Child, Heal Thy Mother

02/08
2012

I rode in an elevator with four other mothers of food allergic children on our way to a Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) luncheon a couple of weeks ago.  As we rode up to the 24th floor on an unusually warm midwestern January afternoon and upon finding out that I was an allergist, one of the mothers asked me desperately, “So, what did I do wrong?”  Another mother echoed her, saying, “I ate so many peanuts when I was pregnant.”  And yet another mother with a sad downward gaze said quietly, “I feel so bad.”  The conversation was steeped in guilt and blame.  Wearing my physician hat, I held the arm of one of the mothers and told them all that they did absolutely nothing wrong, that it was not their fault that their child had food allergy.  I am not certain how convincing I was however.  Even though, as a physician, I whole-heartedly believe a parent cannot be blamed for pediatric disease, as a mother, I still, in every chamber of my heart, blame myself too.

During my pediatric residency I saw guilt literally destroy parents in front of my eyes – I have watched their spirits crumble, I have heard their hearts break, I have witnessed their hands wringing in pain and their lips trembling in fear.  How could I have done this to my child?  And it didn’t matter how many, “It’s not your fault”, that I poured over them, they didn’t believe me.  They couldn’t let themselves believe me.  What their child was about to endure had to be someone’s fault and it made complete sense to them that they had to own the blame. After all, we are completely responsible for the well-being of our children and so, of course, we feel equally responsible for their disease.

I have found a way to blame myself for every food allergy of each of my children.  I can pinpoint the moment I did it to them.  Rationally, I know that it is not my fault.  Emotionally, the guilt weighs heavily on me.  And on top of it, every other article that comes out feels like it is blaming me too – too clean, too little sun, no pets, not enough nuts, too many nuts, nuts too late, nuts too early…  But I guess it doesn’t really matter how I did it, I have still managed to make their life so much harder for them.  They can’t eat pizza.  They can’t eat out at a restaurant. They have to bring their own food when they go to their friend’s house.  They have to carry medications with them wherever they go. So, yeah, I feel pretty terrible about it. And because we all want our children’s lives to be easier than our own, the burden on a parent of a child with a chronic disease is heavy and perpetual.

A few years ago when my sister graduated from college, my parents threw her a party at one of our favorite restaurants downtown.  I had the four kids packed in the car and my mom drove with me through the Friday afternoon traffic so she could help me get the kids into the restaurant.  When we sat down, I did my standard preparations, wiping the tables and the chairs at our end, moving food and items they couldn’t have down to the other end.  Just as I finished, the waiter brought the baskets of bread.  My oldest son, without food allergies, swiftly grabbed up a piece of bread, warm and soft, covered it in butter and started eating it.  Enter guilt, stage left.  If I wouldn’t have waited so long to introduce Gino to wheat, maybe he wouldn’t have had anaphylaxis to four penne noodles and could be joining his brother in this bread indulgence.  Instead, he grew impatient and hungry.

I grabbed into the food bag and found the broccoli I had prepared for Gino and Milo.  I didn’t bring anything comparable to a breadbasket so they had to dig into their meal.  When the appetizers arrived at the other end of the table, the twins ate their pasta and when the pasta and meatballs arrived at the other end of the table, the twins ate their rice krispie treats.  I clearly did not bring enough food.  They were still hungry and everyone else was still eating.  When they repeatedly asked for more, I had nothing to offer.  They kept asking anyway.  Again, I had nothing.  Nothing.  On the other end of the table, everyone was celebrating and eating, and on this end, we were struggling.

Then, with unfortunately impeccable timing, Lucy vomited and no, it wasn’t just a little spit up that could be soaked up by a bib.  Her outfit was sopping wet.  The car seat that she was sitting in had a puddle of puke.  She looked sick.  She was sick.  I had to get her out of there. I felt so overwhelmingly responsible for the isolation that Gino and Milo were experiencing that when the baby got sick, it was sort of a relief to be forced out of that situation.  I grabbed the baby and told the twins to follow me.  I left Sal there, eating.  Happy and eating.  On our way home, Gino was sullen.  He would not speak to me, let alone look at me.  He stared ahead with glassy eyes.  I tried everything to get him to smile, to laugh.  I begged, I bribed.  He would not break.  When we got home, I took him in my arms and he pushed me away.  I could feel that he was blaming me.  Then he spoke, “You should not have made me come home.  I wouldn’t have eaten their food.  I was having fun.  You made a mistake mommy.”  And big, juicy tears fell from his giant, brown, three-year-old eyes.  You see, he was not blaming me for having food allergies.  He was blaming me for ruining his fun.  He doesn’t blame me for having to eat different food.  He doesn’t feel angry at me for not being able to eat what everyone else is eating.  He only blames me for limiting what he is able to do because of his food allergies.

I’ll never forget how I felt when that three-year old boy was able to articulate his disappointment in me.  He was disappointed because I let my feelings of guilt and sadness affect him.  This was the first time I took a serious look at this blame-game I was playing with myself and realized that it was not only unhealthy for me but detrimental to my son as well.  What if he saw this in me and began to feel angry and resentful about his allergies?  I realized at that moment that I absolutely had to stay positive.  I had to keep him involved no matter how hard it was for me.  I had to lead with optimism.  And so, from that moment on, that is what I have tried to do.  This is not to say that I never fail at this and that I don’t still have to deal with my feelings of guilt but I do try and I think it makes a difference.

We like to take the kids on “dates” so they get some alone time.  Gino was going on a date with my sister last Saturday.  When my sister asked him what he wanted to do, he said that he wanted to bring his own lunch and go out to eat, maybe he would be able to get chips and pop.  He could’ve picked anything – a movie, the bookstore, bowling, but no, he wanted to go to a restaurant from which he could basically eat nothing.  He was beside-himself excited.  At school lunch, a teacher approached me and said, “Gino is an amazing child.  He is so excited to go to a restaurant to eat knowing he can’t eat any food from there.  He just wants to have a good time.  It’s beautiful.  He just doesn’t feel sorry for himself. “

He is amazing.  This child heals his mother and her guilt-ridden heart every day.  I have tried to see myself through his eyes and I can see that he doesn’t blame me for any of this.  We must try not to blame ourselves anymore.  It holds us back from being the best that we can be for them and if you aren’t able to give your kids the best of you that would be the only thing for which you could truly blame yourself.  So go forward, friends.  We must leave the guilt behind and stop trying to figure out what we did wrong.  Then we can be free to celebrate all of the things that we do right. After all, for me, the guilt was just not getting us anywhere and my kid wants to go places – whether he has to bring his own food or not.

