In the beginning, Callum was what people termed 'the perfect baby', he breastfed well, was very calm, happy, loved being cuddled by everyone, and started sleeping through the night (10.30pm-7.30am) at just over 6 weeks.
The first round of baby immunisations loomed at 8 weeks, and he seemed to take them in his stride, was grizzly for a couple of days, but then got back to his usual adorable self.
Then came the second round, and that's when things started to change, in quite a drastic way. His once clear, dewy skin started to get dry patches, which became angry red sores very quickly in spite of a variety of creams. I knew not to use Johnsons which can dry the skin dreadfully, so tried to stick with E45 (which caused even more of a problem). A trip to the doctors later, and we were prescribed diprobase - did nothing! Then came doublebase - again nothing. By this point, Callum was scratching so badly, we would check on him in his moses basket most mornings and there would be so much blood you would be forgiven for thinking that a murder had been committed. Where possible we would wrap him up tight in his swaddling blanket, but being a boy and pretty strong already, he would invariably escape from it. It was quite simply heartbreaking to witness such severe discomfort in one so young.
Our GP then prescribed Oilatum junior and a moisturiser called Dermol. This is one of the few times in life that I can honestly say I bitterly regret listening to advice given to me. I was advised to liberally plaster Callum in the moisturiser morning, noon and night to combat the now severe eczema patches all over his body - and in particular his face. I diligently did as advised, desperately wanting to improve the situation for my poor boy! We were given a follow up appointment for a weeks time to review the situation and see if things had improved at all. This was a Monday. By the Wednesday, Callum's poor skin was so severely damaged, his entire face was weeping pus and blood, it was so bad, I had to wrap his head in a muslin before breastfeeding him because he was slipping off due to the sheer volume of pus being produced. It was most definitely pus, it had a revolting smell and would show as greeny yellow crust all over his sheets every morning. I demanded an emergency appointment with the GP for the next day.
We then had the misfortune of seeing a locum doctor who had no experience of baby eczema, and told me 'it's the new moisturiser doing its thing, work with it and keep applying it'. My gut instinct told me he was so wrong, but by this point, totally exhausted with trying to care for a clearly sick baby, desperately concerned that something was seriously wrong, I had no energy left in me to fight. I went home defeated that night, and continued that way until our 9am appointment on the Monday morning, where our normal GP back from a weeks holiday, was seeing Callum as his first patient.
It turns out, my gut instinct was absolutely bang on the money. The GP took one look at Callum, quietly told me to sit down, and then explained very calmly that Callum was seriously ill, that he would be calling the Horton immediately to ensure Callum was admitted to the Childrens Hospital right away, and that he was concerned that Callum was suffering from complications from very severe infected eczema.
It was one of the worst days of my life, my poor boy was so poorly, he was borderline blood poisoning. His guardian angel was most definitely looking down on him that morning, at the point of admission, he was puking every 10 minutes and in a bad way, when the on call consultant said we would be going down the corridor where a bi-monthly eczema clinic was currently being run by the Lead Consultant for the region.
Within 2 hours of being in the company of this wonderful man, he had calmed Callum's skin down sufficiently enough for him to not be in so much pain, diagnosed what was going on, advised that the Dermol was to blame (it had literally burned his skin off as if we were cleaning him with acid), given us a treatment plan, and promised to have our boy fixed within 6 months as long as we attended clinics and appointments weekly.
And so the battle for recovery commenced.........