Eczema, Humility, and Strength

My son turned 1 at the end of August, and my daughter will be 5 years old on Thursday. First of all, WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Right!? My daughter is a giant now and my son is almost walking. I’m thinking about milestones and the quick pace of life, which is baffling. 

My son’s first year has been challenging at times. He arrived in the world earlier than expected, but healthy. He’s a happy baby. He’s affectionate and funny. He’s almost always in a good mood, and he’s never met a stranger.

Three months after he was born he developed a rash on his cheeks. This rash spread to his chest, the back of his knees, and eventually, the rest of his body. The first time I took him to the doctor about the rash specifically, she diagnosed him with eczema caused by a milk allergy. I was nursing him, so I immediately cut out all dairy from my diet. The rash persisted. And it grew to a full-body, unrelenting, swollen, and angry red albatross.

Subsequent doctors’ visits were a guessing game. Our pediatrician prescribed steroids which improved the condition but only temporarily. She prescribed antibiotics in case it was bacterial. She told us to use topical creams. About the time we got the first round of steroids completed, my son caught the strep virus from my daughter, causing a major setback. More steroids and more antibiotics.

I had well-meaning friends and family come out of the woodwork with advice and questions. Everyone was understandably concerned. We tried every suggested cream, oil, essential oil blend, and home remedy. Allergy testing was suggested, and he tested positive for food allergies. Eradicating those items from his diet and mine seemed to help a bit, but the rash persisted still.

In the middle of all of this, our family moved, thereby requiring a new pediatrician. Her suggestion was to do additional testing, which was uncomfortable for him and us but was ultimately a blessing. Basically, due to the amount of medication he had in his first year of life, combined with a (lighter) schedule of vaccinations, his little gut couldn’t handle the toxins from the medicines and his digestion was all out of whack. The doctor explained that the body’s entire immune system is controlled in the gut, and his rash was a manifestation of his imbalanced gut bacteria. She prescribed some medication and then some non-dairy probiotics. He’s doing great today. He has some eczema patches here and there, but nothing compared to what he experienced the first few months of his life.

This process was humbling. People, who are innocent of any wrong-doing seemed to have no filter whatsoever. Comments and questions like “what’s wrong with his face?” and “oh my god, is he ok?!” were a daily occurrence. Sometimes I didn’t want to leave the house. I just didn’t want people asking about it, and I was afraid of being judged.

The situation taught me a lot. First, my son is incredible. Who could blame him for being fussy or irritable during all of this? — But he wasn’t! He was happy, and sweet, and snuggly. He actually cries more now than he did a few months ago. There were times that the rash was so severe and his face was so swollen his eyes were almost shut, and still, no complaining on his part. He’s a great example for all of us to be happy despite being so uncomfortable.

The situation also taught me to trust the Light, and to trust myself. My emotions about it often got in the way, but in the moments that I was able to filter the well-meaning comments of onlookers and really tune into my own inner guidance, the message I received was that this was a process we all needed to go through. I knew that it would get better, and to keep working hard with the doctors until we got to the root of the problem. I got a great lesson in not giving up, even when results seem far away.

Today I hope that he outgrows his food allergies. We continue with the probiotics for a few more months, but he is doing really well. He’s beautiful and his eyes are wide open, bright, and shine with light. Today, instead of shocked expressions and worrisome questions, we get comments about how beautiful he is.

The other day I was in the grocery store and had both children with me. It had taken us a long time to get into the shopping basket and into the store. In the bread aisle, a woman approached us and she told me that she had watched us in the parking lot. She said, “You’re a really strong mother.” This year, there have been a lot of moments when I felt anything but strong. But she’s right. I am strong. And I know I can get through anything now.

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