Preparing for Pemberton & Femoral Osteotomies ~ The continuing fight against hip dysplasia


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

In the ongoing fight against hip dysplasia we are now preparing for Pemberton & Femoral Osteotomies for our three year old. Here’s how we’re getting ready.


Preparing for Pemberton & Femoral Osteotomies ~ The continuing fight against hip dysplasia

We found out last month that our 3 1/2 year old daughter, Sara, will need more hip surgery and she’s scheduled to have a Pemberton and a Femoral Osteotomy next Tuesday. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at the hospital with her surgeon and his team and the child life specialist on the ward where she’ll be staying after her surgery. For three hours yesterday we talked about her surgery, the cast she’ll wear, toured the rooms we’ll be staying in, and met with some of the after care nurses. It was a hard day.

If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you might remember that we’ve been through this before because I blogged quite a lot about our struggles with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip the first time we went through this. Two years ago, she had an open reduction surgery to put her dislocated left hip in the hip socket and she spent 12 weeks and 5 days in a nasty, nasty Spica cast. Our surgeon told us from day one that another surgery would likely be in her future, but he always said it would happen shortly before kindergarten. We were mentally prepared for surgery next year. Not next week.

This marks the third year that our Sara will have some sort of medical problem at Christmas time. She was hospitalized for a week with a nasty case of pneumonia three years ago at her first Christmas when she was six months old – and released on Christmas Day. Last year, we enjoyed a non-eventful Christmas with our family, but the year before she was in the Spica cast and will be this year too. I’m done with the dramatic holiday celebrations and look forward to the day when we don’t have to worry about this any more.


So yesterday we put on Sara’s special x-ray shirt – a tradition we started with her first surgery {we have to keep a sense of humor some how and the hospital staff always thinks it hilarious that she shows up with her bones on the outside} and prepared her for surgery. We knew she needed a pemberton osteotomy to shape her hip socket, but we found out yesterday that she will need a femoral osteotomy, too. In a nut shell, the surgeon will cut an incision on the side of her leg so he can sever the femur from the femoral head. Then he will position the femur at a better angle and will screw on a metal plate to reconnect it to the femoral head. He’ll also cut an incision at her bikini line and shave her pelvis a bit to create a better, more rounded socket. To keep the femur in place, he plans to take a sliver of bone off her hip {or maybe a cadaver} and wedge everything back in together. I asked what happens if that bone sliver slips and he said, it’s not likely but it is a concern. πŸ™

IMG_9895 We didn’t tell her about her surgery until yesterday. How do you tell your baby that she will have surgery and be stuck in a cast for another 6 weeks?Β And not an easy cast. We’re talking a cast from her belly button to her ankle on her left leg. And from her belly button to her knee on her right. With a hole for the pottying. And, lest you think that doesn’t sound bad enough, she will be stuck at reclining angle and won’t be able to sit up right for 6 weeks. We have a “special” harness she’ll have to wear to secure her in our van. She will lie down on the back seat in this harness and be secured with THREE seat belts. So most likely, we won’t be going many places until the cast comes off at 8 am on January 27. And yes, I’m already counting down the days. I’m not sure how this is all going to play out, but I will blog about it for sure – in part to let of steam but also to help other parents who are also facing this nightmare.
IMG_9893 Sara picked out a pink and purple cast and we are headed to Menards for Duck Tape to soften and brighten up the cast as well. I was really worried about how she would take the news, but she honestly, she took it in stride. I hope I can take it stride.

So, next week my husband, Sara and I will move to the hospital for a week. I’ve been lucky to connect with the most awesome group of bloggers who have sent me posts to use while I’m gone. I’m really excited to share some great posts with you from Iowa bloggers and non-Iowa bloggers as well. It’s hard for me to ask for help but I really am going to need all the help I can get next week. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I know it’s not the same but i missed 3 out of the 4 past Thanksgivings due to my own illness (food poisoning), scalp infection, and surgery. I was beginning to think I just didn’t want to do Thanksgiving. I am hoping since your daughter is older she will understand a little more for you. You may not think it but it sounds like you have it all under control (as much as one can.) Let me know if I can do anything for you.

    1. I hope you’re feeling better, Jenny. It’s really no fun to have surgery or food poisoning or any of the other things you’ve had recently!!

  2. Sara is fortunate to have such a loving family. We will be thinking of you all and keeping you in our prayers. If there is anything at all we can do to be supportive, let me know.

  3. Praying for you all Michelle! We go for Oliver’s 1 year check with xrays in January and I am dreading it! I will be watching the blog for more updates.

  4. How sad for both of you. I am so glad Sara took everything in stride. Kids are flexible. Maybe it is good that they are doing it this year instead of next. That is not to say that this is not going to be absolutely awful but hopefully she will not remember any of it.


  5. Hi Mich, worlds away from the concerns of grad school, no? You are lucky to have each other – all of you. She will continue to surprise you, I’m sure, as will your other little monkeys. Wish I were closer and could do more. Lots of love and lots of positive energy to you.

    1. I know. Those carefree days are long gone, aren’t they Cindy. πŸ™ Miss you guys and our escapadeds in Arizona.

  6. Keeping you both in my thoughts and hoping for a quick recovery, so she can be back to her active 3-year-old self very soon!

  7. Thanks for the update. I have learned a lot from your blog on this topic. It helps me to be more mindful about what other families may be experiencing. If anyone sees your older kids over Christmas, they will have no idea that they have a younger sister in the hospital and their parents away. We are so much more than what appears on the surface! I wish you all well and hugs to your other kids who may feel a little adrift during your hospital stay.

  8. I am watching and hoping for the best for you beautiful daughter and your family, as well as for you!

  9. How sad..I will be thinking of you…and definitely following you on this journey of yours (via your blog, instagram)

  10. Oh, Michelle. My heart goes out for your family. But like many other people have said before, your daughter is so fortunate to have such a loving and caring mom. I will keep you all in my prayers and I will be looking for updates. XOXO

    1. Thanks so much, Maria. I hope things are going well for you in Colorado. You all have had quite the weather this year.

  11. Good luck next week and hang in there, mama! Your Sara is a little fighter! You all are in our thoughts and prayers.