I’ve wanted to write this blog for a long time, but never really knew where to start or what to say. As a mum with a child who has allergies, I wanted to share my journey; the ups and downs, the worries and the overthinking that goes with it.
In class I got chatting to Grace, whose son has allergies too. We soon realised that we both have similar experiences and feelings as a mum. I decided to ask Grace if she would share her story along with mine.
Please note, we are by no means medical professionals and the following is simply our views and thoughts of two mums muddling through their child’s allergy journey. I hope in sharing our stories, it helps others to feel supported and know that they are not alone.
Grace’s story: Samuel
My son Samuel, loves puzzles and paint, cuddles and the family cats. He is super cheeky and knows what he wants, most of the time!
He is now almost 2 and a half years old, and we thought he had allergies from 3 months of age, due to bad eczema, which seemed to flare when I consumed a lot of dairy. His first allergy was confirmed at 6 months after a trip to hospital, and the rest were diagnosed at 10 months after referral to the paediatric allergy clinic for skin prick testing.
He has multiple allergies, the most serious ones are dairy, egg and tree nuts, where we carry an epi-pen. His other allergies are soy protein and banana.
In the beginning, it was quite hard to navigate his allergies, however we have learnt that a lot of foods are “accidently free from”, but we do still double check packaging! We both love a good chocolate bourbon biscuit.
He attends nursery twice a week, and they are amazing with his allergies, offering meals that are as similar to his peers as possible. It seems the older he gets, the more he notices what others around him eat. At his birthday party this year, a lot of parents were surprised that the spread we had put on, were all safe foods for him, as it included sausage rolls, chicken nuggets, Pom bears, party rings, Oreos and such.
I love how food packaging now shows top allergens in bold, which makes life and shopping a lot easier!
Equally, always having baby wipes, antibacterial spray and safe snacks is key.
Advice for a caregiver of an allergy child, would be to reach out to other allergy parents for support and understanding. Do your research on what your child can and can’t have, and to shop around for the best deals on safe foods. It may be a lot to deal with, but with support and understanding, it definitely gets easier as the months go on.
My story: Emilie
My daughter Emilie loves climbing trees, has a super cheeky laugh and loves arts and crafts.
She is 7 and we’ve known about her allergies for 5 years now. Her epi-pen has become a constant thing that I now remember every time we leave the house. Emilie is allergic to uncooked egg and all nuts.
Uncooked egg is hard to explain; basically egg that hasn’t been cooked for a long time (pancakes, quiches, omelettes. etc).
We have annual reviews at the hospital and at the last meeting we were told we can now introduce
uncooked egg in her diet. A huge positive step which I need to get my head round and be brave enough to give a go. It just seems such a crazy idea, to feed my child something that I know is potentially life threatening, despite the guidance and reassurance from the consultants!
Children are amazing and just get on and accept things whereas I for one find it a lot harder. As a mum, I felt the guilt and somehow blamed myself. Over the years I have slowly come to the realisation that it isn’t my fault and her allergies were out of my control. Why do us mums always seem to carry the guilt? We first realised she had allergies when she ate nuts and was then violently sick. We then got an appointment at the allergy clinic where they did the prick tests and the results were positive.
How have our lives changed?
I am constantly looking at packaging and read ingredients. I know I need to let her go more and at the age of 7 she is now wanting to go to parties and play dates on her own. I know I can’t be there constantly with the epi-pen in my bag. I need to explain to the other adults around her and trust that it will be ok. Trust that giving them the epi-pen will be fine, but that is so hard. She is really good though and is very aware of what she can and can’t eat and the reasons why.
Luckily a lot has been done and slowly people are becoming more aware of the impact an allergy can have and just how dangerous it can be. There are clear labels on food and restaurants are becoming more and more aware.
All I want is for my child to be happy, not to feel different and be known as herself and not the child with allergies. Having Emilie has made me learn lots and become so much more aware of allergies and their impact than I did before. I know I need to be less anxious about it but that will hopefully come.
I want this blog to help people understand some of the challenges that children with allergies face but also how us parents may feel. I know we are all different and take things on board differently. I want there to be more education and awareness around allergies. I hope this blog helps send a positive message out there too. At the end of the day our children are just like any other children. Their allergies should be something we embrace, learn to live with and educate people about.
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