RACHEL & OLIVER'S STORY
In hindsight, the signs of a severe allergy were there months before the anaphylactic reaction, but as naive first time parents, we just didn’t know. It’s something I felt huge guilt about for a long time, but blaming yourself doesn’t do anybody any good, so all I could do was deal with the here & now and make sure I kept him safe once we knew what we were dealing with.
We began weaning Oliver at 6 months old having decided to take the BLW route. We started with single veggies on an evening but he seemed to be becoming even more unsettled at night, so I decided to try offering breakfast instead and sent my husband out to get some baby porridge. It was one you just added water to - perfect. I never checked the ingredients - why would I? Little did I know that would be the last time I’d ever pick something up without reading the box at least 3 times!
Ironically, Oliver absolutely loved the porridge. Around 5 minutes after finishing it, I noticed that he looked a bit odd. As I looked at him closely, I could see his lips were beginning to swell. I began phoning 111, never for a minute expecting the reaction to get any worse. Within another minute, his whole face had started swelling, he was covered in hives & he was violently sick. It was immediately after he stopped being sick that I noticed he was wheezing and struggling to breathe and at that point I rang 999, fearing that he was going to stop breathing altogether. He was so distressed and all I could do was cuddle him and tell him it was going to be ok; I have never felt so helpless. The ambulance arrived and he was immediately taken to hospital on oxygen. I’d already given him piriton about 30 minutes before he started eating the porridge as we’d been advised by our GP to give it daily to try and stop his eczema being so itchy; the doctor in A&E said that was definitely a contributing factor to why his throat hadn’t completely closed, as the histamine was already in his system and working, and for that I will forever be grateful. We were discharged from hospital later that day and the horror of the whole event didn’t truly hit me until we returned home where my parents were waiting for us, and I sobbed in my Mum’s arms and said “I thought he was going to die”.
Since then we’ve done the only thing you can do - carried on. He’s now 13 months old: fully weaned with a varied diet (despite discovering more allergies) and one of the happiest little boys I know. That’s not to say it’s all sunshine and roses, it’s not, and the fear of another reaction is constantly there but I’m determined to not let his allergies rule his life. He’s been on two foreign holidays, started nursery 3 days a week, been to birthday parties, play groups, and eaten out in restaurants. He’s living a normal life, just with extra precautions. There are undoubtedly more challenges ahead, but I never want to fear of a reaction to stop him experiencing what the world has to offer. It’s a scary journey, but with the right support & knowledge, you can do it.
Rachel & Oliver - documenting our weaning, allergy & hopefully (one day) our reintroduction journey on Instagram - @allergy_mummaandbubba