How often do you feel like tearing your hair out? Pretty often for me, especially when Marcie was between one to ten months old. Her eczema was all over her body, scalp and face and she didn’t know how to distract herself from scatching.
Having been both a stay-at-home and a working mom, I fully understand the additional demands of taking care of children with eczema, whether or not you’re working. I didn’t have a helper or another adult to help out during the day. I was alone at home, trying my best to stay calm taking care of my baby and to be a good home maker. The stress level was sky high, knowing that any attention lapse could result in scars/broken skin on my baby.
If your spouse/ family member is taking care of a child with eczema, do emphatise with them as you can see below it’s a lot tougher to care for an eczema kid.
1. Not even a minute’s break. A child with eczema will scratch when the skin is ‘triggered’, tired, sleepy, hungry or for no reason at all. Marcie scratches whenever she’s not occupied or when left alone. At one point, I couldn’t go to pee or poo or bathe until my hubby return from work.
2. Fatigue from lack of sleep. A child with eczema tends to wake up in the middle of the night and scratch. I am still co-sleeping with Marcie so that I can hold her hands whenever she scratches. Lack of sleep leads to fatigue which also raises the stress level. Since Marcie was born, I haven’t slept throughout the night (but I’ve got used to it).
3. No time to eat! If the restaurant is not cool enough or contains allergens that a child is sensitive too, the child will start scratching soon enough. I lost more weight than my weight gain during pregnancy plus, I’ve got into a habit of gobbling down my food as I know I only got a few minutes before Marcie starts to scratch.
4. No time for exercise! It is extremely difficult to gather the energy to exercise when (and that is a BIG WHEN) there is a little free time. When I do have the chance to jog, the exercise routine only last for 2 weeks before my baby changes her routine. Most days, I choose to chill with my hubby ‘cos we have so little time to ourselves.
It’s no wonder why you or a parent with an eczema child is so high-strung. The basic needs of sleep, eat, exercise, pee & poo can’t even be met properly. There is this study that concludes the stress levels in mothers caring for young children with eczema are equivalent to those mothers of children with severe disabilities. Below are some other emotional issues that you or the parent may face.
5. Guilt. It is easy to feel guilty when you are the only care giver and your baby ends the day with blood. I remembered feeling guilty when I dozed off for a minute and heard my baby scratching her neck. I remembered checking on her when I finished cooking and saw that she woke from her nap and scratched till blood from her ears run down to her face. I remembered checking on her when she was in a baby chair and realized she scratched her neck against the metal frame till bleeding. I remembered questioning myself if it was right to tie her up for a few minutes when I prepared her milk. It took me some time but I know now that I’m the best mom for Marcie and there’s no reason for guilt.
6. Isolation. A stay-at-home mom has no one to share your day and you lost your work status. For parents with eczema kids, it is very difficult to share with people who have not gone through the same. Worse, you tend to get suggestions that somehow point to you ‘mis-caring’ for your child.
7. Anger and blame. Eczema is an immunology disorder and it is half the time inherited. It took quite a few months before I stopped accusing my hubby about him passing on his ‘bad gene’. It does no good and doesn’t help our relationship.
8. Almost no time with spouse. That’s a big issue when the child takes so much attention, from both parents. I have yet to learn to enjoy the moment with my hubby when our baby is with us.
9. More housework. If the trigger for your child’s eczema is dust mite dropping, then you may spend more time vacuuming the house, changing bed sheets and cleaning the toys. More housework again means less time with spouse (and seldom both agree on how much housework to do!)
10. Less money. Moisturisers, bath oils, steroid, specialist appointments all don’t come cheap. Financial burden may place additional stress on the couple relationship.
One thing I’m glad to report though, it is possible to manage all of these better overtime. One good that comes out of taking care of Marcie for the past 15 months is that I’m proud of myself, my hubby for managing it so well and is more confident of our ability to weather difficulties together.