Hunter’s plagiocephaly and brachycephaly story
This great post comes from Lindsay Smith, who has a wonderful blog called “On Loan From Heaven”. Thank you Lindsay, for sharing your adorable son Hunter’s story and photos!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 5 years of parenting, it’s this…
I am my child’s only voice.
I’m the voice of reason… the voice of compassion… the voice of
protectiveness… the voice of reality… and the voice of proactivity.
That last one?
That’s the hardest of them all.
Being proactive requires a balance of ‘normalcy’, idealism, and individuality.
We enter parenthood with certain expectations… a baby eats, sleeps, and
poops… they poop as many times a day as we do… they love riding in the car…
they’ll wake up every 3 hours to eat and then go back to sleep. every.night…
you’ll take them to the pediatrician a couple times a year for well-visits and
shots… going back to work will be seamless… you’ll love your baby every
minute of every day…
but then, baby comes.
Spit up… ‘baby’ poop… blow-outs… snot-suckers… milk allergies… reflux…
upper respiratory infections… hand washing… postpartum depression…
you get the picture.
Even the unexpected aspects of parenting are ‘normal’… everyone deals with
them and everyone survives them…
well, most people do 😉
I entered motherhood 5 years ago when my daughter was born and she gave me
what I believe to be a VERY realistic introduction to parenthood. We had it
So, 3 years later, when our baby boy was born, I figured we would breeze
through baby-hood just like we had with Hannah…
and then the biggest lesson of all…
no 2 children are the same.
or even similar.
Hunter was born 10 weeks early, weighing 2 pounds 13 ounces. The NICU was
our home away from home for 10 full weeks before we were able to bring him
home… with a heart monitor, 8 daily medications, lactose and soy-free formula,
every kind of therapy, and 17 specialists.
I entered survival mode with my first step back into our home, carrying our
breakable, fragile, special, teenie-tiny baby after 10 weeks in the NICU.
It took Joey and I a few months to realize that we will never be able to compare
Hunter to other babies… his age or otherwise. He was just him… and he was our
We learned how to manage our calendars in a new way, balance ordinary vs.
extra-ordinary. and how to differentiate ‘normal’ vs. ‘normal for Hunter.’
Head shape had never played a role in the growing bank of parenting
experiences. No two heads are the same, right? So what’s the big deal?
We walked out of a GI appointment one afternoon and were headed to see
Hunter’s pediatrician for a weight-check. I put Hunter in the car and noticed
that his head layed flat against his carseat. Hmmm… that doesn’t look normal.
I took him out of his seat and looked at him straight-on. His ears didn’t line up
with each other and his eyebrows were ‘crooked’.
At his pediatrician’s office, the nurse checked his weight and I lingered and
small-talked with her until our doctor finished with a patient and walked out
into the nurses area… and I cornered her.
“Dr. B! I know we don’t have an appointment but … is Hunter’s head FLAT?!?”
She didn’t hesitate… “Yes. I saw it a few weeks ago but thought I’d wait and
refer him when his other appointments slowed down some.”
Me: “Refer? Refer us to what?”
Dr. B: “He needs to be fit for a DocBand… a helmet.”
Holy cow. Holy cow. Holy cow.
A HELMET?!? Disabled or injured babies wear helmets, right? Like, after
brain surgery or a car accident!
That night Joey and I started researching ‘flat baby heads’…
A flat head
Our fear was that something we did caused his flat head… he layed in a NICU
bed for 10 weeks! he has reflux! he HATES tummy time!
We were able to get a quick appointment with the DocBand specialist in our
area and our consultation was underway…
Up first, getting digital pictures of Hunter’s head.
He didn’t love that part.
We learned that Hunter had Plagiocephaly AND Brachycephaly… a flat head
and a wide head.
The risks of not treating (or continuing to stall treatment) were scarier than the
thought of him being ‘that kid’ in a helmet…
Pressure on his scull from the imbalance of width of his head… dental and jaw
issues… ear issues… and the cosmetic aspect was just icing on the cake.
He needed a helmet.
But if we had to look at this thing for 12-14 weeks, we needed to make it fun….
(Disclaimer… Joey was not completely involved in the designing process; boys
get to be all sports and dirt for their entire lives so I took the only opportunity I
might ever have to claim my Mama’s Boy ;-))
(If you’re in NC and you’d like to make your baby’s band fun, too, call Leigh! She’s amazing!)
Within a couple weeks, Hunter’s BFF had a helmet, too!
Hunter wore his band 23 hours a day and was supposed to get a one hour break
per day so we could bathe him and clean his band…. we didn’t have the most
tolerable patient ever so he actually wore it 24 hours a day and we cleaned him
and his band every other or every 2 days. Gross, I know…. and even though
their heads get super stinky, it’s better this way… trust me 😉
As the weeks went by, and as Hunter continued to grow, we had numerous
band-adjustment appointments…. quick visits where they would measure his
growth and shave his band in appropriate places so his head ‘knew’ where to
reshape and grow.
I loved those appointments… they shaved the stink out!
Hunter was an amazing DocBand patient! After only 8 weeks of wearing his
helmet, we were told that Hunter was ready to GRADUATE from his
DocBand! He responded so well to treatment and we were truly amazed by his
And SO worth every second of those 8 weeks!
As a way of celebrating Hunter’s graduation, we headed to Build-A-Bear and
big sister made a monkey for Hunter’s DocBand to wear from then on…
Anything involving your child’s health is scary. Acknowledging that there
*might* be something different or unusual about them is even scarier.
But if I hadn’t asked Hunter’s pediatrician that day about his flat head, there’s a
huge chance that he would have been too old for treatment by the time she got
around to saying something…
And I could never forgive myself for that.
Yes, tummy-time is important… yes, I would have pushed it more had I known
what could happen if I didn’t… yes, we had rough helmet days…
Yes, I am my baby’s voice.
And if I don’t speak up… if I don’t work to redefine and accept our own
At least once a week I notice how perfectly shaped and beautiful Hunter’s head
is and I’m so thankful for his DocBand team…
But at least once a week I see a baby out in public or a picture of a friend’s baby
and the first thing I look at is the shape of his or her head…
and more often than not, I see flat heads.
I’m disappointed that Hunter’s pediatrician didn’t say something to me earlier…
I’m disappointed that more medical professionals don’t take head-shape more
My biggest advice to a new parent or to the parent of an infant?
Be your baby’s voice and ask your pediatrician to closely observe your baby’s
No matter what comes from it, you’ll never regret that you asked!