Pizza Party

Earlier this week a flyer went up at day care.  Pizza party this Friday–please bring $3 to cover the cost of pizza for all the kids.  This isn’t the first time it’s happened and it certainly won’t be the last.  Since I can’t ask the day care not to throw parties centered around food my daughter can’t have (but why am I not allowed to be selfish for the sake of my child’s well-being?), it’s not exactly an easy predicament to be in.

The last time this happened, about six months ago, the party was mac and cheese themed.  I mentioned to the day care director that I felt bad my daughter was going to see every kid in the facility eating the same food except for her.  I had planned on bringing her own pasta, but she would undoubtedly notice the difference.  The director responded by saying, “I’m sure she won’t even notice.”  I told her that was a load of bullshit, though in much more sophisticated language.  At two and three years old, toddlers are obsessively interested in what other kids have and are doing.

So here we are again.  This time it’s a pizza party.  Luckily there’s a pizza place not too far from day care that makes vegan pizzas with Daiya cheese.  They deliver, so I thought I’d just pop online, order using my debit card, and have it delivered to the day care.  Only once I got to the order checkout page did I discover you can only pay with a card when physically present at the restaurant.

I’d had plans for my lunch break and now I had to scrap them so I could go pick up the pizza, pay for it, and drive it to the day care.  I was annoyed, not with having to accommodate my daughter but with the day care for even having a damn pizza party to begin with.  I took an early lunch, picked up the pizza, and made the delivery.

When I walked in, all the toddlers were outside except for Emily, who was inside using the potty.  She came out of the bathroom when she heard my voice and she was SO HAPPY to see me.  She didn’t even know yet that I’d brought her a pizza.  I spent a few minutes with her and then headed back to work.  As I drove away, my frustrations melted entirely.  I try really hard to look at the bright side of these situations.  I got hugs and kisses from my daughter in the middle of a workday, and she was ecstatic over the surprise visit from mommy.  And not only did she get to have pizza like all the other kids, but she got to have a custom pizza all to herself with her favorite toppings.  Who really won in this situation?

That’s right.  My kid did.

Except for the fact that all the kids got Creamies for dessert, and I wasn’t aware of this until I delivered the pizza.  Emily got an Otter Pop instead but that’s not the same as ice cream on a stick.

Anyway.

This weekend is our baked cheese trial.  I’m nervous as all get-out.  Emily’s been having some eczema flare-ups (albeit small ones) and she had some green #2s in the potty this week, which are both things we experienced when she was first diagnosed.  So we’ll see.  I’ll have Benadryl handy and I won’t get my hopes up.

The great cracker goo panic

Last weekend we battled a second stomach bug after recovering from one just a few weeks ago.  *sob*

We were headed to a pig roast on a farm about 40 minutes from our house. The people who invited us were incredible–they made vegan rolls special for Emily and bought her a pint of coconut milk ice cream so she wouldn’t be left out. It’s a gesture very few people offer and it warmed my heart.

Unfortunately, on the drive out there, I heard that undeniable, gagging-followed-by-a-miniature-splash sound, and turned around to find Emily throwing up all over the back seat. We pulled over in the middle of farmland nowhere and cleaned her up next to a canal with only baby wipes and Kleenex. (Side note to my fellow parents: never, EVER, travel without towels in the car.)

Emily had her heart set on seeing cows and horses, so we carried on the last few miles and arrived at the farm. It was obvious pretty quickly that it was no minor upset stomach. Emily was burning up, didn’t want to play with the dogs or other kids, wanted nothing to do with food, and wouldn’t leave my lap. We headed home before the food was served, although we did get to take her ice cream and vegan rolls home with us.

So when I got a call from Emily’s day care earlier this week, I knew it would be one of two things: either she was still sick, or there was food allergen exposure. The call went something like this:

Teacher: So, I have a little bit of a concern…
Me: Okay, what’s up? (Already my heart rate has doubled.)
Teacher: Well…Emily can have Ritz, right?
Me: Yep.
Teacher: Okay. Well. We passed out plain Ritz crackers to all the kids, and then we noticed what looks like peanut butter on all the crackers. I tasted it, and some of the other ladies tasted it, and we’re pretty certain it’s peanut butter.

