Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Egg on my Face (or not)

A few posts back I commented on the unique brand of Mommy Karma (Marma?) that follows this principle: every time you find yourself feeling superior in the slightest, it will absolutely come back to bite you.

In the years since I had Cecilie, I have often been known to make comments along the lines of "God must have known I couldn't handle a kid with allergies, so He didn't send any my way" - or variations thereof. When Annika was very small, my good friend Betsy called me out on this inane sort of commentary: "You don't know Annika doesn't have any..." Oh, fair point, I thought to myself, but she doesn't understand that we just don't have allergies in our family. Smug smug smug.... it's clear where this is headed.

At about 4 months, Annika started screaming - really, more howling - after some feeds, but not all. Clearly, it was about pain but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. Was it reflux? Indigestion? Not enough milk? A kink in the plumbing? Severe metabolic disorder? There wasn't a clear enough pattern for me to link it to anything - I kept a food diary [sometimes], I tried reflux medicine, I tried feeding more often, I tried feeding less often.... After 6 long weeks, Annika's poor Grandpa (who had endured many a distraught phone call from me, and paced the floor with a screaming baby) suggested that I take her into our doctor's office.

Lovely lovely lovely Karen Vorsteg, the nurse practioner who works with my dad, listened very carefully to my tale of woe, looked Annika over carefully, and observed (very tactfully) the raging case of eczema that covered her body. Her suggestion was that perhaps it was time to start eliminating things from my diet, and we'd just see if maybe it made a change, and hey, why don't we start with dairy?

Within 12 hours, the screaming had stopped.

Within 24 hours, the eczema had subsided.

Within 48 hours, our sweet happy baby was back & nursing happily.

And here's the kicker. We had to wait a few weeks to see the allergist. When we finally got in there, it turned out the allergy was to EGGS, not as much the dairy. An allergy to eggs that involves words like 'anaphylaxis' and prescriptions for EpiPens and allergy bracelets.

So what this all means is that for as long as Annika is nursing, her mom is off the eggs & dairy too. It means that birthday cakes and Daddy's Sunday Morning Waffles are off the menu. Trips to the Ice Cream Cottage will mean shaved ice treats instead of Double Fudge Brownie.

But due to my aforementioned hubris, there is MUCH for me to learn about having a child with allergies. I have several family members & friends with much more experience in this field, and they are gently and patiently waiting for me to get up to speed. Luckily they're not shy about pointing out the egg items for me, even if its a mouthful I've already inhaled. Almost daily I am struck by how profoundly this affects Annika's future life, and therefore our family life. Slowly slowly I am learning.

Reality check today: our beloved VejaLinks, FriChik and Morningstar 'breakfast hot dogs' are primarily based on egg whites. What?!?!?


eileen said...

gosh - that sucks. i finally get all your status updates now on fb. i thought you were just cutting down on the dairy for the hell of it. Send me some FriChik please!!!!

kirsten said...

oh yeah, have you ever known me to be successful in cutting ANYTHING out of my diet for the heck of it? ;)
Turns out it had to be a life or death matter to make it worth it.

The upside is that I have been losing the pounds!

L-A said...

Yes, what Eileen said! Wow. Is there a chance that Annika will outgrow this? Although I'm sure it wouldn't be as traumatic for her, not having tasted, I don't know, cookies, cakes, eggs benedict, etc. to go without as it would be for you, who already has a taste for these things. Having been plagued with bouts of eczema my whole life, I'm considering following suit to see if it works for me, too. Watch FB for updates!

kirsten said...

there's the upside: the chances of outgrowing an egg/dairy allergy are much higher than say, peanuts or tree pollen. They're hoping she'll outgrow it by the time she hits kindergarten.

I think the hardest part will be having an older sister & brother who have carte blanche with the waffles & ice cream, and she's just the little sister who's not allowed to have anything.

I'll be interested to see if the eczema improves for you. We have a friend who cuts out dairy every spring to help with hay fever/asthma.

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