I sat in the car feeling numb. I was dripping wet with information overload from the eczema clinic at The Royal Children’s hospital. The questions were a relentless, old, scratched record. Over and over, the same thing. How would he cope? How would I cope? How was I going to dry the car seat? How was I going to do all this? What if I couldn’t, what then? This was going to be forever. Can I hit rewind and start all over again? No eczema, no allergies please.
We sat in silence during that drive home. It was quite ironic really. AJ had always cried in the car. That day, in his squishy wet romper, he was happy.
Home. I collapsed on the couch – I just sat. I had to call Mum. I knew she would be waiting. But I didn’t want to face explaining this to anyone yet. It was all still a mess in my own head. The puzzle I was meticulously working on, piecing together, the puzzle of being a Mum had been completely overhauled and turned upside down.
I knew some of the changes would be easy. Sure, I can dress him in cotton. But, the better of me knew that most of the changes would be hard. Not for AJ, but for me. I had to change and start again. Without any compromise, I had to make sure that everyone who cared for AJ – did the same. Deep breathes.
Hubby was feeling guilty. Nothing else. Guilty because he had eczema. Guilty because he had passed this onto AJ. Guilty because in his mid-thirties eczema still challenged his life every day. I couldn’t deal with that. That was his battle to fight. I just knew that I had to take it all in and just get on with being Mum.
I have never sat a baby in the bath as long as I did that night. I was avoiding having to face the new bedtime routine. I wanted to help my baby and at the same time I was scared. Scientifically, the changes made sense. Yet, the idea of putting them all into practice only made me more exhausted.
Hubby was better than me like that. He tackled things head on. We pulled AJ out of the bath, but instead of wrapping him and cuddling him in a towel, we just laid him down on one and started to get the QV moisturiser on, with a steroid cream. The room was warm, I made sure of that. He was happy to have the attention of both us at once. He was all sticky and damp, nappy on, books and a play. Then it was time. Time to step up. All the while, my mind reeling, “who puts a baby to sleep dripping wet?”
I grabbed the romper and went over to the sink. Wetting the romper was the easy part. Between the two of us, we managed to squeeze a damp, sticky baby into a wet dripping romper. Once again, AJ didn’t complain.
As we laid him down to sleep, on top of three folded towels, I instinctively went to cover him up with lots of blankets. Only to stop myself. No, he needs to stay cool. I took the blankets away. For the first time, AJ slept soundly and contently. But I didn’t sleep. I hung onto the edge of his cot. Watching him through my heavy eyes. I kept getting up, checking if he was cold. Checking if his hands were turning blue. Checking his face. Checking if. Checking if. Checking if.
The week that followed was nothing short of surreal. AJ’s eczema was settling down. The wet rompers, moisturiser, steroids, antibiotics, cotton – everything was working together. He was sleeping. He was happy. Slowly, I started to relinquish my trust into what I had been told and started to believe that this just might work.
What has taken you by surprise?