Eli Gets Glasses


A couple weeks ago, we found out that Eli is farsighted and needed glasses.

I'm not sure what to write from here, I feel like there are a million things to say and ways to arrange the words and I feel like none of them do justice to what I'm feeling or thinking.

So, I suppose I should start at the beginning.

For a few months now (since Eli was about eight months?) I started noticing Eli's left eye wandered. It was just a little, so little that I often convinced myself I was seeing something or it was a trick of the camera. I showed it to Mike and just a couple other people, and all of them convinced me my eyes were playing tricks on me and it was nothing.

About three weeks ago Eli got sick (what's new?) and I took him to the doctor only to find out that he had the dreaded Hand Food Mouth Disease. (If you're not a parent, this sounds disgusting and terrible, but I assure you, it is not. Well, it is terrible so I take that back. But it's just like the worst cold/fever ever followed by a rash on the hands, foot and mouth that hurts like the dickens. And for the record, it's quite common in children - so your someday child will likely get it too.) At the appointment, the Doctor noticed Eli's wandering eye - the first doctor to ever do so - and promptly told me that Eli was likely blind in that eye and may never read if we don't get it fixed. (For the record, this was not our usual pediatrician!)

While I'm levelheaded enough to rationalize away that my son was blind (Let's just remember his obsession with lint for a second.) the doctor scared me sufficiently enough to make an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist the following week. While I'm going to save what it's like to take a 14 month old to the eye doctor and how they check a 14 month-old-who-can't-speak's vision and all the other FAQ I get asked for another post, suffice it to say it's pretty terrible and traumatizing.

In the end we found out Eli is farsighted with astigmatisms and strabismus, which means his right eye is stronger and his left eye "wanders" a little to try to compensate for his vision.  Directly after the appointment, we took him to an eye glasses shop that specializes in children's glasses to get him fitted with frames, and a week and a half later, picked up his new specs, and started down the road of getting him to wear them consistently.

So that's the story. I realize it's a small thing. Lots of kids wear glasses, kids on glasses are "SO CUTE!" It's not like he has a life-threatening illness and yadda, yadda, yadda, I've heard it all. But I'm going to be honest, this was very, very hard for Mike and me. Particularly for me, I felt an enormous amount of guilt at not having said something to the pediatrician sooner. I know I tend to error on the "laid-back mom" side of things - and I guess I just figured kids are weird and they do weird things sometimes so I'm not going to worry about it - but now I'm kicking myself for being like that and I wish I would have gotten him help sooner! I feel like maybe if I would have caught it sooner, he wouldn't have to wear them so long before his vision is fixed, I've worried that the reason why he's not walking is because his balance is off from his vision (a fear confirmed by the opthamologist), and I feel guilty for not meeting a HUGE need for my child.

In addition - and I hesitate to admit this - I've really struggled with feeling guilty about just plain not wanting him to wear glasses. Sure, kids with glasses are cute. But that's a lot easier to say about someone else's kid.  I think he's cuter without glasses - or maybe it's just a different kind of cute - but I keep looking at him and wishing he didn't need them, sometimes for no other reason than the fact that I like him better without them. Is that so terrible for me to say?

There were other worries too of course - most much more important than my silly vanity issues. I mean:
  • How do you keep glasses on a 14 moth old? 
  • What if he breaks them or I lose them?
  • Will he always be known as the "boy in glasses?" Will that be the first thing people notice about him, comment on and define him by?
  • Will he be made fun of by other kids someday?
  • Will it be a total battle to get him to adjust to them? What do I do if he cries every time we put them on? 
  • How do I keep them clean? Won't they collect food/snot/dirt/finger prints and more? What do I do when they fog up?
  • Will other kids his age want to pull them off his face and play with them? 
  • What if his eyes get worse, not better? What if I miss something again? 
I think it's especially hard because he's so young, he relies on me to keep track of them, keep them clean, tell other kids not to play with them, tell him not to play with him, all that stuff. He can't reason with me or follow detailed instructions. While it comes with its own difficulties, it's much different than having a 3, 4 or 5 year old get glasses.

