Food Allergy Mama: A History
*sets timer for 15 minutes*
Let's try this again, shall we? I promised I would share my story of how I became a "food allergy mama".
Let's start at the very beginning...
It was early Spring 2005. I was a first time mom learning the ropes of that altogether wonderful and terrible thing we call parenting. My first born baby Dee was only a few months old when one day I accidentally spilled some milk on his face. This isn't untypical. I'm pretty clumsy. What was unusual is that within moments my baby son's face changed right before my eyes. Where clear, soft baby skin had been, now there were red rashy hives.
Hmm. Well that's odd.
I figured the liquid had just irritated his skin, popped him in the tub, washed him down, and soon the rash disappeared.
Allow me to interject here. As a first time mom I had no clue whatsoever about food allergies. I was still trying to figure out how to change this boy's diaper without getting peed on. I have no personal history of food allergies. Neither does my husband. Nor do our families. Food allergies were for dweeby kids that wore coke bottle bottom glasses, had sea monkey farms and overprotective, hypochondriac mothers. Little did I know that I was about to become one of those overprotective, hypochondriac mothers.
Over the next few months we began to notice that the rash was not a one-time incident. Dee would mysteriously rash up every now and then. As we looked for clues, we gathered it was happening where we were planting kisses on his face or belly or hands. Soon we alighted on the possible source. Milk. Anytime we were eating yogurt, ice cream, cheese, or drinking milk and then kissing our sweet little baby, he was breaking out into a rash and hives.
At his 6 month check up I talked to Dee's pediatrician about our concerns. He queried that our boy might have a dairy allergy. "But it's rather unlikely considering there's no family history". Still he referred us to a pediatric allergist.
One pediatric allergist appointment later, we had our answer. The skin tests and blood work revealed what we had suspected. Not only was our six month old baby boy allergic to milk, he was deathly allergic. As we sat in stunned silence the doctor educated my husband and I about foreign things like anaphylaxis, epi-pens, Benadryl, food restrictions, medical bracelets, and more.
It was overwhelming. I had just learned how to feed my little son his first solid foods, rice cereal. Now I was panicking. Is there milk in rice cereal???
As we arrived home we began to scour our cupboards and fridge looking for "milk" or any of the other aliases for dairy (dry milk, nonfat milk, whey, lactose, casein, sodium caseinate, lactoglobulin, lactalbuminin, etc.) all of our foods. No, milk is not in baby rice cereal, but it is in a myriad of other foods we had in our house. Cereal, bread, crackers, soup, chocolate, hot dogs, margarine, bouillon, gravy mixes, frosting, and of course yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream. There was even milk in some of his jars of baby food I had already purchased.
This was impossible. Milk was in everything. What on earth was our kid going to eat???
(To be continued...)