Category Archives: Toddler
It’s already been established that Thanksgiving is not my favorite because of the anxiety a food holiday brings to a food allergy mom. Consequently, I’ve become that person that everyone hates, you know, the one that has their Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. Spoiler alert: I LOVE CHRISTMAS! but back to Thanksgiving…
Thanks to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, I’ve started some new traditions with Squid (and now Tank). On Thanksgiving morning, I make us a meal of toast, pretzels, (kettle) popcorn, and skittles (instead of jelly beans). We sit and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while eating our “Thanksgiving Feast.”
Thanksgiving may not be my favorite, but enjoying a nontraditional tradition with my boys is the best! The meal was a hit! Of course, he ate the Skittles first but that’s to be expected. ONWARD TO CHRISTMAS!!!
Thanksgiving hits a sore spot with me. The thought of putting food traditions before family traditions is just sad. Isn’t the point of Thanksgiving to GIVE THANKS? I mean, it’s right there in the title of the holiday. Thankful for family, friends, and the ability to be together SAFELY. Shouldn’t we be able to put food traditions aside for those closest to us?
I thought this year would be different. I had been texting Squid’s teacher about their menu for the “Pilgrims and Indians” celebration they were having at the preschool. She and I were so excited that Squid would be included and that he would finally be able to safely sit at the same table with his friends while eating a meal. Then everything changed.
The program director decided to bring back the tradition of inviting parents to the celebration. That’s great but that meant the menu would be changing. It also meant Squid would be left at his own table, eating by himself once again for this day that is suppose to be a celebration with friends. I was heart broken! I was especially heart broken that I received this news the day before the event. After talking with the program director, she decided she would bring some safe items for him to eat so he could be included.
Hindsight: I should have just volunteered to bring him a lunch but we’ll get back to that later.
The day of the Pilgrims and Indians celebration, I’m still a little sad for Squid but I decided to put it behind me because I knew we could safely sit with a friend or two as long as we left some space and washed up after the meal. Seating arrangements quickly became the least of my worries.
Walk into the cafeteria and look at all the food on the table
- Breaded chicken: DANGER!
- Mac & Cheese, mac & cheese, mac & cheese: DANGER DANGER DANGER!
HOW MANY DISHES OF MAC & CHEESE DO WE NEED?! DANGER!! How are we going to keep all those cheesy hands away from my contact allergic child? DANGER!!
- Stay calm, stay calm, smile, look confident
- Do those veggies have butter in them?
- Look at all that icing on those cookies! DANGER!
- Look confident, smile, don’t freak out, Squid had his own food….
Wait this is not what we discussed. Where is the safe food for my child? Where’s the grilled chicken? She said she would order grilled chicken.
Upon realizing that thing were not going as we discussed, I asked the director if she ordered Squid any grilled chicken and she told me she already had him a plate made (the students hadn’t made it to their seats yet). His plate looked okay but when she told me she read the chicken twice and it didn’t contain Egg or Soy, I became concerned. He’s not allergic to Soy, he’s allergic to Milk. Fear rushed over me.
Hindsight: I should have scooped his plate off the table and taken it with me until I deemed it safe.
One look at the label and there it was in bold letters CONTAINS: SOY & MILK. Bless her heart, she tried but milk is everywhere. I returned to the cafeteria area to find my child sitting at his plate, digging into his meal. Every alarm went off inside of me and my adrenaline with on max. DANGER! I started screaming NO! NO! NO! WHAT DID YOU EAT? SPIT IT OUT! THE CHICKEN HAS MILK! WHAT DID YOU EAT? I squished his cheeks to open his mouth and to my relief found a pretzel inside. Thank you, God!!!
Mind of an allergy parent:
That was close. TOO CLOSE! Now what is he going to eat? That plate is contaminated. Get that plate out of here! There is only mac & cheese with a side of mac & cheese. What is he going to eat? Is it hot in here? I need to get out of here. I need to get my child out of here! Was that pretzel touching the chicken? Oh God, that was too close! That you God for your protection over my Squid! I need to get out of here.
And as you can see, after the situation was deemed “safe” I went into full-on panic attack over our close call. Yep, right there in front of everyone. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I’m doing all of this with a 20 pound baby on my hip.
Squid’s teacher kept an eye on him while the director pulled me into the back room. There was a whole lot of ugly crying, shaking, and the other lovely panic attack symptoms in the bathroom for the rest of the event. Squid’s teacher came to check on me, brought me a drink, prayed over me, and offered her general support in an unfamiliar situation. My poor husband had to leave work to come help me calm down. I was so embarrassed! I went back in to get Squid and just prayed the whole time that nobody would see my splotchy red skin and bloodshot eyes. I never want to do that again!
