Welcome to the Creative Mothers series – a fortnightly series of guest blogs for people to reflect on the impact of parenthood on their experience of personal creativity. If you would like to take part with your thoughts, please take a look at the Creative Mothers page and do get in touch.
Creativity can take us in lots of different directions and so, as we all know, can parenthood. Natalie’s experiences as a parent led her down an unexpected creative path, and it is this process that she shares here. It is a tale of positivity and productivity in the face of difficult times…
Turning a life changing condition into a creative dream
My son was diagnosed with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) when he was just four months old and our daily routine went from coffee mornings and baby massage to appointments, X-rays and operations.
I wanted know as much about the as possible about what the future held, but my searches threw up horrific images and worst-case scenarios that simply compounded my fears. I felt totally out of my depth and alone.
Lucas had his first operation, when he was just eight months old, This didn’t work so when he was two he had a more complex procedure and then spent months in a broomstick cast. Despite this being a challenge and Lucas shutting down, it all seemed worth it when we told things were looking positive at his regular checks.
He was doing well at school and running around with his friends playing football, when we were told in June 2015 that DDH had reared its ugly head once again. He was six and facing a pelvic osteotomy, his fourth and largest operation to date that would leave him in a wheelchair for eight weeks followed by months of rehab.
Ironically two days before he was wheeled into theatre we launched Cast Life – A Parent’s Guide to DDH’, my first book. Lucas inspired it and it was the book I wish I’d had tucked in my hospital bag when we first started our DDH journey.
I’d always wanted to write a book but my dreams had been about a novel rather than a medical publication based on my own experiences and heartache.
I’m not a medical professional, although many did contribute to this book, but a creative and a mother who didn’t want to be bitter about the hand we had been dealt and decided to turn it into a positive.
It took me just over two months to write Cast Life and the process was amazingly cathartic as I stripped back what my son has been through and how my other son and husband had been so amazing.
Planning wise, it was very much like doing a very big puzzle. I pulled together the facts and wove them with the experiences of mums and dads from around the world and adding a sprinkling of advice from those in the know.
I hope my readers find Cast Life to be an empowering, empathetic read that includes everything from explanations and treatments to the products that make life easier for children in casts. It looks at family life, dealing with emotions as well including first person stories and parent comments.
Lucas’ journey isn’t over and in May he will have an operation to remove metal pins from his pelvis. This probably isn’t the last procedure he will have but he is strong and we have accepted that DDH is now a part of our family and our life.
As well as the book, I have set up Spica Warrior, the UK’s only DDH dedicated charity and have been made a member of the Advisory Board for the IHDI. I hope this work will create more awareness of this life changing condition and help children and parents on their journeys.
Natalie’s blog covers many things, but it really does have some amazing support and information for families finding themselves facing DDH, do take a look at it here. You can find Natalie on Twitter and she is also a freelance writer, PR and social media guru (my words, not her’s!) which you can find out more about here.