Our Allergy Story

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I’m often asked by other parents how we knew Finn had allergies. It’s a story I realize hasn’t been shared in this format, so I will briefly share our journey.

I worked through my pregnancy and full-time for a portion of Finn’s first year. Like any nursing and pumping mom, you always worry you aren’t “keeping up.” At different times when I thought I might not be providing enough we tried supplementing, but each attempt quickly halted when Finn would become terribly upset, blotchy or barfy.

After his first exposure to organic whole milk around his first birthday, he broke out in a welt-like, red, white bump, blotchy rash – head to toe. (We also tried raw milk – same reaction.) We knew then something was terribly wrong. It slowly started making his first year make sense… his reaction to anything other than breastmilk.

In fact, looking back, there were times he reacted like this when he hadn’t ate anything, simply nursed, such as this reaction…

In hindsight, I suspect he was reacting to something I ate or we had dairy residue on our skin that touched him. (Another reason I have stopped consuming dairy while nursing Evie.) But at the time we were so confused. Had he been bit? Was he reacting to soap/detergent? The size of these marks would vary without reason – large, small, groupings, etc.  Sometimes he was totally unfazed by them and other times he would scratch and cry, clearly uncomfortable. Again, looking back, this all makes sense.

He had a peanut reaction (no pictures) to a Trader Joe’s pretzel filled with PB. This was our fault. He was given this and started coughing, gagging, wheezing, losing color in his face, becoming lethargic. Thankfully, he threw up. Most kids do not throw up. Anaphylaxis was beginning, but thankfully he was able to eliminate the allergen from his system and his system calmed down.

We did not know about his egg allergy until we went to see a pediatric allergist for testing. He was tested on the most common allergens and came back positive for eggs – both the yoke and the white. He’d never had egg at this point, even cooked in a dish, so it was good to know moving forward.

The allergist appointment was awful. Because of his age they draw blood as opposed to the “prick” test some people go through when they are older. It took two nurses and myself holding him down the get the necessary blood. Traumatizing for both Finn and me.

Fast forward to today, we continue working through the process of keeping a dairy-, egg-, and peanut-free life for Finn. More importantly, we have moved from focusing on what we can’t eat to the things we can, focusing on eating real food. We suspect Evie will have the same allergies and plan to maintain a dairy-free and peanut-free home long-term. My hope is he will outgrow the plain cooked egg allergy but only time will tell. I now don’t care about dairy or peanuts.

As such, I’ll continue to share what I learn about food and allergies, and offer what we are making in our kitchen that might help you if you are in the same situation. I remember being so overwhelmed when I first learned about Finn’s allergies. Now, I think little of them and am actually incredibly thankful for what I have learned as a result. In fact, this video is what really put me in high gear. Please take the time to watch it!

Do you or your kids have food allergies? I’d love to hear how you found out and what you’ve learned.

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Comments

  1. Stefanie Green says

    Hi! Glad I found your blog. My daughter is 2 1/2 and she has a milk protein allergy. She can eat eggs and loves her soy milk. I found your blog searching for a substitute for a cream of chicken/mushroom soup. She has the same reaction – hives or throwing up or wheezing, etc., depending on the substance. She even had a little bit of milk spilled on her head and still itched after washing it off and her eyes were puffy. It is awful when people try to feed our children or try to compare it with a lactose intolerance too – definitely not the same thing, but I didn’t understand before either! I look forward to learning more things from your blog!

    • says

      Hi, Stephanie! I’m so glad we found each other :)

      Would you be interested in sharing your dauaghter’s story? I often share how readers are living and dealing with food allergies. I think it’s helpful for us to all learn from each other. If you’re interested, email me at mywisemom at gmail dot com and we can chat more!

  2. Jade Saltaformaggio says

    Hi Kerry! I found your blog a couple of months ago thru reading your sister in laws blog ‘Iowa Girl Eats’. I read Finn’s allergy story and my son (Tripp) allergies are the exact same. I just got the call from the Dr today with the results- allergic to dairy, nuts & eggs. I am very upset, but after doing some research there are more kids with these allergies than I realized. Tripp is almost 15 months old and was exclusively breastfed until 14 months, just in the last 2 weeks has he started eating food. But the weird thing is (even our pedi says it is strange) I can eat all the dairy I want and it doesn’t effect him. Milk proteins in breast milk and cows milk are the exact same, so it’s weird that he reacts to one but not the other. He breaks out in the hives just like in the pictures of Finn when he is given any of the 3 foods. Even if the dairy just touches his skin, he breaks out. I just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog and will continue to do so!! Thank you for the time and effort you put into it!!

    • Kerry says

      First off, I love your name. Jade was always on my “I LOVE THIS NAME” list when we were looking for girl names :)

      Your story sounds alot like ours! I never cut dairy while nursing Finn and I nursed him for 19 months. Never a consistent reaction. I do think the “touching” is a big deal for Finn, too. In hindsight, I wonder what would have changed – IF anything would have changed – had I cut dairy. Who knows now! But at the time it wasn’t even on my radar.