HOW TO KEEP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN:
1. Read every label, every time, YOURSELF!
This is something I know and I shouldn’t have to be reminded but here I am reminding myself that I need to read the label myself BEFORE a plate is served to my child. I went back to read the label again to see exactly which milk ingredient chicken could possible contain. It had whey protein. (If you’re not familiar with milk protein, casein and whey are the big two.) When I pointed it out to the director, she said “oh, I had no idea.”
Mind of an allergy parent:
Why would you tell me that you read the label TWICE if you don’t know which ingredients are milk?! The rest of the day’s events have just made me sad, anxious, or embarrassed but THAT just TICKS ME OFF!
2. Always bring a safe backup meal
Again, I shouldn’t have to be reminded of this but there I was without a backup plan. We take a backup meal EVERYWHERE! We’ve been doing it since he was diagnosed.
Silly mom, you know better. I’m so mad that I failed on my fail safe. I think this irritates me the most.
3. Keep informed of changes
I wish I had more control over this one but I didn’t. We were out of town an Squid’s allergy appointment when the changes were made. The teacher said the director was suppose to talk to me about it but it looks like the topic just fell through the cracks with everything else going on around this busy season. I was disappointed that I found out the night before the event that (unsafe) menu changes had been made but that’s beyond my control.
4. Action plan
I’ve read numerous upon numerous blogs about anxiety. I have bible verses memorized about dealing with anxiety. I’ve read how to ground yourself during a panic attack. Nothing worked this time. The panic attack overtook me and I felt like I was drowning. I guess it’s a natural reaction to a close call but I wish I could have kept it together a little better. Hey, at least my allergy plan was in place and worked well, right?
I’m still embarrassed.
We found out at the end of May that we are expecting our second child. Naturally everyone has the same question.
“What if your second child has food allergies?”
That’s a big WHAT IF question that I don’t really have an answer for right now. What if it does? Well, I guess we will have to learn, grow, and adapt just as we did with Squid. Hopefully this time we will be able to identify the red flags sooner than the first. I feel that God will not give u
s anything we cannot handle. I’m just going to enjoy my pregnancy and deal with allergies IF they arise.
Pregnancy updates: I’m currently 12 weeks. Haven’t had much morning sickness with this one but headaches and fatigue are another story. Guess that comes with chasing after a 2 year old. The worst part of this pregnancy is the DAIRY cravings! We’re a dairy free home and all I want to do is eat a block of cheese. *sigh* Oh well. Until then, Goodbye first trimester!
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of “you never come see us anymore.” Not that visits were frequent before children but our closest relatives live at least an hour away.
I never knew how much stuff a baby needed when traveling. It’s quite a chore, especially if you’re staying the night! Now let’s add food allergies into that mix. YOWZAS!
Here are some of the extra steps I have to take when traveling.
1. I start by thinking (and obsessing) over every little detail. Who will be there? Will they respect my rules regarding Squid’s allergies? Will there be food? If there is food, will it be safe? If it’s not safe, will people wash their hands before touching Squid? What will we eat? How long are we staying? How much food will we need? Should I take extra cleaning wipes for other people’s hands/our eating area? HOW AM I GOING TO KEEP MY CHILD SAFE??? The list goes on and on and on!
2. Take all those questions from #1 and begin packing. It takes me AT LEAST two days to pack and make sure everything is perfect because we do not have the “stop at the nearest fast food option.” It’s what I bring or nothing because after several reactions and way too many close calls, I really have a hard time trusting food that wasn’t cooked by me or with me present.
3. The day has come. We’ve made the trip and arrived safely. The hard part is over right? HA! Not a chance. Remember all of those questions from #1? They’re still buzzing in my head but this time they’re being played out in real life. I can’t relax at all during my visit due to worry about what Squid may accidentally be exposed to and how many hives he will get THIS time.
Vacation is not a vacation for me! My idea of a vacation these days is leaving Squid with Daddy and having some Mommy time of some sort. Family events where I can relax are very rare, especially if they involve food. Needless to say, Thanksgiving is my new version of a complete nervous wreck nightmare!
4. Making it back home without hives or a hospital visit is nothing short of a miracle! Praise God!
Please be understanding. Please be patient. Food allergies are rough.
There are some things that I’ve learned since my son’s diagnosis with food allergies (particularly dairy). I have a feeling I’m going to need to continually add to this post.
1. Nobody Understands
Seriously. I’ve noticed that even within our family, unless they are involved in Squid’s day-to-day life, they just don’t get it (with a few exceptions). “What do you mean I cant bring my own food into your house? Your kid will be fine, right?” Sorry, not taking that chance. If you don’t understand, at least be respectful of the allergy parent’s decisions.
