Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I'm a Helmet Baby Mom!

It was ten weeks ago when we found out our little boy would have to be fitted for a helmet. In the months of physical therapy leading up to that decision, I kept thinking to myself, "His head will round out. He won't need a helmet. He'll be fine." Then the day came that his physical therapist said he should be evaluated. We waited a couple of weeks to first visit with his doctor. We were shocked when his doctor exclaimed something alongs the lines of, "Oh my god! Have you had him fitted for a helmet yet? His head shape is not right. This will not fix itself."

Monkey & Peas Photography
Bailey a week before his helmet fitting (Photo by Monkey & Peas Photography)
Devastated, I looked up photos of babies with helmets and sat in despair. I didn't want my baby wearing one of those. What would other people think? Would they think there was something wrong with him? Would they think that I did something wrong with him? That I somehow did something to him that caused him to wear a giant band around his head? My fears of being looked at like I was a bad mom were quickly flooding in.

Then came time for his appointment. We walked into the office, nervous about the events that were going to unfold. During his free evaluation, we kept being reminded about how imperfect his face was. How is eyes weren't symmetrical, how one ear was much farther back, how his head was protruding in various spots. On the drive home, my husband had to stop for a box of tissues because I couldn't stop crying. I don't think there's anything worse on this planet then hearing someone tell you how wrong your baby is.

His next appointment, I went with a brave face. I realized this had to happen and there was no choice. The appointment, however, nearly destroyed me. I had made my peace (as much as I could at the time!) with him wearing the helmet. However, when being measured for it, they had to take pictures of his head. To do this, they took a breathable netted fabric and pulled it over his head. The trauma of seeing his face like that still sends chills up and down my spine. He of course, wasn't bothered by it at all. He didn't care. He was his usual happy-go-lucky self, smiling away.

The day we arrived for him to be fitted, I sat in the car on the drive, mourning our cuddle times that would be undoubtably affected by his new helmet. I was sad over the pictures I'd have of him with a helmet on his head, not looking at all like himself. I was worried over if he would be bothered by wearing the helmet on his head. I sat there, fingers crossed that he wouldn't need to wear it too long. My husband, who was equally nervous but far more collected then me, tried to reassure me and calm my fears.

At the offices for his helmet fitting
When we arrived, we sat down in the room, waiting for them to bring the helmet in. My husband put Bailey into a toy car in the room and started riding him around. Bailey was so happy and having a wonderful time. After about five minutes, the woman came in with his helmet. She was a very nice lady, not at all like the other, more critical, people we had met on previous visits. As she fitted the helmet onto Bailey, I realized that nothing could ever take away my baby's adorableness and happiness. He was still the exact same baby I've always known and loved. Truthfully, I had built it up to be far worse than it is. He didn't even notice it was there as he climbed over my husband's lap and head dived onto the floor. He let out a cry, as his head hit the ground, almost as if he expected it to hurt. I say this because that was the last time he head dived with his helmet on and cried! The helmet has definitely had a wonderful bonus of protecting him while he learns new skills!

From the moment the helmet was put on his head, I felt relieved. Knowing that my fears were unfounded was a wonderful feeling. He was happy, he was still adorable, and even though I read stories that I wouldn't be able to cuddle him, I could still cuddle him as much as I always have.

A week after Bailey got his helmet!
It's been five and a half weeks since he first got his helmet and he is doing wonderfully. The weeks have zoomed by and he should only be wearing it for another month and a half at the most. Since he got the helmet, I've found that the majority of people actually know exactly what it is! On occasion, I have had to explain it to people, but it feels good to know I'm able to inform more people about what a baby helmet is for.

The first couple of days while Bailey adjusted to the helmet, he sweat like crazy and woke up back and forth throughout the night from some minor discomfort. For any other helmet baby mom's out there, just know that this did not last long! After the first week, he began sleeping through the night and has been sleeping from 8pm-8am most days. Of course, every baby's sleeping pattern is different, but rest assured, the helmet will not affect your baby's chances of sleeping through the night!

Bailey cuddling up to me during playtime

I'm not going to lie, I am looking forward to Bailey having his helmet removed. Not for any of the reasons I feared. However, the helmet sometimes tips into his eyes and I have to readjust constantly and feeding him his bottle can be quite a pain as the helmet is constantly the point I've started just removing the helmet for those 10 minutes to make it easier on myself! I look forward to pulling clothes over his head without the extra step of taking the helmet off and putting it back on.

I know first hand how terrifying the process of getting your baby a helmet can be. The fear of judgement... But lets face it, as a new parent, it's easy to worry that people will judge your every move. The fear of thinking someone will tell you that you did something wrong is very real. But rest assured, while plenty of people judge about feeding jarred food vs. homemade food, breast feeding vs. bottle feeding, watching TV with your baby vs. keeping the TV always off, etc, very few people (if any!) are judging over the helmet. It's purpose is to help your baby's head shape correct itself. It may be purely cosmetic, but a irregular head shape can affect various things in their future, all the way down to wearing a pair of sunglasses one day!

If you are reading this because your baby will soon be wearing a helmet, I hope this helped you! Please know that there are other people with the same fears and worries as you. That we all get stressed over the idea of our baby wearing a helmet. However, just as my baby is okay, so will yours. And the good news is, you'll be just fine too.

Bailey happily wearing his helmet while he plays.