*Disclaimer, emotional post warning. I have been contemplating whether or not to share this post that has been in my drafts for over a year. No one wants to write about things that hurt but in the process of writing and now finishing this post finally, I want to make people aware more than anything. I am not looking for pity but sharing this experience only to pass on information that could happen to you, or if there are other parents out there that struggle with their child having severe allergies they can relate to it. It’s a whole new world of parenting an allergy child, I promise you. We are here to support each other.
Tuesday, June 12th 11:35 AM.
Yes, I remember the very minute it happened to you. You were happily kicking your feet in your highchair, sat between the fridge and the kitchen island, where you always sat. Lunch time was fun for us, just you and me. I would put on music and eat standing at the kitchen island next to you while I offered yummy first tastes to you in your highchair. You were weaning.
I remember feeling a little excited that it was going to be your very first bite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich that day. An American classic and favorite among kids. One I grew up on myself and loved. I never even thought for a second what it would do to you as I spread the peanut butter on one side and the jelly on the other. It was strawberry, my favorite and I was hoping it was going to be yours too. I cut the sandwich into tiny squares to offer them to you.
Daddy walked in from work to grab his wallet he left on the counter and grab a bite for lunch. He just walked into the back room to turn on Bloomberg for the daily stock market updates.
I never had the chance to turn on our music.
I casually handed you one square to try and turned to put the peanut butter and jelly back in the fridge. You happily grabbed it from me and put it to your mouth. It took you a second to lick it and see what it tasted like. I waited for a smile to confirm it was your new favorite too.
At first you just started gagging as if the cream peanut butter was stuck on your tongue and you weren’t used to the texture. It’s a sound most babies make while weaning and learning to control their gag reflexes. But it only lasted a second and you started coughing, gasping, your eyes rolled in the back of your head. I froze and could faintly hear the sound of Daddy’s work shoes running into the kitchen towards you. I quickly wiped as much of it out of your mouth as I could as you continued to vomit. We knew we needed to get you to the hospital immediately. We didn’t call 999 as we lived next door to the hospital. I didn’t know whether to hold you or buckle you in your car seat but I knew Daddy would need to drive fast as possible so I buckled you quickly and jumped in next to you with tears rolling down my face.
The car ride to the hospital was the longest car ride of my life. Two corners before we entered the hospital car park you went unconscious. I remembering screaming so hard, in my head and out loud for you. I ripped you out of your car seat and I held you as tight as possible screaming to Daddy to hurry. I thought you were dead.
I saw the sign for A&E and I jumped out of the car still moving with you limp in my arms. I shoved past an elderly man with a cane or a coat rack, unsure and ignored the reception desk and ran straight through the double doors screaming for a doctor and that I think you were in anaphylactic shock. A doctor to the right of me, moved faster than I had ever seen anyone move and gave you a shot that made you gasp and me cry out in relief. My baby was alive. He saved my son.
Daddy followed through the double doors soon after and you were hooked to all sorts of monitors and they were having to give you medicine injections regularly as the peanut butter you digested kept attacking your system over and over. The hives immediately showed their ugly face all over your entire body. They were in your eyes and mouth. It seemed like hours after I heard you take that breathe again that I realized I was still holding mine.
You were laying on the hospital bed and I could hear the monitor beeping telling me your heart was working, your lungs were breathing and you were going to be ok. The nurse walked out to get you something and I broke down in Daddy’s arms, crying uncontrollably. The emotions of it all finally catching up to me that I had almost lost you.
You were moved to a bigger children’s hospital. I didn’t sleep for two nights sat next to you making sure you were still breathing. The hives continued to come out over the next day and it was clear you had a deadly allergic reaction to peanut butter. I wasn’t allowed to lay with you as you were hooked to machines in a baby crib so I had to watch you threw bars. It hurt so much that I couldn’t just cuddle up next to you and let you know how sorry I was for causing you this pain.
The hospital staff were amazing with you but they weren’t so keen on a distraught mommy. I knew nothing about food or ingredients and worried how I would keep you safe. They handed me pamphlets on allergies and sent us home. I called ahead to Daddy and had him throw out everything that even said traces of nuts on it. The car seat needed to be replaced before I was putting you back in it as you had vomited peanut butter on it. I was scared of anything touching you. I was scared to touch anything else in fear of transporting it to you. I spent the next six weeks petrified to leave the house with you. What if someone ate a peanut butter sandwich and touched you. I was sent home with an epi pen that just made the whole thing more real and more scary. I was paranoid about everything I fed you for months.