2. Gluten-free Spam
I can not tell you how many people (outside of my social circle) have sent me suggestions for products or recipes that are gluten-free. That’s all fine and dandy but it still contains DAIRY! We don’t have a wheat issue so I’m not too concerned about wheat/gluten but thanks for thinking of us.
3. What do you eat?!
Every time Squid adds a new allergen to his ever growing list, people say “Oh that poor baby. What do you eat?!” Umm…. lots of things. Sub out the dairy and there ya go, same as everyone else. We were already avoiding egg and shellfish so it was no big deal to cut them out completely when he was officially diagnosed. I don’t feel like he’s “that poor baby.” We learn to adapt for our child and it’s no big deal for us. Just a new part of our life.
4. Cutting out dairy doesn’t mean cutting out “the good stuff”
I absolutely love that there is a substitution for most dairy items! Milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese! I know I’m missing some but YUM! I also love that if there isn’t a substitute to be found, one can be created. The only thing I feel like we actually gave up was cheese. Still looking for a good sub because Daiya just doesn’t cut it for me and most of the others have casein protein.
5. Dairy is EVERYWHERE!
Do some manufacturers look at their product and say, “Hmm, what is this missing? Oh, I know, DAIRY!” Thank God for multiple brands!
6. Heightened awareness
I see food completely different now. when any kid walks in with a food item in his hand, my allergy mom radar starts going off. I feel like a crazy person but it is all for the safety of my little Squid.
7. Freaking people out is fun
I’m sorry but sometimes you just need some comic relief. When I’m feeling a little crazy and people ask about Squid’s dairy allergy, I start naming off all the crazy random things I’ve found that contain dairy. Toothpaste, chalk, balloons, deli meat, non-dairy creamer, tic-tacs, the list goes on and the look on their face is priceless. Mama’s gotta laugh at life.
8. Oh! I’m lactose intolerant too!
I know you’re trying to relate but no. Just no.
9. Ah, first time moms
When we go out to eat, I wipe down our entire table and all the chairs because Squid has a contact allergic to dairy. I see the other people looking at my young family and probably thinking “look at that first time, overprotective mom, bet she wont do that with number 2, 3, etc.” Actually, someone did say that to me once when they saw me pull his pacifier out of a ziplock bag. You better believe if future children have food allergies, I’ll be protecting them too! Doesn’t bother me one bit to keep him safe.
10. I wouldn’t change a thing
We’re foodies so we thought Squid’s diagnosis of dairy allergy was the end of the world at first. Then we realized it was just the end of the world as we knew it. Once we learned how to sub, we realized that cutting out dairy opened up a whole new world of food! Amazing food! My baby is an appropriate weight, my husband lost 50 lbs and I’m wearing jeans I wore in high school (20 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight). We feel healthier than we have in years and all by just cutting out dairy and not dining out. The added fact that my child could die from a sip is extremely scary and I continually pray that he’ll grow out of it soon but I do not foresee us adding it back into our diet when he is able.
The pumpkin patch is my new favorite tradition! Why haven’t we been before? Ok, so it wasn’t a true pumpkin patch (a local church set up their lawn to sell pumpkins and gourds) but it was still tons of fun.
Squid had a blast running around with his tiny pumpkin and climbing on the hay (which thankfully did not give him hives).
I’m ready to go again!
As mentioned in a previous post, we had a number of meltdowns on the plane. 4 for 4 on plane meltdowns to be exact but it wasn’t all horrid. Let’s start from the beginning.
Flight #1: Up before the sun
I had been prepping Squid for Hawaii time for about a week by sending him to bed later and later each night. I hung up blackout curtains in his room to simulate “night” and block out the blinding morning sun. It worked rather well but waking up at 5am was a bear. It was more like 2 or 3 am for my poor little guy. I had hoped he’d sleep on the 40 minute drive to the airport but no luck. Oh boy.
I took allergen free suckers to help with his ears during take off and landing. Take off was surprisingly great with a first time flier. He did very well during the flight but the landing came with a fit.
Mistake #1: Not making sure the little guy got a nap.
I discovered later in my trip that my ring sling is AMAZING! I could put him in it any time he got tired and he would pass smooth out. Had I known that trick at this moment, I would have used it. Instead, I tried to let him play it out in hopes that we would land in Utah, eat lunch, and then nap. That’s not how it happened at all!
Mistake #2: Suckers
Suckers are a huge, sticky mess for a 16 month old! It was great for take-off but descending, as I found out, takes 20 to 30 minutes. The suckers only entertained him for about 5 minutes before he started waving it around like a lightsaber and using them as drumsticks on the locked tray table…. and then attempting to stick them back in his mouth. That would just be gross to a regular mom but it’s a worse case nightmare for an allergy mom! After I took his suckers away (somehow he ended up with 3) and got him situated in my lap, it was full on meltdown time. He screamed until the plane landed 😦 Poor guy.