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114 Responses to Child, Heal Thy Mother

  1. Cheryl Bierley says:

    Thank you for writing this excellent article. I desperately needed every word tonight. It’s caused me to think in a different way about the emotional side of food allergies. My 8-year-old son would also enjoy “going more places” regardless of his packed meals…it’s time to send the GUILT packing!

  2. Krista says:

    This post brought a few tears to my big blue 35 year old eyes. Sometimes we follow our minds to what is safer or easier…but safe and easy aren’t always fun. We all need more fun! In order to do that sometimes we have to just follow our hearts. We all do the best we can. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, the knowledge and the love seep through every post.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Love this! We have moved three times in my son’s 9 years. Each allergist had different takes on what pregnant moms and moms of newborns should do. I never really struggle with blaming myself because it doesn’t seem to me there is any consensus. You are spot on about being positive and not letting the allergy be the excuse for not doing something. That annoys my guy much more than being unable to eat something. He begs to go to friend parties at the local pizza buffet place even though he can’t eat a thing. He says he just likes to be included. I had to change my thinking on that too!

    • Sarah says:

      Jennifer,
      They really do want to just be included – don’t we all? It is hard to put in the extra effort sometimes (well, a lot of the times) but it is worth every bit of it when that smile spreads across his face. Thank you for commenting! Hope you are well!
      Sarah

  4. Michelle says:

    I can totally relate. It is so true how we blame ourselves. I still feel that it was my diet when I was pregnant that caused my oldest to have his multiple food allergies. With my two younger ones, I changed my pregnancy diet and they so far- thankfully- do not have any known allergies (yet), so that kind of reinforces my guilt. Thank you for posting. :)

    • Sarah says:

      Michelle,
      I kept the same diet for my first as my twins. The oldest has no food allergies, one of the twins has 2 food allergies and the other has been bombarded with them. Go figure. Take care of yourself.
      Sarah

  5. Kayla says:

    I’m going to say it’s pregnancy hormones- but this Allergy Mom is shedding many tears now.
    Thank you.
    God’s Blessings.

  6. Homa says:

    I hurt my children with the foods I ate while nursing (pre-diagnosis) & feel guilt also for what I ate while pregnant. My kids’ allergies read like a laundry list of what I ate. Most of all, I am terrified of losing them. Today my son picked up a pistachio shell at the playground, just seeing it put me into hyper alert. I know intellectually that the guilt is wrong, but here we are. Your post moved me to tears. I am so tired of feeling worry and guilt, I don’t want that to be my legacy for my son & daughter. Sigh.

    • Sarah says:

      You didn’t hurt your children with the food you ate! Listen, I had twins. Same environment, right? I ate the same toast smothered in peanut butter every morning for three months when I was pregnant with them. One is allergic to nuts, the other is not. There a lot of factors that go into this and one of the biggest factors is how they were MADE… I mean from the very beginning and we can do NOTHING to influence that! I am scared of losing them too. But I am also scared of something happening to ALL of my kids, food allergy or not. You don’t want them to have the legacy of worry but you are in control of that! You can move past this, Homa. I know you can. I’ll help in any way that I can. How old are your children?

      • Homa says:

        I am working on it, after reading your post I evaluated how I talk about allergies with my daughter and realized she sees them more factually than I do. I need to be more like her. She is 3 1/2 almost and my son is 18 months old. We don’t eat her allergens so I don’t know if he’s allergic to them too but he does have food allergies she doesn’t. The allergist refused to test him, he said we already had an epi so we should just try the foods with him. I just can’t do that! Thanks for listening, it helps to not feel alone.

        • Sarah says:

          Homa,
          Trying new food at home is one of the most stressful and scary things that we have to do. There’s nothing else really like it. I mean, here is a happy kid and you’re about to feed him something that could potentially make him very sick.. or not. But how do we know which? It is really not fun, not even for an allergist…
          You’re not alone, friend.
          Sarah

  7. Love this article! I want to help my child. If I can figure out the cause of the problem, maybe I can fix the child. My quest to find the cause always leads to my health and the choices I have made. We all fight guilt.

    I know it wasn’t the point of your article, but I want to point out the maturity and resolve your child had at the young age of 3. My child is the same way. She accepts it as it is and she makes good choices. People who offer her food are amazed at how well she knows what she can and cannot have. As a recovering junk food addict, I am amazed at how she is not tempted to “cheat” on her diet.

    Thanks for such a well written article. I would love for you to share it at allergy-free Wednesdays (http://www.realfoodallergyfree.com/category/allergy-free-wednesdays/)

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for your kind remarks, Nancy. I am happy to share it at allergy-free Wednesdays – I am just lucky to get a post out lately so I apologize for not thinking of it. Do I simply post the link as a comment?

      • If you go to the link and scroll down it will say “You are next…click here to enter.” It’s pretty self explanatory after that. Hope to see you there!

      • No, we lave linky tools, so get to submit a link and image, it should self-explanitory!!

        I have never blamed myself for my kids allergies, but I have certainly felt tremendous guilt over ‘forcing’ them to eat certain things and not others. I want them to be like all the other kids and doubt myself all the time. As mothers, I think we are very good at feeling guilty about what we don’t do perfectly, but really, most important, is that our child feel loved. I struggle daily with the guilt…but I hate it and fight it the best i can.

  8. Linda says:

    As a 35 year old woman who had severe food allergies my whole life, I can honestly say I’ve never once blamed anyone for my condition. I was never angry and have never felt sorry for myself. It was just a trait that was a part of me and a little different from the others, like the fact that I had black hair and brown eyes. It never defined who I was. I didn’t lust after food I couldn’t have. The food that I was allergic to never held any appeal to me, since I knew how sick it would make me. It was far more important for me to be included in the activities. Please don’t feel blame yourselves for your kids’ conditions, as mothers, we already have so many other things to feel guilty about. It is far worse to make the kids feel like there is something wrong with them.

    • Sarah says:

      Linda,
      I am so thankful for your post. It has confirmed my hunch and I appreciate you sharing your feelings with everyone. I really think hearing it from a person living with food allergies is very important for people. Many of our children are young and cannot express this to us. Thank you, Linda. Have a wonderful day!
      Sarah

  9. Jennie says:

    Thanks for your heart felt sentiment. I have feelings of guilt over my daughter’s food allergies as well. She is only 2 and doesn’t understand yet….my heart breaks for the day when she does understand.

    • Sarah says:

      I just asked my 2-year old what she was allergic to just to see if she picked up on it and she said “ilk” (that’s milk in 2-year old lingo). And she said it as a matter of fact, completely no emotion. Keep it up, little girl :)

  10. Charlene says:

    Are you ever going to write a post that DOESN’T make me cry? Lol. Bless you for putting into words what we’ve all felt many times.

