Eczema, Humility, and Strength

My son arrived in the world three weeks earlier than expected, but he was healthy. He was also a happy baby: affectionate and funny, and almost always in a good mood. His personality didn’t even change when, at three months old, he developed a rash on his cheeks.

At first, I thought the rash was due to an unseasonable cold snap. He had been outside for a few Halloween events. I knew I was wrong when a few days later, this rash had spread to his chest and the back of his knees. The doctor diagnosed him with eczema caused by a milk allergy. I felt relieved to have an answer, and hopeful for a quick recovery. I was nursing him, so I immediately cut out all dairy from my diet. A few weeks later, however, there was no improvement. The rash grew to a swollen and angry albatross over his entire body. I felt scared and frustrated. I worried my son was suffering.

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A roller coaster started. Our pediatrician prescribed steroids. The rash cleared up then a month later, he caught strep throat from his sister, which caused another rash. He went through another round of antibiotics and steroids.

Friends and family came out of the woodwork with advice and questions. Well-meaning and concerned, they offered creams, essential oil blends, home remedies, and prayers for healing.  Some seemed to have no filter whatsoever and blurted comments and questions like “what’s wrong with his face?” and “oh my god, is he ok?!” Most of the time I didn’t want to leave the house. I just didn’t want people asking about it, and I was afraid of being judged.

We met with a different pediatrician for a second opinion and they suggested we do additional testing. This ended up being the answer to our prayers. My son had consumed so much medication in his short life. Between his vaccinations and everything we’d tried for his eczema, his little gut couldn’t handle it. We learned that the body’s entire immune system is controlled in the gut, and his rash was a manifestation of major imbalance. She prescribed some medication and a non-dairy probiotic. She also did allergy testing and we found out he’s allergic to a few foods.

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Now, he’s a healthy and happy three year old. He doesn’t have to take the pro-biotic anymore. He has some food allergies, but as long as we keep him away from those he doesn’t have any problems.

I want to write about the process because it was stressful and humbling at the time. When I look back on the experience I can see how far we’ve come. I wanted to share what I learned from it.

I can be joyful and happy no matter what.

My son is incredible. Who could blame him for being fussy or irritable during all of this?  He wasn’t! He was happy, sweet, and smiled and laughed more than he cried. There were times that the rash was so severe, his face was swollen, and his eyes were almost shut – still, he was joyful. He was a great example for me on how we can all be happy and joyful, even when things are uncomfortable and challenging.

Trust the Universe.

This situation was emotional for me, and those emotions often clouded my perspective. I took a lot of the comments and suggestions personally. At times it was hard for me to trust my own maternal instincts and have absolute faith that we’d get to the root cause of the issue. In the moments I was able to filter and 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. This was a great lesson in not giving up, even when results seem far away.

Things change!

I remember feeling at the time that my son would be plagued with a lot of medications and a limited diet. I was worried that it would affect his quality of life. The situation has changed a lot though, and it’s all been consistent improvement. Today, instead of shocked expressions and worrisome questions, we get comments about his beauty.

Last week at the grocery story, I had struggled to get the kids out of the car and into the shopping car. I remember feeling a little scattered and fatigued. In the bread aisle a woman approached me and said, “I watched you in the parking lot. I just wanted to tell you I think you’re a really strong mother.” I wanted to cry. I didn’t feel strong that day, but I took her compliment to heart. Then I remembered some of the challenges we’ve overcome, and I felt her words stronger. With a joyful outlook, trust in the universe as my ally, and the awareness that very few situations are permanent, I’m a stronger mom.

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