#OhhMoments - Danielle Coates shares her youngest son Food Allergy Story
" I'm Danielle, a single Mum to three amazing boys. Brodie, my eldest is ten. Tobiah, my second is five and Sawyer, my youngest is 20 months old. Sawyer is different to my other two children because he has allergies, quite a list of allergies"
He is currently allergic to dairy, soya, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, avocado and oats. He has both iGe and non iGe reactions, so some things will make his face swell and he will be covered in hives, other things he will end up covered in eczema and suffer with mucus filled nappies for days.
Before Sawyer came along I had no idea that a baby could react to food through breastmilk, once I realised he had allergies I had a lot of changes to make which at times felt quite daunting and also stressful. These changes haven't been easy and the whole thing hasn't been without its difficulties, we've had little to no support throughout this and I actually initially diagnosed Sawyer with Cows Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) myself.
Sawyer's big brothers have also struggled with the changes we've had to make to the household and our lives too. We can no longer eat out at most places due to the amount of allergies Sawyer has and some things have had to be banned from the house due to the severity of his reactions. Amazingly they have been very understanding and they have both learnt to check which foods are and aren't safe for Sawyer.
One of the most difficult parts of this journey for me has definitely been the feeling of being isolated. Toddler groups can be very difficult to attend because of snacks and messy play. We did start at one group, which seemed to be very understanding of Sawyer's allergies until one week they had wheat flour and paint brushes out and Sawyer reacted to the flour dust in the air, his face swelled and he was quite poorly for a couple of days, so we haven't been back since. It makes me sad because he's a very sociable boy but his health and wellbeing are obviously my top priority.
Unfortunately doctors have never been very supportive and in the beginning they didn't take me seriously at all. I visited our doctors surgery on a number of occasions but was told it was "just eczema" and his 6-10 mucus filled nappies a day and bubbling tummy was normal for a breastfed baby. At one point I was even told that I was just a paranoid Mum that wasn't coping very well!
Me being as stubborn as I am, I refused to accept that was the case and I knew there was something wrong, call it Mothers instinct, so I set to work researching what could be wrong with him. It took me researching for myself, cutting out dairy and soya initially and taking before and after photos of Sawyers skin into the doctors surgery for the doctor to finally agree there was more going on and he did indeed have CMPA. It took 4 days of cutting dairy for me to see a massive improvement in Sawyers skin and mood.
As time went on I found more allergies. By the time Sawyer was 8 months I had figured out and cut all of his allergens both from his diet and my diet (as I breastfeed still). I did this through food diaries, elimination diets and trial and error really.
He's now 20 months old and loves his food, he's happy and mischievous and most people have no idea what he's been through.
In the future I would love to see more awareness of allergies in general, better and faster diagnosis, more support for families of allergy children, more allergy friendly foods in restaurants and a better variety of readily available top 8 allergy friendly snacks, it's pretty difficult to find ones that are top 8 friendly and not all parents always have time to bake their own snacks.
For Sawyer I'm just hopeful he outgrows some of his allergies because let's face it a life without them would be much easier once he starts school but for now I'll carry on breastfeeding him and doing all I can to keep him safe.
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