Living with a child who has food allergies is the most terrifying thing I have experienced in my life as of yet. When I was pregnant I worried about all these other scary health conditions but I promise, food allergies wasn’t one of them. I just assumed that because my daughter didn’t have any and neither did I or my fiancé, we were in the clear. When my son was about 7 months old, we discovered his first food allergy. Now, Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a natural worrier. I think up a million and one hypothetical scenarios on how anything and everything could go wrong. Yes, I guess I’m a negative Nancy lol. I don’t know why but it’s just in my nature or it could be that I suffer from MAJOR anxiety but that’s a topic for another post.
Anyway, the day I discovered my sons first allergy was just like any other day. Being that he was exclusively breastfed, I got into the habit of always eating a huge breakfast because I was literally hungry all the time. Per usual, I was eating eggs and the little guy was sitting across from me in his high chair. He kept eyeing me and making noises so I figured he wanted some of my breakfast. I decided to give him the smallest piece of my scrambled eggs to see how he liked it. We finished up and headed to his room to play for a bit. It had to have been about 20 mins later when I noticed he was being really fussy and wanting for me to carry him. When I picked him up he started throwing up. I noticed his face was red too. I ran to my room with him because the lighting was way better in there and that’s when I saw that his face was swollen and covered in hives.
Of course me being me, I begin to panic. I immediately go into the kitchen to grab some Benadryl and try to give it to him. Let me just add that my son has to be the absolute WORST medicine taker in the history of medicine takers, but I’ll get back to that later. I call my fiancé freaking out and of course he’s calm and thinking I’m overreacting. After literally force feeding my son Benadryl and being unsuccessful, I decided to rush him to the emergency room. I’m now hysterical because he’s in the back seat and the hospital is about 20 mins from me and I can’t see if he’s ok or not. By the time we get there, my sons lips are visibly swollen. Thankfully we are put in a room relatively quick. When the doctor enters the room, I explain exactly what happened and she tells me that he’s definitely allergic and we will be leaving with a prescription for an epi pen.
My heart sank. I wasn’t sure if I was equipped to handle this. The doctor was absolutely amazing and extremely helpful. The next day I made an appointment with the allergist to have my son tested for more allergies. I swear, it was like the minute we find out he had an allergy (not knowing he would come up with a couple more) it felt like it opened the door for all these reactions. The night before our first appointment with the allergist, we end up in the ER yet again with another reaction and we have no idea to what. We were there for hours and by the time we were released we figured we’d just walk over to the appointment since it was across the street. We meet with the doctor and the physician assistant (who ended up being who we saw every time after the initial visit) and scheduled his next appointment for testing.
The weeks leading up to his next appointment were dreadful! He had a few reactions so we had to push his testing back because you can’t be on any antihistamines for at least 3-4 days prior to the testing. Of course I’m a big ball of emotions because I’m trying to gauge between waiting to give him Benadryl or giving it to him every time I feel like he’s reacting to something. He’s not even a year old and can’t tell us whether or not his throat is itchy or if he feels like he can’t breath. His skin is at its worst because of the eczema and it being related to food allergies, It was awful! When we finally have our allergy testing done, I feel so bad that he has to get poked and prodded. They tested for the most common foods that he would be eating at that time. His skin test came back positive for egg yolk, egg whites, wheat, rice and green peas.
I was shocked. Thankfully we realized that rice was a false positive because the kid literally lives on it! Now the journey of cutting all of his allergens from my diet began. The weeks had gone by and me and my fiancé are trying our best to navigate this new territory of parenting. It was really tough in the beginning. One day after one of his many appointments we had over the course of a month or so, we decided to grab lunch. We go to a Cuban restaurant and sit down before we head to pick up our daughter from school. We order the baby some white rice and beans so he can eat too. The waitress brings us a basket of Cuban bread and we dig in. We looked up the ingredients and they are: Flour, lard, yeast and salt.
