Honestly, if anything this blog post is just for me. Maybe putting pen to paper will help me process my own emotions.
I'm going to do the best I can to describe the feelings that are brought up with a new allergy diagnosis. Guys, each new allergy diagnosis has brought up some raw emotions. These emotions can be intense. I know there are other new allergy moms facing what I'm facing, maybe they need someone to relate to. Just like I needed. I've been supported by so many allergy moms over the past year + a half, maybe I can help someone, too.
Ok, maybe it will help if I name some of my emotions first. Fear, anger, loneliness, sadness, overwhelm, confusion. These are all intense, dark feelings. But, then I feel so confused + think, he has multiple food allergies + I haven't used the Epi Pen?! That is a true miracle. I feel overwhelmed like I need to deep clean every corner of our kitchen, because surely anaphylaxis is hiding around the corner somewhere. Maybe right on the center of our kitchen counter, even? In this specific situation, Bowan was already strictly avoiding our new allergen, wheat. So, it's not like he's eating it. We don't even eat it in our house. We only had a couple things containing wheat stored up high, that could be eaten very carefully by my husband that does not have a wheat allergy or sensitivity. So, this new allergen is already out of our house (essentially), out of our diet, I do not use it to cook or bake. And, I'm still having all these emotions. It seems like for even the seasoned allergy mom, a new diagnosis always knocks the wind out of you no matter how it comes at you.
Honestly, one of the hardest things about food allergies is that we all need food to survive. We all need to eat multiple times a day. Food is everywhere. Food is at celebrations + many times food is seen as the celebration. We have different emotions connected to food. We have different understandings of the nutrition of foods. And, we've learned specific ways to cook. Unfortunately, the top 8 food allergens (that are responsible for 90% of food allergies: wheat, soy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, dairy, fish + shell fish) are also some of the most commonly used foods in the American diet. This makes navigating food allergies even more difficult. So, when I process the fact that we all need food to survive, yet some foods can cause a life threatening reaction for my son, my heart just hurts.
I love being a mom. I was so excited to become a mom way before I ever was one. When the original diagnoses + reactions to foods came I was devastated + completely overwhelmed. I understood what I needed to do to make safe food for my son, but I was angry that I would have to spend so much time preparing food for my son. I'd stand at our kitchen sink washing endless dishes + watch the other kids + families play outside from our window.... I'd wish we could play the day away + go get fast food. At the time, we couldn't even eat a frozen gluten-free pizza because Bowan had an allergy to garlic. And, I was nursing him, so I couldn't eat that either. With all the work I had to put into our meals, I wasn't going to make two of them! Plus, cooking with the allergens didn't seem to solve any problems either. I'm now so much more at peace with the time I need to spend cooking, I just try to make it fun + creative. Plus, I think as allergy moms, we just get used to it, I guess.
So, Bowan is my baby. There is something about being a mom, when your kid hurts, you hurt. When your kid hurts a lot, you hurt a whole lot. When you think about the day you have to put a needle in your baby's leg to save his life, your heart hurts a whole lot more. That's one thing about new allergy diagnoses too... It's like the thought of using the Epi Pen on my own child replays in my head. I know I need to be strong, because if there's a time when I need to use the Epi Pen, I will absolutely do it, but the thought of it feels so traumatic to me. The whole cooking special food, hey that's the easy part. Knowing he'd need the Epi Pen if he was having a severe reaction, that's what seems to pull at my mommy heart strings.
Really, I just want my little buddy to have a healthy + happy life. I know pain + difficulty are part of the human experience. But, sometimes it's like we think... Hey, pain + difficulty suck, let's do whatever we can to avoid it. Managing food allergies is something difficult we face, but it's not our only difficulty. And, it won't be our last. Hey, maybe getting my emotions out here can help me heal a little quicker + maybe someone else might relate.