NORMALLY at this point, I would be in the midst of a panic attack. However, I knew immediately Emily was fine. The “peanut butter” on these Ritz crackers was not, in fact, peanut butter. It’s something known in the allergy world as “cracker goo,” and it’s a paste of oil and salt that builds up during the manufacturing process. It looks, smells, and tastes eerily similar to peanut butter. I knew this. I’ve seen it. But it was new to Emily’s teacher, and she was having a mental breakdown as she dialed my number to tell me Emily had consumed peanut butter.

After explaining cracker goo to her, I asked her to keep a close eye on Emily JUST IN CASE. We disconnected the call and she immediately texted me, telling me she was shaking and in tears. She’d been so worried. I reassured her that even if it had been peanut butter, she had done nothing wrong. Accidental cross contamination is, unfortunately, not uncommon. It could happen to anyone–even me.

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Strangely enough, not peanut butter.

Emily was in the clear, but when I picked her up she made sure to tell me her teacher told her no more Ritz. It’s silly that it pained me, but it did. Emily loves Ritz crackers and she eats them all the time. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend why the teacher took them away from her but not the other kids. Yet, the teacher did exactly what she should have done. I did my best to explain to Emily why her teacher took away her crackers, but I could tell it wasn’t registering. These are the moments–the ones that seem so insignificant–that the emotional weight of parenting an allergy toddler bears down pretty hard.

Other than that, things have been calm and easy around here lately. We still have no issues with baked milk–next weekend is the pizza test!

A few nights ago, Emily helped me make mini banana chocolate chip muffins. The recipe called for egg so I used aquafaba. This was only my second time using it; the first was about a month ago when I made molasses cookies. After two successes, I am SOLD on aquafaba as an egg replacer. I have never before made muffins that were so light and fluffy, that didn’t crumble apart. I really wish I had known about aquafaba a year ago when we started the weekly muffins.

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My kitchen is not always this messy.

One last thing before I wrap up my ramblings: can I just talk about how horrific food allergy nightmares are? I had the most vivid dream last night that Emily ate peanut butter at day care and that it caused her so much pain she started thrashing around and cracked her face on the side of the toilet. It’s disturbed me all day. NOT COOL.

Food allergy princess

Oof, it’s been a hot minute. Last week was a bit on the busy side. So what’s been going on?

Baked milk is still going beautifully. Emily is enjoying that she gets to try new foods and we haven’t had any reactions or eczema flares. If we’re still in the clear in two weeks, we’re going to try that bite of pizza.

To be honest, though, I make a point to not tell her there’s milk in these foods she’s eating. I’ve drilled it into her so hard that she can’t have milk that the one time I let it slip the cookie she was eating had milk in it, she questioned whether or not to continue eating it. I’ll admit I’m super proud of her for that.

This past weekend we attended a birthday party for my friend’s daughter who just turned three. It was princess themed and Emily was stoked to wear her princess dress. I took this GORGEOUS photo of her and it was only when I looked at it later that I remembered she was wearing her medical alert bracelet at the time. There’s a hidden message there, I suppose–even princesses can have food allergies.

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The hostess had arranged a platter of cupcakes to look like Belle’s yellow dress, and Emily eyed them the whole afternoon. When it was time for cake, I gave Emily the allergy-friendly cupcake I’d packed for her and she didn’t even bat an eye at the yellow cupcakes everyone else was eating. She was just happy to have cake (or rather, the frosting on top). After cake, however, the party favor bags were passed out and there was some candy inside without ingredients listed. Emily was begging to eat it but we just couldn’t let her. It wasn’t worth the risk.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic week!  I’m off to Whole Foods soon to buy some Heidi Ho “cheeze” to make some mac and cheese for dinner.  B is working late and he won’t touch the stuff, so I’m taking advantage of this opportunity.