    • Sarah says:

      Charlene,
      Is that a challenge? :) I feel like even my funny posts people say they cry! I’ll post a recipe next, that’ll keep your eyes dry! hahaha! Thank you, Charlene! Have a great day!
      Sarah

  11. Wilma says:

    Our children teach us something every day… you can’t read it without crying (nope, not pregnant).
    God bless your family

    • Sarah says:

      Wilma,
      Thank you! We were just looking at old pics last night and saw a bunch of you with the boys! So cute, such a crazy time! Hope all is well with you and your family!
      Sarah

  12. Amy L says:

    Thank you for this. I cried into my coffee reading it this morning. I too have all these feelings of guilt with my 2 yo that suffers with 3 life-threatening allergies. Just when I start to ‘heal’ myself, we have an event or Grey tells me that “eggs make his tummy sick” when I can’t share my food with him, and it rips the wounds right open. As mothers we want to fix everything, and we can’t fix this…and I think that is why it is so hard. It doesn’t help that my own MIL posts articles to my wall on Facebook that me eating peanut butter during pregnancy did this to him.

    • Sarah says:

      Ouch. Well, you could mention to your mother-in-law that a big part of it is genetics too… :)
      You’re right, it’s what we can’t fix that makes it so hard but we can make it as good as we can! That’s the challenge we need to meet!
      Have a good one!
      Sarah

  13. Laurie says:

    Sarah,
    Once again, with tears in my eyes, I thank you for always writing what it is in all of our hearts. I was just blaming myself last night as my child is now allergic to all allergy medication now on top of the latex and all the foods. Should I have kept him at home instead of working so hard on latex free products with the school to keep him there? Is that why he is so sick now, was he was exposed to too much? But then I read this and remembered, I have worked so hard so that he could be included with everyone else and feel like everyone else, even when he couldn’t eat anything that they could ! Thank you for reminding me of that!

    • Sarah says:

      Laurie,
      You are very welcome. Sorry things seem to be complicated right now, but you will get it figured out… Look how many great things you have been able to do for your son thus far! Your hard work is worth it. Take care of yourself!
      Sarah

  14. Tanya Zinck says:

    Thank you.

  15. Amy says:

    What a wonderful post. We learned about my sons nut allergy less than a year ago after he went into anaphylaxis after eating his first nut. It’s been such a struggle coming to terms with it and not living in fear of another reaction. He of course is still his happy self and is happy to let people know he’s allergic to nuts and even reminds me to read the labels. But my guilt…… Thank you for sharing your story. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    • Sarah says:

      You’re welcome, Amy. I am so thankful that you read and take the time to comment. It encourages me to keep writing. Thank you!

  16. Jennifer says:

    I know all mothers have guilt. Why must we find a way to feel guilty? There is always something. It’s horrible. An why are the fathers never burdened with this feeling? It just isn’t fair. I have a child with food allergies and eczema, so I especially relate to the guilt associated with these health conditions. When the guilt is overwhelming I bake something incredibly indulgent and allergy free for my little guy to enjoy. And the one on one time helps to – we love our “dates”!

    Thanks for the great post. It’s nice to relate to other mother’s in similar situations.
    Jennifer
    itchylittleworld.wordpress.com

    • Sarah says:

      Jennifer,
      Interesting that you mention that about the fathers. I am encouraging my husband to write a blog post about his feelings (yikes) regarding his children having food allergies… He hasn’t started it yet, but I am not letting him off the hook. I would LOVE to see more Dads involved on this site. It’s not a girls-only blog!!
      Thank you, Jennifer!
      Sarah

  17. Patti says:

    Thank you, Sara, for sharing. It is so nice to know we are not alone in our feelings, thoughts, and struggles. We recently came face to face with the understanding of how limited our lives had become and decided to change some things too. As far as the guilt over causing severe allergies, the guilt over limiting my child’s life vs. compromising her safety, I just remind myself that I am doing the best I can with what I know now. (I thank Dr. Phil for that tidbit of wisdom). My son just turned one and tested negative for food allergies and I can neither take the credit for this nor the blame for my daughter. This is at odds with my personality. I desperately wants to solve this problem, to DO something besides wait. Again, thank you for sharing your story. It must be hard to find the time but it really does make a difference.

    • Sarah says:

      Patti,
      I am so happy that you feel like it makes a difference for you. I want to solve the problem too and I seriously cannot wait for the day when I have to shut this blog down because no one ever hears of food allergies anymore. Fingers crossed.
      Thank you for your kind words,
      Sarah

  18. Jessica says:

    I do not have children (yet) but I stumbled on your website and subscribed because I have life-threatening allergies and am still struggling with the decision to risk passing allergies onto my children or to adopt. I just wanted to give a thumbs-up to inclusion. I remember how much more accepted and happy I was to go to parties when I found apple beer. I can’t drink regular beer due to a malt allergy, but for a couple of years (until my nut allergy expanded to include apples) I didn’t stand out for once at a party. I brought my own (apple) beer, but I could walk around and look like everyone else. It was seriously a change in my social development (yes at 25 – it changed my life!). I know its scary, but I’m giving you a thumbs up for teaching your kids about careful inclusion (seperate food, same space)!

    • Sarah says:

      Jessica,
      Thank you for being part of this community. It is so important for mothers of young food-allergic children to hear from young adults who are doing so well. It’s funny you talk about the apple beer… My son is allergic to wheat and rye and corn and barley and grape so I keep trying to find the best potato vodka for him to drink, when he is 21, of course… He’s 5. But I am glad to know that I am on the right track:) Feel free to pass on any words of wisdom. You have a captive audience here. Thank you again.
      Sarah

  19. Angela says:

    I have never been a “blogger”, but I just recently came across your blog and I must say thank you. I never felt that anyone really understood what I go through and feel on a daily basis regarding my 3 yr old son’s food allergies., until I read your blog. No one in my family or circle of friends has a child with food allergies. I count my blessings that I have a happy, loving and healthy child, but somedays as his Mommy I just wish I could take his allergies away. I needed to read this. Again THANK YOU! I need to let him live his life and not hold him back out of my fear.

