Nine months of pregnancy prepared me for the moment my son was born. I was ready for my world to change. After 28 hours of grueling labor, the doctor placed my son in my arms and nothing else mattered.
What I was not ready for – the welts that appeared on my four-month-old baby’s back during his first allergy prick test, an appointment that we thought was just
precautionary. “It’s just a little eczema. It’s probably nothing. Let’s just do the test to make sure.”
It wasn’t nothing.
Those welts, subsequent bloodwork, and additional testing confirmed the unthinkable
for parents without a family history – our child had severe food allergies. It’s the kind of life
change, the tough one you aren’t expecting, that you can’t prepare for. It can take the breath out of you and make you question every choice you made leading up to that moment. Was it something I ate or didn’t eat when I was pregnant? Should I have breastfed longer?
But most importantly…what do we do now?
For those not familiar with severe food allergies, the typical treatment is “strict avoidance” of the foods you are allergic to. That can’t be too hard, right? When your allergies include foods commonly eaten and used as ingredients (for us, eggs and peanuts) life gets challenging quickly. The pandemic actually gave us a way to explain this concept. Think back to March 2020 when everything seemed unsafe – swings at the local playground, doorknobs at a doctor’s office, shopping cart handles, toys in a communal play area. These common surfaces could have had something on them that was harmful or even deadly to your child.
This is the life of food allergy families 24/7.
The innate instinct to do whatever it takes to protect our child leaves us, allergy parents, with no choice but to hover, watching our child’s every move, every surface they touch, the actions of the kids playing with them, and constantly wiping hands…so much hand wiping! All while attempting to give our children some sense of freedom to play without fear and feel normal. I know one day my now two-year-old will realize he can’t eat at restaurants or can’t share a birthday cake or eat Halloween candy without vigilance, lots of pre-planning, and of course, a hovering mom incessantly asking “How are you feeling?”.
This thought breaks my heart and frequently brings me to tears, but it also fuels me. I will continue to research, to plan, to wipe all the hands, and to educate others about the unfortunately common danger of allergies. Food allergies affect one in 13 children in the United States, that’s approximately two per classroom. It’s an epidemic that is sadly growing by extraordinary proportions. Still, there is very little awareness to protect children battling these allergies just trying to live a normal life.
May 9-15 is Food Allergy Awareness Week, so I ask for my son and the many food allergy children that you consider the following…
- Educate yourself on how to recognize and treat a food allergy reaction with Epinephrine.
Just like learning CRP, you never know when you could help save a life.
- Bring a non-food item to school for your child’s next birthday (like bubbles or stickers) or donate a book to the classroom, so children with allergies can be safe and included.
- At parks, only feed your children snacks in designated eating areas and wipe their hands with a water-based wipe after, so ALL kids can enjoy the playground without fear.
- Lastly, if you know a mom (or dad) that has a child with food allergies, ask them how they are doing. The daily toll of fear and anxiety is exhausting and we all need a friend to talk to.
About the Author
Originally from New Jersey, Scotlyn recently relocated to Mount Pleasant with her husband and son. With a 12 year career in event planning and marketing, she left her job to stay at home full-time with her son. She enjoys family time exploring the outdoors, cooking, and a fresh cup of