You were back to being a happy, healthy bouncing baby boy. You didn’t realize what had almost happened to you. What did happen to you. Your life continued on as normal in your eyes. But I was changed forever.
When something like this happens, the unexpected, it changes you in different ways. I find it hard to talk about this day, a day that has turned me into a paranoid mother by standards. Those that have children with severe allergies can relate I know now after years of being one what it’s like. I can’t take my son anywhere without the anxiety of this day flooding back even after four years. Kids parties make me sweat and if you know me I never sweat. I don’t let anyone else be in control of my son’s meals (school now an exception that took me months to prepare for and still scares me) but I was the only one to ever feed him while he was growing up. Ironic since it was my fault he experienced anaphylactic shock in the first place. I fear every day that I will get a call from the school that he has ate something he shouldn’t and something worse has happened. His allergy list is now a mile long. I have learned how to parent a different way than I do with my daughter who has no allergies. It’s a completely different life taking care of a child with allergies. You don’t just have to protect them from bumps and scrapes but every person they come into contact with is a risk. Everyone around you could potentially harm him. The toys others have played with could have traces of something that will harm him. It’s a never ending circle of paranoia.
I have had to become a pro at reading labels and seeing signs of him struggling if he ate something not right. I have to pay more attention to him than I do my daughter especially when we are out and about for the day if there is food around. I have no idea how to stop panicking over him every time he isn’t with me. I hate having to tell every parent at school about him just so they can help watch out for him too. He is now getting to the age where I can explain things and he can help me watch out too but I am still so scared.
I have nightmares about my son going into anaphylactic shock again and again. I am jumpy when the phone rings during school hours petrified it’s them calling. I hope that as years go by it gets less but I also worry if I get more relaxed about it that’s when it will happen. I always make sure all our epi pens are in reach, up to date and we know how to use them as well as our friends and extended family.
I sometimes get angry and wish I would have known more about allergies and dangers of food when I was weaning him. Nuts and eggs included as these are the two we have had issues with the most. I was clueless, a new parent just wanting to share her love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. A sandwich I will never touch again. If you think your child may have an allergy get them checked. I didn’t know it but my son had baby eczema badly, and baby asthma, I was told this can be a warning sign they may have food allergies. Not saying all baby’s with either of these do but just to be aware of the possibility and have them checked out. Better safe than sorry.
There is nothing scarier than seeing your child go blue, seeing them choke and gasp for air knowing you can’t do anything for them. The pain that rips threw your body, the tightening in your throat in chest as you hold your breathe until they breathe again themselves. It’s something that changes you, stays with you forever. If my experience can help but one parent be cautious about food allergies while weaning than it was worth reliving it to share with you.
Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations says
Oh Jenny! My heart was in my mouth reading this… Bless you. We are well familiar with the fear surrounding a child. Heidi has a heart condition which means that some standard bugs (like chicken pox) could be lethal for her. I spent the first year of her life wrapping her up in cotton wool, keeping her away from danger, but that’s no life, is it? I’m learning I have to let go and trust other people with her too, but it us SO HARD. So much of what you wrote resonated. Thinking of you and your lovely boy.xxx
Thanks Claire that means a lot. We definitely aren’t alone in our isolated fears of bubble wrapping them are we? Bless you for having to deal with such scary risks too. It’s hard not to want to keep them home forever just to be safe. B has only been in school for a few months and it scares me so much. I want to sit at his desk and tell no one to touch him.
Collette @ family life and me says
Oh. my. goodness. The hairs on the back of my neck have gone up by reading this. You poor poor thing. Obviously you’ve read my post on D being critically unwell so I completely sympathise with you and know exactly what you mean about it changing you as a person. It is an experience you never get over you just learn to live with it. Well done on having the courage to share your story, I’m sure it will highlight a few warnings to parents.
I hope so Collette, it was a big decision but one I wanted to share as I will be writing a lot more about allergies in kids and recipes for kids with allergies so I wanted to share my story. You are so right it is something you learn to live with. Thank you for your kind words.
