My son turned 2 at the end of August, and my daughter started Kindergarten this year. First of all, WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Right!? I’m thinking about milestones and the quick pace of life. I remember when they were both infants and I thought the sleepless nights would never end. Now, I can’t keep up with how fast they’re both changing.
My son 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. But, his first year of life was extremely challenging.
His first three months were perfect. Normal infant stuff. But, at the 3 month mark, 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 his irritation was unrelenting.
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 huge blessing because we found out what was going on. 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 a non-dairy probiotic. 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.
I want to write about the process because I can see how far we’ve come. The experience was humbling. People 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. Many time I didn’t even 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, sweet, and very snuggley. He actually cries more now as a toddler than he did at that time. 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 Universe, 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 still continue with the probiotic, but he is doing really well. He’s beautiful and his eyes are wide open, bright, and shine with light. He’s strong and wild. Today, instead of shocked expressions and worrisome questions, we get comments about his beauty.
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, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re a really strong mother.” As a mom, there have been a ton of moments when I felt anything but strong. But she’s right. I am strong. And I know I can get through anything now.