Living with Food Allergies
I’m going to come right out and say it, food allergies suck. It really does. And that’s coming from a parent who has a child with food allergies. Can you imagine what it’s like for the child?
Our back story
We started to notice our daughter may have food allergies when she was around 8-9 months old. We would notice a small spot here and there when she would eat anything with dairy in it, or maybe even something with eggs.
One instance that really got our attention was the time we were eating breakfast with some friends. I was feeding her some eggs and pancakes when we noticed that small spots started showing up around her mouth. We wiped her mouth and I stopped feeding her the food. However it wasn’t over. She then proceeded to throw up all over me. From there we stopped giving her eggs, but continued to give her stuff with dairy in it.
Finally, after talking to the doctor and trying to figure out what was going on, we got the test results. They were positive for a dairy and egg allergy. It devastated me. I know that sounds really silly, but no mother wants to hear that her child has a limitation of any sort. It’s not the end of the world, plenty of people have diets that don’t contain diary or eggs. It’s doable.
However in that moment
I just couldn’t think clearly. All I could think about is how are we going to handle this? Especially with her first birthday coming up, I wanted her to be able to enjoy a cake. I didn’t want her first birthday to be limited even though it is just a first birthday and she wouldn’t remember it. Like they say the first birthday is for the parents not the kids.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a whole lot of time to really find a recipe nor find a bakery that would be able to make a vegan cake (there’s not many options where I live in TN). So as I’m sitting in my car with both kids, in the parking lot of the third store I went to in order to find some type of cake mix or something to quickly put together a cake 3 hours before her party, sobbing. I failed my child in giving her a decent first birthday.
Never fear, my hero was here
I really should give my husband more credit. He came through right when I needed him to. As I called him crying with my pity party, he immediately found a recipe and started baking a cake. In the end the cake turned out terrible, our daughter wouldn’t even eat it, but it was the thought that counts.
So now our life has changed
We eliminated all dairy and egg from her diet and even a little from ours and continued to monitor her. I kept asking her doctor to refer us to an Allergist, but they said they could monitor it and were adamant that she would grow out of it soon.
When she was around two she came in contact with a muffin that lit her up like a Christmas tree. That was the experience that not only got us an epi pen, but finally a referral to the Allergist. I don’t think I have ever been as scared about her allergies as I was that day. Not only did she start with the spots, but she immediately started to break out in hives and swell. She never went into anaphylaxis and I thank God every day that her allergies have never been that far. However it was further than I liked and never wanted to experience it again.
We now see her Allergist every year to get tested and see where we are on her levels. Like her pediatrician, the Allergist also thinks she will outgrow them, but so far it hasn’t happened. We are negative on the skin test, but both allergens are positive in her blood. We are still holding out hope that one day she won’t be restricted.
What our Life looks Like now
Our new normal is constantly reading labels, over and over again because even foods you never though would contain dairy or eggs….
contains dairy or eggs.
It’s knowing that I can’t buy her a treat like donuts or ice cream like I can her brother at any store or restaurant we come to.
Knowing that I’ll have to explain her allergies to every single person we come in contact with who tries to give her food.
Memorizing brands because that’s the easiest way I can keep track of what foods are safe, and then looking like a snob when I have to ask someone before they give her food.
Finding a brand that she can have and then finding out later that they changed the ingredients.
Feeding her or bringing snacks before birthday parties because she may not be able to eat any of the food
Making sure that if anyone eats anything with her allergens that they don’t kiss her or touch her without washing their hands so she doesn’t have a reaction.
It’s having your heart-broken because she has come to the realization that she can’t enjoy the same items as the people around her and it’s starting to bother her a little.
Seriously nothing is worse than hearing your child at a birthday party or just out in public say “I wish I could have *insert item*”.
Looking up recipe after recipe. Trying to perfect them so that your child can enjoy the same foods, just in a different way.
Finding certain stores because they actually sell foods that she can have.
And getting frustrated when they stop.
It’s paying extra for certain foods because you don’t want her to miss out.
Finally it’s always being aware of her surroundings and always being on guard to make sure that no one sneaks her food or she accidentally gets her hands on foods that contain her allergens.
Yes, Allergy life is doable
But it’s definitely not a walk in the park. She knows her allergies and she’s very good about letting people know that she can’t have items or asking them about the items. She’s a kid though and sometimes it will slip her mind. Especially if someone she trusts hands her something.
My husband and I never expect anyone to cater to her. We plan accordingly for outings and get togethers. If the restaurant we eat at doesn’t have food she can eat then we will stop and get her something else. If we are going to a get together we bring food she can eat. Yes it can be a little annoying and an inconvenience, but we would rather handle the situation ourselves and know she is safe rather than the alternative. We do it because it’s our job to keep her safe.
We are her advocates.
Because if we aren’t, who will?
I want to give a shout out THANK YOU, to our families and friends who always put our girl first. Like I said we never expect anyone to cater to her, but you have no idea how much love we feel when you text or call us asking what foods she can eat so that she has something. You all work hard to make sure she isn’t left out and you have no idea how much that means to us. We appreciate everything you all do for us and I’m so happy to have you in our lives.
And that’s the thing, it’s something so small that we appreciate so much. Because we know it’s an inconvenience. We know it’s not easy to make things from scratch with the right ingredients.
We know it’s not easy standing in an aisle reading package after package making sure that there’s absolutely nothing in there that she’s allergic to.
But just having you all willing to make something for her, to go out of your way to do these things, is HUGE to us.
So Thank You!!