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Tales of a Food Allergy Mama: Part 1

AllergiesPart1This is part one of a four part series.  Check back each Friday in March to hear more of Crislyn’s personal story with learning about and handling her son’s severe allergies.

Part 1: Warning Signs

Hi! My name is Crislyn and I’m a food allergy mama. As I’ve been thinking about where to start on our journey, I’ve realized that food allergies have become such a normal part of our life that it’s impossible to separate them from our normal daily life. So, I’ll just start at the beginning.

July of 2010 was one of the most special months in my life as that is when my sweet baby boy was born, making me a first time mama and forever changing my life. As his mama, I of course thought he was perfect in every way (he was! :)) and was so proud to show him off to anyone and everyone. At about 6 weeks old, he broke out in a horrible case of baby acne. Any mamas who have had their precious baby’s perfect skin temporarily invaded by those ugly blemishes can attest that while baby acne is a perfectly normal (albeit somewhat annoying) part of babyhood, it can still make you a little self-conscious about showing off that precious little bundle. I tried to convince myself that it was not a big deal, but as his skin complexion continued to worsen, it became a little harder to ignore what seemed to be more than just normal baby acne. The acne soon morphed into a red, blotchy rash that became an almost permanent fixture around his sweet little mouth, under his eyes, across his cheeks, and all over his neck & chest. Frustrated, concerned, and honestly, a little embarrassed, I decided to ask our pediatrician about it. He diagnosed him with atopic dermatitis (an eczema-like rash) and referred us to a dermatologist when our son was only 2 months old.

After our initial consultation, the dermatologist ordered a blood test to make sure there wasn’t something more serious going on. Holding down a screaming baby for a heel stick blood draw is absolutely torturous, and it made me that much more aware of how awful it must be for parents whose babies are continuously and/or terminally ill. I made that comparison for the next several months as I tried to keep my own situation in perspective. The lab tests came back normal, and the dermatologist confirmed the original diagnosis of atopic dermatitis, prescribed some steroid ointments, and sent us on our way.

Unfortunately, the rash never went away. It seemed to worsen inexplicably at times, despite our best efforts. Honestly, it flared up so bad around his first Christmas that I kept his pacifier in his mouth when he got his picture taken with Santa because it looked so horrible. Both the pediatrician and the doctor warned that his skin issues were indicative of some possible allergy problems, so when we started baby food at 6 months, we proceeded very slowly and with great caution.

From the time he tasted his first food (green beans, to be exact), Our son proved that he was going to be a good little eater. He devoured anything we put in front of him…all vegetables, fruits, meats, etc. And then one day when he was about 8 months old, I got brave and decided to let him try a teething cookie. He loved it, of course, but about 3 minutes after he started eating it I noticed his skin was turning redder than normal. Within a few more minutes, he was completely covered in hives from his sweet little round head to his perfect tiny toes and my husband and I threw him in the car and headed to the nearest urgent care.

Hives Reaction.

Hives Reaction from the teething cookie.

Hives reaction 2.

They gave him a steroid shot and recommended we get in touch with our pediatrician immediately. The next day, we took him in to the pediatrician who ordered another blood test (and another miserable heel stick). Our pediatrician called us himself at 7 PM that night to let us know that Our son’s blood test revealed he was highly allergic to wheat, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, etc. For those of you who aren’t aware, there are 8 common food allergens, and Our son’s blood test indicated he was highly allergic to all 8. Our pediatrician’s exact words, and I will never forget them, were, “This is the worst reaction I’ve ever seen, and it’s way out of my league. I’m going to refer you to an allergist immediately and will call their office myself to make sure he is seen as soon as possible.” My heart stopped for a few seconds as the sheer magnitude of his words hit me. How in the world were we going to be able to make this little boy healthy if he was allergic to all food??

Enter Doctor #3…the allergist. Our son’s appointment there consisted of a series of skin tests which confirmed that he was not only allergic, but anaphylactic (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) to milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts. He also had a sensitivity to soy, oats, & shellfish, among many other things. Again, my world came to a screeching halt as I tried to process what that all meant. The next several days and months were spent asking questions, gathering facts, researching options, and trying to figure out the best method of attack for keeping my sweet boy protected from the one thing in life that most of us take completely for granted as safe: Food.

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CrislynHi! 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!

 

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One Response to Tales of a Food Allergy Mama: Part 1

  1. Avatar
    Cristi Killian March 7, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    So excited to see your posts! My first is a horrible eater so when we were pregnant with my second we prayed for a baby who would eat! We failed to pray for one how could eat anything! A couple weeks ago (10months old) after many hive outbreaks triggered by what we already new was a likely milk allergy he reacted to peanuts… So we took him to the allergist. It was that day I found out he’s allergic to peanuts, milk and eggs (whole and whites). I am currently feeling lost trying to translation him to table food… I am breastfeeding so I had removed offenders from my diet but I don’t intend to keep going forever and he’s getting bored with baby food! I am looking forward to your advice on shopping, eating out, going out, and transitioning a baby! And what on earth did you do for the first birthday party? I am scared to have any foods at his party for fear of a reaction from someone’s hug!

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