And the Twins Plagiocephaly Journey Officially Begins…

Today was a day I’ve been dreading for a while.

But the funny thing is – unlike most things that get worse the closer you get, I seemed to dread it less and less as the day approached.

Today, we went to Cranial Technologies to get the twins’ evaluated for baby helmets to fix their plagiocephaly.

Back when the babes were just two months old, their pediatrician noticed a little bit of head flattening. He recommended more tummy time and visits with a pediatric rehabilitation specialist. I was so sad to hear that my little babies weren’t perfect, and I was convinced that a more rigorous tummy time would help round out their little noggins.

(I think that was the night that I literally put Ava on her tummy, on a blanket, set a timer on my iPhone and acted like a drill sergeant, determined to train them into round-headed submission. That lasted, oh, 8 minutes.)

So, over the summer, I made a few visits to the physical therapist.  From the beginning, it was extra challenging because the girls weren’t identical, but they were complementary. Ava has a preference to go one way, which has caused a flattening on her right side, where Maddy has flattening on her left side.

The girls have made progress over the last four months, but at their last physical therapy appointment, the therapist said she didn’t feel like they’ve progressed at a fast enough rate… and she was recommending helmets.

To be totally honest, this felt like a punch in the gut.

I took it as a sign that I had failed as a mom. I know – totally, objectively, completely – that this is totally wrong. But I felt it.  A good mom wouldn’t have let her child get a flat head. Maybe I should have held them more? Maybe I should have enforced tummy time more? Maybe I should have relied less on boppies and rock-n-plays? Maybe I should have grown an extra pair of arms to be able to carry both babies at all times?

I’m only kind of joking on that last one.

After getting the recommendation from our PT about the helmets, I did even more research, and learned that plagiocephaly and bracycephaly – which is a type of plagiocephaly that effects the side of the head – are pretty common in multiples.

The information below is from the Parent Think website:

  • Position in the womb can impact your baby’s head shape, especially with multiple births and restricted space.

  • Convenience devices such as infant car seats, swings, recliners and more mean babies are held less and not moved around as much. Twins can also spend more time in convenience devices due to the logistics of caring for two.

  • Torticollis (tight neck muscles) can contribute to your baby preferring to turn to the right side or the left side. This condition can be treated with physical therapy and neck exercises.

  • Babies sleeping on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) has been the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1992. This important recommendation has decreased the incidence of SIDS by approximately 50%, but the rate of plagiocephaly has increased.

After reading that, I felt a little better. Still not like I was going to win any “Mom of the Year” Awards – but better in that there were a lot of factors stacked against us to not have this diagnosis. I learned that twins plagiocephaly is pretty common, and studies have shown that it’s more common for Baby A (for us, that means Ava) to have a more severe condition and torticollis because she was lower in utero, and therefore was scrunched up more – especially near the end. (Big babies, check. Full-term, check. Less space in general because there were two of them in there, check. Torticollis and bracycephaly with plagiocephaly diagnosis, check.)

Oh, how the joys of a twin pregnancy continues after birth!

So even though I was hoping beyond all hope that my perfect little babies wouldn’t need baby helmets, I realized – short-term vanity wasn’t a good reason to not give them round little noggins for the rest of their lives. And, more importantly, I realized that, for us, the pros definitely outweighed the cons:

  • The issue can be corrected
  • The DOC band is temporary
  • The treatment doesn’t hurt
  • Insurance covers it. We are extremely lucky that it’s a really small copay to cover the cost.
  • We can decorate their bands and make them cute – a minor point, but still a silver lining!
  • Hopefully the heat is behind us, so the babies won’t react to the extra layer on their heads in the dog days of summer – a plus for my girls since they run hot!
  • Decreased risk of TMJ
  • Decreased risk of facial deformity – a minor concern for the girls’ based on their current status, but definitely a concern! As a parent, you don’t want to think about being the cause (by not acting to prevent!) a facial deformity
  • And, as my husband pointed out, maybe the DOC band will act as a real “helmet” and protect the girls a bit as they start moving!

So… today was our first appointment at Cranial Technologies.

With Bryan’s help, the girls sat on a little stool in the middle of a room, and a technician showed them a spinning wheel with lights. The girls nailed it and sat there, drooling in fascination, while they took pictures of their heads from every conceivable angle.

Another technician showed us the results – and seeing the images in black and white on a big monitor totally showed us that getting the DOC Bands was the right thing to do for us.

Since this was just the evaluation, we need to go back in a few weeks and set the appointment for the bands to be custom created and fit on the twins. And then, every 2 weeks, we’ll go back for adjustments. Today, we were estimated the girls will be in their helmets for 10-14 weeks. It sounds like a lot, but I’d read it can be for as long as 6 months, so I’ll take 2.5 months to 3.5 months any day.

So, our journey begins.

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