It’s my party and I’ll bake if I want to

This past week I celebrated my 33rd birthday.  Sadly I rung it in staying up all night with a vomiting toddler and then spent almost three hours at the DMV on a negligible amount of sleep.  I’ve had better birthdays.

My birthday was on a Monday anyhow, so we didn’t celebrate until this weekend.  We threw a barbecue and invited a couple dozen family and friends.  Normally get-togethers tend to be on the stressful side.  I have to pester the host about the menu, trust that they understand the seriousness of my inquiry, pack separate food for Emily just in case, potentially watch Emily watching everyone eating different food than what she has, and then watch her like a hawk so no one tries to feed her something that’s not safe.  At one of my own family’s get-togethers once, an aunt got snippy with me when I panicked over another child handing a milk-laden snack to Emily.  It’s hard not to carry anxiety around with me at these gatherings.

It’s different hosting your own party.  We provided most of the food and on the invite, B requested that if anyone brought food they bring something dairy, egg, and peanut free.  A few guests brought side dishes and they were all Emily safe.  For my birthday I got something that doesn’t come easily these days: a chance to have a drink and relax with my family and friends, comforted by the knowledge that my child was safe and able to eat everything the rest of us were eating.

B is a grill master but he definitely isn’t a baker.  I absolutely love to bake, so I made my own birthday cake/cupcakes…all vegan and nut-free, of course.

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Annnnd I think it’s safe to say Emily was a fan.  (She ate two.)

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The cupcakes were gone before I could even blink, and at the end of the party only four thin slices of cake remained.  The kids all went bananas for it and one friend said it was the best vegan cake she’s ever had.  I think people really underestimate how delicious certain foods can be even without eggs and milk.

So that was my birthday.

Let’s go back to that vomiting business for a second.  Emily had a 24-hour bug and shared it with me, kind of.  I never threw up but my stomach was iffy for a couple of days.  One night for dinner I wanted absolutely nothing except for a package of beef ramen I found in our pantry.  I usually will not eat foods in front of Emily if she can’t have them, too.  Ramen contains milk and eggs, and in this instance I made an exception because I hadn’t been eating much.  I made Emily a plate with a sandwich and some crackers and set up her little table in front of the TV; I’d hoped some cartoon dinner entertainment would distract her, but that kid has a radar for her mom’s food.  As soon as I sat down she climbed up next to me.  “What eating, mommy?  Those noodoos?”

Shit.  I explained to her that she couldn’t eat them because they have milk and eggs in them, and while she seemed content with this explanation she also continued to stare me down and ask questions about my noodles she couldn’t have.

I seriously felt awful.

Friday night, we went to Costco to buy stuff for the barbecue and I stumbled upon a package of brown rice ramen.  It’s made of brown rice and organic millet, and it looks and cooks just like the Nissen ramen you can buy at the grocery store.  It doesn’t come with seasoning, so I cooked some up and added a small splash of soy sauce.  Emily went bonkers for it!

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I also tried it and fell in love with it.  And it’s much, MUCH healthier than the Nissin ramen.  I’m seriously stoked to try out some recipes with these noodles!

 

So far, so good

You guys.  Baked milk is going GREAT!

It’s been exactly one week and Emily has consumed baked milk all but two of those days.  Her skin looks fine, no tummy troubles, and honestly nothing concerning is happening.

After those first two days when she refused the majority of the snacks I offered, she opened the pantry one evening and begged to have a Nutrigrain bar and some of the puffed corn snacks.  So far, here’s the list of baked milk food items she’s gotten to try:

  • Sunmaid raisin bread
  • Mixed berry Nutrigrain bars
  • Gerber baby puffed corn snacks
  • Pretzel Goldfish crackers
  • Orowheat oat nut sandwich bread
  • Some sort of butter cookies from our local grocery store bakery

The corn snacks and Nutrigrain bars have been the winners.  I’m going to try keeping up with a three days on, one day off routine as long as she continues to tolerate it well.  I’ll give it a couple of months and if all is still well, we’ll ambitiously try that bite of pizza.