I cried on and off for a few days, worrying and regretting and being angry about everything I listed above and more. I'm working on letting these things go. While Mike felt these things, I just think dads have some magic ability to shed these burdens much more quickly than moms. I know truth, but sometimes it takes a while for it to take root in my heart, so I'm working on letting it grow. We're taking it one step at a time, knowing not everything will be solved at once.

Another struggle we've had is neither Mike nor I wear glasses, so we both felt pretty overwhelmed with the news. Heck, I had to have the opthamologist confirm what I thought farsightedness was! While I did some research before the appointment, I didn't really know what questions to ask, and much of my research led me to believe that we would just be patching Eli's eye, or potentially be having out-patient surgery, I didn't really look into glasses all that much. But it's weird, you walk out of the opthamologist's office with a diagnosis, and the next thing you know you're at an eye glasses shop, trying glasses on your bawling, tired, irritated son, like hats. You order everything as quickly as possible, dropping $400 faster than you can think, so you can get your child home for a nap, not realizing that you should have asked about warrantees, replacements, adjustments, cleaning and more. It all came and went so fast that when we got home, all three of us took a nap out of sheer mental and emotional exhaustion.

Eli's been wearing his glasses for a few days now and honestly, it's going much better than we ever expected. We both believe he can tell that they help his vision and already we've seen more confidence in his walking attempts. He doesn't fight when we put them on, (except for in the first day or two) and for the most part, he leaves them alone. The only times he get's annoyed by them and tries to take them off is when he's upset, we're messing with them (adjusting the back strap, pushing them up his nose or wiping milk/food off them) and when they get wonky on his face because he just fell over or something.

While I laid out all my fears, frustrations and worries on the table up there, I truly am so thankful we did get him help, and that he can see so much better. All my internal struggles fade when I remember how I'd do anything, ANYTHING for Eli and that even with glasses, he is still so perfect to me. I know I struggle with it, simply because I love Eli so much and just want to give him the best life I can. As moms, we know life will bring hardships for our children, but we want to protect them as much as is possible in our power, you know?

I truly know glasses are a small thing, but they do sometimes bring hard things - or maybe just annoying things - and I guess I just want to protect him - even from something that's just annoying! But I can't, and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg of things we'll help Eli through. Since I can't protect him completely, it's now my goal to help him get through it with as little frustration and pain as possible and be an advocate in his care.

And as silly as it sounds, it sorta feels like a big job.

So for now, we're taking it one day at a time with my little four eyes - my little, adorable, Eli four eyes.*

Any of you have a really little one in glasses? If so, I would LOVE to hear about your experience!


Other Posts In This Series on Oakland Avenue:
Seven Things Moms With Toddlers In Glasses Want You To Know
Kids In Glasses: Frequently Asked Questions
Tips and Tricks for Introducing Glasses To Your Toddler For The First Time (And Get Them To Keep Them On.)

My writing on other websites about glasses:
Little Four Eyes Blog: The Benefits of a Second Opinion
Twin Cities Moms Blog: How To Tell If Your Child Needs Glasses

11 comments:

  1. While my baby doesn't have glasses, I can identify with your worry and questions about what will define him when others see him. Bryn has a REALLY big birth mark on her tummy that is bright red. I'm told it will go away eventually, but it really bothers me when people ask about it and stare. For this reason i don't put her in two piece swim suits, and she always wears a bodysuit under clothes that might ride up. All I know is that God doesn't make mistakes and is purposeful in all things. I wonder why such a sweet, tiny person has to go through such things. But I just wanted to say this post resonated with me. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. I'm so, so sorry, Laura. Just because it's not the worst thing that could happen, doesn't negate everything you're feeling. We want our kids' lives to be as perfect as we can make them, and it's hard when things don't go how we would wish them and there's nothing we can do about it. It's ok to grieve that.

