Writing about my son’s physical therapy falls under the things I don’t want to talk about or write about, but it has to come out somehow. I am having major feelings about it. He has torticollis, likely from the way he was positioned in the womb. I have a bicornuate uterus, which means it is heart shaped and therefore gave my baby less room to move around. This means that he has a preference to look to his left side vs. his right side. He also has a flat spot at the back of his head, mostly in the middle, but it is a little flatter on the left side due to him always wanting to position his head that way, even in his sleep. (Yes, even when I reposition it.) File this under the things that I have major mommy guilt about. Maybe it sounds lame to have mommy guilt about something like this, but I do. (I shouldn’t have let him sleep in the rock ‘n play. I read about those things causing flat head. I should have held him more and put him down less.) I could go on.
While at first the pediatrician wanted to “keep an eye on it”, we have now landed ourselves in physical therapy as of yesterday, learning exercises that can help with his stiffness and preference of looking always to his left and now also rolling always to his left. The exercises seem easy enough, but we are supposed to do them at every diaper change and even more if we can. Two exercises 4-6 reps on each side. Each rep takes 20-30 seconds with rest time in between. So that’s a minumum of 16 thirty second exercises, which is 8 minutes minus the rest times. If we do the 6 reps, it’s 24 exercises, which is 12 minutes. The thing is, it takes a lot longer than that. If he is unhappy and starts fussing at any point, we are supposed to stop and make him happy/distracted so we can try again. One exercise he tolerates pretty well. The other one, he hates. I haven’t even been able to successfully do it at all yet today, though not for lack of trying. He is also supposed to have a minimum of 60 minutes of tummy time per day (broken up however it works) and floor time on his back to help him look both right and left, which is also supposed to happen after each diaper change.
Whew, okay, so with all of that, he is 4 months old. I think he is teething, and he is on a 90 minute wake schedule. He wakes up, diaper change, eats, plays, and then is being put back down at about the 90 minute mark. He is also breast fed and a slower eater, so he takes about 25-30 minutes to nurse. Then he sleeps anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for each nap.
It was hard to leave the house to do any errands or outings before because of this 90 minute schedule. He typically doesn’t sleep in the car or when we’re out, even if I have him in the carrier, because there is too much to look at, so when we would go out on an errand, I knew it just meant his awake time would be stretched and we would likely not reach his 14-16 hours of recommended sleep that day. Now, I am wondering how I can ever keep up with these exercises and go anywhere or do anything.
File this under things I really really don’t want to talk about. When we were at the physical therapy appointment yesterday, she brought up the “h” word. Helmet. She wants to give him a month and a half to see how he does and then at that point determine if we need to take him to have a consultation with some cranial technologies people to assess his need for a helmet to reshape his head. (Of course I can’t see them saying that he doesn’t need one, given that making helmets is how they make money.)
I can’t even. I’ve been crying off and on since the appointment. I really really really don’t want him to have to wear a helmet. I really really really don’t want to go out of the house with him in this helmet that the pamphlet says will have to be worn 23 hours a day. I don’t want to deal with the stares, people’s judgements and comments, and feeling like a bad mom because I allowed it to get this bad. This is why I am determined to do these exercises correctly and with the frequency I am supposed to do them despite it seeming like that will leave me stuck in the house most of these next few months.
My fear is that I will do everything I am supposed to do with him to the best of my ability, and yet we will still be told that he needs to wear the stupid helmet. People are mean and judgmental and gawking. I have social anxiety disorder and an extreme case of the mama bears. I feel like I will alternatively spontaneously combust from holding things in and erupt at people who dare to make one false move or glare or comment. I fear I will be mom shamed. I fear even my family and friends will judge me quietly, even if they are nice to me to my face. I fear that my baby will not be okay because of his mis-shapen head and that I will have to deal with the guilt of that as he grows up.
I feel like I did when I was having such a hard time nursing in the beginning, when the baby wasn’t taking enough out despite there being enough supply, yet his not taking enough out made my supply go down. It looked like we were going to have to supplement with formula, which was the very last thing I wanted to do. I spent a good few months losing sleep because of being up with a baby like a normal newborn but then also pumping every two hours right after the baby ate and taking all kinds of supplements. It was exhausting. In the end it was worth it because I now successfully ebf, and as of our last appointment, the baby was gaining an ounce a day. Hooray! But in that few months, I felt like I was doing things wrong, like I was failing, like I wasn’t going to make it out of that phase. I feel the same fears and sadness with this new challenge. I fear that it will not turn out as well as the breastfeeding challenge despite my best efforts. I feel hopeless, and I feel sad that I feel hopeless, and I feel afraid and like I am not really doing very well. I feel mad that this is another thing that is so hard, and I feel myself comparing to other moms and babies I know who this stuff came so easily to. Comparison is the thief of joy, I know. I need to learn a lesson from my 4:8 baby who is very joyful oh so much of the time.