And He Said He Didn’t Do Girl Hair
When we found out we were expecting a little girl, my husband Evan told me one thing, “I don’t do girl hair”.
Braids, brushing, pigtails – forget it. He was adamant that doing hair was not part of his life-skills set.
When we pictured our daughter, we both always envisioned a little girl with blond pigtails (done by me, of course) as she toddled around the house.
On the night Brenna was born, and Evan met the doctors at the NICU, he had a very hard conversation with doctors about Brenna’s prognosis, and he sobbed as that picture of bouncy pigtails was ripped from his mind.
Growing hair was something we gave up on early in Brenna’s life. Of course, hair was not, and never has been, important to us and we accepted very early on that she would probably be mostly bald.
Brenna’s disorder, Harlequin Ichthyosis, typically causes the hairline to become receded and hair growth to be very sparse, because the body makes so much skin that it kills off the hair follicles.
When Brenna was born, we could see clumps of dark hair grown into her thick plates of skin. As those original plaques of skin began to peel off, they took the hair with them.
That first difficult year of Brenna’s life there wasn’t much hair to contend with. This was probably a good thing because we were learning so much about how to exfoliate her excess skin in the most gentle and comfortable way possible. In fact, we were just learning how to take care of her skin, in general.
But, as Brenna has grown older, her hair has come in much thicker than we would have imagined (and is beginning to change from white-blond to very dark on top!).
And guess who has become the primary, hair care-taker?
Every day during Brenna’s long bath to soak and exfoliate the extra skin she produces, Evan puts in so much effort on Brenna’s scalp. He first rubs over and over her scalp in circular motions with a washcloth, in a way that is both gentle and vigorous- then, he so carefully, and so lovingly, combs out her hair. He gently picks the comb from the very bottom of her scalp so that by the time he is done, the comb contains clumps of skin. Brenna’s scalp is smooth and her hair is beautifully full and brushed out.
I have witnessed this daily dedication for two years; his tenderness as he has fun gently styling her hair into silly ‘dos and comb-overs and his disappointment if his comb pulls out more than a few strands of hair. Yet, it didn’t really sink in until we were at the dermatologist’s office a few weeks ago and Brenna’s doctor asked to see her hair. He was pleased and impressed with how long and full her head of hair is, and commended us for being so careful. I told him that his compliments should be only directed at Evan.
“She may not like it now, or even in the coming years – all of the combing and pulling and scrubbing on her head – but she will thank him someday when she is older”, he said.
Someone who was certain that he couldn’t do a ponytail on his daughter’s hair has become the reason that his daughter even has hair now! All thanks to the careful and gentle skin care on her scalp.
Courtney Westlake, blogs at www.blessedbybrenna.com about her family life after her daughter Brenna was born with a severe skin disorder in 2011.
To find out more about Ichthyosis