doc Band in the way! ūüôā

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Our Doc Band Journey: Part One

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Two

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Three

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Our Doc Band Journey: Part Three

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Three

FOUR weeks left!! Yay! This process has definitely gone faster than I was imagining it would, but I am still very happy that it will be over soon. Gavyn continues to be a champ about the whole thing, so that is wonderful, but I am ready to be done with the helmet-cleaning and the appointments! I will also be glad to snuggle him without the Doc Band getting in the way!

The Doc Band has¬†definitely really become a part of our daily life and I don’t even notice it anymore. When we go out and about, I actually forget that he even has it on until I notice a second glance from a curious passerby. It has really just become an extension of Gavyn.

Gavyn had his third followup appointment yesterday, which marked eight weeks since he first started wearing the Doc Band.¬†The physical therapist is pleased with the progress he has made, especially considering he is on the older side of babies to start this process with the Doc Band. We have one more followup appointment for a growth adjustment in two weeks, and then the Band will be off for good on St. Patrick’s Day. The final appointment will consist of lots of final pictures and wrap up items. I am hoping to get copies of the before and after pictures that were taken so that I can share them with you. I am confident that the difference will be huge.

In the meantime, I am going to share a couple¬†of the pictures I have taken (some are not very great quality, sorry!). I took¬†the pictures during bath time because Gavyn’s hair has really gotten long and it is harder to see the¬†difference in his head shape sometimes. The changes are really obvious to Bryan and I, and I think you will be able to see a difference, too. Again, I apologize that the pictures aren’t the best! It’s hard to get a good picture when Gavyn is busy trying to crawl around and drink the water in the tub. ūüėČ

December 29, 2014:

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You can see in this picture that the right side of his head is flatter and that overall there isn’t much roundness to the back of his head.

February 18, 2014:

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I know it might be hard for you to tell just from these pictures, but you can see that the height of his head has really decreased. He has more of a forehead, where before it was small, and the back of his head is really rounding out. The flatness on the right back side is really improved from where it was at the end of December. His head also came to a point in the back on the left side and that is gone. Besides the decrease in flatness, the decrease in the overall height of his head is really the most obvious change to us. I am still pretty in awe of this whole process, as the changes we are seeing are really pretty great!

I will have a final update for you when we are all done in March — the end is in sight!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Two

Our Doc Band Journey: Part One

 

 

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Two

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Two

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When we found out that Gavyn would need to wear his Doc Band for twelve weeks, I thought that sounded like such a long time. But, surprise! Like most things baby, time flies! He is already 1/3 of the way done — four weeks done! Woohoo!

Gavyn had his second appointment this past week, and the PT is really pleased with how his head shape is progressing. We were able to compare the mold made of his head (which was made from the helmet casting) to his current shape. There is definite progress and it has only been a month. Gavyn is on the older side, so we were expecting the progress to be even slower than it has been.

We will be going back in another two weeks for another check. We compare his head to his mold and to his photos that were taken at the beginning. The PT then does a growth adjustment to his helmet, which is basically just shaving off part of the inside to allow for more growth where we want the head to go. It is really pretty fascinating how this whole process works, and that there is something that can help shape Gavyn’s head like it is, without Gavyn even feeling a thing!

We decorated Gavyn’s helmet with Green Bay Packer sticker decals (although, I think Bryan had a hard time looking at Gavyn’s head after the game loss on Sunday…), and they help the Doc Band feel a little less medical and a little more fun. We purchased the decals from Bling Your Band. They were easy to apply and have stayed on really well so far.

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We are so appreciative of all of your comments and support regarding this process for us, and are happy to answer any questions if you have them! I will keep you posted on how he is doing, but so far, so good!

(Stay tuned this week for another easy DIY Valentine decoration tutorial!)

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Our Doc Band Journey: Part One

Our Doc Band Journey: Part One

Our Doc Band Journey: Part One

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This. Guy. When we found out that we were going to have a little boy last Christmas, my first thoughts were, “how am I going to know what to do with a boy?!” (I come from a family of three girls‚ÄĒso I feel I understand girls pretty well. Boys‚Ķ not so much‚Ķ) But from the day Gavyn was born, I was smitten. He’s a mama’s boy, which is nice since Madalyn is all about her daddy, and he already has me wrapped around his little finger. Gavyn is the most precious little boy around and the perfect addition to our family. God so knew what He was doing by placing him into our arms (when does He not, right?)!

We have been blessed with two beautiful, healthy children, and we really do not take that for granted. Both Madalyn and Gavyn have been “easy” babies and great sleepers, which we also do not take for granted. However, we recently found ourselves having to make some decisions about the shape of Gavyn’s head. I am sure that most of you either know a baby or have seen a baby that has had to wear a Doc Band, or some other cranial shaping band, as this has become a common issue arising from the¬†“back-to-sleep” push, amongst other things.

