5 years ago I had no idea what life was like for moms who have littles with food allergies. And then I became that mom. Our daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes a LOT of food reactions.
Our lives went a little crazy. LittleMiss and I went on a common 8 elimination diet – we were wheat, dairy, soy, egg, corn, fish/shellfish, peanut free diet. And I say we because at that time LittleMiss was 8 months old, and we were exclusively breastfeeding, and with our new restrictions there wasn’t a formula that we could use. So we started this new diet, new lifestyle of food allergies.
We’ve been living this diet, plus some more foods added to our avoidance list, for close to 5 years now. I’ve learned how to bake vegan gluten free bread, we’ve transitioned some of our favourite recipes to fit our diet. And learned a lot about food allergies and how to keep from having to use an Epi-Pen.
Here are some things that allergy moms wish you knew about food allergies and our kids.
1. It isn’t a dislike of certain things, it’s a huge medical issue.
I think everyone knows how serious a peanut allergy can be, but they seem to think that other allergies aren’t as severe. Kids with gluten intolerance can have some very big issues from having gluten. LittleMiss could go into anaphyatic shock from having even just a crumb of something, or become very very dehydrated if she vomits for hours on end.
Some moms might choose to claim allergy, because of diet choices they have made. And maybe you’ve come across that, but please don’t treat every situation like that.
2. We are more comfortable with playdates at our home.
LittleMiss was 8 months old when we first found out about her food allergies. Around the same time as we were working on army crawl and spending copious amounts of time on the floor. In the crazy of trying to figure out life with food allergies, and keep our little girl safe and healthy, we did not venture out much. Diet staples for an 8 month old were out of the questions for us: no cherrios or teething cookies. And most of the homes we would visit had these littered around, not because they were super messy or dirty, but because they had a child around the same age as littlemiss. That’s the reality of having a 8 to 12 or even 18 month old. Because of this we were always more comfortable having playdates at our house. I knew that a wayward cherrio wouldn’t make its way into littlemiss’ mouth. When we are at other’s homes, there is this level of alert we’re on always wondering when something might happen.
3. We love that you offer to cook meals for us when things happen, but please don’t try and cook for our food allergy kid.
After almost 5 years I have become pretty adept at cooking for our family. I make one meal for us all, sometimes adding some extras for those of us who can have it. I’ve learned how to sanitize my kitchen in 10 minutes flat, now about 15 since our kitchen grew this past summer. I can tell in about 30 seconds if a food is going to be on our safe list or not, and I know how to get answers from manufacturers on their processing and possible cross contamination.
I LOVE to cook, and I love to be able to bless others with some great meals. And selfishly I love to cook some of the foods we just don’t eat, and then keep a bit back for me. And I am so so thankful when others bless us and make meals for us. But I don’t ever expect them to try and figure out cooking for littlemiss. And in reality even if they do, I won’t let her eat it. I barely let my own mother or mother in law cook for her. It’s not that I don’t trust it, but I don’t. There are too many ways something sneaky can get in there. Corn is something that is hidden everywhere. And accidentally using the wrong spoon on something and causing cross contamination happens more often that you think. One of the reasons I make our meals littlemiss friendly all the time. And a wayward spoon could lead to an ER trip. Not having to cook a meal for all 4 of us is a huge blessing, and cooking something quick for LittleMiss isn’t that hard. Even if I am instructing MrBig to do it.
4. We are more than happy to bring treats for our kid to your kids party.
This school year already we’ve had 2 birthday treat days at preschool for littlemiss, and I was prepared with cupcakes in the freezer. Thankfully our cupcake recipe freezes well, and I usually have a few dozen in the freezer, or it gives me an excuse to bake with littlemiss for an afternoon if we need more. I don’t want kids to miss out on birthday treats because of littlemiss, and I am more than happy to bring her food with us to a party or send it to school.
5. If you don’t know how to use an epi-pen, just ask.
I think one of the scariest moments for an allergy mom is the moment when we have to actually use an epi-pen. Thankfully we have never had to use ours (for an allergic reaction – MiniMan decided that our couch was in anaphylactic shock one time and so he epi-penned it). If you don’t know how to use an epi-pen, or want a reminder, just ask. Even if our child isn’t staying with you, it is a useful skill to have, and can save a life. It’s an easy little saying – Blue to the Sky, Orange to the thigh. And then it’s 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi! and then rub the spot while you call 911.
You can watch a great video on it here from Epi-Pen:
For those with a genuine medical issue, food can be a big stressor! For a food allergy mom, it can take up our whole world sometimes. Knowing that other moms support us, makes being a food allergy mom a little bit easier. Being supported by our community means that we can join in on more things, because we know our child is going to be safe.
About the Author
Jacqueline is a 30something Canadian Mom to two High Needs Kids. Her family relocated to NWA in early 2016 for you guessed it, Walmart. Jacqueline has a unique perspective on motherhood. Her journey of motherhood has been anything but normal. From a high risk pregnancy, to the neonatal ICU, to now parenting two special needs children. 6 year old MiniMan is on the Autism Spectrum, and suffered severe hearing loss due to his premature arrival. 4 year old LittleMiss is Jacqueline’s medically complex little. Along with Cerebral Palsy and two auto-immune diseases that cause severe food allergies, she has some medical complications that result from her premature birth as well. But she is a strong miracle who doesn’t let anything keep her down. Jacqueline left the corporate world back in Canada, and has shifted into full time high needs mom life here in Arkansas. If you’re interested in more of her life, you can read more at HighNeedsMomLife.com.