I put him in the sling and got off the plane. He passed out during our walk through the tunnel from the plane to the termknal. I located the terminal for our next flight and took an extra long, well deserved, mommy lunch with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest. Everyone in the restaurant enjoyed admiring the drooling little sack of potatoes.
Flight #2: Aloha!
Our flight from Utah to Hawaii was pretty similar but 3 times long. 6.5 hours of sitting with a toddler…. we got a little cabin fever so we did some crazy things to keep entertained.
In flight activities:
- Eating a safe meal from home
- Putting the movie screen in Japanese
- Opening and closing the window over and over blinding the other passengers (sorry everyone)
- Running up and down the aisles (sorry again everyone)
- Taking crazy selfies to later send to Daddy
- Napping (thank you Jesus!)
- Pulling all the tissues out of the box in the bathroom. Seriously, why would they put all the items that low?!
- Playing in the floor (ICK!)
- Opening “in flight gifts” and stuffing the paper between the seats (dont worry, I dug it out)
- Played with cups (not sure why I brought toys, this was more entertaining)
- And lastly, melting down YET AGAIN during the descent
Mistake #3: Should have just held him
Here we go again but this time it was not from tired because he was plenty napped up and it was not from ears because he had an apple sauce pack, a cookie, and a drink the entire way down. Nope, this time was because (1.) he wasn’t finished playing and didn’t want to be still and (2.) he thought it would be fun to unbuckle his belt a million times and got fit-throwing angry when I held it shut. Guess I won’t be letting my lap baby sit alone again. Geeze!
Flight #3: The Red Eye…. never again!
Take the red eye they said, you can sleep on the plane they said… clearly they’ve never flown with a toddler that takes up 2 seats to sleep. There was no sleep for Mommy on this 5.5 hour flight home.
But before we actually got to sleeping or lack there of, we greeted our fellow passengers with an over-tired meltdown just after take off.
Mistake #4: Not putting him in the sling
The stewardess was coming down the aisles with the food carts and I didn’t want to be in the way. Had I known they’d be taking forever, I would have just put him in the sling and rocked him to sleep.
Mistake #5: He saw the cup
I pulled his cup out of his bag to get it filled with water but as I mentioned, they were taking FOREVER.
So here we go in the worst meltdown of the entire trip. He screamed for 40 minutes. I mean full on, my mom is obviously trying to murder me back here, screams that I’d never heard come from him before. Everyone was staring. People were trying to help because it’s 10pm and they want to sleep as much as I do. I tried rocking him, walking him up and down the aisles, hiding in the bathroom, eating, drinking, singing but nothing was working. FINALLY my poor, overtired little guy passed out in my lap. I’m pretty sure I heard a collective sigh from the entire plane which included me. He sprawled out on both seats leaving me with a corner but as long as he was sleeping, I was happy.
Flight #4: Tired again but almost home (I’m starting to see a theme here)
When we landed in Utah again, it was 3am Hawaii time. Let’s just say, he was not ready to be awake. I got him to take a nap in the airport so I thought we were good to go. This was the only flight that he did not have his own seat. I had him listed as a lap baby on all the flights but he ended up with his own seat on 3 of 4! He did very well during this flight. We colored, read, played games on my phone, played in the bathroom, but when we were running the aisles the plane hit some turbulence and they turned on the seatbelt signs. Yet again, he was not done running around and he let everyone know! We had started descending at this time too so luckily the flight was almost over. He had an apple sauce pack, a cookie, and his water which kept him entertained until the applesauce was gone and then the real fun began. He started throwing himself around, trying to get down but we were in the window seat of a 3×3 plane. I hooked one arm around his chest and one between his legs and did the best I could to keep him calm for the last 10 minutes. The instant we landed he stopped crying and then passed out soon after. The guy sitting beside me said, “what just happened.” I laughed and said, “tired baby wasn’t ready to sit.” He slept the rest of the way out of the airport and the entire drive home.
Will I every fly again with a toddler? Probably not this one. I’ll wait until he’s older so he can understand what’s going on. I know one thing for sure, I’LL NEVER FLY ALONE AGAIN!
Don’t let this scare you. All kids are different and mine is very “opinionated” and not afraid to let everyone know apparently. Judge by your own child’s personality but also learn from other people’s experiences. Be aware of how long your flight is so you can sit back down before you have to buckle and make sure your child is well rested.
On the bright side, no food allergy issues on the plane and we made it there and back safely!