When Gavyn was two months old, our pediatrician noticed that one side of head seemed flatter than the other. We did whatever we possibly could to keep him off the back of his head for the next two months. We limited his time in his bouncy seat and even his car seat. However, Gavyn has been a good sleeper so the majority of his day he still spent sleeping, on his back in his crib, and therefore flat on his head. Because the one side of his head was more flat, his head automatically would just rest on that side more often. We could correct this during nap time by rotating his head, but we couldn’t stay up all night doing that. At his four month well check appointment, his pediatrician thought our efforts had paid off and his head looked more even, but when we went in for his six month appointment, she recommended that we get some measurements taken of his head, just to be sure.

At this point, I wasn’t really thinking too hard about any of this. Gavyn’s doctor didn’t really seem super concerned about it, and while we could visibly notice his head wasn’t perfectly round, it wasn’t as if it was severe. I knew his head was still growing, so I hoped that it would just continue to correct on its own, especially as Gavyn was now spending hardly any time on his back since he switched to sleeping on his stomach and also playing on his stomach most of the day.

When we went for his measurements, the therapist we met with said that Gavyn was definitely a candidate for the Doc Band. Gavyn had plagiocephaly (flatness on one side of the head) and also brachycephaly (overall flatness on the back of his head). He didn’t have any facial asymmetry because of the plagiocephaly and he also didn’t have any issues with torticollis, which is also a common concern. Bryan and I were still unsure at this point. We were skeptical that this was the only way to “fix” what was going on with his head. Again, we were still hopeful that it would correct on its own and because this is really purely a cosmetic issue, it seemed like a huge expense and effort to take on just to make his head more “pretty.” Gavyn would need to wear the helmet for 12 weeks, 23 hours a day (the one hour break per day is for cleaning the Band and washing Gavyn’s head and hair), and the cost was in the thousands, and an uncertainty about what and if insurance would cover any of that cost. We talked to some friends that we knew that had had babies go through the Doc Band process, we read articles, we talked to other doctors we knew (those both for and against the Doc Band) and we got a second opinion. Ultimately, we chose to proceed with the Doc Band.

I write this post, because yes, Gavyn is healthy and we are so thankful for that, but this was really a big decision for us. We chose to do the Band because we, as Gavyn’s parents, wanted to be sure that we tried as much as we could, for his sake. He is a boy, and I might have made a different decision if he was a girl, so his hair will likely be shorter and the shape of his head more visible. This is one of those situations in life where it is hard to make a decision when you don’t really know the outcome of your decision. Had we chosen not to have him wear the band, his head may have corrected on its own. I knew that I personally would be disappointed if it didn’t and if Gavyn was to ever ask me about it someday, I wanted to be able to tell him¬†that we had tried. Gavyn is also on the older side, being already 8 months old, and older babies’ heads no longer grow quite as fast. We wanted to give him the best chance we could.

Part of the reason this decision was harder for us to make besides the process and the cost, is that I was kind of nervous about what people would think when they saw Gavyn with the Band on. I don’t consider myself to be a vain person, but the Doc Bands are really not something that goes by unnoticed. And yes, we have gotten a few stares and a few strange looks when we have been out with Gavyn and he has had it on, but, instead of feeling sensitive or embarrassed about it, it has really just made me want to squeeze Gavyn closer. On a positive note, we¬†have even had some people come up to us and tell us about how their child or grandchild had to wear the Band, which is nice affirmation!

Gavyn has been a champ about the Band which is not a surprise as he’s pretty easy going, overall. ¬†The worst part of the whole process thus far was definitely the casting process. You can actually skip the casting and do digital images of the head, however this was even more expensive and an hours drive away for us, so we chose to go with the casting. Gavyn only cried for about a minute (if that!) through that whole 15 minute process. (Just don’t ask how close I was to crying through it, though. :)) We had a couple of nights that were rough with sleep as he adjusted, but he is back to sleeping through the night and napping normally. We make sure to keep him in cooler pajamas so he doesn’t get too warm, and he seems to be doing just fine. I think the adjustment was harder for us than it was for him! When Maddy first saw him in his helmet, she said “Buddy’s a football player!” and she still says that several times throughout the day. ūüėČ

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We had Gavyn’s first followup appointment yesterday, which already marks two weeks since he has been wearing the Band, and when we looked at his pictures compared to his head now¬†we can already see a distinctive difference! It was really encouraging to see progress already being made¬†and helps confirm that I think we made the right choice by giving this a try.

As I was reading about Doc Bands on the internet, I found a couple of blog posts that were really encouraging, and so I hope that this might encourage someone else, too. As common as these cranial shaping bands are, I know that they are still so foreign to a lot of people, so hopefully this helps to explain some of it. I also felt some guilt about this whole thing, wondering if there was something I could have done differently to prevent it, but I know that that thinking is not where God wants my mind to be going. I do believe we did what we could, outside of putting him to sleep on his stomach, and while there are going to be strong opinions both ways, I am really at peace with our decision. (P.S. I’m sure all you mamas already know this, but it is SO hard to make decisions for your children when they can’t make them on their own!)

I will be sure to post again in a while and let you know how he is doing! We are also planning to decorate his Band up a bit to make it a little more fun, so I will have some pictures to share about that, too. For now, I just want to share this verse that my heart really held to as we were praying about making the right choice for Gavyn:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and holiday time with family and friends — I know we did!

xo,

Abby

 

Looking for more?

Our Doc Band Journey: Part Two