Tomorrow is Cast OFF Day!!!
In preparing for Ellie's Spica Season, I researched lots of websites & mommy blogs. I think I have about 4-5 saved on the homepage of my phone for quick reference. Many of them have been invaluable to me during this season. (& I look forward to cleaning up my phone tomorrow!)
However, while I was researching different issues, I noticed that it seemed uncommon for a baby of Ellie's age to be in a spica.... or at least the moms of babies her age weren't blogging about their experiences. I noticed many of the sites referred to or showed pictures of older children in spicas. Therefore, there were some issues that I really had to figure out for our unique situation. I thought I should do my own post regarding our survival tips just in case another mom is researching right now.
Most of the websites I found were related to either a child being in a spica due to a bad fall & broken leg or a child in a spica due to hip dysplasia. Ellie's dislocated hip is due to her diagnosis of AMC. Because of the AMC, her spica cast is a bit unusual & therefore unlike much of what I read. For instance, there are spica tables and spica chairs available online. I looked into buying one of these or having one made prior to spica season. I'm so glad I didn't preorder one as she would not have fit. Her spica doesn't have a bend in it like a typical spica. Also, because her doctor operated on her feet at the same time as the hip, her spica extended down to her toes on both legs. A table would have been great but I would recommend not ordering one until you know if your child can fit in one.
My Spica Survival Necessities:
Ergo Baby Carrier
Ellie doesn't fit in a Baby Bjorn while in a spica. She doesn't fit great in the Ergo right now but at least it is something to enable me to carry her hands free. This is essential for grocery stores and airports as she doesn't fit in a stroller.
a wagon for longer walks
(stuff a boppy under baby's head & some pillows or burp cloths or towels under the feet for support)
(* a friend did recently loan me her bug a boo stroller. This did fit Ellie for short walks if she was on her side (& surrounded with pillows for support.)
A friend found this spica outfit - (www.EllieBearSpicaWear.com) and I love it! Cute, soft, long sleeved (good for night time when her fan is on so high because she gets so sweaty on her back from the cast but her arms get cold) plus it can snap around her diaper area. Comes in several colors.
(Thanks, Susan R!)
a favorite toy for distraction during cast care
Ellie loves her glowbaby
(It creeps me out but I love that she loves it)
Burpcloths (or towels) - for support under her feet
I like burpcloths because I can easily adjust how many we need.
With a spica on, Ellie can't lay flat. So, diaper changes & cast care & even playtime on her back can be rather uncomfortable. I am constantly carrying a boppy all over the place. (A friend in West TX gave me her old one so actually having two has been great.) This little headrest stayed on her changing table - which is good since a boppy won't fit up there.
Essential diaper supplies:
waterproof tape (available at pharmacy), flashlight (I do daily flashlight checks down her cast to check her skin & it is also very important when she has had diarrhea disasters as it helps me check to see how much I still need to clean & where to clean), diaper cream (do I need to explain? She got her first bad rash this week & I hated not being able to treat it very well. I just reached down her cast & smeared as much as I could of this stuff on her skin. Can't wait to get some fresh air on her tomorrow!), spatula/soft spreader thing (wrap a wipe around it & it lets you go further down the cast or legs of the cast to clean poop), scissors - use for everything (cutting Poise pads, cutting pantiliners, cutting diapers, cutting tape, cutting moleskin)
Duck Tape! It's waterproof & way more fun than the pharmacy styles. (I use plain pharmacy kind for taping Poise pads (thanks to my friends who did diaper prep for us.) I like the decorative kind for taping around the diaper area and holding down moleskin.
I found the animal print ones at Albertson's. Haley (a blog reader) found the fun paisley, argyle, & polka dot tapes. I have no idea where she found them but I ADORE them.
(& am making plans for using the blue & green argyle on Will's casts should we do his surgery next year.)
Buy them in bulk.
Sometimes, during diarrhea incidents or when Ellie was ridding her body of anesthesia, we would go through an entire package in one day.
Infant's tylenol - to help with soreness after surgery & to help with teething now
Tea Tree Oil - just a dab goes a long way but masks odor
Drawers for Diaper Supplies
I found it handy to separate my supplies: big diapers in one drawer (size 2), little diapers for extra stuffing in another drawer (size 1-2) & Poise Pads in the middle.
I stored diaper supplies in one of these drawers along with additional diapers
it's comforting to a baby who is hurting or uncomfortable
(& comforts her mama too)
a big trashcan
it doesn't take us long to fill this up!
