Part 2: So Much to Learn
So here we were, with an 8 ½ month old baby boy who didn’t even have any teeth yet and we’d just been told that he couldn’t eat pretty much any of the “normal” foods we had been so excited to introduce him to. Since I was still nursing at the time, I had to cut all of the foods that he was allergic to out of my diet as well. Within a few days, we started noticing a DRASTIC difference in his skin problems, and within a couple weeks, he was looking healthier than he ever had!
Honestly though, as much as I loved knowing that we had finally figured out the main problem, I struggled a lot those first few weeks and months after his initial diagnosis.
The first thing I thought (and subsequently broke down about) was that he was not going to get to have a birthday cake on his 1st birthday. At that point, my mind started racing out of control as I thought about everything he was going to miss…how he would not get to participate in food activities at church, birthday parties, school crafts, etc. How he would never taste the food that all normal kids love, like ice cream, goldfish crackers, pizza, or cupcakes. And it was through this sort of “mourning” process that I sadly realized how much of our life experiences are centered around food. When you stop and think about it, almost every major milestone is celebrated with a meal, dessert, snack, etc.
And then I realized that like everything in life, we have a choice as to how we handle the difficult times. And as a mama, it was up to me (and my always supportive husband) to figure out how to handle Our son’s allergies in a way that would teach him not to feel sorry for himself. So we made the decision then and there to research and explore all options for helping our precious boy have as “normal” a life as he could.
For several months, our toddler was basically on a “vegan” diet, except that he could have meat. I typically spent an afternoon a week walking up & down the aisles at the local health food store (can you believe that 3 years ago we didn’t have Whole Foods OR Sprouts??) looking for anything that was gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and oat-free to feed to a TODDLER that he would actually EAT. If that sounds a bit overwhelming, let me assure you, it was. At first at least. But it got a little easier over time. And I now have some GREAT recommendations of different brands of food that are allergy-friendly, which I love sharing with anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
Because our son tested so high to so many food allergies, our allergist’s office suggested we try a relatively new food therapy option to try and “desensitize” him to some of them. The likelihood of him outgrowing most of his allergies on his own is not very probable, so we decided to give it a try. We began a milk desensitization program at the end of 2011, and over the next several months, we very slowly and very gradually introduced him to milk. Although the weekly appointments, cost involved, and constant fear of a possible reaction were stressful, the joy we felt when he had his first bowl of ice cream at age 2 made it ALL worth it! And the relief we feel knowing that milk (and all things containing milk) no longer pose a potential threat to his life is indescribable. We even had an ice
Since our experience with the milk desensitization produced such great results, we decided to go ahead and have him participate in an egg desensitization as well. We went back and forth on this one, but ultimately decided that eliminating another food considered “unsafe” was the next battle in our food allergy war. Plus, most of the gluten free products available (and there are a lot of them since gluten free diets are so popular right now!) that tasted the best contained egg, and we were ready for our little boy to be able to eat a piece of bread that didn’t taste like cardboard! So we started that one at the beginning of 2013 and had similar great results.
We have been in contact with our allergist’s office about a possible wheat desensitization in the future, and our hope is to have him desensitized to wheat before he starts school in a couple years. Until then, we’ve formulated our game plan for keeping him safe for now. And I try not to get ahead of myself in worrying about all the dangers that could be lurking in unlikely places (like the lunchroom and holiday class parties and sweet little friends “sharing” their treats) when he heads to school in a few short years…
Did you miss Part 1? Click HERE to read it.
Hi! My name is Crislyn and I live in Edmond with my little family of 4, which includes my sweet husband, Sam, and our two little people: Wyatt (age 3) and Emery (10 months). I worked at Oklahoma Christian University until our daughter was born in April of 2013, and have been enjoying my time as a stay at home mom since then. Our son was diagnosed with food allergies at 8 months, so that is something that not only infiltrates every part of our lives, but that I’m very passionate about as well. We love spending time together, playing with friends, worshipping at our local church, and exploring everything “family friendly” that the OKC metro area has to offer. Thanks so much for letting me share a little bit of our life with you!