Now listen, we are all human and everyone of us has had a moment of airheadness, ditzy-ness, whatever you want to call it and for whatever reason, it didn’t occur to us that wheat and flour are one in the same. So we decided to give the baby some Cuban bread. He eats a few pieces and seems fine. We finish up our lunch and head over to our daughters school. The baby falls asleep on our way so I head to the office to sign her out while my fiancés in the car. My friend is there also picking up her daughter who just so happens to be my daughters best friend. We get lost in conversation waiting for the girls to be released. When I finally make it back to our car, I’m still talking to my friend. I open the door to the backseat to let my daughter in and notice the baby isn’t in his car seat anymore. I sit in the passenger seat and that’s when I see my fiancé holding the baby and the first thing that flies out of his mouth is “Don’t panic!” Next thing you know my eyes fly to the dash and I see the epi pen.
As I’m writing this, my eyes are welling up with tears. My son was almost unrecognizable from how swollen his face was. All I could think was “I almost killed my baby.” It took an hour from the time we left the restaurant to the time we got to her school for his reaction to be so severe. His eyes were swollen shut, his face was puffed up and all I could do was try not to scream and cry because my friend was still standing outside of my window. I’m so thankful that she took our daughter while we rushed the baby to the ER. I still cringe when I think about that day and how we should have given him a second shot of epi because when we got to the hospital, the first had already started to wear off. I think about that day and all the things we did wrong and how things could’ve gone so much worse if the baby hadn’t woken up and my fiancé didn’t get out of the car to check on him. I thank God that my son was ok!
He’s now a year and a half old and had the cutest Allergen- Free 1st Birthday party! We’ve come a long way from the beginning with three new added allergens of course (Peanuts, coconut and hazelnut but we stay away from all nuts and tree nuts). We have had to epi him a total of two times (one of those times being because of that physician assistant I mentioned earlier who’s bright idea was to try Peanut butter at home) but have since learned how to manage his reactions. Going out to eat is tough though. We’ve mastered asking what oils the foods are fried with and whether or not there is an allergen-free menu but sometimes it seems like an inconvenience to the waiter/waitress. It hasn’t been easy and some days it depresses me but I push through it for him.
Having a child with food allergies means, packing your own safe foods, carrying an epi pen and Benadryl in your bag. It means having people ask “are you sure?” Or joke about giving him something just because they don’t think about the seriousness of an allergy. It means sometimes offending people because they can’t hold him or kiss him because of something they may have eaten or certain perfumes or even staying home because anytime you do take him out or go over someone’s house he breaks out in hives and you don’t know why. It means leaving a restaurant because they use peanut oil or eating at the SAME safe restaurant ( Pollo Tropical is ours and honestly at this point we should be share holders lol). It means having to get Benadryl compounded into a suppository or putting a piece of a straw at the end of a syringe to trick your kid into drinking it. It means switching allergist until you find one who you feel comfortable with and the list goes on!
At least this is how it has been for us. I stay home a lot because I feel like it’s our safe bubble. I can’t expect that everyone is going to be conscious of his allergens and make accommodations for us and that’s ok but it’s also tough at times and can be very lonely. There’s been a lot of adjusting but it hasn’t all been bad. I have an amazing family who understands and makes accommodations specifically for him and I. I have my amazing sister in- law who has been so helpful along the way since my nephew also has food allergies. I even have a friend who I’ve reached out to on numerous occasions for advice and she’s even got me into some groups on Facebook that I’ve learned a lot from! Being a parent has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. It’s rewarding and it comes with so many amazing things but it doesn’t change the fact that the life of this small human-being falls on your shoulders and at times, that can be a lot of pressure. If I could keep my babies in a bubble and protect them forever, I would. I know that’s not realistic but a mom can dream can’t she? Lol. Anyway, I just wanted to share my story with you all and maybe help a fellow food allergy parent feel like they aren’t alone. Thanks for listening and for all you parents out there doing the very best you can for your kiddos, I see you! You rock!
*This is not a sponsored post.