Monday, September 1, 2014

Mommy Guilt

(A little bit of a venting post as I'm processing our soon to be new reality)

As I'd heard even before Evan came along, Mommy guilt is an unavoidable part of becoming a mother. You want what's best for your child, for things to be perfect, which is, of course, impossible. And so far, I've been able to keep the guilt at a reasonable level, popping up every now and then, but easily able to keep under wraps. 

That is, until all this new stuff came up with Evan. Being told there is something wrong with your child makes it impossible not to send you racing back through your mind, looking for something you could have done to make things different. If only we'd used the stroller less, put him in a crib from day one, instead of the rock n play, didn't let him play on his back. Maybe we could have prevented his plagio. Guilt is incredibly common among parents with plagio babies, mostly because there's this feeling that it could have been prevented. And the wonder of why your baby got it when others didn't, and if that meant you did something wrong. 

The only place Evan would sleep when he was itty bitty.

Of course, I know that we did better than average with keeping Evan out of "containers" (as our physical therapist refers to swings/bouncers/car seats/etc.) - in part because he never particularly liked his bouncer or swing, and in part because I knew carrying or wearing Evan in wraps was good for him. And it doesn't make us bad parents to have let Evan play on his playmat or sleep in his cozy rocker. We've been reassured by both the orthotist and the physical therapist that Evan's condition began in utero and we did everything right to try to keep it from getting worse. But it's still hard not to look back and wish we could have done some things differently. 

Could we have done even more tummy time?

And of course, the guilt only gets worse when we think about treatment. I'm so worried that we'll be judged for putting our sweet little boy in a helmet. Even though I've read nothing but positives about helmet experiences, I worry people will think we just didn't hold Evan enough. I worry about people judging Evan and thinking something is wrong with him when they see him. I worry people will think the helmet is unnecessary. And I worry people will come up to us when we're out and about with negative comments, as I have heard is only too common. But most of all, I feel guilty that Evan will have to spend however many months with this hot, tight thing on his head. That he won't be able to feel the same cuddles anymore. 

But, the guilt of not doing anything would be worse. While there are no definite knowns, some research suggests that risks of untreated plagio include: migraines, TMJ and other jaw issues, ear infections, hearing problems, sight problems and other less scary but still real issues like being unable to fit into sports helmets or wear glasses comfortably. And, of course, teasing for looking different - a bigger issue with boys, since they are more likely to wear their hair shorter. There's a chance his plagio could self correct, but I would feel horrible if we decided not to act and then he was one of those whose plagio never got better. 

Not that we haven't dressed Evan in some funny looking things before, in the name of what's best for him...

Still, it's hard to commit our sweet, little boy to the helmet, even though everyone says it bothers parents so much more than it ever bothers babies. I already feel guilty going through Evan's physical therapy exercises every day and hearing his unhappy cries as I help stretch his neck or get him to do just one more minute of tummy time or side lying. Evan has always been such a happy baby, and I'm worried that in the process of fixing his little head, he won't be quite as happy anymore.

But, I think this is all just part of being a parent. Worrying that you're making the best choice by your child and sometimes, doing what's right even when it isn't easiest or what makes everyone happiest in the short term. Our job is to think about Evan's future and make the right choices now. 

For now, I think I just have to try to rise above the guilt and focus on the many, many positives. And hope that the guilt will start losing its power some day soon. 

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