Speaking of pizza.  There is a Blaze Pizza about 30 minutes from our house, and we’ve eaten there a couple of times but it’s such a long drive just for pizza.  I love Blaze because while many pizza places have vegan crusts, it’s the only one I’ve found that also offers vegan (Daiya) cheese.

I discovered last week there is an Extreme Pizza less than ten minutes from us.  Like Blaze, Extreme Pizza also offers Daiya cheese.  The nice thing about Blaze is that they make your pizza right in front of you, so I had the ability to watch for cross contamination.  Since this is a worry, I reached out to our local Extreme Pizza via Facebook and asked about their cross contamination prevention.  Here are the first few exchanges we had:

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The conversation did continue a bit, and when I finally told them I was excited to try it out, they sent me a coupon.

We tried Extreme Pizza last night and I mentioned to the woman who took our order (who also prepared the pizzas) that we had a dairy allergy.  She said they have quite a few customers with dairy allergies, which is nice–we all know how hard it is to dine out and avoid dairy.  When she brought out Emily’s pizza, she assured us she’d used clean equipment and taken precautions to keep her pizza safe.  YASSSSSS.

After asking if her pizza was ready a gajillion times, here’s Emily with a mouthful of pizza.

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Baked milk, days 1 & 2

Since getting the allergist’s all-clear last week to incorporate more baked milk in to Emily’s diet, I’ve learned this was all much easier said than done.

First, let’s talk about how difficult it is to find foods containing baked milk that Emily can eat.  “Baked milk,” as it relates to a child who is dairy-allergic, doesn’t simply refer to anything dairy prepared in the oven.  Dairy items more solid in nature don’t break down the same way liquid milk does.  Things like cheese and chocolate chips, for instance, are not considered safe quite yet.  Also, things like cheese crackers contain milk but they’re often dusted with a cheese powder, which is still off-limits.  But I mean, milk seems to hide out in just about everything so I thought the addition of baked milk into our lives would open a lot of doors that have been closed to us thus far.

Wrong.

As it turns out, 94.98519304% of baked items containing milk also contain egg.  (I made that statistic up but I’m 96.24324208% sure it’s relatively accurate.)  If they don’t contain egg, there’s a chance they “may contain peanuts.”

I started out with a loaf of Sunmaid raisin bread, a box of mixed berry Nutrigrain bars, and a package of baked corn puffs.  I’m fairly certain these are the only three baked-milk-safe items my local Target has to offer.  Thank god for hour-long lunch breaks so I could read through a hundred food labels.

I waited to begin our baked milk trials until Saturday morning so I could watch her like a hawk throughout the day.  For breakfast I offered her a toasted slice of the raisin bread with vegan butter.  She loves raisins, she loves toast, and she loves vegan butter.  So this was the perfect food to start with, right?

Wrong.

Emily ate the first three bites and then pushed the plate away and mumbled that she didn’t like it.  She proceeded to beg for chips for breakfast, so I promised her she could have chips if she finished her toast.  It took almost an hour but she finally finished the slice of toast and was rewarded with a handful of chipotle Ritz crisps.

A couple of hours after eating the raisin bread, Emily scratched quite a bit at her arms and complained of being itchy, but she never got a rash or hives or any other indicators of a reaction.  The itchiness persisted for roughly half an hour and she didn’t complain any further after that.

Today I offered her the baked corn puffs, and she refused to even taste them.  I offered her a Nutrigrain bar and she refused to taste it.  I made a batch of biscuits and she refused to taste them.  Mid-day we went grocery shopping and I bough all kinds of new baked milk snacks to try.  I offered her butter cookies and she refused to taste them.  I offered her pretzel Goldfish crackers and she ate one and refused any more.  I offered her some crunchy baby snacks and without tasting one, she shook her head and said, “That has peanuts?”  It didn’t, but then I started to wonder:  can she sense this is all stuff she normally can’t have?

I backed off for a bit at that point.  Later in the day she asked for a snack and I again offered her a butter cookie.  This time she gladly accepted and appeared to enjoy it.