    • Sarah says:

      Angela,
      I do understand!! I am so happy that you found my site and that you can, in some way, find comfort in it and amongst all of the others who leave wonderful comments. I wish I could take away their allergies too – personally AND professionally :)
      Thank you for reading,
      Sarah

  20. Jewelles says:

    I love your posts thank you!
    A little background: I am 41 and live with multiple allergies (foods, medications, airborne, etc). I also have two children who have allergies (my eldest had more than 30 allergies at one point, he seemed to outgrow them and now at the age of 15, many are reappearing). My younger son has only 2 allergies (shrimp and penicillin).
    So many things came to mind while I read this (tears too) . First, living with allergies myself for most of my life prepared me to deal with my son’s allergies in the sense that I never felt guilty about the allergies. I felt awful when he had a reaction, when we were racing to the hospital, or when he was going through those horrid scratch tests. I worked very hard to include him in events and to teach him how to be safe. (Just a side note: let me warn those of you who do not have older children–they will test you AND their allergies. and they will get sick and then they will go back to be being aware. This behaviour is so very distressing but it is also about their independence.)
    I have so much I could say about inclusion… I cannot tell you how many people discourage me from participating in life. I hate it! I know that I cannot control every environment so what I do is prepare myself. I inform people of my allergies and request that they host events that are free of the most dangerous ones (for me this is peanuts and oranges), I carry my epipen, I take benedryl before going some places. I work from home. But darn it, I want to go to friends houses, and events. I want my children to go to friends houses and events. Being excluded is the worst feeling.
    I love that your 3 year old was able to bring this to your attention– they are truly amazing.

    • Sarah says:

      Jewelles, Thank you for your wonderful comment! What a unique perspective you provide. My husband has reacted to SF in the past and my sons love when he reminds them that he is allergic to food too! It can be very difficult to keep the kids included but as long as we can keep the situation safe, it seems that is what makes them happiest. Take care!
      Sarah

  21. Anonymous says:

    This article is really wonderful!

  22. Kristy says:

    Now I’m teary. God, we just want to “fix” our children so badly and yet they don’t feel like there’s anything to be “fixed”. I have a 3 year old who’s so matter of fact about things. I asked him what everyone else ate for snack at preschool yesterday (we send him with a snack) and he said, “granola bars”. I asked him if he wished he could have a granola bar (there’s that mom guilt) and he said, “no mom, my friends wanted to have my snack. I shared with them.”. I felt silly for asking that question. . thanks for reminding me :)

    • Sarah says:

      Kristy, I catch myself asking my kids if they feel bad about something that they can’t have and they look at me like… well, I didn’t until you made me think I should! I try not to ask now unless I can tell it really is bothering them, which does happen sometimes… If I can’t tell, I try to let it go :) But it so hard because I always want to just make SURE they are okay with everything! Thank you for reading!
      Sarah

  23. Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for this article and for this blog. I can’t say how healing it is for other parents of food allergic kids to hear “our side” of things from a physician who is also a parent of a food allergic child.

    Many of the posts seem to be from those who have very young children, and I thought it just might help to hear a little of my story, now that my (still) food allergic son is preparing to go to college.

    I have been where many of you are, several years ago, with a (multiple) food allergic infant, toddler, kindergartner, elementary school child, middle school child, and now, a teen, with multiple food allergies. I’ve been through the babysitter thing, some relatives not getting it, the eye rolls, the insensitively and/or inaccurately written articles, the dreaded school meetings, the constant monitoring of school projects and the ingredients being used, the playdates, the classroom parties, the sleepovers, the exclusion, and the guilt, the regret that I ate this or that while I was pregnant or nursing, etc., the list goes on.

    But here’s the other side: it gets better! It gets easier! We’ve encountered many caring and giving people, medical providers, teachers, friends, neighbors, support groups, blogs (!), websites, each one like a gem. And, our son has coped, and he has thrived. He is a well-liked, well-adjusted teen who drives, has a job, dates, goes to dances and parties and get-togethers with friends, plays sports, and just has an overall good and normal life. In a conversation one day, about the (yes, still), hope on my part that, someday he may “outgrow” this, he informed me that he “he’s adjusted”. Do I want him to someday be without food allergies? YES! I wish that for him and pray for that. But in the meantime, he has adjusted, he has learned to cope very well, he carries his Epi-pens everywhere, he trains his friends, (they jokingly vye for who will be the one who “gets” to Epi him if he ever needs it :) …boys! ) He is kind and caring, and I think this experience has awakened him at a young age to care about others and realize that we all have differences and special needs, even when they do not show on the outside.

    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for posting this blog. It is a lifeline for those of us who care for food allergic kids, or who have food allergies themselves.

    • Sarah says:

      Tracy,
      Thank you so much for your incredible, hopeful perspective! Those of us with young children with food allergies will really benefit from your experience. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you also for your kind words about my blog – I am so happy that even as a food allergy veteran mom that you still find information that I post to be helpful at some level. Have a wonderful day!
      Sarah

  24. Paige says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. My little man, also three, always offers others his food and asks if he can have what others are eating. I feel terrible every time I have to say no, but he never (okay, rarely) gets upset about it. I suppose I should take my cue from him and try to stop feeling sorry for him (or at least try harder to cover it up) so he doesn’t start feeling sorry for himself.

    • Sarah says:

      Paige,
      Thank you so much for reading this post! I agree! I mean, if someone was always feeling sorry for me, I’d eventually feel sorry for myself too! (In fact, sometimes when my friends remark to me how hard it must be and that they feel so bad, sometimes those are the days I feel worst about this food allergy stuff!)
      Take care Paige and thank you for your comment!
      Sarah

  25. Anonymous says:

    I am a Grammy of one of these most wonderful children. She is a delight to me, her uncles, her much older cousins. Her parents are the most consciencious, thoughtful, courageous parents I have ever known. When we celebrate her birthday in my home, (6+hours from her home) I make all foods she can eat (some of them are for her B4 I add dairy, flour or ???) Thank you for sharing. As special as these children are, their parents are super special. The future could hold surprises for each of us. Don’t be discouraged. Grammy

    • Sarah says:

      Grammy,
      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! A grandparent has such a special role in their food allergic grandchildren’s life. I hear all too often of grandparents that “don’t get it” and I LOVE hearing about from a Grammy who does! I have been so blessed to have the same kind of amazing parents who make every bit of the meal safe for all of us when go to their house to eat too! What a blessing, for all of us, really. Thank you and please continue to comment on this site. Your perspective is very much appreciated.
      Take care,
      Sarah

  26. Sarah says:

    All I can say is thank you. Your sentiments hit so close to all of us food allergy moms. Thank you for so eloquently explaining how so many of us feel!

