Allergy Baby’s First Word

food-allergies_thumbYesterday afternoon—a notable day because for the first time in, well, a while Seattle was the hottest major city in the country, the poor little Washingtonians weren’t quite sure how to handle all that foreign sunshine—was spent catching up with my friend Aubrey.  She told me about her retro-themed wedding, their hippie landlords, gardening, and eating gluten-free (something we both share).  I tried to convince her to start a crunchy, foodie-ish blog.  Even promised to comment.  But we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, the story that stood out to me the most as we got caught up was about a little baby Aubrey knows. 

He’s a year old now but when he was only a couple of months old he had food allergy testing done because he’d been having some unusual skin irritation and general health oddities.  The poor little guy came up with 10 food allergies (exactly how many new ones I found out about when I had testing done back in September). 

Aubrey showed me a picture on her phone of Allergy Baby’s back after the testing—so many bright red, itching-looking bumps from where he’d reacted to the test.  Poor little guy.  I remember exactly what that feels like; at least I was big enough though to understand what was happening.

His first word was even … drumroll please … allergic.  As in, “No, baby you can’t have [insert yummy-looking food].” 

“Allergic?”

“Yes, allergic.”

In his little mind allergic might just be a shorthand for “not for babies” or “not for you,” but soon enough he’ll know how in addition to being disappointing the word can also be frustrating, annoying, and even scary.  I hope he also learns though how to stand up for himself and keep himself safe even when people think he’s just being dramatic or weird, to not be embarrassed about being the only allergic kid and to define himself apart from his allergies, and that a limited diet—and all of the other limitations food allergies impose on him—doesn’t mean he can’t live a full, satisfying life.   

What would you want someone new to the allergic life to know?

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4 thoughts on “Allergy Baby’s First Word

  1. I think people have always been surprised to learn how aware my son is of his allergies. Although it’s a lot of responsabillity for a baby, or toddler, or school aged child to know and eventually understand their allergies, it is the best protection. Even from a very young age my son would always refuse food from anyone but a few trusted adults. I think it’s important for allergic children to know that while it’s best to try to be positive and not let your allergies get you down, you are allowed to say and feel that “it’s not fair”. Sometimes I think my son just needs a moment to feel sad about his allergies and for me to agree and say “you are right, buddy, it’s not fair”…then we move on and have a treat or do an activity that he CAN enjoy.

    • Absolutely! Thank you for commenting. You’re completely right. Even though I didn’t have my food allergy testing until recently (at age 26) I still need to be allowed to be sad or frustrated or even mad sometimes about the unfairness of it, specifically how I can’t even go grocery shopping by myself (it’d be dangerous due to my airborne peanut allergy) and that proximity to neighbors is playing a huge part in the houses my fiance and I look at as we start the process of buying a home. Food allergies impact so much more than just what we can eat.

      Last week I even had to drop all of my classes at my university where I was a junior and completely leave the school due to my peanut allergy. Disability Support Services considered my allergy to be a documented disability due to how extreme it is, so I was given accommodations (“peanut-free” signs on classroom doors, teachers would be contacted and told to make announcements, etc). Randomly, and right at midterms, the school took all of my accommodations away. I even talked to the president of the school personally in an attempt to get them back, but nothing. Without even a little support from my previously so helpful school, I was basically barred from school because of my allergy. And had to leave my classes, program of study, and the university completely. So frustrating. So unfair.

      Even though I’m not a little kid, my mom has been an important source of support during this major life crisis. She’s allowed me to say and feel that it’s not fair, and she’s been mad about it, too.

      However your child’s allergy’s impact his life, now and in the future, I completely agree that being able to express frustration is important. Because sometimes food allergies really suck. I’m glad your son has such a supportive mom.

      ~Kelsey

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