Oh Jenny, that must have been so difficult for your to write. What an awful experience, I can’t even imagine. So much love to you and B Xxxx
Thanks Morgana, you are kind. I am glad to give light to maybe new parents that don’t think about watching for allergies while they are weaning like I didn’t. Or those that have children with allergies can know they are not alone in those isolated feelings.
Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) says
I read this with my heart in my mouth. Thank goodness you were able to get to the hospital so quickly. Definitely could be so much more education about allergies and introducing new foods to your weaning baby.
Yes exactly we are lucky we live so close. I hate to think otherwise. But I want to help spread the word out there that even with no allergies on either side we still need to be careful while weaning. There are more allergies out more than ever in young kids these days. Thanks for reading Chloe.
I am so sorry this happened to you! I can’t imagine the fear and guilt. I have worked with so many children with food allergies and have seen it first hand. It is such a scary thing! So thankful your son is alright and now can help tell others what he is allergic to!
Thanks Carole. It is frightening but I am trying to make more aware and then provide recipes and things to know and handle if your child has friends coming over that has allergies so they don’t have to panic either. I want to help people be aware.
Mum Reinvented says
I read that with my heart in my mouth too. Poor B and poor you and hubby too. That must have been absolutely terrifying to deal with. It wasn’t your fault though hun, don’t ever think that, you were just giving him something to eat. No one ever knows what little ones could be allergic to until they try it. It must be a nightmare making sure he doesn’t come into contact with anything he isn’t allowed.
I know I didn’t used to have my daughter’s best friend over because she was pretty much allergic to everything and I was frightened I’d do something wrong and she’d end up seriously ill, luckily my mum stepped in and had her over instead so they didn’t miss out playing together. I’d have loved to have learned more about allergies and have some recipes I could have made when they were younger so your idea for sharing recipes and info is great as it would help so many people. x
That’s one of the main reasons I have shared my story and shared my experience because there isn’t enough information out and I have found myself not letting him have play dates elsewhere because of it. But I want to provide the information so people like you can not fear of the have a child playing over with allergy and know what to do. It’s all about awareness.
Kim Carberry says
Oh gosh! How terrifying for you! Thank goodness you lived so close to the hospital….Sending love and hugs x
Thanks Kim. Yes I just wish as a new parent I had been prepared for possible allergies. It’s just something you don’t think of and prepare yourself when weaning. I just hope it gets easier.
Jenny, it does get a LOT easier, believe it or not. I had a very similar experience with my son, who ended up having lots of allergies. He is now 8, and attends the same Montessori school he has attended since he was 2 1/2. It is one of only a few places where I feel he is completely safe. Everyone is trained to use an epi-pen, and is very aware of food allergies because of my son. I do have many friends, however, who completely “get it,” and at whose houses he’d be safe too. He can also read labels himself now, and does a great job of keeping himself safe. You can start empowering your son when he is young, and that will stay with him. Before my son turned 3, he could already recite the long list of his allergens. I also belong to a great Facebook group called Terrific Kids with Food Allergies. We have a couple of thousand members, who really do support each other. You can ask them anything and get great help or advice. Please feel free to join us. I wish you luck in your journey, and want you to know that it does get better. 🙂
OH thank you ever ever SOOO MUCH for your lovely comment. I will join for sure. I am glad to hear it gets easier. B is just learning to read so a lot of his learning up next will be labels and to tell and ask people about what’s in his food. School is the one place even though I am weary that I do trust to feed him besides myself so far. I just want to share my story so others are mindful and aware of the possibilities.
Oh love. Ben had a mild egg allergy at the same age. Like you I had no idea that it was a possibility linked to his eczema and that I should avoid it till he was older. Luckily for Ben he only came out in hives on his hands and face where the egg had touched, he wasn’t sick nor did he suffer any breathing difficulties. He has since been tested and luckily for him he has grown out of it.
Oh I am so glad for you Colette. B is also allergic to egg and it’s not an easy one it’s in everything it seems. I think there needs to be more awareness with the amount of little ones now having allergies.
Oh gosh Jenny! This must have been such a terrifying ordeal for you and your husband to go through! You weren’t to know and you shouldn’t blame yourself. This is such a great post to raise awareness though; so glad you have shared your story.
