Hermit Crab Syndrome

Hi, my name is Ashley Sieb and I am suffering recovering from Hermit Crab Syndrome.

My new self-portrait.

What’s this disorder?

Can’t seem to find it on WebMD?

Well Urban Dictionary gives this description for Hermit Crab Syndrome:

“A psychological impulse in which you start seeing another person before ending things with your current partner. Not cheating necessarily, the Hermit Crab Syndrome reflects the ways of the Hermit Crab, who starts moving into a new shell before leaving the old shell.”

However, that’s not the illness I’ve referring to…although, they are clever with this description.

Well, MY form of Hermit Crab Syndrome commonly affects new mothers.

Symptoms include:

  • The fear of leaving home with a newborn
  • The inability to make plans because you can’t predict how your baby will do or react in public and / or around certain people
  • The constant changing of plans because you can’t seem to find a good time or date to meet up with friends or family (because you fear leaving home with a newborn)
  • The never-ending worries of leaving home and experiencing any (or all) of the scenarios: a screaming baby in public, not having a good changing area for the blowout your baby just had, not having a change of clothes for when your baby spits up all over YOU and maybe themselves, forgetting something important (like gas drops or enough diapers) at home, etc.

You may experience one or all of these symptoms with Hermit Crab Syndrome. I’ve found that one negative experience can trigger Hermit Crab Syndrome. Mine happened after a bad shopping trip to Meijer. I needed more diapers and wanted a snack (we literally had nothing appealing in our house). So I packed up Cooper and headed to the store.

I only intended to get the diapers, grab a snack, and get out of the store. Five minutes or less. Ten minutes if you count the drive.

But then I started remembering all of the birthdays I had forgotten throughout September – so I ran to the card isle. Then I remembered that we’re out of toilet paper – so I hiked across the store to get more TP.  Cooper managed to keep everything together until I got the check-out line.

Conveniently, I picked the line with the slowest check-out lady in the world. I thought my bad luck ran out when I picked the squeaky cart with a wobbly wheel. But I was wrong.

The woman in front of me had a million canned goods hiding in her cart and a thousand more coupons to scan.

Cooper must have felt my annoyance because he started crying. I glanced down at home and pulled his onesie to the side – a wet diaper. I checked the clock and realized that he was approaching feeding time too.

But there wasn’t much I could do. All my items were on the belt. The woman in front of me CLEARLY had no plans for the rest of the day. And people were lined up behind me.

I did my best to “Shhhh” him and rock the car seat – but when you’re hungry and peed your pants, you aren’t going to be a happy camper. I mean, I wouldn’t be smiling either.

So he cried and cried and cried – and I felt helpless.

And that’s when I really noticed my Hermit Crab Syndrome start to pick up. I wanted to stay safely secured in my home (shell).

So, how can you recover from this illness? Will you ever be able to leave the house again!?

YES- there is hope for you (and me too)!!!!

Treatment includes:

  • Realizing that emotional breakdowns, spit-ups, and blowouts will happen no matter WHERE you go – the day of time or location doesn’t matter…babies have their own plans (and your plans don’t seem to matter anymore)
  • Gaining confidence as a mother that you know what’s best for your child and you will eventually calm them down, change that diaper, or run to the store to purchase whatever you left at home
  • Remembering that it’s good for both YOU and your adorable little babes to get out of the house, catch up with loved ones, meet new friends, or simply window shop at Target
  • Learning to laugh at yourself and certain situations – laughing is sometimes the only way to keep your sanity and move on 
  • Reminding yourself to stop caring so much about what other people think (everyone will always have an opinion about what you’re doing – or NOT doing – as a parent)

I’ve gotten a lot better leaving the house since realizing I was suffering from Hermit Crab Syndrome. I do my best to have a positive attitude, maintain a free spirit about leaving the house, and I pack everything under the sun in my diaper bag. I basically have arms of steal after carrying around that car seat and diaper bag everywhere I go. One woman at the YMCA even commented on how strong I look carrying around Coop and all of his belongs. 

Since my early days of Hermit Crab Syndrome –  I have traveled (solo might I add) with Cooper to Decatur to meet his new nephew. And I’ve made many other small trips along the way!

Cooper and Hayden – Coops is getting good at flashing the “peace” sign.

Grandpa Bedwell and two of his grandsons.

 I’ve made a few tips to the office to see my best friends and co-workers!

Cooper and Aunt Cay at IASTA’s Halloween pitch-in.

 I’ve ventured to the YMCA for workouts while Coop makes new friends at the daycare.

Yes, this is horrible form. I promise I had proper form when I actually DID the leg press.

And I have went on many other small trips along the way.

Sleepy Target baby.

Also, to readers who don’t have children (or young children) – you can help new moms overcome Hermit Crab Syndrome by being supportive and helpful.

If you see a mom struggling to find something in her diaper bag while holding her baby and a much-needed Starbucks drink, ask if you can grab something for her.

If you hear a baby screaming in public, don’t judge the mom. She’s probably doing her best to get the situation under control. If not, she is probably plotting a plan to ditch her cart and quickly leave the store. And some babies just like to scream – so there is that…

If you have a friend who keeps canceling plans or doesn’t want to make plans, go over to her place for some adult interaction. Then, have a heart-to-heart and tell her that everything will be OK if she leaves the house. Fresh air, a good coffee, and some smiles from strangers can turn anyone’s day around.

Here’s to inspiring new moms to bust out of their shell!!

Much love,

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