A Mother’s Love: “I was determined…”
Submitted by Shannon Morgan to the AllergyKids Foundation September 27, 2010
When I look at photos of my son at four-months-old, I can’t help but think of the milestone that marked. Not the kind that you read about in parenting books and not one I realized until two months later. At four-months-old my son – my exclusively breastfed son – started exhibiting symptoms of a food allergy.
It began with eczema and I think it bothered me more than it bothered him. I tried different lotions and bath soaps and nothing seemed to make it better. I asked his doctor for advice but he quickly dismissed it as weather-related.
It was fall in the mid-Atlantic. It wasn’t weather-related.
Then, my son started having trouble sleeping. He wasn’t a good sleeper to begin with and now he was worse. He wouldn’t sleep unless he was being held. We tried cry-it-out. That didn’t work. We tried the swing. That only offered temporary relief. I finally resorted to co-sleeping because it was the only thing that did work – and it saved me from completely losing my mind from sleep deprivation.
I was determined to continue breastfeeding my son. I had read that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months helped prevent allergies. My husband hit the food allergy jackpot when he was a child and I wanted to give our son a fighting chance against them. We were almost at the six month mark but the last two months had been a nightmare so I went to a breastfeeding support group meeting for advice. At that meeting, I met a mom whose son was experiencing the same symptoms mine was and she had discovered that he was allergic to milk, a culprit I was starting to suspect.
So, on New Years Day, I cut dairy completely out of my diet and three weeks later my little guy’s skin cleared up, he started sleeping better and his development took off. He went from being an unhappy baby to a very happy, smiley one. I scheduled an appointment with an allergist – the same one I’d seen as a kid (oh, yeah, did I mention I had a milk allergy as a child, too?) – and at seven months my son was diagnosed with allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts (the egg allergy became evident after I eliminated milk from my diet).
It still baffles me that a child who has not eaten a solid food can be allergic to it. But the science explains it. His little body was still developing his immune system and decided that the dairy proteins in my breastmilk were the enemy. We continued breastfeeding until he self-weaned at 15 months. He’s now a very active toddler who likes to eat but is picky just like other kids his age. Earlier this year, we learned that he’s also allergic to chicken and beef. Avoiding his allergens has been a challenge but it’s also opened doors to new culinary experiences and an opportunity to really learn about what goes into our food.
Shannon Morgan blogs about being a working mom to a toddler with food allergies, her dream to write a novel, her goal to run a 5K and whatever else life inspires her to write about at http://itsmytimetowrite.com. This post was originally published on her blog in May 2010 during Food Allergy Awareness Week.
What’s your food allergy story? We’d love to hear from you at www.allergykidsfoundation.org so that we can share your inspiration.