Thanks Laura, I have had a lot of mom’s at school asking me about it and saying I should write more about how to have kids visit your kids if they have allergies as they are all petrified as much as I am to have him come for a playdate. But I think there should be more information out there to make us all feel secure about it. I am hoping to do just that.
Laura @ LittleLadiesBigWorld says
What a terrifying ordeal. I cried reading this. My daughter has multiple food, environmental and drug allergies and I am thankful every day that they are not anaphylactic. My daughter was covered in hives on and off for the first 12 months of her life and was even allergic to my milk as a newborn. We still attend 3 monthly appointments and she is scheduled for an ENT operation next week to try and relieve her symptoms. Although different I identify with wanting to keep them at home in a bubble, that is all I want to do and even send packed lunches to school since she started in September. I still haven’t tried my youngest on some things and she is 1 on Monday. How do you manage it?
I think you are right in that the awareness and help and support for mothers and families of children with allergies is hit and miss. It’s a different life for us and it sounds like you are doing great. Thank you for sharing and sorry you, your son and family had to go through such an awful experience. x
Thanks lovely. I wish you all the best in her operation and hope it helps her. It’s not easy and its definitely a lot different in parenting my own child. I am the same I have not given MM the things that have affected B as I am so scared she too will be the same. I can never go through that again, ever. I am trying to change the awareness and help educate even parents that don’t have a allergy child because they one day have a friend like B wanting to come play with them and wont because they don’t want that put on them. It’s a tough one.
Alex Gladwin says
Oh my god, this made me cry. How absolutely awful for you! You are such a brave Mummy who knew exactly what to do and that saved your Sons life! Thank you for sharing this, it’s made me feel more aware of things like food allergies. Sending you the biggest of hugs! I can’t imagine how you must have felt at the time. xxxx
Thanks Alex. It has taken me four years to tell my story but my mom made a valid point if I keep in all inside and don’t share it I might not help bring more awareness too it. That’s my mission this year to really educate others from free from recipes to how to have an allergy child in your home. So many parents at the school have asked me this one. They are just as scared as I am to have B come play.
Oh Jenny I can’t even imagine how scared you must of been and how scary it must still be for you. I had a little cry reading this xx
OH I am so sorry to make you cry. Not my intentions. I don’t think when we become parents and start the weaning process that allergies are ever at the forefront of our minds. Especially when we have no allergies known on my side or Daddy’s side. I am hoping to raise more awareness in weaning and being cautious and maybe some signs to look for as well as so many free from recipes coming up.
Pamela | lifewithmunchers says
Oh Jenny, I burst into tears reading this. How absolutely terrifying. I’m just so thankful your hubs popped home and that you were close to the hospital.
I’m so so sorry this happened to your family. Xx
It was all fate that he came home and knew right away something wasn’t right and got us to the hospital. I wish there was more awareness when you become a first time parent on food allergies signs like eczema or asthma to look out for. I knew none of this. I am hoping to share my story and bring more awareness to the seriousness of it and share some free from amazing recipes that we love so much trying to make his life as normal as possible.
Nat Halfpenny says
My gosh I read this with tears in my eyes and I think I was holding my breath too. I can’t imagine. Just a few days ago I did the same as you, made a peanut butter sandwich and gave the tiny squares to my baby. Gosh it must be so hard for you all. I had no idea. You’re an amazing Mummy Jenny x
Katie / Pouting In Heels says
Oh Jenny! My goodness me,I could barely breathe as I read this. I cannot imagine how horrendous this must have been for you but I am so, so glad that he is OK. Allergies are so dangerous and I don’t think we really realise that unless something like this happens to us or someone we love. In Italy last year my body went crazy with an allergic reaction to a virus. I’ve never known anything like it. I was covered in layers of hives for days, my legs, arms and lips swelled and I just thank my lucky stars that the day before we flew, I went to A&E here because my throat swelled up and they gave me lots of steroids which kicked in just as my reaction was becoming very severe. I can honestly say I never thought anything like that would happen to me. It was terrifying. So to think and hear of your little boy going through that (and you) made me a little teary eyed. Because the fear I can relate to. And as for that happening to your beautiful child, my goodness me. It chills the blood. Thank you so much for writing such a brilliant, honest and emotive post. It will most certainly help people be more aware of how serious and potentially deadly allergies can be. Much love x
Oh my goodness Katie that is truly an awful experience so scary and I can’t imagine it happening to me but the pain you describe and the scared feelings I am sure my son felt and I just am glad both Mr P and I were there together to at least make him know we are there while they saved his life. Support and comfort but you feel helpless being on the other side of it. I can’t imagine to experience it as an adult. Luckily B will never remind that awful day but you do and that must be scary. Bless you. I just hope it helps others be more aware and cautious to food allergies in children.
