At around 5 months of age our little man started to develop eczema. We were back and forth to doctors and sent away with different creams and emollients that seemed to make things worse. Everyone said eczema was normal in children and just to keep the skin moisturised (up to 4 times a day). The creams were so heavy, sticky and made him so uncomfortable and miserable! We couldn’t cuddle him because he would just rub his itchy skin against you and his sleep became so disturbed because he was so itchy. There was no support, no answers just more creams that got stronger each time.
Through my own research i started to suspect a dairy allergy but drs didn’t seem to support this and sent us away with more creams. After battling to get him referred we saw a consultant who agree to do a blood test. It came back as positive for dairy. I eliminated diary from my diet, although there was some improvement something still wasn’t right.
We then started weaning. After tying peanut butter 4/5 times We thought he was fine. Howeve he reacted. His eyes and lips swelled, he went lethargic, he started to froth at the mouth slightly. We broke down, I screamed and we called 999. After being sick He seemed to improve however By the time the ambulance arrived he had started to cough so they took us to hospital. As the cough got worse they made the decision to administer an auto injector and we were kept in overnight. Although we knew it was a severe reaction no one informed us it was an anaphylactic reaction. Whilst we were there they took more blood to test peanuts.
This came back that he was allergic to peanuts, all tree nuts and coconut. We were heart broken. We were told not to feed him nuts but that was it. No support, no advice nothing!
A few weeks later, and after mild reaction to egg, we were back in hospital with chest problems. It was only at this stage they advised his reaction to peanuts was an anaphylactic reaction. Again we werent given any support or advice apart from ‘keep nuts out of his diet’.
We researched so much after than and started to wonder why we had not been given an epi pen. We spoke to doctors and finally got an appointment with an allergy consultant almost 3 months after his anaphylactic reaction (after chasing up non stop) and were issued with a pen and told how to use it.
Our little man then started to reacting with hives on contact to things whener we went anywhere. He would come out in hives from high chairs, toys in baby groups and soft plays. It came to the point where I was so nervous to take him anywhere. I developed really bad anxiety.
I started to feel isolated and lonely because I was unable through my own anxiety to take him to the baby/toddler groups, I couldn’t take him to the coffee meet ups with other mams, I couldn’t come to the play dates. We tried to put him in a nursery in time for my to return to work but within 10 minutes of his first visit he was having a mild reaction from a toy he put in his mouth. They said they would try and keep him safe but agreed it probably wasn’t the right time for him. We were devastated. We both sat in the car after and cried.
I’d made such a great group of friends with babies during my maternity leave but I soon became so resentful, jealous, lonely, isolated and angry that they did not have to go through what we were going through not did they understand.
We became so afraid to try new foods, we put it off as much as we could. We didn’t feel comfortable going places. My anxiety was so bad.
And then we had the next allergy appointment where they carried out a skin prick test. Everything came up positive, the hives were so big, his arm became so itchy. The nurse responded with ‘I’ve never seen a reaction so bad in a baby’ and I broke down. Why him? Why us? It felt like he was allergic to everything.
As he was breastfed I eliminated everything he was allergic to from my diet (dairy, egg, soy, sesame, nuts, treenuts, coconut, strawberry, lentils) and we kept those foods out of the house. His skin cleared up so much. We stopped using all the horrible creams the go had given us and we felt like we were in control again with his skin.
We started researching, joined allergy groups on social media and we educated ourselves. We found safe food we loved, we stopped eating out and taking him to groups to help control the anxiety. We started to accept the allergies and get in control of the reactions.
Slowly our confidence is growing again. We have tried a few new foods, we tried a new toddler glass that we fee is safe. We bought a travel high chair that we could use when we take him out, we carry detol wipes everywhere we go to avoid contact reactions and we educated the people around us. Although I would never say it was easy we feel more in control.
Yesterday we had another appointment with the consultant and only dairy, egg and peanuts came up positive. I know this doesn’t mean he has outgrown the other allergens this gives me hope.
But beyond that we have more confidence because we have educated ourself, we have found support in social media groups - talking to people who are going through the same as you is priceless!
We still have a long way to go but we are in such a better place. The thing i wish for is greater understanding from people - it is not always a case of not eating something is goes beyond that emotionally. We need more support from medical professionals - that just isn’t there!
And despite the allergies and restricted diet our little man is thriving (the words of health visitors, GP’s, dietitians and allergy consultants).