In the evening she had itchy eyes but no visible skin reaction.  It’s hard to tell if it was related to the cookie since I also trimmed her bangs after dinner.  I do admit that I worry about her refusing all of the food, and I don’t want to push too hard in case it is her intuition telling her it’s going to make her sick.  For the week, I’ll likely back off because she’ll be at day care and I won’t be able to watch her as closely.

In the meantime, I’m thankful to be raising a dairy allergic toddler in a time when there are so many substitutes.  We visited our favorite local boutique ice cream shop this weekend and Emily had a scoop of the vegan cookie dough ice cream.  She thought it was the bee’s knees!

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Follow Up and Some Potentially Great News

Emily had a follow up appointment with her allergist today.  It’s been one month since she was diagnosed with asthma following an urgent care visit for labored breathing.  She’s been on Flovent for three weeks after an attempt at Singulair made the asthma even worse, and it’s worked *wonders*.

At the same time, we followed up on Emily’s food allergies.  Since her diagnosis at five months old, we’ve had her retested every six months.  Because her IgE numbers for egg and peanut have been so high at every check, at this point the allergist has decided to test once a year rather than twice.  We tested in January, so now we’ll wait another six months and see what happens then.

However.

We’ve been doing the at-home baked milk challenge for a year, officially.  Six-ish months ago, Emily got one bite of another kid’s yogurt at day care and broke out into hives on both sides of her face.  Four months ago, we tried doubling the amount of baked milk she was getting and she got patches of eczema all over her body.  But five days ago, she accidentally got about a teaspoon of raw milk and absolutely nothing happened.

Now the allergist wants us to increase the baked milk again.  If Emily tolerates it with no reactions, we’ll continue to give her a wider variety of items containing baked milk and keep an eye on her.  This could open a door to a whole new world of foods for her.  And if all of that goes well, after some time he wants us to give her (drum roll, please) A BITE OF PIZZA.

It seems silly when you say it just like that:  “My kid might get to take one single bite of pizza!”  But that’s what this life is.  You celebrate really…small…victories.  It’s something most parents probably take for granted, and the thought of it is bigger to me than words can describe.

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Yet I don’t want to get my hopes up, either.  I’m cautiously optimistic.  Food allergies are unpredictable, and I’m more than aware that the lack of a reaction recently could have been a fluke.  I’m just praying it wasn’t.

I’m going shopping tomorrow so we can start our trials this weekend, when I’m able to watch her for any signs of a reaction.  Hoping to have a positive update in a few days!

Fourth of July

Holidays are always a bit tricky with food allergies.  Before I had Emily I never realized how much holidays revolve around food.

We took Emily to the big Independence Day parade today.  Since I knew people would be tossing candy to the kids, I grabbed a handful of Dum Dums suckers and tossed them in our backpack before we left the house.  That way I could swap out any off-limits candy for the suckers so Emily wouldn’t feel gypped.

We showed up early to get a good shady spot on the parade route (hellloooo, 100 degree weather).  To kill some time, Emily and I took a walk to the only donut shop in town with vegan donuts.

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Of course the tray of vegan donuts was right next to a tray of donuts covered in chopped peanuts.  The staff was kind enough to change their gloves before handling our donuts.  You never know when you ask what kind of a response you’re going to get.  Recently we were behind a woman at Blaze Pizza who requested they change their gloves to make her pizza because she has a deadly vinegar allergy, and the staff pushed back pretty hard.  They insisted they hadn’t touched any vinegar and didn’t need to change gloves, and the poor woman looked petrified.  I totally appreciate when we get a response like the one we got today, where the woman smiled, made a note on our ticket, and said, “Oh, of course!”

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As expected, lots of candy was thrown our way at the parade that Emily can’t have.  There was no chocolate, but there were lots of chewy and taffy candies that contain egg.  Emily didn’t seem to mind at all when I pocketed them and handed her a sucker.  Unfortunately I hadn’t anticipated free ice cream being passed out, so at that point I distracted Emily and luckily she didn’t seem to notice.

