Your life changes the day you realize that food can kill your baby, and not a little vile of poison like in a story book, but normal everyday food that is suppose to give us sustenance.
Arren was just over 6 months old when he had his first serious allergic reaction, he had something with egg and his ears started swelling and his entire body got covered in hives. Fast forward to his almost first birthday and I wouldn’t have even believed that, that allergic reaction would be child’s play compared to his anaphylaxis.
Arren didn’t get any of his allergies because I was avoiding certain foods, he just had a higher risk of getting allergies, because Carl and I both suffered from allergies, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a first time mom having to figure out how to keep a new baby alive and thriving, but also having to figure out how to protect my son from normal everyday food.
Seeing your first child nearly die from something you gave them to eat can really do a number on your mental health, the constant blame game, being hyper aware of everything they eat, being even more rage filled when innocent people who just don’t understand severe food allergies say horribly inappropriate things.
I was so scared that I would “poison” Arren again, that I started feeding him a complete bland diet, we stuck with what we knew. I think that’s what turned him into such a picky eater. I refused to cook anything for him, I got rid of pots, I didn’t want to even use the blender anymore. Everything in the house could have been contaminated with that one food, the food that we didn’t know what it was at the time. When you get an allergy prick test done your child’s skin needs to be clear and at that time Arren was suffering from really bad eczema, the Cape Town wind and dryness, really did a number on him, but our allergist did give us a prescription of an epipen and with that came a wave of relief. If anything happened to Arren we would have something that could save his life right by us. I started being able to cook for Arren again, just being aware of everything he could be allergic to, every time he tried something new, there I would be watching him like a hawk, with the epipen ready to go. Thankfully nothing ever happened.
When we went to the allergist again, I had butterflies in my stomach, what would his allergy be, would it be something that’s hard to manage like mustard? or would it be sesame, something that’s so hard to deal with because of cross contamination? Would Arren be okay with the little pricks? All these questions where flying around in my head at lightning speed as we were trying to figure it all out. I felt like a horrible mother, having to make my son go through pain again, and this specific day he was in an incredible mood. He was happy, charming, and extremely cute.
As soon as we got into the office I started relaxing, it helps when you have an incredible allergist. She put me right at ease, while she was grinding away storm, all those possible allergies sure can look tasty! We decided that Carl would be the bad parent, he would hold Arren while she did the prick test and I would distract him, Arren was so brave and didn’t make a squeek while she pricked him 11 times. I was surprised at the resilience of children, how they can just be so calm in such a stressful situation. The 10 minute wait was Arren’s highlight, he got to run around and play with all the toys and even got to play with a bin, thanks to his Papa being distracted. When we almost hit the 10 minute mark she gave him some allergy medication to help with the itchiness and he even offered her some, before drinking it.
but like all good stories, everything must eventually go awry, and it did. For something so strange it still baffles me. When she got out the little ruler to measure the welts, Arren lost it. He was just done….
He was just not liking this tiny ruler against his arm, he screamed and screamed, when she came back a final time, he grabbed her by the arm, made sure she was looking him in the eye and started viking screaming in her face. When she broke eye contact he would stop screaming, intimidatingly try to make eye contact again and viking scream some more. Inside I was laughing a bit, if I didn’t know our ancestry line I would be convinced he has some Nordic in him.
I gave him milkies to calm him down and we discussed his allergies, and it was none of the ones we suspected. His anaplaxys is towards sunflower seeds (surprisingly not the oil) and peanuts, with a severe allergy toward egg, and dairy gives him eczema. I felt relief washing over me, somehow it felt more manageable now that I know exactly what his allergic to. Knowing what we have to look out for makes things easier. Being vegetarian and eventually vegan has prepared me for label reading, reading labels is easy, not knowing is what can drive one crazy.
He can still out grow his allergies, but even if he doesn’t I hope to teach him how to manage and thrive with allergies. Knowing that he can still dream big and that allergies shouldn’t hold him back from adventure and his future. You can live with allergies, it’s all about changing your outlook.