On Mother’s Guilt and Mommy Blame

by Thao on 02.11.2013

Going to the allergist was the best idea ever. Two weeks ago, Kyler was taken to the pediatrician for his very itchy face. At that point, the eczema was not all over his body (he just had dry skin), but the itchy boy had pretty severe patches on his head and face. They were oozing and caused me to wake up one night to him with a bloody face. Then, it spread to his body, so it became evident that we needed to do something different.

itchy baby with eczema from milk baby, black and white, babyfaceWe spent Thursday morning at the allergist… and left with answers and education. As it turns out, he has a severe allergy to milk (cow’s milk). When I say severe, I mean the milk prick swelled up bigger than the positive control and that the allergist called his skin ‘angry’.

There are inevitably a lot of things racing through my mind and most of it is what I call "Mom Guilt". I read about the signs – green poop, tummy issues, developing eczema, but I was assured that these things were normal via my own research and the Ped. It wasn’t until the eczema spread to his entire body and he was trying to scratch himself on any non-cotton surface that we, including his Ped, realized it was bad. He was just miserable.

So, you go the specialist, they tell you what’s wrong, and then you kick yourself in the ass for not changing history by doing something different or sooner. I document everything. I know exactly when the first itchy dance happened… when the first bowel movement was lime green, and when the skin weeping wouldn’t stop, but sometimes, you just don’t connect the dots. That hindsight quote comes to mind…

THEN you also go through this mindset of "don’t be the freak-out, hypochondriac parent, he’s fine" phase. We do this A. LOT. Too much. Instead of down-playing what the baby is going through at the risk of looking like crazy, overbearing first-time-parents, just trust your gut. I should have. And now I am suffering more with mom-guilt. In the scheme of things, is a severe milk allergy the end of the world? Of course not. There are far worse things that we’ve been fortunate to dodge. Trust me, I know we’re lucky. But I bet the mom-guilt is the same.

What I AM thankful I did, was once we realized it was bad and had spread to his body, the specialist was immediately called, a first-available appointment was made, and we got answers. We almost considered cutting out the main culprits of food allergens from my diet, but I’m an engineer. That kind of time and guess-and-check trial-and-error approach really irked me if I knew I could take him down the street to get an actual, accurate test done. And thankfully, we did. Had I just cut out the milk like I assumed I would have to, I would have increased my concentrated soy intake and he could have developed another allergy. The topical creams, lotions, ointments, and oils that we experimented with, did not cut to the root cause of the problem. They only attempted to address the symptoms and I spend all my time at work identifying root cause and implementing solutions.

allergy prick test for 4 month old baby with eczemaSo we went. It wasn’t the most delightful experience, but Donny and I are good at mentally preparing ourselves for the worst. And the boy took it like a champ. He fussed a bit, but for the most part, stayed still and allowed the itchy Milk poke to flare up on his tiny back. Also good news: it’s likely that this allergy is the cause of his inadvertent un-weight-gain – putting him in the category of Failure to Thrive. The word ‘failure’ is not good for my personality type.

I can logically talk myself through how we did everything right given the timeline of all the events, but it’s hard in a mother’s mind, to not blame yourself for not fixing it sooner. We changed and tried all kinds of things as soon as we could, but I still feel like my reaction was slow. Writing this out is my attempt at accepting that we actually did good and our little trooper will be fine… and not blaming myself for it. Attempt. But Mom-guilt will never go away. I suppose not experiencing mom-guilt would make me a worse mom…

Lesson learned: trust your instincts and the worry never stops… and no matter how things could have been done differently a week or month ago, you’re doing the best you can by caring and taking action. I’m glad I didn’t leave our problem up for chance or to see how it plays out. But then again, I’m a control freak.

And for any mamas out there debating about whether or not you should take your itchy baby to the allergist, just do it. When I had the inkling that I should cut out typical allergens, I would have just cut out dairy. Had I not gone to the allergist, I would not have known to cut out concentrated soy as well, i.e. don’t drink soy milk as a replacement. I also never would have received the amazing prescription cream that has been alleviating Kyler’s itchiness.

On the topic of finances: the cost of visiting the allergist was LESS than taking him to his Pediatrician, at least for our insurance/HSA. Each allergy test prick was about $12 or so… can’t recall. But we spent WAY more money trying to find the silver bullet topical lotion, cream, or ointment that would help him. Over hundreds of dollars guessing and checking and trialing the numerous swaddles and mittens that they put out in the market just to address the symptoms, not the root cause.

Now what? We’re using Neocate formula temporarily until I get all of the cow’s milk and concentrated soy out of my system. Yep, I’m committing to changing my diet so that I can continue to give him the best nutrition. I am too damn stubborn to have someone/something else tell me when to quit breastfeeding. I have to be the one to decide that! Plus, he doesn’t like the formula so much. It might be this transition period, but he just does not like it. AND it’s expensive. Boob milk is mostly free save the initial cost of pumps and storage items. I like free.

If I ever wanted to lose weight, I would have NEVER gone the diet route. THAT is how much I love food. But, for my little guy… anything. And I mean anything. Milk, cheese, and chocolate are among my favorite foods. After getting home from the allergist, I realized that 90% of the food in our house had MILK on the label. Seriously?! Bread, chicken nuggets, CUP O NOODLES! The this-is-going-to-be-a-lot-harder-reality-truck hit me, but again – I’m stubborn.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cat February 12, 2013 at 1:36 am

Oh no, sorry to hear that Kyler has eczema! Poor him 🙁 I’m glad you found out what caused it at least. I don’t think you should blame yourself so much. It’s hard to raise children, especially your first one! Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do and when. I think that’s great that you’re so committed to changing your diet for him 🙂 I hope he gets better soon!


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