Delta Airlines was part of the parade and they handed out their biscoff cookies they hand out on flights, and I was shocked to see they were egg, dairy, and peanut free!  We told Emily they were “airplane cookies” and she gobbled them right up.  We haven’t flown yet with Emily but Delta has a good reputation for accommodating passengers with peanut allergies, so I think I know who we’ll be flying with when the time comes.

All in all, we had a great time at the parade.  I was really worried about the whole candy thing, but it wasn’t a big deal.  It might have been had I not had suckers stashed away in our bag, but I’ve learned in the past couple of years you can never be too prepared with an allergy kiddo.

For dinner ate grilled baby-back ribs with a side of homemade macaroni salad using vegan mayo.  SO GOOD.  I have to gush here for a moment about the Best Foods vegan mayo.  I’ve tried other eggless mayos before and they’ve tasted a bit “off”…but this stuff is like the REAL DEAL.  I’m obsessed.

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I hope you all had a safe and happy 4th!  Now I suppose I should eat all that chewy candy I stashed away.  I mean, I’d hate for it to go to waste.  🙂

Not a Walk in the Park

B was busy fighting with the sprinkler system yesterday, so Emily and I escaped to the park.  We recently bought her a toddler balance bike and I thought it might be nice for her to get some practice on a path where I didn’t have to shout, “Don’t go in the street!” every ten seconds.  (For the record, I just ended up shouting, “Don’t swerve out in front of other people!” every ten seconds.)

We found ourselves at the paddle boat pond and Emily laughed hysterically every time a goose jumped into the water.  She was quite offended that some of the geese were sleeping–I mean, they’re there for her entertainment, right?–so she ran around screaming, “Goose, wake up!” at every goose trying to have a lazy Sunday.

Then came the squirrel.

Emily is CERTAIN she’s going to catch a squirrel one of these days.  In the middle of playing alarm clock for all the sleeping geese, she spotted a squirrel headed for a tree and she took off after it at lightning speed.  She made it to the tree well before I did and when I caught up to her I noticed she was standing right smack in the middle of a minefield of peanuts.

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I scanned the area and noticed piles upon piles of peanut shells.  Emily stood next to me, giggling and pointing at the squirrel now high up in the tree, unaware that I was having a mini panic attack.  I turned to her and scooped her into my arms as calmly as I could manage.  Then I pointed at the ground and said, “Honey, do you know what those are?”  She studied them briefly but looked at me quizzically and I told her they were peanuts.  “Those peanuts?” she asked, quite curiously.  She knows peanuts will make her sick, but she still doesn’t grasp that she can’t even be around them.  I asked her to say goodbye to the squirrel and, still holding her, I booked it out of that area as quickly as I could.

Well THAT was a quick way to end a fun trip to the park.  *grumble grumble*

Luckily all was well.  I’m honestly quite grateful she didn’t pick one up before I noticed them and try to feed it to the squirrel. Nothing happened to Emily, but I know now to always have one eye on the ground.

Stuff You Should Probably Know

This is my very first post, so it feels like I should probably start off with some introductions and such.  There’s a little bit of that in “the story,” but I saved the juicy stuff just for this post.  Like all the poop talk.

I’m Hope, and my two-year-old daughter Emily is allergic to eggs, peanuts, and dairy.  I mean allergic like, breaks out into clusters of hives after touching mayonnaise residue, or might stop breathing if she eats a microscopic speck of peanut.  I mean allergic like, I’m neurotic for a good reason so please don’t judge me when I won’t let your kid come within ten feet of my kid while yours is holding a PB&J sandwich.

We’ve known about Emily’s allergies since she was five months old.  When she was a month old, her skin started to become rough, red, and scaly; at her two-month checkup, she was diagnosed with eczema and we were instructed to lather her in Aquaphor twice a day and put her in bleach baths and dress her in wet pajamas, among some other odd things.  By her four-month checkup, eczema covered her whole body and it cracked, oozed, and bled constantly.  I awoke almost every day to find her bassinet sheet soaked in her blood.  One one occasion, we slathered her in Vaseline and covered the worst parts of her skin with a dressing used on burn victims’ wounds, because it was so bad she couldn’t sleep.  Emily’s pediatrician prescribed a steroid ointment that slightly calmed the eczema down, but after a couple of weeks it stopped working and the eczema was back with a vengeance.

