I was working for Cranial Technologies when I became pregnant with my first son, James. Before starting as a baby imaging specialist, I would not have known a thing about plagiocephaly or brachycephaly, or have given them the slightest thought during my pregnancy. However, unlike the soon-to-be mamas around me, I worked with babies in the DOC Band® all day, every day, so I already knew a thing or two about positional plagiocephaly.
During my pregnancy, the amazing clinicians in my clinic were kind enough to show me different re-positioning techniques before James had even entered the world. Naively, I told myself that my baby would not need a band because I would do everything to ensure that his head would be perfectly round from birth.
Fast forward eight weeks into my maternity leave, I was slowly
watching my son’s head become flatter and flatter. I was so confused as to how this happened. I had fiercely examined James’ head shape hours after he was born (that’s normal, right?) and believed that he had the most perfectly round head at birth. My husband and I had done everything the clinicians at my clinic had instructed- tummy time, re-positioning, stretches, etc. We carried him upright in our arms instead of cradling him from the moment he was born. Like a drill sergeant, I got on the floor three times a day with a five-minute timer and cheered on my baby’s tummy time efforts. (Again, normal, right?!?) I was more than proud of the head control he developed from all our exercising. Reluctantly, I could still see that I needed to take my baby in for an evaluation.
James was three months old when he was seen for his initial evaluation in the West Houston clinic. Our clinician had recommended James enter treatment in a DOC Band. It was explained to my family James had severe brachycephaly and moderate – severe right plagiocephaly due to in-utero constraint and back sleeping. Somehow, learning James had developed his current head shape while in my womb reassured me. I knew I had not done anything wrong, but the facts were the facts: I was petite in structure, James was a big boy, and he was a wonderful back sleeper. I knew there was no reason to feel guilty or frustrated because there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. Not even five more minutes of drill sergeant tummy time mommy could have rounded out my baby’s head.
As a baby imaging specialist, I was lucky to already know exactly what the treatment process would entail. I knew that it would be painless for my baby, and that, of course, he would look absolutely adorable in a band. I also knew that this had nothing to do with his brain development. I’m ashamed to admit that my greatest fear was far more trivial than the concerns several moms would have regarding the health of their child- I was mostly concerned of the treatment time commitment.
I knew that James’ Doc Band adjustments would be one week apart because I wanted his treatment to start ASAP, but I honestly did not know how we were
going to make the time for this. I had already gone back to work full time, and my husband has a full-time job of his own. I have type 1 diabetes which comes with constant blood glucose monitoring and insulin regulations and endocrinology appointments. James was also exclusively breastfed, and I was pumping at work and at home during whatever time I could find. We had also just started James in daycare and were coincidentally beginning to see the need for several unexpected sick appointments with his pediatrician. She had recently prescribed him albuterol for a persistent cough that would need to be given every six hours through a nebulizer. I was clueless as to how we would squeeze a DOC Band into our already packed daily routine. Little did I know that out of an insulin pump, a breast pump, and a nebulizer, a DOC Band would be by far the simplest addition to our complicated family of medical devices.
My husband and I did our best not to overwhelm ourselves, and took each appointment one week at a time. James did his imaging appointment at the Pearland clinic, which was brand new at the time, and even smiled for me, his imaging specialist, during the entry imaging appointment. The fit appointment was as smooth as could be. James quickly adjusted to the band and didn’t have any problems with redness. He even slept well that first night with the band. James only had seven adjustment appointments until he was finished with his first band. Those seven weeks passed before our eyes, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Perhaps it’s because we adopted the DOC Band into our routine with open arms, and we occasionally forgot that he was
wearing it. Skin checks and band cleaning were all there really was to it. As far as weekly appointments, Monday is one of those days that approaches before we all know it. Seven quick Monday appointments later, we were done with the first DOC Band.
James continued treatment in a second band, and his results astounded us. James’ total treatment time was five months between the two bands. In hindsight, I’m grateful that we did not allow the frequency of appointments or 23-hour wear of the band determine our final treatment decision. James’ infancy and time in the band is so short in comparison to the rest of his life, and a round noggin is something he will wear forever.
Savannah Elkins is a Baby Imaging Specialist at Cranial Technologies since 2016. The Texas A&M University graduate lives with her husband, son, James, and dog, Sandy, in Pearland, Texas.