Are we any closer to a day where my son can have eggs with breakfast or a slice of cheese on his burger? Are we any nearer to a time when we don't have to carry an EpiPen? These are the questions of an allergy parent the night before our next allergist appointment.
On Halloween night, my son had his first trick-or-treating experience. My husband and I hadn't mentioned it until it was clear he knew it was a thing — honestly, we weren't sure we really wanted him to participate. As a child with food allergies, there are very few candies he can have. Plus, we aren't wild about introducing him to more opportunities for sugar. But he was fully aware that people would give him candy if he just rang the doorbell and asked. I was trapped.
I love the holidays. Yes, I love Christmas and Thanksgiving. But I even love the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Holidays are an opportunity for fun and traditions. But I have a beef with holidays where junk food is a key component. (I’m looking at you, Valentine’s Day!) And Halloween falls into that category.
To say we enjoyed an “extended” period of breastfeeding would be an understatement — at least by American standards anyway. I never thought I’d nurse so long. Breastfeeding was important to me, but I thought, “OK, six months, and we’re done.” ... It was a special thing we had. I tried to let him lead the weaning, but he clearly wasn’t going to. So after two years and nine months, I decided it was time.
It’s been a year since our last trip to the allergist. My son is almost 3, and today was his third annual trip to the allergist. It offered progress ... sort of.
Weddings, birthday parties, family gatherings and neighborhood picnics. These are events that should be fun, right? But for parents of children with food energies, they can be stressful — from both a safety perspective and a social graces standpoint.
Here’s what goes through my mind pre-event: Should I call and ask what they’ll be serving? Should I bring food for my son? Will they think we’re rude if we bring our own food? Would it be rude to call and ask? Will they feel like I’m pressuring them to change their menu? It doesn't matter; I just want to plan. Will they understand?
Then, at the event: Is that cheese on the floor? Is my son reaching for a doughnut? Does that bread have egg? I wonder if the host made these meatballs? Should I ask her what’s in them? Did I remember the EpiPen?
In just over a month, my husband and I will take our son to the allergist. It will be his third time having a skin test. I’ve been dreading the appointment since I scheduled it. I know it’s uncomfortable for him to have his skin pricked and scratched with a needle (for starters) — never mind the itching on his back that results from the allergic reactions he experiences. (Though he's always been so brave during these appointments.)
But I’m also dreading the appointment because I’m not very optimistic.
One of the hardest things about being the parent of a child with food allergies is worrying about how he feels when he sees other people eating things he can’t have. When his friends at school have cheese-and-cracker snacks, for example, is he jealous? Is he confused? Does he think his mom is cruel for sending apple slices and organic graham crackers … AGAIN?
While there would be food at our destination, I was nervous about it. Typically, before we go out to eat, I try to vet a restaurant and review the menu to ensure there is indeed something on the menu my son can (and will probably) eat. I wasn't able to properly do that in advance of the weekend. Plus, the resort was off the beaten path, so it's not like we could easily wander off-property and dine at Chipotle if the resort's food wasn't cuttin' it.
So, I threw some leftover rice and chicken into a cooler just to be safe.
As I stared at that cooler and the jumbo bag of snacks, I remember thinking: Are other parents doing this? Is this a toddler thing or an allergy thing? I'm pretty sure it's an allergy thing.