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Blood on the bassinet sheet–a daily occurrence.

During this time, we also started noticing blood in Emily’s stool.  She was having 10-12 bowel movements a day that were [skip the rest of this sentence if you have a weak stomach] pure mucous and often bright green.  Each time Emily pooped, she screamed out in pain.  She also struggled to eat on a regular basis.  She would nurse for a few minutes and then stop and just howl like she was uncomfortable.

I finally asked Emily’s doctor for a referral to an allergist.  Emily’s dad, B, was born allergic to dairy (and even breastmilk), and he didn’t outgrow his allergy until he was in high school.  Like Emily, he had a rough go at the first few months of his life before they figured out the problem.  Emily was breastfed but I’d learned proteins from foods I was eating could transfer into my breastmilk and affect my baby.

The pediatrician scoffed at me and indicated food allergies don’t cause eczema and that if I simplified my diet to ONLY plain meat, whole grains, fruits, and veggies, the gastrointestinal issues would resolve.  Worried about Emily, I pushed the issue and refused to walk out without a referral to the allergist.

At the appointment, the allergist asked about B’s history and took detailed notes about the problems Emily was experiencing.  A skin prick test showed reactions to dairy, eggs, and peanuts.  The peanut reaction was particularly bad and had the allergist quite concerned.  He advised me to remove all three foods from my diet as long as I was breastfeeding, and to avoid feeding them to her once she started solids.  We scheduled a follow-up around her first birthday, when they would be able to test her blood IgE levels and see how they correlated to the skin testing.

I felt an immense amount of guilt; I was practically surviving off of scrambled eggs, yogurt, and peanut butter at that time.  Since I was breastfeeding I was always hungry–hungrier than when I was pregnant–and I was eating several spoonfuls of peanut butter daily to try and up my calorie and protein intake.  It was no wonder Emily was so miserable.

I immediately cut all of the offending allergens out of my diet.  I dropped a lot of weight quite quickly and found it difficult to adjust, but within a couple of weeks I started to notice some improvement in Emily’s symptoms.  (It can take months for symptoms to dissipate entirely.)  After a month, Emily’s eczema was gone–I mean 100% G-O-N-E–and her bowel movements decreased from 12 a day to one or two a day.  Clearly, we had found the culprit.

Emily now has IgE (Immunoglobin E antibody) blood testing done every six months.  The IgE levels are used to predict the likelihood of a reaction, but not necessarily how “bad” those reactions will be.  A low IgE number can still result in anaphylaxis.  We’ve carried EpiPens for Emily since her first birthday.

For the past year, we’ve been working with the allergist to try “building up” Emily’s tolerance to dairy by exposing her to VERY small amounts of milk baked into muffins.  When dairy is baked at a high enough temperature for a long enough amount of time, some of the proteins that cause the allergic response break down enough that it won’t cause a reaction.  Emily can tolerate a muffin (containing 1/6 cup of milk) every other day, but any more often and she breaks out in patches of eczema.

And that pretty much brings us up to speed.  SO….who will I be talking about in this blog?

Emily, of course.  She’s 2.5 years old, allergic to dairy, eggs, and peanuts, and also has asthma.  She’s obsessed with dinosaurs, books, Paw Patrol, homemade cookies, and putting stickers all over mom and dad’s arms.

Myself.  I’m a working mama who reads a lot of books, wastes too much time playing word games, and drives my husband batty by watching every true crime series Netflix has to offer.

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Me and my little booger (quite literally).

B, my husband and Emily’s dad.  He knows what it’s like to be dairy-allergic, and he’s an amazing allergy dad.  Apparently not every allergy mom can say that, so I’m pretty proud.

J, my stepson and Emily’s half-brother.  He’s a teenager and I was shocked he adapted so well to almond milk and vegan mayonnaise.

Glad to have you here and hope you’re ready to follow along!