  27. Gina S says:

    Sarah, Thank you for posting this. I am 33 and was diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy this past summer. After going gluten free I was amazed at how I felt, and the realization of how bad I had felt up until then. It has been a challenge to feel comfortable enough to go out to eat and even trying to explain my allergy to friends and family. Although many are supportive and helpful there are some who are sure it is “all in my head.” But I have found that a few of the local businesses are more than willing to put forth the extra effort for me. My local grocery is great about stocking food that I can eat and has an impressive selection of gluten free items, including beer. My local bar has started carrying my preferred gluten free beer, made from sorghum, So I can still go there and hangout, they even make sure to cook my food on foil so I don’t have to worry about cross contamination. And while I don’t have any children yet, reading post like your makes it nice to know that there is support out there for those of us with allergies. So thank you again, and yes this post did make me tear up a little bit, but no I am not pregnant. :)

    • Sarah says:

      Gina,
      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading my post. It is so good to hear that there are people who are willing to take the extra moment to make life a little easier and pleasant for you!! Sometimes those people can be hard to find but when you do, what a blessing! Our local health food store started carrying Tapioca bread for us and they even call me when it comes in. Pretty cool.
      Take care,
      Sarah

  28. melissa Collins says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. reading this article it was you reached into my head and put my thoughts on paper. Have tears in my eyes from the blaming myself, trying to find out ‘why’ the everyday struggles of feeding a child with multiple food allergies and the sadness i feel when i think about him missing out on such winderful experiences life offers through food.

    • Sarah says:

      Melissa,
      You’re so very welcome. We just need to focus on the good stuff and continue to provide wonderful food experiences for our children with the food that is safe for them! My kids love to celebrate with food… of course, more work for me but the reward is great!
      Take care of yourself,
      Sarah

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this post. I also shed a tear. I have 3 little boys, and my middle son, 3 1/2 years, has severe eczema, asthma, and is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, treenuts, sesame, soy, borderline to wheat, dust mites, dogs, grasses, pine trees…. that we know of so far. I often wonder what I did wrong, why he has to suffer. He is however the bravest, most resillient little man who knows and accepts what he can and can’t eat and do. I try to focus on what he can have rather than what he can’t, but your article reinforces that I must try and change my thinking more. Thank you.

    • Sarah says:

      You’re welcome. It is not easy to change our thinking but I think it will be well worth the effort! We can’t be perfect at it but the more positively we can look at things, the more positively the children see things.

  30. Deb says:

    I am the mom of an adult ‘baby’ who when we were struggling with his allergies (nuts, peanuts, shell fish, and rice along with environmental isuses like regular hayfever, horses, dust, AND most aerosals and soaps too) there was no blog or even a group to help me with!
    Sending food to school, parties, reading EVERYTHING that is in what ever I bought at the store, nearly interogating the waiter at restuarants and keeping the things he couldn’t have way up high so he couldn’t accidently get the ‘wrong’ food was how we coped with it as well as an Epi pen with us at all times (did you know that leaving it in the car will freeze it and makes it un-useable! Learned the hard way…).
    He is now 24 and married. He was over the other day and laughingly asked me why the peanut butter was on the top shelf. It was a habit. He is 6ft 6inches and I am 5ft 4inches. I get a chair to reach something that he can get to without a care – and he doesn’t live here anymore! I can’t seem to break the habit of knowing what is in EVERYTHING we eat now, even though it is his wife that does it at his house…
    But just in case… I still check.

    • Sarah says:

      Deb,
      Thank you for such an adorable story! I laughed out loud picturing you getting your stool out as he towers over you, reaches above your head and grabs the peanut butter off the shelf for you. :) I often think about how we will handle the food situation when the children grow up… I have a feeling exactly like you are. I love it! Thank you so much for reading and sharing!
      Sarah

  31. elzka says:

    I just came across your article with perfect timing! I have just gotten off the phone speaking to a function centre regarding their menu and their catering for my multiple allergy 3 yr old at an upcoming christening. I got off the phone after the manager assured me that they could cater for wheat, nut and egg anaphylaxis thinking that I was still going to bring along a home made 3 course meal for my son anyway. Then I wondered if we should go at all. I know my husband, who doesn’t relax for a second about our sons allergies, would try to convince me not to go closer to the date. But at the same time I don’t want to let down my girlfriend whose child is being christened or my son who is already looking forward to a party where there will be lots of children plus childrens entertainment.
    I too, have cried, questioned and blamed myself and my difficult pregnancy for my sons allergies. How right you are! We, parents, need to educate and trust our children and learn to relax more….even if it is on the sidelines with an epipen in hand. Thank you for the article, I will be sharing this.

    • Sarah says:

      Elzka,
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing this post. Whenever I am not positive I can feel safe with food being offered, I find that bringing my own food for the kids takes away a huge amount of anxiety. I hope this celebration works out for you and that you have a wonderful, safe time.
      Have a great weekend,
      Sarah

      • Elzka says:

        Just as well we brought our own food! They tried to get it right but got it so wrong so out came our own food pack. Our son didn’t even notice he missed out because he was so busy dancing and playing with all the children!

  32. jo errnest says:

    guilt. guilt my ruby cannot eat what we eat, guilt that it is the same food i serve her rehashed everyday ( same ingredients in a different format ) guilt that i hover when we are out , guilt that we cannot eat out, guilt that she knows what cheesey pizza is and that she cannot eat it. Ruby has anaphylaxis to dairy and egg. it is suffocatingly hard alot of the time. Then when food is not anywhere near the topic at hand there she is… my little peice of heaven. Food is such an integral part of family life, what our 3 years olds see as fun. I know allergies do not define who we are, but they do define what we do and how we go about it. Wear your guilt with pride, but only own it if it is real. There is no blame game, genetics the way we live the fact we use soaps that have 20+ ingredients in them. If you get a moment have a watch of the documentary allergy planet. If you feel blame, it will wash it away. All of these contributing factors were well on their rise long before our precious cargo’s did xx

    • Sarah says:

      Jo,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post. We definitely need to get past the guilt because it is not our fault! Love the name Ruby, by the way. Have a wonderful day!
      Sarah

  33. Pingback: Grace for Mom Guilt | The Willing Cook

  34. Heidi says:

    Thank you. Now I have to wash my face and reload my makeup. I blame myself for my daughter’s food allergies and I know I shouldn’t. It’s nice to hear from other moms who feel the same way. My Zoey is such a good sport about her food allergies, I think she likes being “different”.

