I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last post! That is WAY TOO LONG! Time to play a little catch up….
We had an awesome dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free Halloween party for Squid and some of his allergy and non-allergy friends. They had an amazing time (even though Squid REFUSED to wear his Olaf costume).
My husband had a surprise back surgery because he woke up one morning and couldn’t feel his foot. He had drop-foot for weeks and after several doctor visits, we discovered that his L4, L5 vertebrae were practically rubbing each other because of the lack of a disc. He ended up having a L4-S1 spinal fusion while I was 30 weeks pregnant. Needless to say, if something hit the floor in our house, it stayed there until Squid picked it up for us. Last week my husband was finally able to walk on his heals again. I know it sounds small but it’s a pretty big deal.
We welcomed “Tank” to the world at the end of January. The ultrasound tech told me that if I made it to my due date, he would be over 9lbs. Yeah… he was 6lbs, 15oz. He may have started off tiny, but at 9 months old and 20 lbs, he’s a man baby now. Big ol’ Tank.
Squid celebrated his 3rd birthday with a bike, a bounce house, and a wacky cake. Delicious!!!
We felt the call to move from the city to a small town about 2 hours south. Everything about the experience was God sent. He made it so easy! My husband had a job offer before we made it home after the interview. Our city house sold before it went on the market. Our rent house was the first one we saw. We attended one church that immediately felt like home. Bonus: We’re closer to grandparents. Amazing! Simply amazing how it all came together… but more on that later.
Squid started a new “school” at our church. It’s actually a Mother’s Day Out program but he doesn’t have to know that. He LOVES school! He loves learning. He’s such a people person and he’s fitting in so well.
Squid is down to only dairy and egg allergies with no sensitivities. He’s been cleared to try shellfish but with everything going on (and his constantly runny nose of allergy season), we’ve decided to wait. He sees the allergist again in a couple weeks.
We’ve been in some impossible situations where there is no way we should have survived with out a reaction. Maybe he’s grown out of the contact allergy? We shall see!
As for Tank, he’s showing no signs of food allergies so far.
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.
I have a friend that just discovered a dairy allergy in her son and another that is suspecting an intolerance in her newborn so I decided to put together a book of resources for beginners.
Avoiding Milk: A beginners guide