      There are SOOOO many kids with these allergies. This was one of my biggest fears… Finn would be “that kid.” Dairy is the #1 allergy in kids…. and it will become more and more common unfortunately.

      I really encourage you to read The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien. Her youngest reacted to eggs and yogurt at breakfast one morning. It’s really a great foundation into learning WHY our kids are “sick.” (But don’t let anyone fool you…. our kids are really healthy! Their bodies know the good stuff from the bad stuff!)

      SO glad we’ve found one another and we’re in this together! Thanks for sharing your story, Jade!

  3. Andie d says

    Hi! Found you from your sisters blog. Dealing with a kiddo with allergies is so very hard. My 4 year old is allergic to dairy (anaphylactic), eggs, wheat, poultry, peanut, treenut, barley and rye. He also has a disease called eosinophilic esophagitis in which his allergies cause his body to flood his esophagus with white blood cells (his body sees food as something it needs to fight off as if it is an infection).

    We found out about his allergies because he didn’t grow at all between 6 and 10 months. They thought maybe it was celiac but found EE when they scoped him on his first birthday.

    I do have to say it does become a little easier as you find your familly’s new normal dealing with allergies.
    We eat out far less often and have to plan, plan, plan each and every time you leave the house, but it does become easier. Lots of luck to you!

    • Kerry says

      Oh my goodness… that is an incredible allergy story. I’ve never heard of EE, so thank you for sharing this. I’d like to read up on it.

  4. Aleesha says

    Hi!!! So glad to have stumbled upon your blog!! I have followed Iowa Girl Eats for sometime now and saw your peanut free cookies for the birthday party…which led me here!!! I too have children with food allergies….peanut/treenut/shellfish. I saw that you posted the Robyn O’Brien video and am a huge fan of hers. Loved her book!!! I also am originally from Iowa!!! Now we live in Tennesse(have lived in North Carolina, Missouri, Texas…hubby is in the military!!!)So look forward to following your blog and having an allergy mom to relate to!!! Thanks!!!

    • Kerry says

      Love it! So glad to have you here, too. Anything you learn or want to share, please share it! I think “allergy moms” have something EXTRA in their brain that wires them to want to know more and more about the topic!!!

  5. says

    Hello! I just found your blog via your sister’s site, which I found while trying to find tips for cutting a watermelon. That HUGE thing is sitting on our counter, taunting me. It knows, unless I go all-Gallagher on it, there’s no where I can cut the dang thing.

    Anyway, I have a boy with a dairy allergy as well. He’ll be six this November and has had the allergy since he was a baby. There are a lot of similarities to our stories: the hives — although they were immediately accompanied [thankfully?] with mucus-filled vomit; the blood test when just a baby — traumatizing for us both; changing the entire family’s diet — although now that my four year old is in preschool, we no longer uphold treating him as if he has a dairy allergy; and, the personal journey we’ve undertaken because of his allergy.

    We never expect anyone outside our immediate family to be accommodating of his allergy. Still, I wish I had a dollar for each time someone has told us he can’t eat something because it has egg in it. (For some reason, a lot of people think eggs come from cows.) Or, someone confuses his dairy allergy with lactose intolerance. (Lactose intolerance doesn’t require an epi-pen, people.) Overall though, we are thankful his list of allergies is short and that he has always been very diligent and accepting of his situation. I have even told him it’s been a sort of a gift to our family. We truly are healthier eaters because of it.

    Now that I’ve found your site, I look forward to reading more.

    • Kerry says

      Hi, Megan –
      Thanks for sharing this! So tough, isn’t it? You realize quickly all the new knowledge in your head isn’t easily transfered to someone else in just one or two conversations, even those who love your kids well. There are constants “slips” or questions or just plain bad choices. I know I never thought twice about food allergies until Finn, in fact I probably had a snotty attitude about it – augh :( The school thing is hard. Finn will start next year and I’m already dreading it.

  6. says

    Great read Kerry!

    I remember your social updates as this was all happening real time…we felt so bad for you and finn, but I’m so glad to hear that you’re taking this and turning it around into a positive situation by making better meal choices all together.

    No food allergies for us, but Rowan is the only one in our crew that has had any food sensitivity (so far), especially to dairy. We have switched to a lactose free yogurt for everyone, and typically keep almond milk (vanilla!) in the fridge for her. It’s hard to switch everyone, so we found it easier to accommodate her specifically as best we can.

    • Kerry says

      SOOOOO thankful your girls don’t have allergies! Will be interesting to see how well Rowan transitions and understands her sensitivity since her sisters can eat it all. We have good days where Finn gets it and understands if he eats something he’s curious about he’ll get “scratchy” and he has days (like today) when we were at a BBQ with cookies that I’m sure were filled with butter. He didn’t get it and really didn’t care… just wanted to damn cookie! Poor kid!! Rowan will have good support from her girls which is great!!