    • Sarah says:

      Heidi,
      Sorry for the makeup mishap:) You’re right, you shouldn’t blame yourself! The kids are such good sports – what a lesson for us to better deal with what we have handed to us too… Thank you for the comment!
      Sarah

  35. Denise Bissonnette says:

    Dearest Sarah,

    Congrats on another thought-provoking, heart-shifting article so beautifully and honestly written. I just want to say that as a parent of a child who has no food allergies, I think that many if not all parents relate to the guilt-laying, blame-taking patterns you write about, whether the challenge the child faces is one of weight, depression or anxiety, passiveness or aggressiveness, a question of sexual identity, etc. The list surely must be unending, as is a parent’s grief, worry, and roller coaster of concern. Such is the path of any conscientious parent. Isn’t it interesting, though, that we implicitly know not to take “credit” for a child’s talents, beauty, or unique form of genius – we simply stand in wonder and awe at our children’s gifts, knowing that they are not “of us”, but “through us”, as Kahlil Gibran once wrote. Why is it then, that we have so little capacity for this kind of healthy distancing when it comes to our children’s challenges, physical or otherwise? I take heart in knowing that this is one of the great challenges we all share as parents, from the beginning of time. Isn’t it lovely that we are not in this thrilling enterprise of love and heartache alone? Sarah, your blog is a way of reminding people of and creating a community around that important fact. What a generous gift this is to all who come here.

    Love and blessings to you and yours!

    Denise

    • Sarah says:

      Denise,
      Now you are bringing me to tears. Knowing that this blog can reach beyond the scope of food allergy and reach people who simply share the wonder and pain of parenthood is so beautiful and really, astounding to me. I am humbled that you feel I am able to do that. Thank you for continuing to read and for your kind and thoughtful comments. If I ever get my book out in the world, I may have to ask you if I can use this! :)
      Much love,
      Sarah

  36. Jennifer says:

    Loved this post! My daughter is 4 yrs old and is highly allergic to pramuts. I use to feel so guilty because I was afraid that my addiction to peanut butter sandwiches was the cause of her allergy. I now realise that regardless if it was indeed my fault or not she was still a happy child and in her eyes she does not blame me infact she tells me it just makes her more special than the other children since she gets to have her own special peanut butter as we call it!

    • Sarah says:

      Jennifer,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I am so happy that you enjoyed it!!
      Take care,
      Sarah

  37. Heidi says:

    Thanks for this article. 24 hrs ago I was at a dr’s appointment and he determined that I have seasonal allergies and that my asthma symptoms seemed to be returning after almost 15 years of no problems. For the last 5 years I have managed to not hold myself guilty for DS’s allergies, asthma, eczema and idiopathic hives. “Its not from me” I’d assure myself. Yet now the dr is telling me I have some of the same issues as DS and that “your son inhereted these tendancies from someone (aka: finger in my face).” Talk about being ridden in guilt for the last day. While the dr was just stating a fact, he had no idea what kind of guilt that comment evoked. Thanks for the reassurance that even if I did pass on some genetic disposition towards allergies, etc. that doesn’t mean it is my fault he suffers from these conditions. What a timely read!

    • Sarah says:

      Heidi,
      Well, yes, the timing of this article was right on for you! And I am so happy that it was! We all have to keep reminding ourselves of that… as I am sitting here scratching the hives on my back… there’s genetics, but not fault. :)
      Take good care of yourself,
      Sarah

  38. Mariah says:

    This post is true of every parent, change out allergy references for adhd, autism, diabetes, weight, height, every little thing … we all agonize over the details trying to find some way to make sense of why. This was truly moving and are good words for all parents to take to heart.

    • Sarah says:

      Mariah,
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. It really means so much to me to know that my words can be important to those without food allergy too.
      Take care,
      Sarah

  39. Pingback: Growing Up « dairyfreediner

  40. Deb says:

    Thank you for writing this. It describes so perfectly how I feel about my son’s allergies (and my daughter’s congenital heart defect), yet he seems to not care that he has to eat someting different from everyone else. In fact, his teacher told me the other day that some of the kids in his class are jealous of the “special” snacks he gets to eat. From now on, I will try to share in the joy that he finds in the world every day, even if he has to take his own food. :)

    • Sarah says:

      Deb,
      When the kids are so well-adjusted, we definitely need to follow their lead! (And maybe give ourselves a tiny bit of credit that we must be doing something right!) Thank you for reading and commenting! It is a joy to hear from you.
      Best,
      Sarah

  41. Tina says:

    Sarah, you write so well and from the heart. I too was in tears reading this blog. My DD is 2 years old and allergic to dairy and eggs. I also deal with the guilt of causing my DD’s allergies. I have many food and environmental allergies and asthma and had eczema as a child. When she had mild eczema as a baby, my dread started. I followed the, then recommended, advice of waiting until she was a year old to introduce dairy and eggs. It didn’t work! She also has reactive airways (which I fear will end up being asthma when she is older). I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what we eat or avoid during pregnancy or when we introduce food, if a child is going to be allergic, she will be allergic. I do believe that genetics play a role and that children can be born with a predisposition to allergies. Thus, all of her problems come from my genes.

    The interesting part for me is that I have dealt with allergies my entire life. I have never felt left out or sad that I couldn’t eat a certain food. Frankly, the smell of some of them turns me off completely. I have attended parties without a second thought. I am used to quizzing people about what is in everything before I eat and I am quite capable of enjoying myself -even without being about to eat anything. My mother never projected any fear when dealing with my allergies and I never lived in fear of them either. I’m not sure if we didn’t fully understand what could happen – I’ve only had one anaphylactic reaction and it was as an adult – or because she consciously made the decision to not instil this fear in me. But, my heart breaks when I think about my daughter in this same situation. I have to figure out a way to make her understand that she has to be cautious without causing her to become afraid of the world.

    Right now, I live in fear of children’s birthday parties with all the cheese, crackers, cake and icing smeared over hands, faces, floors and toys. The last party we were invited to, I declined at the last minute because she was getting a cold. We could have gone, but I was just so scared of dealing with all those toddlers and their contaminated everything! I am now on the fence about the next party in two weeks. I know that she would have a wonderful time but I know what a crazy mess it will be….

    I’m working on getting rid of the guilt that I feel and realizing that I can’t try to keep my DD in a protective bubble – that I have to let her experience life with or without her own food. But it’ll take some time to get there.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences,
    Tina

    • Sarah says:

      Tina,
      Thank you so much for your very kind comment and for sharing your experience as well. Oh, birthday parties… I have one coming up this weekend and just like you, I always have a very low threshold for “calling in sick”. Even though they are very stressful for me, the kids always have fun! And honestly, that is the ONLY reason I try to go :) There is that fine line we walk. We have to teach them the seriousness of food allergy without teaching them to live in fear. Let me know how it goes, if you go!
      Take care,
      Sarah

  42. Diana says:

    Guilt? Yep. I totally blame myself and the boxes of Tagalong GS cookies that I ate 3 weeks before my peanut-allergic son was born. Thank you for sharing this story with us. It was a brave thing to do and we all appreciate it and take comfort in seeing how many of us there are who feel the same way.

