I will never forget exactly where I was and what I was doing on Monday, September 9th, 2019.
I was in Fairfax, VA at the Pediatric Specialists of VA's office, waiting to be seen by an orthopedic doctor for Novena aka Novu. Before I give you the full story, let me take you back to the beginning.
You see, Novu always walked with her left foot going in instead of straight. We never thought anything of it because I was once pigeon-toed as well and assumed she would grow out of it. However, as she got older, her condition got worse, and finally, when my aunt and uncle said something didn’t look right, I made an appointment with her pediatrician to see what was going on. Mind you I went into that appointment back in May of 2019 with the full confidence that my child was perfectly fine! And she was, her doctor said there was nothing wrong with her and that her left foot would eventually turn straight. I said thank you, and for some odd reason, without even thinking twice I asked for a referral to see a specialist (that’s motherly intuition).
Fast forward to September 9th, a specialist saw us and after watching Novu walk, said she was perfectly fine but that she would have an x-ray done just to be sure. It was after that x-ray that our world changed.
The doctor came back and explained Novena had DDH. Now you’re probably thinking the same thing I was “what is DDH? English version please”.
As the doctor explained it, my mind started racing and thinking the worse. "GOD, you wouldn’t do this to Novu, not Novu, right? I mean, there is no way there could be anything wrong with my kid." Now, mind you, I was having this conversation between me and GOD while the doctor was explaining her condition, so I basically didn’t catch anything. She attempted to describe it again for me, and it went through one ear and out the other. By the end of our appointment, I asked to see her again on a different date and walked out. The second I walked into my car, I started googling DDH and was mortified while also being relieved at what I was reading. The good news was that it was not life taking, and honestly, that’s all I needed to see. The bad news was the fact that surgery would be a necessity.
So what is DDH?
Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) is a health problem of the hip joint. In a typical hip joint, the top (head) of the thighbone (femur) fits snugly into the hip socket. In a child with DDH, the hip socket is shallow. As a result, the head of the femur may slip in and out. It may dislocate.
Through this whole process, Bini has been away in Ethiopia for work and I learned my lesson from the first appointment, so I asked my sister to join me for the second one. Although I was convinced that I knew everything there was to know about DDH and that Novena simply didn’t have it because if she did, all my research said that it would have been caught early on in her life. I wanted my sister there though, to pay close attention in case I started having a conversation with GOD again while the surgeon was talking. The doctor went through the basics and started telling us about how the surgery would affect her and what we should expect. The surgery would be 4-6 hours long and she would have to stay in the hospital for 3 days. Her recovery period would be three months, and for ten weeks, she would not be able to walk. After that, she would have to go through physical therapy to learn how to retake steps, and we would have to potty train her all over again. We asked what would happen if we left her DDH as is, and the doctor told us that Novena would probably have arthritis by the time she is 13 and will need a total hip replacement by the time she reaches early adulthood.
Now, as a mother, you tell me what you would do? I had the chance to save my daughter from pain she would feel later on in life but go through some hardships now or wait it out and see what happens.
I still wasn’t convinced by the doctor’s explanations, so as any mother would do, I took Novena to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Let me tell you, that in itself was very overwhelming. We went to Children’s Hospital and John Hopkins and received guidance from the best pediatric orthopedics Washington D.C. had to offer only to be told that there was no other option but surgery.
Through this whole ordeal of discussing and planning options, our faith has stayed strong. In the beginning, I would cry every time I held Novu. Bini would try to tell me things are okay and that she would be fine but that made me mad because he wasn't here to go through it with me. I felt overwhelmed and lost and turned to prayer a great deal but for the wrong reasons. I wanted GOD to take the DDH away from her and give it to me. No one wants their child to go through surgery. I turned to our family and asked all of them to pray as well. I visited the churches I had ties too, regardless if they were Catholic or Orthodox and asked their Priests to pray for my daughter. I had my kids school praying for her everyday and her name was added to as many masses as my church could. I went all out in seeking GOD's response, but it was all for the wrong reasons. Instead of trusting HIM and knowing that everything happens for a reason, I prayed for HIM to take it away... LIKE NOW!! I wanted it gone and if HE wasn't going to hear me, then I was just going to have everyone I know praying for her as well.
One Saturday night after our weekly family fun night, I was putting the kids to sleep, and when it was Novu’s turn to get tucked in, I held her and lost it. I had this peaceful little angel in my arms and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even make it to the room to tuck her in, instead I knelt with her still in my arms and started praying (more like begging for HIS mercy), and that's when it hit me. I was praying for the wrong thing this whole time. It wasn't my place to ask GOD to do anything! After that realization, I wiped my tears away, got up with my child still in my arms and told GOD, I was going to finally do what I should have done weeks ago, I was going to leave it all to HIM. Let HIS will be done! Then, off I went to sleep and I slept peaceful for the first time in weeks. The next morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and went to church.
Guess what the gospel was about?
HAVING FAITH EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY CERTAIN THINGS ARE HAPPENING TO YOU!
I felt like GOD was speaking directly to me through our Priest!! It was after that Sunday that I took Novena to John Hopkins hospital and met an amazing surgeon who calmed all my nerves and treated Novu like the little angel she is, instead of just another patient. He took his time and went through all the necessary tests to see what the root of her problem was. He shared her results with other doctors and asked deep-rooted questions. He made us both feel comfortable and showed us kindness when he knew I needed it most. It didn’t end there though, he wanted to know exactly what we were dealing with, and instead of rushing for surgery, he took his time assessing the problem. Now, weeks later, with a surgery date lined up, his staff took care of everything for me, from booking nearby hotels for our family to ensuring Bini and I can stay in the hospital with Novu.
All this is to say that as mothers, there is something truly special we share with our children. Always listen to your heart, your gut, whatever you feel deep in your soul. Never take no for an answer and always do what you think is right! I’m grateful that we caught Novu’s disorder early in life, and even though this surgery is the last thing I want for my child, I’m going to do it because I know it will benefit her in the long run. I ask that you, please keep us in your prayers. Her recovery won’t be an easy one, but I know GOD, our family/friends, and this community has our back.
A grateful mother!