Parenting an Allergic Child is Hard.

There are brief moments as a parent when you are overcome with panic and a quick thought flashes through your mind: No, no, no. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I am not qualified to handle this.

For me, these thoughts often include a sinking feeling in my stomach and a fear so tangible my finger tips tingle. And they are always, always invoked by my children and more often than not, my allergic child.

Parents worry. It’s a given. But when you factor in a chronic condition like food allergies, it’s an extra layer of worry slathered thick on top of a worry-filled cake (that better be dairy-, egg- and peanut-free). I realize on the scale of worry, parenting an allergic child is on the calm end compared to parenting, say, a child with cancer. But I am a fretter and allergic reactions can put me into a frenzy.

This morning, I put on my crazypants and went on a frenzied worry-spree.

B woke up with a red face, hived joints and huge, angry welts covering her back and torso. The only part unhived was her diaper area and the surrounding skin that was covered by her wool diaper cover. Poor girl was in hysterics, clawing at her little body and had those pleading eyes that screamed, “Momma, HELP.”

B has a severe dairy allergy. Fortunately, reactions typically aren’t anaphylactic but with the way this reaction was spreading and how swollen she was becoming, I had the EpiPen ready. What made it even more frightening was that the reaction was seemingly unprovoked. She had been in her crib for the past 11 hours without a trace of milk in sight. If it isn’t a reaction to dairy, what else on Earth is causing my poor baby to hive and swell?

Cue the crazy. Out came the Benadryl and B was soon coated head to toe in Calendula cream. The spreading stopped but the hives didn’t fade. And now a few hours later, the hives are returning.

Looking much improved after some medicines.

We figured out B had a diary allergy at 8 months old. Since I was nursing, our home became completely dairy-free but, let me tell you, milk products are in everything. Casein, whey, butter, lactose. We became label reading ninjas. I’m that annoying parent who asks you what is in those delicious looking muffins, ingredient by ingredient. B is getting to the age where she sees a food and demands a taste. Birthday parties are hard – I need to start bringing B her own dairy-free cupcake because heaven help us if she sees that princess birthday cake and isn’t allowed to have any. I’m grateful it’s not a peanut allergy like originally thought. That is one scary, scary allergy.

Kids with one allergy are more likely to develop other allergies, even if they were not previously sensitized. Wheat, strawberries, shellfish, peanuts – my gosh, poor girl could be reacting to anything. Paired with plain old sensitive skin, this child can hive at the drop of a hat.

I spoke with our allergist and he’s pretty sure today’s reaction is somehow linked to a stomach bug she had on Sunday. But I’m not feeling much relief. My mind is still running circles around other potential allergens – did her pajamas get washed at someone else’s house with a different detergent? Did she sensitize to the strawberries she ate on Sunday? What if she has a reaction while sleeping and it becomes anaphylactic?

I need to stop and give myself some Benadryl so I can get some relief.

I remind myself my children are not mine – God has entrusted me with their care. There is no amount of worry that will add one minute to their lives – it has already been determined. Christian author Lysa Terkeurst speaks wonderfully on A Mom’s Greatest Fear.

Do you have an allergic child? How do you keep the worry at bay?

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7 thoughts on “Parenting an Allergic Child is Hard.

  1. I hope that this was just a fluke, or due to the stomach bug, as you said. My mother had to deal with me (dairy-free) and my brother (peanut-free) growing up, but neither of us had reactions until we were a little bit older, so I can’t even imagine how scary it would be with a baby. All the best!

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