    • Sarah says:

      Diana,
      Thank you for always posting such nice comments on the site. There is great comfort in knowing that those terrible feelings of guilt that we all harbor are not unique to us. Hope you are doing well.
      Sarah

  43. Sara says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. My 2 year old was just diagnosed with eosiniphilic esophagitis. We are currently in the middle of quite the restricted diet and not doing so well. I keep reading things online and blaming myself…. maybe I shouldn’t have indulged my peanut butter cravings, maybe I shouldn’t have heated up my food in plastic containers with BPA, maybe ….. I know I’m going to have a long hard life if I continue this blame game and I am so relieved to see that I’m not the only one out there like this. Thank you for the beautiful post and for helping me to see past the allergies. My son, no matter what may ail him, is our miracle and I love him to pieces no matter what.

    • Sarah says:

      Sara,
      I really appreciate your comments. And you’re right, it will be too long and tough of a road for you if you don’t give yourself a little break. You deserve it!! Just reading your note I can feel how much you love your son! In my gut, I think that my son with the most food allergies has EE too but it’s not an official diagnosis yet. I understand what a challenge that can be and I will be thinking of you. Please continue to read and share. Take good care of yourself, Sarah

  44. Jenifer says:

    My 10-year-old son was just diagnosed with gluten and casein allergies. I feel like it’s another full-time job to figure out what he can and can’t eat. I can deal with that side of it. I will figure the diet out quickly. But the emotions and guilt have completely run me over. He screamed at me the entire way home from the appointment with the allergist when he learned he had to go off of dairy as well as gluten. Screamed that he hated me, that I was the meanest mom ever. My house has become a stressful environment full of yelling and fighting in a way it never was before. My other two sons are upset about the switch to gluten free in our house. I pray that I can be the mom I need to be right now. This is a very difficult time. Someday when he grows big and strong and feels better maybe he will understand and appreciate what I did for him. Thank you for this post. It meant a lot to me. I’m glad I found your site and blog. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Sarah says:

      Jenifer,
      I am so sorry that this is such a hard time for you right now. He is at an age when taking away something he has always had can be very difficult. You are right though, when he starts to feel better, he will be able to see past the anger. Stay strong. This phase will pass. Thank you for reading and following my blog. It means so much to me. Take care of yourself too, okay?
      Sarah

  45. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. As a family, we are relatively new to food allergies. My son has been diagnosed with allergies to egg, peanut, wheat and sesame seed, with just reactions to egg & peanut so far. It can be overwhelming and a struggle. I just read all of your posts. Your words bring tears to my eyes, expressing so many of the things I feel and haven’t put words to. You reminded me that my small boy is a child full of wonder and I don’t want his allergies or my fear of his allergies to take away any of the magic of childhood. And so I will press on, trying to do the seemingly impossible at times, to keep him included and safe. Thank you!

    • Sarah says:

      Rebecca,
      It is wonderful for me to be able to find someone who is at the start of this journey. I hope that being able to see the community that you are part of and seeing that so many of the difficult emotions and situations that you find yourself in are shared by others will be a help to you. Thank you so much for reading. Please share the site with your friends and family, this may be helpful as well.
      Sarah

  46. Viki says:

    Just wanted to drop you a line and say, thank you for writing what we all think and feel. Yes, i too suffered with tearing up-both through your post, and through reading other people’s stories. Keep your chin up, to all the mama’s out there-God sent us these special children for a reason! My son (who will be 8 in 2 weeks) was first diagnosed with his severe milk allergy at 5 months..his 6 year old sister is not allergic to anything. DS suffers from exclusion (both at school- where he has to sit in the corridoor outside the classroom to eat his snack, and by not being invited to his friends houses-although he DOES get invited to bday parties). I jst feel for him, but he is a fairly happy, loving little soul. I try to attend as many parties as I can, because it is important for him to socialise- we take our own food, and he wears a holster which contains his antihistamine, and his epi pen :) He blows me away with his maturity, and with his understanding of other peoples failure to grasp how serious the condition is.
    My heart bleeds for him though, when he tells me- one day, when i’m not allergic to dairy any more, i want to eat pizza :(
    PS-Wanted to let you know I am reading your blog from Cyprus (a little greek island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea :)

    • Sarah says:

      Viki,
      All the way from Cyprus? I LOVE the internet!! I am so glad that you are part of this community! It doesn’t matter where we live, we all are dealing with the same issues. We eat pizza at our house – granted it is rice dough, homemade marinara sauce and pepperoni without any cheese – but it’s a pizza! They love helping me make it. Sometimes we add mushrooms or green peppers but it is hard to add too much because we don’t have anything to hold it on the dough! Have you tried making homemade pizza with dairy-free soy cheese? Or is he too old to buy into the imitation? He wants the real deal? One day, I truly believe, we will all be eating real cheese pizza if we want to! Fingers crossed. The science is there, we just need to figure it out!
      Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to share my site with others on your side of the world!
      Thanks! Take care,
      Sarah

  47. Tanya says:

    Thank-you so much for writing this. My only child, 18 months old is allergic to everything, she can eat less than 10 items. I blame myself everyday, I cannot sleep at night or function at work. No doctors can help us it seems. I feel sorry for her everyday. We cannot go many places because she reacts to foods being cooked as well. My marriage is falling apart because we are so sad, angry and have no answers for our daughter. It really helps to know that we are not alone. It is true that we have to allow our daughter to experience things, even if we are a little afraid sometimes. I will definitely take this to heart. Thank-you.

    • Sarah says:

      Tanya,
      Oh, I want to give you a big hug, grab a chai with you and talk into the wee hours of the night… Everything is going to be okay. First, please, PLEASE, stop blaming yourself. It is making you feel like you are falling apart and right now, you need to find your strength. There a lot of things depending on that. The strain on marriage can be very real and very strong, especially until you have a really good, agreed upon way of dealing with your child’s food restrictions. I remember at the beginning every single conversation my husband and I had was about food and our child’s lack of food. Can you set aside some time with your husband and NOT ALLOW any food talk? And don’t be afraid to keep getting medical opinions until you feel comfortable with the plan. Please feel free to keep this conversation going if you need to bounce ideas/thoughts off of someone who has been there.
      Thank you for your honesty.
      Sarah

  48. This is just beautiful. And so true.
    I use to feel guilty. I use to blame myself. I use to, just as you said, feel even more guilt when I was in fact trying to keep her safe but limiting her fun and sometimes breaking her heart.
    I was a single mom. Scared. Protecting my baby.

