Sydney was just one month old when doctors discovered that her head circumference wasn't where it was supposed to be. An MRI confirmed what her parents, Aaron and Valerie, feared: Sydney's brain was underdeveloped. Doctors have not been able to identify what is causing Sydney's microcephaly and other developmental issues, but in the meantime, she's developing strength in the Otteroo.
We got her in the pool with the Otteroo and she just started moving all over the place. It was a different kind of movement from what we'd seen from her before when she was just kinda laying on the floor or sitting in the chair or something like that.
Aaron, as a medical professional (physicians assistant), what did you think about your wife wanting to buy the Otteroo?
I wasn't sure about it. So, the first thing I did was try to find recommendations. I saw that there were cheaper versions of it and that neck floats weren't necessarily a new thing. I was concerned that the traction on her neck could be dangerous. But everything that I'd read seemed to suggest that it was relatively safe for her. When we got her in the pool the first time with it, I was pretty careful initially. I wanted to make sure that I was supporting her weight and testing it out to see if she was showing any signs of being uncomfortable or anything. Um, but yeah, I mean, it's, it's kind of an interesting concept and I think that like when people first see it, they're a little like what, what are you, what is that, what are you doing with this?
We hear that a lot. How did she react?
Aaron: Within the first couple seconds of being in the pool, she was just happy and kind of behaving a little more excitedly than what we expected. She's a lot more active in the pool. We found that out when we were on vacation last summer. We got her in the pool with the Otteroo and she just started moving all over the place. It was a different kind of movement from what we'd seen from her before when she was just kinda laying on the floor or sitting in the chair or something like that. She was just a lot more active, especially with her legs because she never really like moved her legs a whole lot. We were able to get her backed up into a corner against the walls of the pool and she would actually like jump and push and it seemed like she was trying to swim herself around.
So this was kind of a really good shining moment of vacation to be able to figure out something that would work for Sydney and we were able to still enjoy family time and time outside, so that was really good.
How did that make you feel?
Valerie: Our vacation was a little bit difficult because... it's just not what we expected. The year prior when we were making plans and we were pregnant, and you know, we just thought we'd have this healthy little baby.... So it was hard emotionally to be around the rest of our friends and family who have healthy children. So this was kind of a really good shining moment of vacation to be able to figure out something that would work for Sydney and we were able to still enjoy family time and time outside, so that was really good.
You've since started using it with your therapist at home. What does she think?
Aaron: At first, she was kind of the same way I was. She was a little nervous about it and didn't want to let Sydney go at all. But, I think that she's actually looked into purchasing some of them because she can sit on the stairs in the pool with Sydney and have Sydney sitting on her lap and be working with her hands or, trying to like hold her core muscles in a certain way and doesn't have to worry that Sydney's going to face-plant in the pool.
Have you noticed any changes in Sydney?
Aaron: Recently, I would say that we've actually seen her working on trying to pull her core and her legs up underneath of her and could get onto her back a little bit and then she'll flip back. She's definitely engaging and using muscles differently than what she would be able to otherwise.