Lindsay At Newcastle Family Life says
Oh my gosh how scary this must have been! My daughter suffers allergies too weirdly to peas and lentils which I did not even know was possible. I can totally relate to having to be vigilant when eating out / at school etc. My daughter is 13 now and knows what foods to avoid and thankfully manages to avoid them xx
Katie @mummydaddyme says
Such a brave post to write Jenny as it must have hurt and brought back such awful memories writing it. Hopefully it will help raise awareness of severe allergies. It must have been so scary. Mads stopped breathing when she was a week old and the way you described driving to the hospital is exactly the same as what happened to us, we didn’t even put her in the car seat though. And running into A and E and just screaming at the reception desk. It seriously is so similar. It was the worst experience of my life. x
It never leaves you does it? It’s that distant horrible feeling of the chest tightening and pure panic to help your little baby be ok. I am so glad Mads is ok and never has had another episode how frightful darling. I just hope by sharing our story that others will be more aware and I want to help raise food allergy awareness in children this year. This was just a stepping stone to share why I am so passionate to help educate others.
Oh Jenny. My heart was in my mouth reading this and I had tears in my eyes. How horrendous. Poor little guy! I know you’ve touched on his allergies before but to experience something like this… There are no words. Sending love x
Thanks Donna. I just hope by sharing our story others will be more aware and cautious with children and food allergies. It’s a different life that I have had to learn to live but one that many do and we just don’t know it. It’s becoming more common these days and I think there should be more awareness about it.
Oh Jenny. My heart was in my mouth reading this and I had tears in my eyes. How horrendous. Poor little guy! I know you’ve touched on his allergies before but to experience something like this… There are no words. Sending love x
Wow. I can’t imagine what you went through and still go through each and every day. You’re a strong mama! Your son is so lucky to have you looking out for him. I had to call 911 for my son at just 2 weeks old…I too will never forget that vivid moment. My son seems to have very sensitive skin/eczema already…I wonder if I need to watch out for allergies too. Thanks for sharing your emotional story.
I only share my story so those that are weaning can be mindful and more cautious. Something we don’t really think about especially if there is no known allergies in the family like us. I am not saying every child with eczema or skin sensitivity will have but its’ high percentage of those that have allergies had these so they are sometimes related. I would just be careful and slowly offering new things especially things that are more likely for food allergies like nuts, eggs, fish, etc.. You can get lists of ones to be cautious online I will be sharing more soon.
Oh gosh Jenny, that sounds terrifying and I was choked up and scared for you reading that. Nut allergies are so scary. My husbands nephew has it and the level of attention needed is crazy. Even food that may possibly have touched or been in the vicinity of nuts is off limits. And stuff like school bake cakes are scary. Big hugs to you all xx
Yes we definitely have to always be on guard in public at all times. It’s hard but you live that kind of life everyday it’s your normal but many aren’t aware and I am trying to bring more awareness by sharing my experience.
Ellie @ Hand Me Down Baby says
Oh my goodness, what a horrific thing to go through! We’ll soon be weaning Master J and this is a definitely reminder for me to re-learn what order I’m supposed to give foods and not go too quickly.
Thanks for sharing.
Yes I am hoping by sharing my experience it will make others aware not scared but just cautious in what they first give their babies and to be prepared for what could happen not that you can prepare for it. I just had no idea to even be mindful wasn’t even in the back of my mind.
It must have been so awful for you Jenny, I can’t imagine! It’s great that you have written this post though because you’re right, it’s something there’s not enough awareness of. I’m just about to start weaning with Gabe and I’ll definitely be watching what I’m giving him.