Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Molly Anne and her Band

I haven't given a ton of detail on what the deal is with Molly Anne and her head.  Quite frankly it was because we were spending a lot of time doing research and I wasn't sure that anyone would care as much as I did.  But then I started getting questions from friends and I wish I had been told "back then" what to do to alleviate something like this from happening.  So now, I'm telling people and I hope it helps another Mom to not have to go through this and if they do, that others have been there and it will all be okay. 

First, when she was a month old, Mom and I noticed that Molly Anne always looked right.  I was so naive and in such a new mom daze that I thought it was just because she was going to favor her right side and be right handed.  This was the first time I had been a Mom, I had no clue.

We went to Maryland and the pediatricians office refused to see her for shots the day before her two month birthday so she was almost two weeks late for her two month appointment. That's when the doc noticed her head so you know I blamed myself for those extra two weeks. 

The doctor said she had torticollis which is basically a tight neck muscle. For Molly Anne it is her right one so she only looks right because it's easy. It was too hard for her neck muscle to look left.  The doc thinks she got torticollis because of how she was positioned inside of me.  There was obviously nothing I could have done about this. 

We had been doing tummy time but when the baby's are on their back for 10+ hours a night to sleep, there isn't much you can do and their head gets flat.  The doctor explained it to me like this - SIDS is not curable (why they sleep on their backs now) but this is curable and easy to deal with so you just do it. 

So here we are with two problems.  One the torticollis and two the flat head.  

First, you have to fix the torticollis - we've been doing this by going to a pediatric physical therapist since the end of September and will continue through the end of January - Amy has been AMAZING.  It's basically a lot of stretching with Amy and we do the same exercises at home.  

Second, we had to fix her flat head.  I did a ton of research on this.  So here it is:
At the end of September right after her two month appointment, we got right on it.  We went to a place in Charlotte called Cranial Technologies.  They do a free consultation and take measurements of the baby's head with Molly Anne sitting on a stool in the middle of the room with all these machines around her - think like an x-ray.  It's very fancy.  Then we kept going to physical therapy, waited 5 weeks then went to another similar place in Charlotte (Level Four) for more measurements.  Our pediatrician compared the results and looked at Molly Anne's head again at her 4 month appointment and said - go get a band. I questioned her based on studies online that say at 9 months, the baby's heads that had a band look just like the ones that never got the band...essentially saying that it fixes itself.  But what a risk you take.  Kevin and I felt like since it was affecting her facial features and not getting better, it was a no brainer.  

Band, helmet - there are several different reasonings behind each company's product.  So now that we knew we were doing one of them, we had to figure out the best one for us.  All of the physical therapists that see babies with this same issue every day and Molly Anne's pediatrician all said - Cranial Tech is the way to go.  All of the neurosurgeons we researched said Cranial Tech.  Cranial Tech is the only one proven to change facial features back to how they should be.  Cranial Tech it was.  

Truth be told - I hated Cranial Tech when we first went there for her initial consultation.  I felt like it was a sales pitch and they told me my baby wasn't perfect.  Kevin told me they were just telling me facts but I didn't like it!  Guys versus girls and how we think, right?!!  But I quickly got over all of that when I kept hearing they were the best.  They call their product the band and it's a 6-10 week wearing period.  The band covers less area on the baby's head than a helmet.  Level Four told us Molly Anne would wear a helmet for 10-12 weeks.  I liked the shorter timespan as an added bonus!  

So we are on week three of this band and Molly Anne could careless about it.  One of the first times we heard her giggle really loudly was in the room right after Lisa put it on her.  That made me feel better even though I got teary after Lisa left the room.  I hated it much more than Molly Anne did!  It has not affected her sleeping at all.  The first few days she got really hot but we have learned that she'll be cruising around in much cooler clothes and not wearing any socks or shoes in 30 degree weather.  Baby's lose their heat through their feet so the girl at Cranial Tech said she needs to have bare feet so she can stay cooler.  I do think her temperature gauge has leveled off and she's not nearly as hot as she was those first few days while she was getting used to it.  Molly Anne is hot natured anyway.  

