Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's up with the helmet?

Our daughter, Piper, wears a helmet.  It is not because she falls over a lot.  It is not because I am an overly cautious mom who loves Piper more than I love the boys.  It is because she has plagiocephaly - which basically means a flat spot on her head.  I know a lot of people don't know why she's wearing it, and we get lots of strange looks when we go out.  A few people have even gotten brave and asked about it - and I LOVE that.  So I thought I'd do a post about it and let people know what the deal is.

When Piper and Paxton were born, we heard 3 things more than any others:  1.  They're so tiny and cute!  2.  Look at the dimples in their chins!  and 3.  Piper's head is so perfectly round!  It's true.  It was.  She looked so much like a baby doll with her tiny nose and perfect round head (and of course the chin dimple).

See that pretty round head?

When she was around 2 months old, though, we noticed one side of the back of her head was getting flat (and that she always laid on that side).  We would try to move her head to the other side, but she always moved it right back.  We asked her pediatrician about it, and he said that this happens to a lot of children, and very often to twins, because they don't have a lot of room to move in the womb, so their necks may be turned to a certain side for months.  The muscles get used to that, so when they are born, they still prefer to turn their heads that way.  Makes sense.  Because of this, they develop a flat spot from laying on it too much.  He said we would wait until the 4-month mark and make a decision whether or not to see a specialist.

Needless to say, the problem did not resolve itself on its own, so we went to see a specialist - a plastic surgeon, actually.  They did a really cool scan of her head with just a laser scan gun thingie that looks like the ones you register with at Target.  Then they gave us a helmet, told us to make sure she wears it at least 23 hours a day (off for bathtime), and that she would likely wear it for about 4 months.

Luckily, my husband and I had done a lot of research (him through medical sources, me through real people), so I was prepared for the helmet. . . mostly because I had learned one important thing:  This isn't a huge deal.  So so many children have to wear these helmets.  And they work.  (There are actually 2 types - passive and active, and they work differently.  But every mom I talked to raved about the results, regardless of the type their child had.)  We are so blessed to have access to these helmets and our children will not have to worry about brain function (the brain can actually be affected in severe cases of plagiocephaly) or even just cosmetic abnormalities.  It's amazing.

Now - don't get me wrong - I'm ready for her to stop wearing it.  I want to snuggle that head and see more of her pretty face.  But I'm thankful for it.  And she does not mind at all.  And big brother Xander has even decorated it for her (with stickers). 

We go back to the doctor in 2 weeks, and it will have been 4 months since she started wearing it.  However, I don't think she'll get to stop wearing it just yet, because 80% of those moms I talked to said something like, "We thought it might be around 4 months, but it was more like 6."  So we probably still have a bit to go.  But it is okay.  Praise God that she didn't need surgery or anything else.  I can handle a few stares at the grocery store.

That's the basics.  If you want to know more, please let me know and I'll be happy to talk to you and share more of our experiences.  If your child or someone you know might have to get a helmet - don't worry!  Email me and we'll chat about it.


  1. Yep, Claire still has hers-I was hoping to get it off this time because she's had it about 6 months, but we have to go two more because her soft spots are still open.

    But, the difference is AMAZING. I am thankful for it!

    1. I was wondering if she's getting hers off soon. I'm thinking Piper will be at least another 2 months too. But no worries! Time flies.

  2. thanks for sharing, megan. you have beautiful children. wish i got to see you guys more often. love you!! ;)