    I'm nearsighted, but my husband has good vision. Our son is the same age as Eli and I wonder about when I should take him to the eye doctor. So far he seems to have good vision: he can spot a bird flying in the sky far away. But I had to go to the optometrist for myself the other day and wondered how they would examine a baby. I'm very interested to hear about your experience!

    Also, just a note: Our son isn't walking quite yet, but he has started to take his first toddling steps in his crib. He started by practicing falling onto the mattress. Now he stands like a boxer in the corner and then takes a few steps and crashes onto his mattress. I was a bit worried that he wasn't walking yet, but after seeing him do this, I realized that it really has a lot to do with personality. My son is apparently a little more tentative (and perhaps strategic), whereas some kids are a little bit more daring and wouldn't think about crashing on a hard floor. Also, our kids use sign language, and I've heard that babies tend to either develop their communication skills first or their motor skills. He tends to rely on communicating with me to get what he wants rather than having to physically keep up with another kid or physically get something himself.

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  3. Haley had that problem when she was in elementary school & now her eyes are great! She had a little trouble reading (but heck, so did I!) You've got yourself a beautiful little boy (glasses or no glasses) so keep following your momma gut! Take care! Ashley Houck

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  4. Thanks Lindsay, I totally understand where you're coming from too. I think it's hard because while we know it's not a bad thing at all, we also know that we had to learn that truth at some point in our lives - and to be honest - it's kind of a hard lesson to learn to not be insecure about something that's "different" and we don't want our children to experience any hardship! But you're a great momma, and I know you'll teach Bryn how beautiful she is and to not care about what other's say - whether or not the mark stays.

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  5. Wow, this is so similar to how I felt when my Zoe got her glasses at 14 months (also for farsightedness). The worries and the feeling upset and guilty, all of it! That was 6 1/2 years ago, but feels so close reading what you wrote. I can say that it gets better, and at this point, I almost don't recognize her without glasses.

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  6. Wow, I wonder why pediatricians don't tell parents to get their babies' eyes checked? I never heard that we were supposed to get that done at 6 months, either!

    Regarding walking: He must have known I was talking about him because he walked all the way across the living room today! (With his arms straight up in the air like an ape. Hmmm, too many bananas? Ha!) THEN he climbed onto the couch on his own for the first time. I think his legs grew longer overnight and he decided to try them out. Haha! One of the most amazing things about parenthood is how quickly these kids change.

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  7. YAY FOR WALKING! Congrats momma! that's so awesome! My ped told me yesterday that the later they learn to walk, the more caveman they look - I'll bet Eli will give your son a run for his money if he holds out much longer. :)


    Regarding eye exams: I know - I thought that too! I was totally clueless about eyes and no one told me to have them checked!

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  8. Thanks Ann, I've loved following your and Zoe's journey and you've been so helpful in this journey! I'm glad to hear it gets better!

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  9. Yes, the ophthalmologist appt. is so tough for the little guys! And as a parent, it's so hard to watch. That's so sweet what your son said, and I'm glad to hear he hasn't been teased. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  10. So, not that you need to respond here. But I just realized that your Oakland Ave is probably really close to the Ave that I live on (15th in Mpls). Are we almost neighbors?

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  11. Some info that might be helpful for the future: Iowa has a govt funded program that provides FREE (!!) eye exams for babies age 6-12 months. It's called InfantSee. I think the hope is the program will help parents to try to catch these types of problems early. I know about it because my dad is an eye doctor and participates in the program, otherwise I probably wouldn't have heard of it because I've never seen it mentioned by our normal pediatrician... I'm not sure if there are doctors in Minnesota/your area that participate or if it's just an Iowa thing but on their website you can search for providers who participate by zip code, so it would be worth looking into. At the least you could get your next kids checked out when you're visiting in Ames sometime! But I thought you'd be interested in knowing about it and potentially sharing with other readers, definitely something that needs more awareness raised among young parents I think! The website is www.infantsee.org. (I think Eli looks super cute with the glasses btw, but I can empathize with what you're feeling!)

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