And we’re done with the DOC Band!
It was actually a little anticlimactic, to be honest. Officially he was supposed to wear it for another week, but we asked for our last adjustment appointment to be our “graduation” appointment so that we wouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes each way again just to get pictures taken. So they adjusted the band, gave us a little certificate, and sent us on our merry way. We were thrilled to not have to go back and they were thrilled to never see my face again.
But then, just under a week later, Jacob started getting red spots that took about five hours to go away, which meant we’d outgrown the helmet and were done early.
Which we celebrated by…questioning our decision to remove the helmet.
Well, that’s how I celebrated. My husband had zero qualms about being done early because either dad guilt isn’t a thing or it’s much milder than mom guilt.
As adamantly opposed as I was to the idea of a second helmet (and yes, I still think that’s a money grab in many cases), Jacob DOES still have a flat spot. So am I being selfish for wanting to be done? But on the flip side, it’s a DIFFERENT flat spot than the one the helmet was correcting, so did I cause this new one by helmeting him in the first place?
The reality is that no one but me (and I suppose other moms who have dealt with flat heads and are now hyper alert to them) is ever going to notice that his head is anything but perfect. While I now have flat-head-dar and look at the shape of everyone’s heads (it’s terrible. I look at my students and am like, “wow, you should have had a helmet!”), there are people who I looked at every day for years without ever thinking “Wow, your head looks like the east building of the National Gallery!”
Pre-helmet, Jacob’s misshapen head was noticeable. It isn’t anymore unless you’re really TRYING to find imperfections (and looking at him directly top down. He’s got a tall daddy, so I’m thinking that won’t be the case for most people for the majority of his life). By all accounts, the helmet was very successful in reshaping Jacob’s head. And what it didn’t fix will most likely round out by his second birthday on its own.
So I guess what it really boils down to how to live with the mom guilt.
Pre-baby, it was just guilt. Which I suppose comes with the territory. I am Jewish after all, and if our people are known for anything, it’s guilt. You’re welcome. (See what I did there? I learned at the knees of the masters!)
I automatically assume everything is my fault no matter what. I should have tried harder. Been better. Gotten more people out. Yes, I was born decades after the Holocaust, but damnit, I should have done more!
So now that the helmet is done and his head isn’t a miraculously perfect round orb, I need to find a way to let it go. I’m trying to tell myself that that’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn here. A couple of people said to me, after I went public about the situation with Jacob’s head and neck, that we get the baby we NEED, not necessarily the baby we WANT. On the surface, that sounds terrible, because of course I WANT Jacob! He’s the absolute best part of my life.
But I get where those people were going because I think I needed to learn that I can’t control everything. And if I can’t control everything, then not everything can be my fault. Some things just happen and I need to learn to roll with it.
That’s really a struggle for me and was part of why the inability to exclusively breastfeed Jacob was so devastating as well. I had found something that I couldn’t control. My mother called me arrogant when I expressed that to her, and she’s not wrong. But up until motherhood, I lived a life where I was largely able to say I was going to do something and then find a way to make it happen, come hell or high water. Failure simply wasn’t in my vocabulary.
It’s been humbling to have to change that without seeing it as failure. In my mind, Jacob was supposed to be the Galahad to my Lancelot (yes, I know only like three people got that. But I took an Arthurian legends class in college and it was cool. And I’m a nerd. Get over it). He was supposed to be perfect in all of the areas that I wasn’t. He would have no flaws. And while my mother will tell you he’s the most perfect baby ever, I’m still freaking out that he isn’t crawling yet. And still blaming myself, because if I’d caught the torticollis earlier, wouldn’t he be?
Back to everything being my fault.
But I’m learning. If eventual baby number two* isn’t gaining weight with breastfeeding alone, I’m not going to stress about supplementation because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t control that. And that, as much as it felt like it was the first time around, it’s neither the end of the world, nor my fault.
*I am not pregnant. I am not planning on becoming pregnant any time soon. I have a nine month old. I’m tired. I do want a second child in the future, but if you read into this to assume that that’s coming soon, I may slap you.
I definitely know more now about keeping baby number two’s head round as well. I know the signs of torticollis, but the reality is that that may be unavoidable too. I had low amniotic fluid the first time around, which is again out of my control. But an earlier diagnosis, if that is an issue again, could be key in the flat head battle. I know to reposition, I know more about tummy time, I know to wear the baby more.
I also know that if future baby number two needs a helmet, we’ll do it. And I’ll do my best not to beat myself up about it too much.