My handy cast care booklet for quick reference
My travel sized cast care container for supplies on the road
Almost every site I ever found recommended a bean bag chair for kids in spica. Several suggested that the child or baby would have to sleep in a bean bag chair.
Ellie HATED it. Hated it. It was too hot & whenever we would set her down, she would last for a few minutes before pouring sweat. Maybe it made her nervous too being at an odd angle. I don't know but it didn't work for us.
(Also, maybe other kids are too big in their spicas to fit in a bed. Ellie can still fit in her crib.)
(So - save yourself the investment & borrow from a friend first to see if your child likes it.)
This keeps her busy for awhile.
I can hardly wait to put her in an exersaucer soon and enable her to play upright (without being held.) I would have loved a spica table but I would suggest seeing what sort of spica your child is in prior to ordering or making one.
hairdryer - helps dry out sweat down her cast. Also, helps dry the diaper area/cotton/moleskin
Use on cool, low setting.
My gratitude journal
Helps me find so much to be thankful for every day
Britax Hippo Spica Carseat
Thankfully, our hospital (TX Scottish Rite) provided us with a carseat at no charge. If your hospital doesn't provide one, you might be able to find one at hipbaby.org. I think they run around $400 new but many parents buy them and then sell them after their child is out of a spica.
It's a big carseat.
I do like how easily I can see her face though as she is practically laying down in it.
The Ergo - love it
This is AMAZING
However, it does not work with a goretex lining. Ellie's first spica did not have goretex & we would use the cast cooler several times a day to remove odor & moisture & cool the patient. It was incredible how quickly we could tell a difference in her comfort level (& the smell!)
It is $30 & works with a vacuum cleaner. And I would never have discovered it if not for a blog reader who mentioned it! Thank you!
It does not work on Ellie's current spica as it has a goretex liner. Which means that she is incredibly hot & has recently begun to stink & I can't do anything about it. (Not a fan of goretex.)
Finally, a little blankee.
I like a little blankee - it gives her comfort in sleep but doesn't fully cover her (she gets so very hot.)
For sponge baths, I lay her on a thick towel by the kitchen sink.
I use a washcloth to wash her (duh) & a baby towel to dry her off. I can only wash her head and her arms & upper chest.
We love our sponge bath time.
We can NOT wait for real baths .... tomorrow!
Of course, I love my Noodle & Boo Shampoo for washing her hair.
I have also found that Mustela's No-Rinse Shampooing Fluid is great for spica as I don't have to use very much & it gets her clean but doesn't need to be rinsed. Since it is not soapy or sudsy it's less risky to use on her upper chest/arms where I have to be more cautious about getting the cast wet. Love it.
I've posted here about how I did diapers with Ellie's first spica. However, I admit that it has been a constantly evolving process. I've used maxi pads, Poise pads, pantiliners, multiple size diapers, hairdryers, and lots of tears. Often, the time of day (& whether she was having diarrhea or not) determined how I did her diapering system. I had read what other parents did & I took many of their suggestions. But, I had to tweak it for my baby - my little baby who is breastfed & therefore has unique diapering needs. So- you have to experiment here & figure out what works best for the patient... and be patient yourself to changing your methods.
(And give yourself grace - I have cried lots and lots of tears over failed diaper attempts (& poop in the cast.) It feels terrible as a mother to not be able to adequately clean your child. It feels neglectful. Give yourself grace should you too experience a disaster in the diaper & know that you've done your best to prevent it. (Seriously - since I was holding her generally I would catch her as soon as she went yet there were several times where it would leak past the pads/pantiliner barrier & into the cast. UGH!
(***if it soaks through the cast or causes an infection, the cast must be changed.) Thankfully, we didn't experience this although there were times I called the nurse scared that too much had escaped the diaper area. YUCK!
(For the record, our longest diaper change was 2 hours & 47 minutes & involved 2 people working the entire time. We've had some exhausting diaper care days as we've had to clean up a diarrhea disaster and re-tape/moleskin/dry her out.)
Also, you can use cloth diapers with a spica. I researched this & felt like for us, it would be best to stick with pads & disposables but it is possible to use cloth (although from what I've read, the cast is hard on the cloth diaper so it may drive up the expense some.) Regardless, you have to use some sort of pad system inside the diaper.
Bottom line (sorry -no pun intended) - figure out what works for you & give yourself the grace to figure that out.
Oh, I am so looking forward to simple diaper changes!!!
These are our survival necessities for a spica cast. Happy Spica Season & Here's To A Short Season!