I let my girl eat my hair!
Kerry’s baby girl grinned as she pulled her beautiful curls from her head, but it was no laughing matter…
As I pushed my buggy down the street, all around me faces lit up like Blackpool Illuminations. ‘Isn’t she lovely?’ old grannies trilled. ‘Like a cherub,’ was another common one.
I had to admit, with her crown of angelic ringlets, my little Isla, six months, was a stunner.
Her hair had just gone from the dark tresses she’d been born with to a light, golden shade.
Everyone had a comment or kind smile for her.
My other kids, Joseph, 16, Ella, 11, Jack, six, and Eva, three, were all blondes, too. But Isla was the only one with curls.
‘Enjoy her, she’s the last,’ my hubby, distribution manager Gavin, 33, laughed as I mooned over her.
And I did, all the time. I couldn’t help it, she was just so darn cute!
Even Isla seemed to love her curls. A thumb-sucker since practically the day she’d been born in May 2015, she’d taken to twisting a curl round her finger as she soothed herself.
Just watching her sleep, her fave soft doll in one hand, other thumb firmly in her mouth and a clump of hair between her fingers, made my heart melt.
But last February, when Isla was nine months old, I was washing her crowning glory in the tub. I ran the baby shampoo through her sopping mane. Then, suddenly, I froze…
‘Stay still a second…’ I mumbled, fright seizing me.
My hand had hit skin. A huge, clear expanse of skin!
Pulling Isla from the water, I dried off the suds on her scalp for a better look.
What on earth?! My Isla looked like a clown with a bald cap on! Or a little monk!
Her blonde hair tumbled down the sides of her head, but in the middle of her scalp was a huge, palm-sized bald spot.
‘How on earth did I not notice?’ I cried to Gavin that night.
This bald patch certainly hadn’t appeared overnight.
In shock, I turned to my Facebook friends for help. Where’s my daughter’s hair gone? I wrote, posting a picture of Isla’s balding bonce. Someone asked if she pulled at it. That got me thinking.
Isla did hold her curls when she sucked her thumb.
I’d always had it down as a cute little quirk, but had she been tugging her tresses clean off ?
For weeks, I kept an eye on her. Then, one day, I saw it. Sure enough, when she sucked her thumb, she’d yank at a bit of her hair, too, twirling the strand round her digit before popping it in her mouth.
She seemed to like running it along her lips and teeth.
‘We don’t do that,’ I said firmly, pulling her hand away.
But she’d scream inconsolably. I gave her a Barbie doll with long hair to play with, but she ignored it in favour of her own.
Me and Gavin even coated Isla’s hair in Vaseline, hoping the grease would make it hard to pull.
All night she screeched and wailed before finding a lank, oily length and plucking it out.
Whatever I tried, come nighttime I’d find hairs in her hand after I put her to bed.
At first, I convinced myself it was a phase she’d grow out of.
I’m a stay-at-home mum, so Isla’s always with me.
I was used to admiring glances from strangers, but I didn’t want them now looking at her in horror. So, through the winter, I covered Isla up in hats when we went outside. Or I’d muss the side curls up on top of her head,
like a baby comb-over.
By last September, though, there was no more hiding the problem. Little monkey will be bald all over if she keeps up this odd habit,
I wrote, posting a video of Isla tugging at her scalp online.
Be careful if she’s eating it, as it can cause a blockage in her
digestive system, my mate, Cathy, wrote, linking to a website that showed people who had huge hair balls pulled from their stomachs. Could she be… eating it? Worried, I saw the doctor.
‘If she’s eating her hair you need to take her to A&E,’ the GP shrugged, uninterested.
No, she couldn’t be… And if failing follicles were an emergency, half of all middle-aged men would be there!
In a huff, I took Isla home. Clearly I was going to have to deal with this by myself.
Worried again, imagining huge hairballs swirling around inside my baby, I took to the internet.
Apparently this hair-pulling thing had a name, and a long one at that: trichotillomania.
The net said it was a stressrelated impulse-control disorder. But my Isla was the happiest little girl around.
Clearly it was a comfort thing with her.
She’d picked it up along the way and now struggled to soothe herself without it.
But the net had no answers on what exactly to do now – psychotherapy was hardly going
She looked like a clown with a bald cap on!
Everyone said my baby girl had the most beautiful ringlets I couldn’t work out where her hair had gone!