I’m a helmet mama. It’s something I never thought I’d say, but there it is. And I’m not going to be ashamed of it.
Of course, at first, when the doctor referred us to see a specialist for “flat head,” I thought, “Oh, please no. Not my baby.” I’ve seen those babies, and I’ve always felt bad for them and wondered how their heads got that bad. And I’ll be honest, I’d usually pass judgment on the mother of that baby.
So how did I end up with my own baby having a helmet on his head? It’s called torticollis—and it’s not my fault.
Once the specialist said those words, I felt so much better. Once he explained that the majority of babies with flat heads are the result of torticollis, and it’s not the by-product of something I did or did not do, I breathed a sigh of relief. My baby, for whatever reason, was born with a stiff neck, and he was not able to turn his head ninety degrees in the other direction. His head was constantly turned in one direction; it was most likely from his position in the womb. And it’s not my fault.
It’s something I’m repeating here because I want you to know that if you’re in a similar position as me and your doctor has recommended helmet therapy, you don’t need to be so hard on yourself. As this is my third baby, I thought I’d heard it all and been through it all, but this was a first for me. I wasn’t aware of what to look for as far as my baby’s head and neck position. I thought it was because he would only nurse on one side and a simple positional change would fix it. Others told me just to do more tummy time, and boom, his head would be round. But my mom gut told me it wasn’t going to be as simple of a fix.
And so, after almost two months of physical therapy to loosen the muscles of his neck and give him a full range of motion, I added helmet mama to my motherhood journey.
Yes, I felt awful that first week and questioned whether or not I was making the right decision (I was very close to just throwing the helmet in the garbage).
Yes, there were people who would stare or ask what was wrong with him. (A lot of kids actually ask if they can try on his football helmet, which is pretty adorable.)
Yes, it stinks and it looks uncomfortable to me, but in all honesty, once he got used to it, he sleeps amazingly in it.
Yes, his skin is sensitive, and seeing all the redness and his sweaty head is not fun—lotion and Aquaphor are my best friends.
Yes, it’s hard. But it’s probably been harder on me than it has been on him. The fear of judgment and that dreaded mom guilt is real. The hardest part is reminding myself every day I slip that helmet on his head that I’m not a bad mom. My baby wears a helmet. And it’s not my fault.