When Bean was a few weeks old she developed a rash. It spread in angry red bumps over her face - allowing me to imagine how she'd look, crying, if she ever reached teenagehood and shaved her head. At first I dismissed it as a newborn thing--- I tried to wash her face more carefully, watched for signs of it to pass. But as she neared two and even three months, I began to suspect that it was something else.
I'll never forget having a well-meaning salesperson suggest that I try a specific brand of lotion, one that did wonders with "this kind of thing". When I got home that afternoon, I spread the white lotion on my fingers and started to apply it to Bean's rashy red cheeks. The scream she uttered did nothing to make me think that the lotion was doing "wonders" - rather, it sounded to me like it was literally BURNING THE SKIN OFF HER FACE. I scraped and rubbed my fingers over her hot bumpy cheeks, running to the bathroom to try to wash it off that much faster.
I had intended to sooth and had instead served to exacerbate.
For not the first time (and most certainly not the last), I felt very very very foolish.
Lately I've had the feeling of experiencing a proverbial red angry rash, a metaphorical rash. A rash inside my mind and heart. I've felt irritated and bothered and melancholy in equal measure. But the things that I've tried to sooth the hurt have only caused it to flair into an even bigger mess.
On a long ago June day, I finally took Bean to the doctor to discuss the rash. He dismissed some of the more outlandish possibilities and came back with one diagnosis: eczema. And the answer was quite simple: a thick moisture barrier of Aquaphor after every bath, and double rinsing all of our laundry to get rid of any soap residue. The improvement was noticeable after only a couple of days, her skin losing the scaly crust and starting to resemble the whisper-soft stuff she was born with.
In the past few days I've taken a similar course with my own internal dismay: a thick salve of comfort, and a double-rinse for things that might try to creep through the cracks. So far it's working, I'm feeling a little bit better--- maybe not quite as inspired (or inspiring) as I'd like to be, but I'll get there. Just need a bit of time.