February 15, 2012

Need your advice!

We took Brex to get his head examined on Tuesday morning. No, really!

When he was a month old, I noticed a big flat spot on the back of his head. I asked the pediatrician about it at his 2-month appointment. It's a common problem now with baby's being placed to sleep on their backs so she told us some ways to counteract it: reposition him at night using towels to help him get off the flat spot as well as hold him in our right arms and get him to turn his head the other way. She didn't think his neck was overly tight (another reason for a crooked flat spot). I'd have been more ok with it if the whole back of his head was flat, but it was more pronounced on the right side. I really didn't want him to have a crooked head for the rest of his life.

At his 4-month appointment, after religiously torturing the kid for two months, he still had a bit of a cone head and a flat spot in the back right. She referred us to Cran1al T3chnolog1es to see if he needed to get a helmet. Tuesday was his examination.

They just called back to say that he does fit the insurance's criteria for a medically necessary helmet (his head is 7 mm crooked and flattened in back at 3.7 on a scale where 0-2 is normal). The company is out of network, but BCBS will cover up to 60% of the cost after a hefty deductible.

My dilemma is this: am I being silly? I've put his pictures below. Note how hunched his shoulder is in the top two pictures. That's not from how we were holding him, it's how he holds himself. We have a bunch of stretching exercises to do with him to get that to stretch out. The flat spot is on the lower part of his head, so it doesn't really show in the bottom photo.

Here's the don't bother list:
  1. First world problem. It's a privileged question: should I correct what are relatively minor imperfections?
  2. It's not that bad so maybe I'm making a tempest in a teapot.
  3. We have to drive to north Dallas once a week to get the helmet fitted. Through downtown Dallas during rush hour. UGH.
  4. Am I buying into some baby industrial complex by getting him a helmet? I don't think he's disfigured or that most people would notice anything wrong with him. The repositioning has definitely helped compared to what it looked like two months ago. I think we've taken it as far as we can though.
  5. Am I just buying into a trend? Is it a slippery slope that will end up with me buying him acid washed jeans for $500?

On the pro helmet side:

  1. I prayed that if we shouldn't do it, the insurance answer would be no.
  2. The back of his skull is somewhat compressed. His ear isn't in the middle of his head.
  3. Compression of the skull can narrow the sinus cavities and cause snoring and sleep apnea (I asked her if she knew whether Asians are more prone to both things given the culture of putting babies on their backs in swaddling for thousands of years. She didn't know. Seems like a good control group to me...)
  4. The ears are slightly crooked, ditto his eyes. Again, within the realm of 'acceptability'.
  5. If we get the helmet started before his fifth month, he only has to wear it for 6-8 weeks. If we wait until he's 6 months and up, he has to wear it for 18 weeks or so. So now is the time to decide, especially if the answer is 'yes'.
  6. If he's going to earn millions as an actor, he'll be very grateful we did this for him.

So, I need opinions. To helmet or not to helmet, what say you?


Rachel said...

If I were you, I would get the helmet. This is something he'll live with for life, and you can fix it, so why not?

kristib said...

I agree that it's best to take care of it, so it won't be a problem later (how would sports helmets fit in ten years?? would they be as protective?). Especially re: the snoring & sinus thing - I have sinus issues & my SO snores, very badly. For the sake of his future partner! :)

NGS said...

He's so cute! (I have no idea what you should do, but babies in helmets seem to be the thing in our town right now, so it can't be too unusual, right? Or maybe I just notice those babies because the helmets are super adorable...)

Aimee said...

He's a doll! SO cute!

I agree. If you can correct it, then do. It's easier to correct things when they're younger.

I apologize for my hypersensitivity to this, but you know our history, so that said: If the shoulder thing doesn't improve in the next month or two, perhaps ask to have it checked into further. I'm not sure which specialist would be best. My guesses are physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, or maybe even occupational therapist.

Mizasiwa said...

If it would help you at all I would love to send you photos of my sons head at 37 cm streached after a failed suction and then forceps birth - he looked exactly like the coney ppl int that movie...he could not put his head back for month and he had a very prominent vain over his nose which the doctors all told me was normal...if you look at his head now you would NEVER say he was born with such a hugely 'deformed' head....ill be honest Iv never heard of babies in helmets for any reason (and would have thought our experience would have warrented it) i dont see anything wrong with his head our daughter was born c section and her head looked like his (flatish at the back?) but her head is fine as well. Not sure what you should do here but I dont know if its just one of those trends. His hair will grow and if he has super cool straight black hair he can grow it into one of thos quafs - if thats popular by the time he is a teen ;-) good luck - oh and let me know if you would like to see pics of angel boys head (mizasiwa@gmail.com

Mizasiwa said...

oh yes and keep doing the exercises. I have a friend who's child had issues like that and they did excercises. they also went to a physical therapist and she adjusted whatever excercises they were doing week on week. Her son could not hold his head up at all and the excercises helped strenghthen his neck shoulder and back muscles. so that is very important as he may need that streaghthening for rolling/crawling and later writting and sitting in a chair without figeting. If i had understood the importance of crawing for the latter two I would have made sure angel boy did this but he didnt.... he is now 6 and his OT has him crawling as much as he can to help - every bit counts I suppose but I dont know if I could have put him in a helmet if there was no indication of any issue other than perhaps not 'looking' perfect. (dont mean that in a mean way but im sure you understand what im saying?)I dont really know or understand what an OT could do at this point (we only went with AB when he was 5 thats why I suggest a physical therapist but you might call it something else there)

Anonymous said...

as someone with sleep apnea, but no children...I would do it. A helmet as a baby is a lot more attractive than a mask every night to go to bed as a 47 year old :-)

And what if he goes bald or just decides to shave his head when he is older.

I had casts on my legs with a bar between them to correct turned in feet as a baby - I'm glad my mom did that and I have no memory of it :)


sam said...

I'm no parent but think you should do it. He'll look stupid wearing a helmet but he's a baby and it doesn't matter now - the other babies won't make fun. Plus it's less than two months! He'll never have to think about it for the rest of his life.

Inkling said...

I'd go for it. It doesn't sound too torturous or invasive, and if it can help, why not? Besides, you are just getting him totally accustomed to wearing a climbing helmet in a few years. =)

I wish I had good advice or personal experience that could give you a definitive answer. I don't, so I'll just say go with your gut.

Monterey Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monterey Jack said...

Mizasiwa has the inexpensive perspective. Brex' cranium will probably self-adjust, and if it doesn't, he can wear his hair long.

Having said that, I recommend you get the helmet. Twenty years ago, when we had scarce funds, we paid for the dental surgeon to break OTRsis' jaw and move it out half an inch. The result: She became the supermodel that she is today.

Reality: In American society, we owe it to our children especially to bring them as close as possible to physical perfection. Of significance -- but of lesser urgency -- social, cultural, and educational achievements. And then there's the matter that isn't even on most parents' radar screens -- spiritual development.