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When I found out that my second child was a girl, I was filled with so much excitement that I took the day off to go on a mini shopping spree for her. I envisioned that she would wear the cutest tutus and sparkly hairbows. She would for sure have the most stylish wardrobe any little girl I know could own. I never imagined that she would have food allergies and eczema that made her skin literally look like it was rotting. You see, my first child was a pretty good baby. He had no serious health issues aside from a little lactose intolerence which was normal since I am lactose intolerent. So I had no fears that my second would be different. When Ruby was born, she latched on right away. I knew she would be different from that moment on. When she was about a month old, she started getting colicky and started getting horrible skin rashes. That was about the time my diet had also changed from the traditional postpartum Asian diet to an all-you-can-eat diet. Later on, we would find out about her food allergies and the effect that breastfeeding had on her. She would continue her fight with eczema and the only things that her doctor would suggest were creams, lotions, or steroids to reduce those breakouts. It was recommended that she not be tested for food allergies because she was still an infant. So, we just had to determine what was causing her eczema and colic by food elimination. It was around her 8 month age that she had her first bad reaction to food. I had given her a small amount of yogurt and within minutes she started rubbing her eyes, scratching her forehead, and had hives all over her face and stomach area. We got her tested for food allergies around her 12 month age and found out that she was allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, and peanuts. Basically, all the ingredients that are in almost every food.
Getting a solution to my daughter’s issue was a bit of a pain since her allergist (although a smart man, very all over the place) could not give me a satisfied answer. Basically just telling me to eliminate those foods from her diet. I became an advocate for my daughter because I was not satisfied with the snub that her doctors gave because of her food allergies. So, I did what any concerned mother would do- I did my own research on food allergies and eczema. I went to meetings and joined local food allergy groups on Facebook. I asked a ton of questions and tried out a ton of foods and skin products. I connected with other mothers who went through the same ordeal and we all shared tips and tricks with each other. In a way, we became doctors for one another. And there is no other advice I’ll take other than a mother who has gone through it all before. I have learned so much through these local Facebook groups and am so thankful for them.
My daughter is 3 years old now and has improved significantly with her food allergies. Her blood work test shows that her numbers have come down by more than half since we started testing her. Her biggest food allergy still remains to be cow’s milk and we are very careful with that but, it comes easy to us because we are not a big dairy family ourselves (despite living in the Dairy State of Wisconsin). Slowly, I’ve introduced eggs into her diet and some peanut and she seems to be okay with those two. I’ve also found great alternatives to peanut such as sunflower or soy products. Thanks to dedicated food allergy groups like Spokin, I definitely feel like I have a better control at this food allergy matter. I also have to add that my daughter is a very disciplined child. I have not seen such discipline in a child before and she does so well with our usual answer of, “Sorry baby, you can’t eat that. You’re allergic.” She also knows to ask for permission from us if it’s a new food that is placed in front of her. We are so thankful that God blessed us with such a great kid!
And in a way, I am truly blessed that I was able to leave my full-time job to be a SAHM. I can’t even imagine the daily hardships that allergy parents go through when they have to send their child to a daycare or have someone else watch them. And when the time comes to send Ruby to school, I just pray that her food allergies have gotten better. I just hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That is why I am became an advocate for my child because I have seen firsthand how an allergic reaction to a food can get. And I count my blessings every day I have health insurance to provide my daughter with the adequate care she needs- from allergy doctors to medicine. And speaking of medication, I am reminded that just a year ago, there was only one auto-injector (the EpiPen) in the market- now there are four!
If you have a child with food allergies or suspect that food allergies are the cause of your child’s discomfort, I encourage you to seek help- first with your child’s doctor and then through your local food allergy support group. It’s such a sigh of relief to know that you are not alone. Here are a couple of helpful sites on food allergies.