I'm back. I've been away for a long time, I know, but I'll try to be more active here from now on. The past year has been hard, harder than I ever thought it would be and harder than I care to admit. Being a mother should be the most natural thing in the world, but for me it didn't come naturally. I had a really hard time adjusting to the new role and I'm still not quite sure if I have really found my place. For an introvert to never be really alone is extremely exhausting.
For us this year has been extra hard because of Theo's allergies. The summer was horrible to be honest. My whole life revolved around Theo's skin and what he ate, trying to prevent him from scratching himself and putting everything he found in his mouth, to holding his hands while changing his diaper or dressing him, cutting his nails as short as possible, and writing down every single piece of food he ate. I had to stop breast feeding him at the age of 8 months, because it was easier to control what just he ate and not the both of us. Did you know that there are egg whites in Mars bars? Me neither, but I found that out while still breast feeding and wondering why my baby is constantly throwing up. Yes, he is that allergic to eggs. And no, I didnt eat more than just one Mars bar.
In the beginning of summer he had only 5 ingredients that he was allowed to eat: sweet potato, apple, pear, oats and organic beef as well as his baby formula. Later on we noticed that he is also allergic to milk protein and that he can't even handle beef, so we had to give up the formula and he's now growing stronger with the help of soya milk. My baby is a soya-milk drinking, organic and raw food eating hipster. How did this happen? At the moment Theo has almost 40 foods that he can safely eat, sounds like a lot but imagine restricting yourself to just that amount of raw ingredients, it's not that much after all. Also the list of things he can't eat has grown: eggs, milk, beef, corn and bananas.
His skin is so much better now. That also means he is calmer, less fussy, less clingy, happier and sleeps his nights much better. No more being awake in the middle of the night for hours trying to hold his hands so that he can't scratching himself until he bleeds. Sometimes his pyjamas had stuck to his skin in the morning because the skin underneath was so raw. It was horrible.
I became a bitter person during the summer. I started to compare our life to everyone else's, how other people's kids would run around the park in just t-shirts and shorts and I had to keep mine covered all the time to keep his skin safe. I also had to think if the skin was good enough to go to park at all or if I should be worried about it getting infected. Needless to say, we didn't go to the beach at all during the summer, Theo never go the change to swim in the sea. I also jealously watched how others posted photos of their kids eating strawberries or watermelon or icecream or sitting in a field of flowers or bathing in a tub on Instagram. Or just posting pictures of their kids whatever the surroundings, because at some point my baby's skin and face and everything looked so bad that I didn't even feel like taking his photo, let alone sharing it with anyone.
I started to shy away from social events and later even from going to the super market, because I didn't feel like explaining to everyone all the time what was wrong with Theo. His rash made me feel like a bad mother, like it was my fault that he scratched himself and I didn't know why. Instead of people commenting how beautiful my baby was, I was greeted with comments on how bad his skin looks, questions on what causes it and "helpful" stories about other people's babies that were allergic to strawberries, or milk, or peas or whatever. After a while I felt like I had heard it all. I just couldn't take the pity anymore. The comments were still better than the alternative: the people who just looked with poorly masked disgust, but not saying anything. This happened often at playgrounds, parents (and a bit older kids) who just looked at Theo but not daring to ask what's wrong with him. I could almost hear them thinking whether they should let their kids play with Theo at all, in case it is something contagious.
Everything is better now. We've found a way to live with his condition, and his skin is better now. Like I wrote, he is so much calmer and happier now, and so am I. But during this summer I was on a brink of burn-out, I was already so over-exhausted, sleep deprived and downright depressed that it took a long time for me to get better as well, still not quite there but almost. I decided quite early on that I didn't have the time or energy for this blog at the time and decided not to feel guilty about not writing. I would get back to it when I felt like it. I think the time is now. This blog post wasn't really knitting related or about anything I usually write about, but I felt like I needed to let you know what was going on in my life.
PS. How single mothers manage is beyond me. Respect.