Five years ago today our sweet Finnegan was born. This little nugget changed my world!
Before his first birthday, we knew there were some food concerns. He reacted when certain food even touched his skin…
… sometimes in places that made no sense…
And then, of course, there were the times he consumed foods to which we later realized he was allergic.
From that moment on we did everything we could to teach Finn about how food can make us strong and healthy. We also now talk about how food can make us sick.
Our annual trip to the allergist last year had us skipping a follow-up blood test. We knew Finn still showed a reaction to small amounts of eggs and dairy, and as the allergist asked, “what will it change if we draw blood and realize he’s one point different than before?” The answer was of course – nothing – so we saved all our sanity and didn’t do a blood draw. (The first blood draw took myself and two nurses holding Finn down. He was 15 months. Not awesome.)
Over the last year, things have started to change with his allergies.
Eggs are a main breakfast for both Justin and I. We’ve routinely made a different breakfast for the kids because of Finn’s allergies. However, we’ve had major success with eggs in the last year.
We started giving Finn one bite of cooked egg every day we made eggs. No reaction. A few weeks later we would add another bite. No reaction. A few weeks later, another bite. We continued this for several months until he was up to 6 or 7 bites without a reaction. From there we made him an entire egg. He devoured it and, lo and behold, no reaction!
Now, Finn’s favorite breakfast is sausage and eggs. He LOVES them! We love being able to make one meal for all 4 of us in the morning, and he loves being able to eat the same breakfast.
This is a huge win!
At different times in the last year, Finn has been given dairy, sometimes unknowingly.
The first time was during a children’s church service we don’t normally attend. Unbeknownst to us, he was given a cup of yogurt. I think he was so used to his school teachers knowing his allergies and what is safe/not for him, he assumed it was safe. He does have coconut yogurt from time to time, so again he assumed “yogurt” was ok.
His eyes were a little red and puffy when we picked him up and he was uncharacteristically quiet on the drive home, but I never suspected dairy as crackers are usually the only item served. He wasn’t interested in lunch. Instead he laid on the couch. He told us he didn’t feel well and that it was probably what he ate. It took a little digging and detective work to figure out what he’d actually ate. After a long nap, his eyes were back to normal and he felt better.
It showed me dairy is still a concern; however, this time there was no red, welted rash. A change.
We started the same process with dairy as we have eggs. If we had anything with dairy, mainly a little butter, we give him a bite. We even started using ghee or a little Kerry Gold to make eggs without a reaction.
That said, we offered him a little organic shredded cheese one time for tacos. He took a small bite, spit it out, and said it was disgusting. This does not make me sad!!
He hasn’t been exposed to peanuts. We will wait for the blood test next year (before entering Kindergarten in the public schools) to determine his level.
What Does This Mean?
When it comes to eggs, this means freedom! This is the one allergy I’ve really hoped would subside for convenience sake.
The dairy piece is where I have mixed emotions. I’m glad he can consume small amount of dairy in items. It makes me feel better when it comes to what he might be offered or get into when Justin and I are not around. However, I still want him labelled as “allergic.” I do not want him served a piece of string cheese or a glass of cow’s milk or a bowl of cow’s milk ice cream. I have no idea how we would react to that much direct dairy exposure.
I also don’t think it will change what we buy or eat in our house or what we offer him. I won’t go out of my way to buy cow’s milk products we don’t normally have now. Justin and I consume such little dairy now, and are used to (and like) the way we feel without it.
I know we are not at the place where Finn has “free reign” in the dairy department, but it has me thinking what it looks like when that day comes. I know as he gets older, he will make plenty of food choices without us helping me pick a “better” option. I fully admit sometimes I’m slightly neurotic about the junk severed everywhere and the snacks and treats offered for every occasion whether it’s a birthday, Flag Day, or the 5th Thursday of the month. (Seriously – daily junk!) I don’t know what that will look like, but I know we will have to trust the kids to make good choices, knowing there will be plenty of times they don’t… and they need to learn that on their own. I just am being totally honest when I say I have no idea how to do that.
There’s a growing trend of parents telling teachers their child has food allergies when they do not. They are doing so in an effort to keep the junk offered to a minimum or restrict certain items (or food groups) they do not want their child to have. While I fully understand the battle (we have it, too, believe me), it is a grave disservice to kids who are truly allergic. I’ve heard of teachers finding out certain kids really don’t have allergies and making assumptions that other families are also lying about allergic reactions. As such, it has put truly allergic kids at risk to exposure of foods they might have life-threatning reactions to. It also minimizes the seriousness of food allergies as a whole.
I share this to say that when the day comes when Finn can freely have all food, we will no longer label him as such. We will deal with the “system” like everyone else, and work our hardest to teach our kids how to be the healthiest little person possible.
No matter what Finn can or cannot eat, the focus of this blog will always be an allergy-friendly, GMO-free, real-food community. I will never forget the overwhelming confusion and helplessness when Finn was first diagnosed with food allergies. If I can help some of you going through the same thing, I’m honored.
Tonight we will celebrate Finn’s birthday with his favorite cheese-less pizza and dairy-free cupcakes. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Do you or your kids have food allergies? I’d love to hear how they have changed over the years.