Our first baby was born with her eyes wide open, taking everything in. As she grew those sparklers remained her most amazing feature, closely followed by her mop of sun kissed curly hair. Eyelashes to die for, and big brown ‘chocolate button’ eyes as deep as the ocean.
The Christmas before her second birthday, she was really knocked for six with a nasty virus. She barely touched her Christmas dinner, had a horrid rash, and was a poor little scrap with a mouth full of ulcers unable to do much other than cry. The docs said it was viral (shock) and we snuggled her up until she was back to her old self.
The virus passed, but it did seem to leave two side effects. She had, since tiny, been a thumb sucker. But, since being unable to bear anything in her mouth, she had dropped the habit. Sad as we were (it was super cute) we could see the positive that we wouldn’t have to face any later attempts to kick the habit.
The second side effect was somewhat more dubious. We noticed, just very slightly, that one of her eyes was struggling to stay straight. I mentioned it first to Mr G. he hadn’t noticed so I tried to ignore it. But then, my mum made a comment about it. Soon, it was unavoidable. The poor little thing seemed to struggle to focus looking across the room, and photos sealed the deal…the camera never lies.
We made a GP appointment and anxiously waited. In the meantime lots of people (family, friends, nursery) all picked up on the newly developed squint and questioned whether we’d noticed. She certainly hadn’t and was her happy little self, oblivious to the worry we were carrying for her.
We googled all sorts, as you do. It just seemed to come out of nowhere, and she had never had any problems before? In all honestly we were terrified this was an external symptom of something awful going on. We pushed for our appointment, and was referred to the local eye specialist hospital.
As we waited, Daddy rang almost every day to chase up our referral. The usual admin chaos meant referrals had to be resent, found, etc etc but we eventually got a date around her second birthday, in March.
The GP had ruled out any more sinister problems, but that didn’t ease our anxiety so about what we’d find out that day. I suppose it’s just so hard to believe the perfect little person you have created has…well, an imperfection?
As unrealistic and ridiculous as it sounds now, I was praying for them to tell me the squint (which had become somewhat permanent) could be fixed with some kind of non invasive high tech treatment. I was terrified they’d say she needed surgery. Devastated that her eyesight might be deteriorating. Dreading any mention of eye patches. I was hoping too, if I’m honest, that she wouldn’t need specs.
The specialists were amazing and after a series of tests said that she had very poor long sighted vision. They didn’t feel the virus would have caused it, but would have always been waiting to present itself. Her body was starting to ignore the use of her worse eye and as such it was becoming lazy. Some of the information was confusing, and we came away believing she’d maybe need glasses for a year or so and all would be fixed. If, that was, we could ever get a two year old to keep them on?!
Armed with her prescription, we trotted off to spec savers with ideas of putting her in some cool frames that would make our 2 year old ‘geek chic’. How wrong we were.
The kids section at specsavers, and boots, was pretty lame. In the same manner as Clarke shoes, the girls pairs were all pink and flowery. The heavier frames swamped her tiny face and we ruled them out immediately. First lesson in kids glasses is to go for the teensiest, thinnest frames you can. We learnt this very fast! Subtlety is the way forward.
What I found so hard, was that her beautiful little face that we knew so well, was so different wearing its new furniture. I hated myself for feeling so rubbish about it, after all lots of people wear glasses. But she just didn’t look like our little girl.
We praised her for being so good, picked up a treat toy and headed home. We popped back a week later to collect the prescription and began lesson number 2. How to get a two year old to wear glasses All day. It involved a lot of tough love, sheer bribery, and a load of fuss and praise. She wowed us with her adaptability and within 3 days was keeping them on; morning till bedtime. I thought my heart might burst with pride. It helped her squint amazingly – the lenses straightened her eyes so that encouraged us that this was the best for her.
It’s amazing how quickly we got used to seeing her newly furnished face. She did look super cute, and so many people praised how someone so tiny was wearing them so beautifully. I can’t tell you how many people likened her to the girl version of that gorgeous little boy from the film ‘Jerry Maguire’.
The first follow up appointment was a blow, when we learnt her eyesight is so poor that she’ll never lose the glasses. Until and if she chooses to wear contacts that is. We also started a course of patching: 2 hours a day over her good eye. We’d only just got past the first hurdle, and now we were bribing, rewarding, sticker charting our way through the first months of being ‘Pirates’.
We tried a few combinations of best time to patch. 2 hours meant before or after nursery wasn’t going to work on my work days. It didn’t take long to get over any fear of being looked at, and we patched first thing, giving nursery the ‘take off time’ depending on when she’d woken up. Again, she was an absolute star.
The next appointment the patching was reduced to 1 hour, then the next, we stopped altogether as her eyes had evened out in terms of vision. The squint did and does remain, being kept straight only when the specs are on. Her type of squint is not operable, something I still don’t fully understand now. It’s to do with the reason the eye squints (driven by the brain, not the muscle).
Now, almost two years later her quality of vision remains consistent. 2 pairs of glasses and some prescription sunglasses Later, we have a feisty three year old with a very strong mind of her own. She fell in love with pink all by herself, discovered a love of all things Disney. She has entered a new phase and we have a challenge on our hands.
I noticed a few weeks back one day the glasses were off more than on, for the first time ever. As I pulled her up on it she told me ‘Isla doesn’t wear glasses mummy. Bella doesn’t either.’
‘No sweetheart, but you’re special so you do’.
‘Mummy, am I more pretty without my glasses on?’
‘No absolutely not. I love you with them on, or off’.
She seems to have noticed she is different, Even though she has nursery classmates who wear them like her. Well, one anyway. Im sure there are a million parents with kids who feel different, encouraging them through every day. Wearing glasses is really getting off lightly compared to some heartbreak parents of some very brave, poorly children! I know this, and I am so great full for her good health. I’m just sharing our experience. It all makes me realise how those role models to kids are all so picture perfect? Stereotype?
The next day they were down the back of the sofa.
‘Mummy, do princesses wear glasses?’