When you’re a first-time mom, it’s hard not to let every little thing feel overwhelming and scary. I was on the internet constantly, researching and falling down the Google rabbit hole for every minor thing that troubled my baby.
As a newborn, my first son had what appeared to be a blocked tear duct– a common occurrence, according to every doctor and mom friend I had. His eye would leak little tears or discharge gunk from time to time. I was instructed to apply a warm rag to his eye and massage the skin around it to help it clear.
Eventually, the goop cleared up, but his eye continued to leak tears well past the newborn stage, and at ten months, he was sent to a specialist. The doctor diagnosed his problem as epiblepharon, a scary-sounding word for what was actually a simple condition. The skin at the corner of his eyelid was folded in a way that turned his eyelashes inward, irritating his eye and causing it to water.
Just Wait and See
There’s nothing you can do about it, the doctor told us. He may grow out of it, and it won’t be a problem. If not, we’ll revisit it when he’s five or six and talk about surgery.
Surgery! On my BABY?! I’m sure you can imagine the internal first-time-mom panic reaction I had. I timidly asked if there were any exercises or stretches we could do to help it, but the doctor said no. Just wait and see.
And as time passed, his eye watered less and less, until eventually, it stopped, and I completely forgot about the diagnosis. He recently turned six, and the doctor and his words randomly popped into my memory. I smiled, thinking about how there was no need for surgery now, and how I wished I could go back in time and tell myself to calm down, to breathe, to trust that it would either work itself out or that we’d be equipped to deal with it when the time came. I wish I could tell myself I would gain nothing by worrying.
It’s Still Hard Not to Worry
It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me throughout motherhood and that I try to apply to all three of my children. It was hard not to worry about my middle child when he needed surgery to remove a concerning mole. It’s been hard not to worry about my youngest child as we wait and observe a protrusion in his stomach. We deal with a couple of different medical conditions for them, including food allergies and severe eczema, and it’s hard not to get caught up in despair when it feels like you can’t prevent your children from suffering.
With Experience Comes Hope
Despite the unending worry, what I now have is experience – and with that comes hope. The epiblepharon lesson taught me that we don’t know what the future holds, and while it has the potential to hold the worst– something I automatically assume– I have to remind myself that it also has the potential to hold the best.
I have to believe that there is a cure, or at least an improvement, waiting for us somewhere in the future for their nut allergies. I have to believe that their eczema may improve with time, or if not, that we’ll find improvements on how to manage it. I have to believe that the future holds improvement, even if we don’t know what it is in the present.
Worrying is easy, but it makes life harder. To not have any hope would be to drown in the overwhelm of constant worry. Hope can be tough to hold onto, but it’s also buoyant in a turbulent sea. Have hope, mamas. May all your worries work out for the best.