We awaited with much anticipation the birth of Sara, Paula’s new baby sister. Immediately after Sara was born we were told that she had suffered a brachial plexus injury due to being stuck during delivery and her large birth weight. It was a traumatic delivery. Baby Sara was stuck between the pelvis and tail bone and she was pulled by the head in order to get her out quickly.
When the doctor and nurses would lift up her right arm, it was clear that she had no control of her arm, unlike a normal infant response where the arm is flexed and fisted close to their side or mouth. Full of concern, we left the hospital with no information other than her diagnosis and the hope that she would recover within two weeks, as we were told.
When we got home from the hospital, my husband and I immediately began to research brachial plexus injuries, what they were, what to expect, what to do, and different treatments for children in her situation. Through our research, we came upon Children's brachial plexus program.
From the moment we first walked in the front door at Children's, we knew that we were in very good hands. Although the end result was unknown for Sara, we learned that she has Erb Palsy - which is an injury to her nerves - and there were numerous things the hospital could do to help her.
As parents we went through many ups and downs as we came to terms with Sara’s diagnosis. One of the biggest comforts to us was that she was receiving care from an amazing team of doctors and therapists, who always go above and beyond in terms of not just treating her injury but in caring for her. I have always felt like her doctors and nurses treat her as though she were their own daughter and their treatments are guided by what they would do with their own children if they were in our situation. The occupational and physical therapists from rehabilitative services who work with Sara are really like family to us. They surpass our expectations time and time again with their creativity, patience, understanding and kindness.
In the beginning I used to hope that I would just be able to wake up the next morning and see her move her arm normally, that she would be able to reach up and hug me with two arms, and that she would be able to play and move with the same freedom as her big sister. But this journey has definitely taught us patience. Miracles don’t always happen overnight. I will never forget the excitement of her lifting her arm for the first time, flexing it for the first time, and then moving it away from her body for the first time. Her injury has really shown us all that we have, that we take for granted without even thinking about it.
Our daughter Paula is also seen by the physical therapists at Children's. Paula was an avid “W” sitter and was walking with her toes pointed inwards. We had been asking the pediatrician about it since she was 1-year-old, and he had continued to say that it was normal and that she would outgrow it by age 3. At 3 we continued to be concerned and we were told that some strengthening exercises would really benefit her. She continues to go to therapy and is also doing very well with their energy and creativity in working with toddlers. Paula now says that she wants to be a physical therapist when she grows up to help children with their “ouchy arms” like her baby sister Sara.
Baby Sara is now 10-months-old and has exceeded all of our expectations in terms of recovery. There has not been one minute that she has let her arm hold her back and we are so proud of her! She shows us time and time again that life has no limits and that we can persevere through life’s challenges. Although I cannot say that she has regained 100 percent of her functioning, her progress is amazing, and we wait patiently as she continues to grow and recover further.
If only we could have seen the light at the end of the tunnel at the beginning, that she would reach her milestones, she would be able to move her arm, she would be able to keep up with her big sister, and she would be able to hug us with two arms!!! There is nothing like the feeling of her two little arms embracing us! Children’s will always hold a special place in our hearts; we are so grateful for all that they have done and continue to do for us.