This band is a lot like braces - we go back every week for check ups and they shave off the inside of the band where she grew that week.  Once the foam inside the band is gone, she is done.  And let's hope she doesn't need a second band.  That would only happen if she didn't hit her 6 month growth spurt.  They say getting the band is ideal at 4-6 months of age because of the rapid growth.  We are right in that.  She got it the day before she turned 5 months.  All looks good so far!  

My biggest complaint - I can't love up on her head every day!  We get one hour a day with no band and you know we do that when we are all home with our girl!  I look forward to that all day!

So far, I think we've made the right decision.  We can already see a ton of progress!  Here's to hoping it's only on for 6 weeks instead of 10!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing and I hope she can get it off at 6 weeks. You are doing such a great job taking care of the issue now, but I do understand how hard it is to see your baby go through something like this. In some ways I think it is harder in the parents! Molly Anne seems so happy and it is obvious she is thriving!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please see how much of a good parent and advocate you are for Molly. I know it's easy to blame ourselves for anything that isn't perfect for our children yet we don't give ourselves credit for their "perfect" things either. So basically, as moms we are our worst critics! I'd say that as she ages it'll get easier but not really. However, you'll just grow more comfortable with being their advocate.
    I had a son for our first child. He was a twin which we lost the second in utero. I never talked about it but after my son was born and the delivery was hard, I blamed myself for it all. Was there much (if any) that I could do differently? No. I followed all doctors' orders (except packing my bag in a timely manner) but I felt like I had failed him from day 1. And every thing that didn't develop as the books said they should, I blamed myself because of being horrible after delivery. Crazy, huh? He's almost 16 years old, and Im not a perfect mom but he's perfectly made with his own characteristics. Molly Anne is as well at 5 months and when she's older. She's fortunate to have two parents who love her and take care of her needs.
    I never thought about the heat of the helmets. She'll have it off before you know it so you can kiss her sweet head anytime you want.

  3. You're lucky your ped was an advocate for the helmet while Molly Anne was still pretty little. My poor friend's son had to get a helmet but for months their ped acted like his flat head was no big deal. So by the time they got the helmet it was too late. He wore it for months and his head never got better. Now my friend says put babies on their stomachs ASAP to prevent flat head. I'm too scared to do that but I am very cautious about leaving Oliver in his car seat or swing for too long. He definitely favors his left side but luckily he moves his head around a lot at night so he doesn't keep it turned to the left all night. Im so glad Molly Anne is having such fast improvement! I read that 55% of babies have flat heads since the back to sleep campaign started In the 90's. We bought a mattress for the crib called Lifenest that prevents flat head and I would use it if I could get the baby to sleep in his crib!

  4. You are an awesome mom, and you and Kevin know what is best for your sweet girl. Not an easy decision to make, especially given the short amount of time you have to make it. Thank goodness it's been easy on her, which I know is a huge relief to you. In the scheme of things, this will just be a blip on the radar!!

  5. I think that's definitely something that just happens. My cousin's son had to wear something -- I'm not sure if it was a helmet or the band. They painted it to look like a Panther's helmet. :) He's a little over two now and such an active, amazing (SMART!) boy and his head looks perfectly round and normal. Thanks for sharing your experience. It's interesting to learn the different between the band and the helmet.

  6. So happy to hear iit is going so well for you! My oldest also had torticollis - the doctor's said it was for the same reason as Molly Anne's, the way she was positioned in me, plus the fact she was 9lbs. 13 ounces when she was born (she was a bit cramped in there!:). The hardest part for us was doing the stretching exercises - it was the only time she cried! We felt horrible, even though the doctors told us it didn't hurt her. My daughter didn't have to wear a band or helmet, so I didn't have to deal with that, but it is great that Molly Anne took so easily to it! I think, often times, we worry so much about these tyoes of things and how our children will react, and they respond so much better than we think they will 😊 The weeks will fly by and you will get to snuggle all you want with her beautiful precious head! Merry Christmas to your beautiful family!!!⛄️🎄

  7. Thank you for sharing this!! I always had questions about the whole band thing, now I know!!! And she is so precious, with or without the band!!

  8. One of our sons had torticollis because his twin brother squashed into my pelvis, poor guy. PT worked for us. I'd suggest baby wearing to any parents/prospective parents reading these comments. A great way to keep them off there backs - and bonus snuggle time for everyone. Hooray for TeamMolly!