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.
Our grand trip to Hawaii. We had everything planned out. My friend scrubbed her house top to bottom, sterilized her child’s toys, and washed the highchair. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, the pack-n-play. But her daughter hasn’t used it in forever. It’s safe right? WRONG!
We get there and get settled but of course after getting up early and traveling across 5 time zones with a screaming toddler, we’re tired. My friend gets the room set up and we call it a night. The next morning we wake up before the sun to find hives across Squid’s eye and face.
I blamed his reaction on the fact that we went to Starbucks when we arrived and I accidentally touched his bear in his bag when I was getting out wipes. I promptly stripped his bed and washed everything. I also scrubbed down his bag. Problems solved? I thought so until the following morning.
After he woke up with hives for the 2nd day in a row, I knew it wasn’t a contaminated bear. My friend gathered her spray bottle of vinegar and a container of disinfectant wipes and proceeded to wipe down every square inch of the pack-n-play. As an allergy mom, I should have taken that job upon myself.
The 3rd morning (below) was the absolute worst! Squid was extra fussy that night and I don’t blame him one bit. We had to slather his poor little face in antihistamine cream as well as a dose of benadryl.
3 days of this and I finally had my culprit nailed down, the fabric sides. I, again for the 3rd day, washed all of his bedding items and then I drug the pack-n-play out into the yard for a wash. I took regular dish soap, a sponge, and the water hose and scrubbed until the fabric oozed with bubbles. Top, bottom, inside, outside, mesh, plastic corners, padded sides, EVERYTHING! After I rinsed it, I scrubbed it again. When it was dry, I soaked it until it was dripping with vinegar. Finally, I wiped it down with disinfectant wipes. I threatened that if he woke up in hives again, I would just burn the thing and be done. Luckily, the wash took care of it!
Allergy life is such a crazy adventure, especially with a contact allergy. Lesson learned.