Navigating motherhood is akin to using a roadmap … with a blindfold on … while riding a camel. It’s new, exciting, and scary. In December, we welcomed Liam, AKA “Tiny,” and we were giddy! As first-time parents, we have “ooh’d and ahhh’d” over every coo, giggle, and smile Tiny has made. While we gawked at his total awesomeness, we noticed something was different. As a breastfeeding mama, I replenished with peanut butter toast and eggs. I was blessed to be an overproducer and felt very fortunate that Tiny had a strong latch. Feeding was going well, but Tiny wasn’t able to keep any milk in his tummy. Tiny was constantly projectile vomiting, covered in a rash, and not gaining adequate weight. Needless to say, we were worried.
The Rise and Fall of the Feed
I happily breastfed Tiny until he was 8 weeks old when we landed in the ER with yet another, unknown weird physical reaction. As we watched his precious face swell, we knew we needed answers. After four and a half hours in the ER, the pediatrician told me not to breastfeed for a few days, in order to let Tiny’s body rest and relax. We followed up at Tiny’s regular pediatrician on Monday. Our lovely doctor knew what needed to happen. It was on that Monday that our pediatrician recommended that I stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. Heartbroken, my husband, Tiny, and I left the doctor to buy our new formula and start a new adventure. Thankfully, my dear husband helped me with this transition by taking night feeds. (Thank you, babe!) Tiny’s tummy adjusted to his new formula and he started to gain weight!
After a few months of formula feeding and some serious weight gain, our pediatrician recommended allergy testing for Tiny. (Note: Tiny had to be five months old for his skin prick and blood draw allergy testing.) After ten minutes of crying and discomfort, we had answers. The peanut butter toast and eggs, that helped me pump like a champ, were the culprits. Tiny has a severe peanut allergy and a mild egg white allergy. When food allergies are identified, blood work can be done to determine the severity of the allergy. These determinations help the allergist make recommendations on methods to handle allergies and prevent developing further allergies. It is SO important to listen to your child’s allergist to determine their specific needs.
Advocating for Babies and Children
Unfortunately, Tiny cannot advocate for himself when it comes to his allergies, so I must be his advocate. While it can be difficult or feel rude to stop people from eating a delicious Snickers around him, I have to speak up. It is so important to supervise your child around other people, especially children. So many kids LOVE sharing, which is great, but they don’t always comprehend the severity or relevance of food allergies. I have found that when I inform people of the severity of Tiny’s allergies, they do their best to protect him, but so many people don’t totally know what that looks like. While the care is often there, the knowledge of information can be missing.
A Crash Course in Allergy Protection
- Pay attention to labels! This doesn’t just include a quick glance. Please be thorough.
- Ask questions; lots of questions. If you are with someone with a food allergy, just ask them what they can and cannot have. Parents know this information, and will majorly simplify the process for you.
- Do not feed babies or children anything before you’ve checked with the child’s parents. It may just seem like a banana to you, but to us, it could cause a major reaction or disrupt our allergen schedule.
- Learn how to use an Epi-Pen. I firmly believe ALL people should know how to use one! It’s simple and crucial.
- Be kind. We are trying SO hard. Being a parent of a child with allergies can be really difficult and worrisome. If you know someone who is parenting a kiddo with food allergies, please be positive and lift them up with support and love!
“If you ever feel like you’re just one person trying to change something, I promise there are hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people out there who feel the same way as you, who want to make a difference.” -Saira O’Mallie