TBT – My Son was Ugly and Beautiful – December 1993
My baby was covered with eczema. He looked so bad with his oozing, pussy, open sores that at his hospital visits the other mothers would keep their children away from him in case he was contagious.
Our first adventure with our oldest son began with jaundice right after birth. He got so yellow his eyes and tongue almost glowed but he was home and visits to the hospital lab a couple of days in a row showed that his levels were coming down so it was only time before it would clear. In the meantime I nursed him lots and placed him in his diaper in his bassinet in front of our living room window.
At about 5 weeks old, I was nursing my son in bed in the early hours of the morning when his arms started flailing and he woke me up. He couldn’t catch his breath. I was smacking his back and shaking him in panic trying to dislodge whatever was choking him. My husband was downstairs but responded to my panic by calling the ambulance. He followed the ambulance to the hospital with my oldest who was then 15 months old. Suctioning in the ambulance helped my son to breathe.
Transferred from one hospital to the next, we spent 10 days total in the Children’s Hospital. It was explained to me that my son had reflux and would bring up the contents of his stomach into his throat causing him to choke. I was to just watch him when he choked and not help him unless he couldn’t clear it himself. We were also told to keep the head of his mattress propped up on one end. After many, many tests, the hospital had no insights into what was wrong with my son, only that every severe disease they checked him for came back negative. It was reassuring in one way, but the question of why it had happened still remained.
During this time at the hospital, God surrounded us with His love and sent many friends to visit, being almost Christmas several local charities came in with entertainment and gifts for the kids. A priest friend of ours came in and prayed with my son and I and I was grateful my son was already baptized. Relieved of my daily duties during our stay in the hospital, I spent a lot of time praying and growing even more deeply in my trust of God. He was in charge!
Now the eczema started. It started gradually but grew until his body was covered and his poor face would ooze pus from open sores. The dermatologist talked generally about food allergies, prescribed some steroid cream and assured me my son would outgrow his eczema before he was a year old. That last statement left me skeptical and the cream barely helped. He looked awful to others, but I barely saw it by this time.
What a happy child he was! Always full of smiles and rarely complaining. A pacifier helped him to sleep and I slipped little mitts over his hand so he couldn’t scratch. His older sister loved him and they were inseparable.
He nursed well but I noticed that certain foods I ate would cause flareups of his eczema causing them to ooze pus. I started removing foods out of my diet. I removed garlic and alcohol to start. Next were tomatoes. The specialist from the hospital wanted to put my son on a special hypoallergenic baby formula that would cost about $1000 a month. I wanted to nurse my son and didn’t have that kind of money, and she agreed we would try the nursing and I would remove foods from my diet that he reacted to.
At about 4 months old, I fed my son his first solids. Just a spoonful of rice pablum. This small amount of pablum sent him into a shaking fit with his eyes rolling back. Thankfully my doctor was only a block away. He assured me it wasn’t an allergic reaction and encouraged me to try again. No way was I about to do that again, so we went to see a naturopath and learned through testing that my son had several food intolerances. The list was long – tomatoes, potatoes, dairy, eggs, rice, wheat, caffeine, chocolate and a fruit and sugar combination. It was a place to start. They gave remedies and another cream that worked better, as well as some bathing tips. I would put oatmeal in a sock and soak it in the tub squeezing out the oat milk and I would use a non-soap cleanser. A later visit to the allergist showed a possible anaphylaxic reaction to eggs, dairy and peanuts – a new item to add to our ever growing list of foods to avoid.
I immediately removed these foods from my diet and continued to see improvements. The eczema was less severe and at about 6 months old I again tried my son on solids, focusing mainly on vegetables. Next were fruits and then meat. I learned to make him muffins made with oat flour and no eggs or dairy and my list of recipes grew as he ate more. He ate porridge or cereal with juice for breakfast, muffins for snacks, fruits, veggies and meat for lunch and supper. He loved corn puffs. I have since learned that freshly made carrot juice is full of calcium. On the plus side I lost all kinds of unwanted pounds and I knew I was pregnant again by the time my son was 10 months old.
I focused on giving my son a lot of soya products – tofu hotdogs, tofu hamburgers, soya milk. When I finally removed the soya products, his eczema cleared up almost completely. He now had eczema only in the more classic areas such as his armpits and behind his ears. And he was 2 weeks shy of his first birthday.
When I was first told my son’s eczema would clear up by the time he was a year old, I was not only skeptical but considered the doctor naive, but he was right. The specialist from the hospital was not particularly helpful but she would have been if my son had a severe disease to go along with his allergies and intolerances. The dermatologist told me the foods I ate wouldn’t go through my breast milk which obviously was misinformation. The naturopath gave me us our first hope. My son’s joyful attitude reminded me that even when things are difficult there is joy. And really it was more of a journey than a struggle.
Today my son is 21 years old. He outgrew all of his severe allergies by the time he was 10 years old. He still gets mild eczema and has learned not to roll around in the grass. He still likes to avoid certain foods because of the way they make him feel, but I no longer have nightmares that he will eat a food and die a horrible death.
God is good, all the time, All the time, God is good.
And the bible verse that helped me through this time?
Proverbs 31:25 – AND SHE LAUGHS AT THE DAYS TO COME.