In September of 2017, our son, Reed, was born with bilateral clubfoot, a common birth defect in which his feet were turned in. We learned about Reed’s clubfoot at our 18 week anatomy scan. The doctor told us a little about what the diagnosis would mean for Reed. We pretended to be calm. We were devastated.
Most of what we learned about clubfoot came in the coming days from our frantic Google searches. We quickly found an online community of parents and caregivers who helped us understand the treatment process and what to expect.
Clubfoot is usually treated using the Ponsietti Method, a treatment that involves a few months of casts applied by an expertly trained orthopedist that gently stretch the baby’s feet into the correct position. Most children with clubfoot need a small surgery towards the end of casting, followed by years of bracing (boots and bar) to help feet maintain the correct position as the child grows. It’s a vast improvement over previous approaches to treating clubfoot, but it’s also a marathon that presents many challenges for families: medical, financial and emotional.
The online communities we discovered were a lifeline for us. Within days of Reed’s diagnosis, we connected to a local mom who helped us find Reed’s treatment team, and later brought us a whole tote of boots, bars, bar covers and socks. We’ve benefitted from having a community of parents who have been willing to answer weird foot questions at all hours, and offer an empathetic ear during tough times.
Reed’s treatment has gone very well so far. He’s a happy, healthy baby who has no idea his feet are different. When Reed got his last cast, we designed a set of buttons to thank his orthopedist, Dr. Dale Jarka, and our main orthopedic technician, Leland (aka The Singing Cast Tech), from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
We’re now making a few of those graphics available here in JPEG and PNG for anyone who would like to use them for any purpose—just click them for full resolution. Let us know if you want EPS or AI.
Download them, reprint them, put them on whatever you would like. We hope they help raise awareness about clubfoot and empower families. Our graphics are the least we can offer to the community of online parents who have done so much for us.
We also have a few of these on buttons available in our Etsy shop for those who have no desire to DIY their own awareness products (we get that!).
We’ll also take this opportunity to recommend a few of our favorite books: Hip Hop Hooray for Brooklyn and One in 1000, both wonderful children’s books that helped our older daughter (and her parents!) learn about clubfoot.
Keep calm and brace on! – Laura and Matt