You may have noticed, given the heading I’ve used, that I’m feeling a little angsty about our clubfoot journey at the moment.  You’d be right.  Sometimes, even when things are going well, I strongly dislike strapping my son’s feet together for 14-16 hours.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.

LMayesLOSep14-28If you happen to think it’s no big deal, you’re welcome to borrow an old pair of Zach’s boots and give them a whirl on your little one.
Told you I was feeling angsty.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest…

The truth is, usually I’m able to remember that what we are doing – especially in the tough times – will benefit Zach for the rest of his life.  These are the top ten gratitude’s I regularly think about, benefits we have uncovered on this booted experience so far, and what I have told myself along the way:

1. Zach’s boots are the pathway to the strong, straight feet that 999 out of 1000 of us are able to take for granted. As parents, we are fortunate to have the choice to follow a largely un-invasive treatment plan, which gives Zach the best opportunity for his feet to remain corrected and pain-free later in life. If only all deformities and illness could be treated with such a phenomenally high success rate.  Statistics say 95% of clubfeet that are compliant with the Ponseti Method (wearing their bracing) until 5 years of age will remain corrected.

2. I love how easy boots make nappy changing. Holding onto a solid bar is a damn sight easier than 2 adorable – but wiggly – little feet.

3. We have met a huge community (700 members and counting) of incredible, committed and compassionate families through our support group, many whom have become close friends.  They are an inspiration.

4. Zach and his boots have taught us that anything is possible when you don’t see limitations. When encouraged, kids have this amazing ability to try, and try again.  Many of you will have seen videos of Zach walking, jumping and climbing in his boots.  And you know what; he’s got another two years ahead of him to develop those skills even more.

5. His core strength, co-ordination and balance are an undeniable advantage to wearing boots.  Just check out the photo above.  These things will stand him in good stead for his future, and a strong adult body.

6. We have witnessed a real life lesson in perseverance, unfolding on a daily basis right before our very eyes. And by this I mean his perseverance, and ours.  It is rewarding to recognise Zach’s ability to keep on keeping on, and I am proud of our resilience to stick with it.

7. On a number of occasions, Zach’s boots have been a convenient non-verbal answer to curious onlookers, when we had an unhappy little man. Those flights between New Zealand and Australia when he just wasn’t having a good time, spring to mind.  One or two  s l o o o w  walks up and down the aisle, allowing passengers to see his little boots’n’bar, were an awesome way to get support and friendly smiles, rather than grumpy complaints about a noisy babe.   A little cheeky, but witnessing people’s compassion is heart-warming.

8. I was never truly happy in the finance world, where I spent my working life prior to motherhood. The opportunity to support other families through their booted experience, has woken a desire to find something more personally fulfilling to do in my life.

9. We believe that Zach’s experience has given all of us an increased level of acceptance and openness of things, and people, who might be a little different. I’m so much more comfortable approaching people now.  I know how some of the seemingly small comments, or smiles, can have an extremely long-lasting positive affect.  Some fleeting moments I have had with people in the last few years will undoubtedly stay with me forever.

10. Lastly, these boots have been like have a temporary residence in a more challenging world.  We get to come and go as Zach’s resistance and compliance fluctuates, and it’s more than likely we will be deported in a couple of years time.  It has given me a huge amount of respect and admiration for families who manage challenging parenting of any nature.

Immersing myself in this thinking and gratitude, and truly believing it, has been so helpful in getting this far.  As has an occasional frustrated or fed up cry.

Maybe next time, I’ll post my top ten challenges with clubfoot.

If you are a parent of a child born with clubfoot, or any other challenge, what can you add from your experience?

I’d love to build on my resources….

Kia Kaha,
Love Lans xo