Early on, my husband and I realized that raising our youngest child was going to be no lazy walk in the park. She came on with a strength and stubbornness from the start. And the vocal chords to match. This particular little girl also brought with her bound up digestive and elimination systems and a tendency towards rashes, particularly bad in the diaper area that sent her into fits of rage and unpredictable thrashing. My husband and I didn't sleep for the first eighteen months of her life, rotating in shifts of three nights on and three nights off just trying to survive this little bit of terrible we'd found ourselves in. We were forced into using antibiotics and disposable diapers, prescription cream and suppositories - all things I had adamantly tried to avoid. I changed my diet, eliminating everything that might cause her discomfort, dealt with constant anxiety, was losing weight and had scary things happening to my body. On more than one occasion, I found myself curled up on the floor screaming and crying and wanting to run away.
I tell you all this for a couple reasons. First, to say it's hell. Parenting can be soul-crushingly difficult at times and is, in a very literal sense, a sacrifice of self. It requires a constant choice to say "yes". Yes I will stay, yes I will do my best, yes I will continue to show up and give and care and protect. And yes, I will let my kids see my failures and fears and say time and time again, I don't know and I'm sorry and I love you.
The second reason to share this part of my story is to say, it doesn't last. After a year and a half of sleeping no more than two or three hours a night, and not even in a row, my husband and I woke up and realized we'd slept six. Slowly my daughter's digestive discomfort and rashes began to diminish a bit. I began to understand this sensitive little being I cradled in my arms and we built a language of our own. I found a few [professional] people to walk me through healing, inside and out, and I surrounded myself with a group of friends I love like sisters. As my youngest gets older, I have been able to find space just for me. To sink into the things that bring me joy and hope and fill my life with beauty and creativity.
What I didn't give myself the grace to accept is that there are times in life that are really, really hard. They break us open and spill out our guts and there is no way to put things back exactly how they were. It's confusing and terrifying and maddening and exhausting. But these times also allow us to see that we were gifted an inner strength so much wider and deeper and powerful than we can actually grasp. Pain tends to tear open the curtain, revealing a more compassionate and accepting space. A space that invites us to come as we are and then walks us forward, asking us to keep the wonder of a child and grow into the wisdom and love of a saint.
Lets keep walking.
I've consistently used this salve recipe for just under two years and found it to be the only thing, outside of prescription cream, to diffuse the rash that to this day persists on my very stubborn child's bottom. She seems to be unfazed by sleeping in a mound of stinky fluid and excrement. Until we find the magic button that inspires her to step away from nighttime diapers, this salve is a must have for us.
Note: all of the herbs listed are dried. Measurements can be approximate. For the most part I eyeball it so don't get caught up in accuracy.
1 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 oz. beeswax
4 T. Oregon grape root, cut
2 T. yarrow, cut
2 T. calendula
1 T. myrrh gum tears
5 frankincense tears
2 - 3 drops pure lavender essential oil
Place dried herbs and oil in a quart-size glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Shake to combine. Line the bottom of a Crock-pot with an old kitchen towel. Place the sealed jar in the center and then fill Crock-pot with enough water to cover the oil and herbs. Cook on low, uncovered, for 24 - 48 hours, adding water as needed to maintain water level.
Strain herbs and pour half of the oil into a double boiler. Add beeswax and cook over medium heat until was is completely melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, pour remaining oil into a medium size glass jar and add essential oil.
Once the wax has melted, add this mixture to the oil in glass jar. Mix well with a butter knife, small whisk, or spoon. Set aside, uncovered, until salve has solidified. Cover with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months [although, I'll admit, we keep ours around for longer and it works just fine].
Use as a preventative measure for nap or nighttime sleeping, in acute or chronic situations, or other rash ailments that find you. Test salve on a small patch of skin for any reaction prior to widespread use.
If condition persists or gets worse, it's best to check in with your pediatrician.