    The best thing that ever happened to me was meeting my boyfriend 3 years ago who has become the best father anyone could ask for. He’s helped me to relax (a little ;) ) and see that she has to live – experience – thrive – have fun. That she doesn’t care either, if she has her own special treats, she just wants to experience life and fun.
    We took our first vacation EVER with my six year old daughter this February. I never thought I would fly with her, let alone outside the country! I wept while we were there, out of pure joy, seeing her – she thanked us each and every morning and each and every night while there for the amazing trip and experience. It was the most amazing thing in the entire world, that feeling. Seeing… feeling her joy. The “old me” would’ve never done it and it’s saddening to think she would’ve missed that. I would’ve missed that.

    • Sarah says:

      Keeley,
      I am so happy for you! Sounds like it was an amazing trip, so many blessings! Thank you for your comment. Hope to continue to hear from you!
      Sarah

  49. Pingback: The Allergist Mom; Child, Heal Thy Mother « Nature's Fare Markets

  50. Esther says:

    Sarah,
    It was so nice meeting you at the MOCHA meeting tonight. You have a way with words and your ability to unpack the scientific world behind allergies is pretty amazing as well!

    I, especially, loved this entry because I was having a hard time not throwing myself a pity party while driving home from the MOCHA meeting. I hate that my daughter can’t be as care-free as other kids but I am really thankful for 1) the character this experience will build in her and 2) the people you meet along the way that change the way you think and offer hope in a desperate situation. Thank you for sharing your life. You put into words what my heart has been struggling with for some time.

    Ava was so excited about the allergy-free jelly bean samples I brought home tonight that she jumped up and down on the bed until she gave herself a little asthma attack. Oh Boy. But instead of ruining all of her fun by giving her the “I told you so” look, we grabbed her inhaler and just giggled at the prospect of eating those jelly beans tomorrow. Thank you for that–it was a pretty great moment!

    God bless!
    Esther

    • Sarah says:

      Esther,
      It was wonderful to meet you too! Thank you so much for your kind comments. There are times when it is so overwhelming and seems so unfair and impossible but just when you’re about to get completely overtaken with grief, you have to pull yourself out of it and find the good… just like you did. Please always feel free to reach out if you want to chat or talk food!
      Thanks again, Esther.
      Sarah

  51. Kara says:

    I just found your blog tonight, but will definitely be a frequent follower now! Thank you so much for this post. I cried as I read it, but that’s not a bad thing. My daughter’s milk allergy was diagnosed 8 months ago just after her 3rd birthday. I haven’t struggled too much with guilt in terms of my causing it, but rather guilt over how could I not have seen it sooner.

    In retrospect it is so blatantly obvious, but then there were so many other factors. She had been premature and had to be on the vent and so many things we just attributed to her prematurity. It wasn’t until we got a new pulmnologist who agreed that there was a deeper issue that we were missing and that upping her steroids (which was almost at an adult dose and still not working and our previous MD’s answer for everything) was not the solution. I wish I had realized sooner as once milk was removed from her diet, her asthma is completely gone. It’s hard to let go and not blame myself for not seeing it earlier.

    Your post was a good reminder for me; my daughter does not see it as missing something, she gets that she feels better; she just wants to be able to have fun and do the same things as her friends. I have the emotional reaction to her allergy; she doesn’t. She just matter of factly asks, “Does it have milk? I’m allergic you know” anytime she is offered food. She loves the Bugabee Friends with Food Allergies book and thinks it’s so cool that she is a “Bugabee.” Keeping it positive is so important.

    • Sarah says:

      Kara,
      I am so happy that you found my blog and enjoy it! You shouldn’t blame yourself for not seeing milk as a cause of your daughter’s issues. Sounds like there was a lot going on and you were focused on her and depending on doctors to figure out the medical stuff. Bugabee books are really cute, love the illustrations! You are so right, we need to keep things positive for the kids and for us too!
      Have a great rest of your summer and thank you so much for your comment!
      Sarah

  52. I really hope that parents of children with food allergies or atopic conditions everywhere read this. The fact is expecting parents can do everything “right”, whatever that is, since the medical advice changes all the time.
    My parents didn’t drink or smoke while my mother was pregnant. Neither did they smoke at any point when I was growing up. No one on my mother’s side of the family has an allergic or atopic condition, including my mother. My father’s family has some allergies – food and environmental even though they were brought up in rural India on a small farm. So much for the hygiene hypothesis there. Despite some of the recent evidence regarding heredity along gender lines, I’ve got multiple food allergies and all the atopic conditions one can have. My sisters have some late-onset pet allergies, but nothing else.
    Did my parents do anything “wrong”? Of course not. There is too much that isn’t understood about allergies; so, it’s impossible to prevent something no one fully understands. I get why parents of children with allergies and atopy feel guilty, but they shouldn’t. Easier said than done I suppose.
    The best thing for your child is not to burden them with that guilt, because kids are smart and they’ll sense it. They’ll feel at fault. The best thing is to build on the inherent optimism children have. Show them that food allergies really do make them special. The older I get, the more benefits I find to having food allergies. It’s not always easy, but the fact is I live in a great country and have access to healthy food and free health care when I need it. That’s so much more than a lot of the world’s population can say. I didn’t ask to be born this way, but in the end, I’m an incredibly lucky person to be able to enjoy the life I have, as is.

    • Sarah says:

      Tristan,
      Thank you very much for sharing this. This is exactly the attitude that I am trying to raise my children with (all of them, not just the ones with food allergy)… You are lucky to be able to enjoy the life you have… it’s a good one and it’s yours!! Thank you for always sharing my articles and for your comments. It is really important for our community to hear from our food allergic members as well. We appreciate it.
      Have a wonderful day!
      Sarah

  53. Laura says:

    I am so pleased I have found your blog I am so so sad at the minute my beautiful boy had his first anaphlaxis reaction last week and my head is spinning and my heart is heavy – i so hope we can find our way and lead a happy healthy life with inclusion for him in everything i keep focusing on the things that he cant do or wont have at the minute I know i will adjust and so will he it sucks but i take comfort in others who have found their way .
    Much love
    Laura

    • Sarah says:

      Laura,
      You most definitely will adjust and find a way to live the most wonderful and fulfilled life. There are changes you will need to make. You may need to learn how to cook differently. You will have to teach your son about his food allergies and how to keep safe. You will have to carry an EpiPen everywhere but the core stays the same – the love your family has for each other and at the heart of it, that’s what matters most. Feel free to reach out to me any time. sarah@theallergistmom.com
      Take care of yourself as you learn the ropes. Be patient. Things will look brighter soon.
      Sarah

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