I have gone back and forth about whether to post about this. Actually…I think I’ve “written” about seven different versions of this article in my head. It’s an issue that is pretty close to my heart and that I can’t spin positively as much as I would like to.
I don’t want this article to come off as complaining, but rather informative (and maybe a bit cathartic for me). I think there are a lot of people who don’t understand food allergies. I was one of those people just a year ago. With the rise of reported cases worldwide, it’s not something that we as society can afford to be ignorant about. There is definitely more awareness than years past, but I want to add to that awareness. My goal is to help de-bunk misconceptions and hopefully help those who don’t deal with this issue day to day, to better understand those who do, in meaningful, actionable ways.
If you are a regular reader, then you know that my daughter, who is now 18 months old, has several food allergies. (the pictures in this post though. are mostly of her having solids for the first time…before I never knew any of this would be apart of our life, plus few more random baby pictures)
I had a hard time believing the smelling reactions I had heard about, until we were on an airplane and the flight attendants passed out croissants. The buttery smell filled the air, and my daughter immediately broke out in hives. I administered Benadryl and all was fine after that, but it surprised me that she would have a reaction even though she didn’t come in direct contact with anything that would harm her. I am sure the recirculated air contributed to the reaction and if you consider tiny food particles “ingested” through the airways as direct contact, then it makes more sense.
I don’t know if this is the case with every person that has food allergies, but it seems to be the most logical explanation for my daughter.
Partly because of her allergies, she is also very skinny for her age and height. When she has an allergic reaction, she vomits up essential calories and has a diminished appetite for the rest of the day. And this is where the over-reacting mama bear in me comes out. Yes, it’s not the end of the world if she has a reaction, but in my worrying mommy mind, it feels like it in that moment. All the worries of will this reaction, be the reaction that gives me cause to use the epi-pen and call 911, coupled with, oh no, she is not gaining enough weight, will this affect her development and her health?? ???
It’s hard to have to make all my kids leave the playground because another child brought gold fish and is scattering them all over the place while my allergic child wants to touch and eat the dropped goodies. If you have ever tried to keep a toddler from treats they aren’t supposed to have, you know what I mean. It’s easier for us to just leave and go somewhere else, but it’s a bummer as well. But really, it’s no one’s fault. The snack toting child and his mother are not doing anything wrong. It just is, what it is.
Now…I know, there are WAY worse challenges to be experienced. I am not trying to say woe is me, first world problems are the pits. ;) But, I think the point is that food allergies are a real condition that require major life style changes. If you just found out that your child has a food allergy, I say, expect it to be a big adjustment and embrace all the changes that need to come with it.
Honestly, I don’t know everything about her allergies and some things are still a mystery to me. Some of it’s trial and error and guessing and waiting. We take it day by day and do the best we can.
P.S. This is Natalie’s typical outfit. She wears tights so that we can apply lotion several times a day and keep her skin hydrated. It also helps her not to itch.