AM I THE ONLY ONE?
For the first 2 years of Corey’s life, my most vivid memories were not of cuddles, kisses and coos. Instead, for 2 years my days were filled with treating his infected eczema and figuring out how to cope with his allergies.
I didn’t have time to worry about whether he was flipping over at the appropriate age. Because I was much too busy making sure he didn’t claw his skin off when my head was turned.
I did not dare to smell his infant head (which I did a gazillion times with his older bro). Because I feared doing so would make his cradle cap worse (that and eczema scalp doesn’t smell pleasant at all).
Through the countless hours of trying to comfort my inconsolable itchy, rashy baby, I kept wondering “Am I the only one experiencing these crazy episodes?!?!”. And if I wasn’t, WHERE were all these other mamas?? Were they going through the same kind of insanity.
For the 100th time, I would stare at my screaming baby and just throw my arms up in despair. I had already done the 101 things I was told that would help him. I even tried willing him with my mind, please speak and TELL ME :”Where was the pain? Where was the itch? How can I fix this?”. But of course, a 6 month old baby could not give me these answers, all he could do was cry and instinctively squirm in discomfort.
It was truly a confusing, depressing and lonely time.
FAST FORWARD 2 YEARS OF LIVING WITH BABY ECZEMA
We are definitely in a better place now. His chronic eczema and severe allergies are now under good control (we are only left with stubborn spots YAY!!). More on how we did it and tips on how you too can cope later.
Even though it is behind us, I will never forget those crazy days.
Days, AND ESPECIALLY nights when I felt totally and utterly alone. Holding his tiny hands to prevent him from scratching. Dozing off next to him and waking up startled by any movement. Both of us never sleeping more than a few hours at a stretch. That feeling of helplessness when unknown reactions turns his skin for the worse.
DIFFERENT STORIES, DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT SAME EMOTIONS
Corey’s condition and my experience is probably more extreme than most. But, hearing from all the eczema mamas who have reached out, one commonality stands out like a bright neon sign.
Our stories may be different, but we experience the exact same emotions when battling baby eczema.
Nobody wants to see their baby in discomfort. Babies are meant to be perfect, meant to be cuddled and kissed and have their heads smelled. With eczema babies, the attention is rudely taken away from the normal milestones. Hijacked by the need to attend to infected skin. Constant confusion can ensue if mysterious allergic reactions recur from nowhere.
These are not normal mummy experiences. A mama new to baby eczema require time and much learning to cope and adapt to the situation. Baby eczema is not at all forgiving, it hardly gives you a chance to catch your breath, before it spreads and another problem surfaces.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
It is such a small statement, but oh so important reminder that all eczema mamas need to remind ourselves daily. Be it reading blog posts like this or finding an encouraging (note the italics and bolding to emphasise ‘encouraging’ as opposed to judgemental) support group of mummies going through similar pains. We all find our different ways to cope, and cope we must because our littlest ones depend on it. Mine was in starting this website. Writing and sharing is my therapy. And connecting with eczema mamas who have reached out to me has been a huge support. As much as I hope to be able to help every each and one of you, I also know how important you mamas have been in keeping me sane during tough times. This will often feel like a lonely journey, but we are never alone! Somewhere someone might be going through similar pains or worse.
Well meaning but misplaced advice only makes the loneliness worse…
Part of the loneliness happens when someone who claims to know exactly what will work, dishes out advice like it’s free (well free advice is just that, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys). These are well meaning people, but because each baby is different, each child’s needs and what works is different. And for fragile, confused and frustrated eczema mamas to hear so many varied views, it is overwhelming just to digest why something worked for someone else’s baby but not their own. This is why I advocate following a proper allergist/dermatologist as the first line of defense for medical help.
Sometimes just listening and saying you are not alone is good enough…
More important than buying and gifting yet another moisturiser that promises to be a miracle cure for eczema baby (which by the way does not exist).
More important than saying baby will outgrow it someday like a common cold.
Sometimes just listening is enough. Or watch baby for an hour so that eczema mamas can go for a walk. Fresh air is good for eczema mamas. And if there is no good advice to offer, then a simple reminder that they are not alone is enough for them to get through another day.
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