  7. Emily says

    Just a quick question – did you notice that Finn had much of a reaction to your breast milk if you had eaten dairy? I have a 4 month old and we’re in the process of trying to figure out what is causing his reaction (nothing on his skin, just his stool.) I’m currently dairy, soy, egg, and nut free. The next step is wheat… I’ll do anything to make him feel better, but it is so frustrating to not know what it is!

    • Kerry says

      Good question. In hindsight, yes. But in the moment, no. I ate a TON of dairy so it was hard to tell a difference of when I ate it vs. not. I ate cheese, drank milk, etc. daily.

      Finn was super spitty/barfy. He was pretty much in a bib until he was 1. His personality (still to this day) is very mellow, so he didn’t seem overly bothered, but again in hindsight, there were signs I missed. I know the signs now based on our daughter. When I cut dairy, her stools were much more regular, her spittiness was cut significantly and she was just overall a happier baby. He never had problems pooping, but it wasn’t probably as frequent as it should have been.

      Wheat or gluten might be the problem for yours. It’s SO hard working to figure it out, isn’t it? I’m sorry you’re having this trouble. I know the frustration :(

      I did have a friend who had a daughter that pooped bright blue (like the Smurfs) for months while breastfeeding. They could not figure it out. They checked everything on the baby and all checked out. They then tested the breast milk and found it was basically like skim milk and the necessary/needed nutrients were lacking.

      Two thoughts –
      1 – a lactation consultant has to have seen what you’re dealing with before. Perhaps they can help.

      2 – are you open to seeing a chiropractor? Some adjustments might help him (did with Evie) and the chiro might be able to point to other things to look to that might be the culprit. A chiro focused on babies and women is always helpful. If you’re in the Central Iowa area, let me know and I can pass the names along of 2 great ones.

      GOOD LUCK! You’re a good mom for doing anything you can to help him!

      • Emily says

        Thanks so much for your reply! I appreciate the encouragement…I never dealt with anything like this with my older son (who’s a month younger than Finn!)

        I will look into seeing a chiropractor…hadn’t even thought of that. I’m in Virginia, so I’ll start asking around. Also good idea to speak to a LC. Our pediatrician is as helpful as he can be, but he’s pretty stumped too. The good thing is that my son sleeps really well and is gaining weight like a champ. Today was my first full day gluten free in addition to everything else. Let’s hope I see some improvement!

        Thanks again. I love your blog!

  8. kelly says

    I cant imagine how hard it is adjusting to a new food lifestyle. Of course we would do it for our kids. Thank God Shya has no allergies that i know of. You guys are doing an awesome job!

  9. Kylie Snow says

    We are in the same boat with Henry. He was allergic to dairy and soy as an infant but luckily outgrew that around 15 months. I too, eliminating dairy and soy while nursing…this can be very challenging but my waist line loved me for it:) Henry was never exposed to any sort of nut because he we have a family history with this. The allergist said to wait until he was three to challenge the nuts. I couldn’t wait that long because Henry started school when he was 2 and I couldn’t send him off without knowing. We skins tested him and found he was allergic to peanuts, cashews, pistachios, horses and dogs. In fact, his first asthma attack was one week before his first birthday and was very much connected to the dog allergy. Anywho, fast forward a few months and we find ourselves at Halloween ( such a scary holiday for allergy kids) Henry took a small bite of a butterfinger and immediately ( about 10 seconds) went into anaphylaxis. Swelling, drooling, coughing and soon trouble breathing. Luckily, we had an epi pen and rushed him to the ER. This was one of the most frightening situations as a parent. We have learned to much almost too much! When younger sister Claire came around I feared she would have the same issues. But much to our surprise so far so good. The allergist did warn that she can develop the peanut/tree nut allergy if she isn’t exposed enough. This is terrifying as we have one child deathly allergic!! Then on to Georgie, the baby at only 7 months old. He is already showing signs of milk intolerance, skin irritation to diapers etc. my gut tells me that we are headed down the allergy/asthma road with him. Only time will tell but still praying he will be different. Well, there you have it. Our allergy story! I live hearing other people’s experiences. We can learn do much from one another!!

    Kylie Snow

    • Kerry says

      So good to hear your story. Interesting only certain tree nuts. Do you know why that is?

      I hear you about Halloween. So scary that a little bite can trigger such a huge reaction. Finn, too, had a TERRIBLE reaction to a tiny bite of a Twix (from Halloween) just after his 1st birthday. Puffy, red, swollen eyes, blotchy. Terrible holiday for allergy kids.

      Hope your other babies are in the clear! Keep me posted and share what you find, too. SO much to learn!!

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