Having a child with food allergies gives me this overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. There are so many aspects of raising my daughter that leave me wondering if I made the right choices, and this can be so hard on a parent. With Little Sister, I am constantly wondering if I made mistakes that led her to have all these allergies. Is it because she was premature? Every single time she reacts to something new, or has a terrible anaphylactic reaction I think that there must be something I did wrong.
The media is SO quick to tell us that my worry is spot on.
What the media says I did wrong:
- I didn’t breast feed long enough
- I took antibiotics during pregnancy
- I ate too many of the top 8 allergens while pregnant
- I didn’t eat enough of the top 8 allergens while pregnant
- Increased vaccinations caused the allergies
- I ate or fed my daughter too many genetically modified foods
- Our hygiene kept the immune system from being busy, so it created something to do (a protein allergy)
What the media says
I even had one mom tell me that my daughter has such terrible food allergies because I had an epidural.
I already experience serious mommy guilt parenting my other daughters. Am I telling them too much about Little Sisters allergies? Am I not telling them enough, or in the right way? Will they live a life that is too cautious, or too worried because I tell them so much about the ‘what if’s’ with Little Sisters allergies? With all the attention I have to give Little Sister, am I giving the older girls enough? Is Big Sister getting enough kindergarten time at home, is Middle Sister behind on learning how to write because of all the distractions? Is this the right probiotic? Am I replacing confident, strong women with worried, uncertain ones? These mommy guilt trips plague me at night.
Uncertainty used to get me feeling excited, and energized! Where would my best-friend and I go on Friday night? Would HE be there? Is he still dating that girl, do I care (lol)? Am I going to get that new job? Is this the right career for me? These were all exciting occasions! The uncertainty of life was thrilling and moved me to work harder, and strive for greater things! I was a go-getter, and nothing could stop me! The uncertainty of what was to come was what I lived for!
Uncertainty was still my friend before having Little Sister, too. I felt keyed up about the prospect of what was to come. I completed my Bachelors in Education while raising the oldest little girls, and I enjoyed every minute of it! Of course there was hesitation, but it was exhilarating, and fulfilling. I loved cramming for tests with little girls around me, and even though I was worried that I wasn’t giving them enough during that time, I still felt confident that I was doing the right thing.
|Big sister, my oldest, running in the sprinklers.
I remember sitting on the porch doing homework while watching her.
However, with food allergies, the media and society loves to tell us that we SHOULD BE uncertain. Especially us moms. I was admonished for worrying too much when I was trying to get Little Sister diagnosed. I was teased for being protective of her, and I was told time and time again that A: I was doing things wrong, and B: that she was just a fussy baby.
That hesitation ate at me continuously, and joined with denial, I felt crippled in decision-making. How am I, just some mom, supposed to keep my daughter safe? I counted down the days until her first allergy appointment because I was convinced the Dr’s would take the reins with Little Sister, and tell me EXACTLY what to do.
Instead, I numbly walked out of the office with paperwork, several diagnoses, and a heart full of uncertainty. I had SO many questions, and the gap between the allergists’ answers and my questions were so wide.
Slowly, with the help of a great friend, I am gaining the confidence and knowledge that helps me to keep her safe, but one thing that has stuck with me over all of this time is that lonely feeling of uncertainty.
Raising Little Sister has been a struggle of emotions. I adore this child more than anything, but I also experience so many scary emotions in parenting her.
Uncertainty that she might not survive the next allergic reaction, that I am still feeding her something that is making her skin react, that she will develop new allergies because I am feeding her something to often, that she will never outgrow her allergies, that she will develop worse asthma with her allergic reactions. That she will be made fun of in school because of her allergies, that someone will tease her, that she will have a reaction at school and they wont realize how bad it is, until it is too late. Uncertainty that I should even SEND her to school.
|Little sister holding the epi pen which I always have with us when she starts getting hives.|
For me, uncertainty is crippling. It no longer has the fun girls night out feeling, my uncertainty is partnered with fear, doubt, and worry.
My only hope is that this confidence that is slowly building through experience, will overtake the uncertainty and win. Until then, I will avoid the media and their ridiculous accusations as to what I did wrong!
IT’S YOUR TURN: How do you feel about uncertainty? What uncertainties do you face? Are these uncertainties exhilarating or scary?