After a perfectly healthy baby boy had grown into a perfectly rambunctious almost three year old, my expectations for my baby girl were, well, for a perfect baby girl. When she was born, she totally was perfect: 10 fingers, 10 toes, a 9 on the APGAR test.
Then the first sign that something was wrong came up: eczema. Eczema doesn’t always point to allergies, but it is a great indicator of something going on under the surface. She started showing signs of eczema within a month or two of her life. A short google search turned up a few most-likely causes: eggs, caffeine, soaps. Because I was breastfeeding, I decided to give up eggs (caffeine was out of the question) and use milder soap. Her eczema definitely cleared up but didn’t go away completely.
The next sign was a little more nerve-wracking. One day I was baking a cake (I do that sometimes) and my mom was helping out with the kids. I gave my daughter a big kiss after tasting a bite of a new chocolate cake recipe. A few minutes later my mom asks, “What’s this big red spot on her face?” I figured she just scratched herself as babies do with their finicky nails and brushed it off. A few minutes later my mom came back and said “Are you sure this isn’t a big deal?” I look at my daughter and one side of her face is covered in hives, red and puffy.
Of course I was scared. I ran over to a neighbor who happens to be a nurse for some advice. She said it was probably something on her skin and to wash it well. I washed her face and patted it dry and less than a half hour later, she was clear. It was scary (as most events are when you don’t know what’s going on with your child) and I knew something wasn’t right. Being a self-diagnoser, my assumption was that she must be allergic to chocolate. So now, still breastfeeding, I was avoiding chocolate and eggs. Halloween without Reese’s Peanut Butter cups was just not the same that year…
Finally, when she was 9 months old, I convinced her pediatrician to send us to an allergist. We had the option of a scratch test or a blood test (RAST test). I chose both – I like to double check everything if I can. The scratch test was to be done that day and the blood work would be sent out and we’d hear in a week or so.
So, no surprise, I was wrong in my diagnosis. My daughter did, obviously, have food allergies. She was actually allergic to egg (knew it), milk (what?) and peanuts (oh no). There was no chocolate allergy – just some other ingredients in chocolate cake.
Life has been an adjustment since then but we’ve mostly figured out how to keep everyone safe and relatively happy. I’ll share more about the RAST test and our new “life with allergies” in later allergy posts!