A Food Allergy Story: My Son's Severe Dairy Allergy

This is a post I've been wanting to write for a long time.

Before my sweet little HDawg was diagnosed with a dairy allergy, I had very little idea what the world of food allergies was all about. I, myself, have never had a food allergy. David has never had a food allergy. The only experience I have had with food allergies is that my best friend and my sister-in-law both have Celiac Disease. I have learned a lot from them about managing a food allergy and what that entails, but nothing prepares you for parenting a child with a food allergy.

I have a lot of ideas and tips to share, but I'm going to save those for another post. Today, I thought I'd simply share our story. Our family's story about recognizing, diagnosing and managing H's food allergy. I hope that our story informs some of you, whether you're struggling with a food allergy, know someone who is or if you just want to hear more about it. I've found so much comfort in relating to those going through the same thing, so I want to be that for you!

For those of you who haven't followed along for the past couple of years, I'll start from the beginning. My son H has a severe dairy allergy. Much like a peanut allergy, even mere superficial contact with dairy or a surface/person that has touched dairy can (and has) lead to anaphylaxis. Crazy rash, trouble breathing, EpiPen, the whole drill. After he was born and while I was nursing him, we noticed he was very fussy and had terrible reflux. He also had bad diaper rashes. Like any crazy new mom, I Googled away and found that, among other things, removing dairy from the mother's diet while breastfeeding could be helpful to alleviate these symptoms. And it worked, but of course, removing dairy from my diet couldn't be directly attributed to anything. Fast-forward to when he began to eat solids. At about 7 or 8 months old, we fed H his first cow's milk dairy product- a cup of probiotic yogurt (suggested by his pediatrician to help counter an antibiotic he was taking). Immediately, like within minutes, he began to welt up. He was covered from head to toe with a red, bumpy rash. We didn't know at the time if it was the antibiotic or the dairy, but we rushed him to the doctor's office and they monitored him, gave him some Benadryl and watched until the rash went away. They suggested that we try dairy in very limited form after about a month or two.

So, at about 10 months old, we gave H a single piece of shredded cheese. Immediately, he welted up, a rash going around his mouth and up his face into his eyes. Yeah, pretty scary. We took him back to the pediatrician and they suggested we stay away from all dairy in HDawg's diet. It was kind of weird that they didn't send us to an allergist at that point (I'm sure they had no clue about the severity of his allergy), but they didn't. They just advised that we not feed him any dairy. So he drank soy milk, we didn't eat cheese. It was a pretty easy switch. For the next six months or so, we followed this really loose plan. 

Along the way, we began to realize that even the tiniest exposure of cow's milk would start his allergic reaction. We certainly weren't feeding him anything with cow's milk, but, say, if I fed him from a plate that also had a dairy product on it, he would react. Or if his food was cooked on a grill that had butter on it at one point, he would react. Or if a prepackaged item was processed in a facility with milk, he would react. So I decided enough was enough of the "laissez faire" attitude to his allergy and, guided by the advice of a new pediatrician, I took him to an allergist at about 1.5 years old. The allergist did a full panel allergy test and a full panel blood test. Sure enough, he reacted severely to cow's milk dairy. He also had slight reactions to eggs and lima beans, items he has since tested negative for. After the testing, we actually felt a little relieved. That sounds totally weird, but it was like our year-long suspicions about how badly dairy affected him had been confirmed and we were now on track with a clear path and plan in hand: an official diagnosis and a doctor who would help us manage the allergy. The allergy doctor prescribed an EpiPen "just in case, even though I'm sure you'll never have to use it." Unfortunately, he was wrong.

Fast forward again to the end of last year, when H was about 2 years old (well, about 27-28 months). It was Christmastime and we were at a family Christmas party. David and I monitor H like a hawk while we're in settings like that to be sure he does not eat/touch/get into/come close to dairy. Our family also knows not to give him any food that's not approved by us. So, that day, he only ate the food we brought for him, including a handful of dry mixed nuts (something he had eaten often). But before we knew it, he was having a full out reaction. Worse than we had ever seen. Huge welts, head to toe. He was terrified. We were terrified. He started getting really anxious and I knew it was only a matter of time before his breathing would be affected. We rushed him to the emergency room, where they gave him the epinephrine and, thank the Lord, he immediately stopped reacting. He had the shakes badly (the medicine does that to you) but he otherwise looked better as soon as that medicine pulsed through his little system. Then I breathed. I had literally been holding my breath for the past hour. It was terrifying to see my little boy like that. HOW did he react? There was NO WAY he ate dairy. I am 100% sure. The mixed nuts? He ate peanuts and cashews every day. But wait, David remembered there were also pecans in the mix. It had to be the pecan....

We took him back to the allergist the next day. He did a full panel test for the pecans and other nuts- no reaction. We retested him for a multitude of items to see if he had new allergies. No issues. We also did an in-house taste test analysis where H ate pecans in front of the doctor. No reaction. It wasn't the pecans. It wasn't many other items that we tested based on what he ate. The only explanation is that H's dairy allergy had gotten so severe that someone at the party unknowingly touched dairy and then touched H without washing their hands. Insane, right? I looked at the doctor- that could lead him into anaphylactic shock? Seriously? The doctor nodded and said, unfortunately it looks that way. He compared it to those people who have a severe peanut allergy. My son? Crazy.

Since that moment in time, we have taken all dairy out of our house for fear of any cross-contamination. Our little girl, who is now almost 15 months old, only drinks cow's milk at school. We drink almond milk at home (no more soy milk, that's another story), eat coconut ice cream and make cashew cheese. And we love it, honestly. Going dairy-free is actually a choice I prefer now. Minus that moment in time I want some good queso. Then I miss me some cheese. Otherwise, being dairy-free is totally manageable. And I feel such a sense of relief knowing we aren't unintentionally exposing HDawg to any scary contributors.

Speaking of our Little Lady June, we decided to be proactive with her and any potential food allergies. While there's no indication that a dairy allergy is hereditary, we wanted to be safe. At 12 months, we ran a full panel test on her and she had negative results. No dairy allergy. Such a relief.

The best part? My kid is so dang brave about it all. I seriously have anxiety attacks when it comes to things like kids birthday parties (cheese pizza! cake! ice cream! milk cartons! dairy everywhere!) and H? He just takes it with a grain of salt and is proud to tell everyone he's different, that he's got a food allergy. That picture above? That's him at his school Easter egg hunt. The school filled the eggs up with chocolate and cheese goldfish (I know, very frustrating) so instead of opting to sit him out, we asked him to wear gloves. Of course, we had to watch him closely so he didn't open the eggs up, but this prevented any issues in terms of accidentally touching what was inside each egg. He was such a trooper, he loved it. If there's one thing I've learned in all of this it's that this boy is not afraid to be different, that he's cool to rock what he is. He's my role model.

Well, that was a long post. Like I said, I plan to do another post with some basic tips and tricks for any food allergy parent. Until then, I'd love to hear your questions or if there's any other aspect of being a food allergy parent that you'd like to know about. Leave your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email- tenjuneblog@gmail.com. Until then, feel free to check out some of my dairy-free recipes.

Please note that I'm not a medical expert. I'm just a mom. A mom of a kid with a food allergy. I'm just sharing my story and our experiences and certainly not trying to render any medical advice!

Toddler Summer Must Have List (+ a SALE!)

Can you even believe that summer is almost upon us? Our neighborhood pool is opening this weekend and it's got me thinking about all of the must have items I need for my tots this summer. At 14 months and 2.5 years old, the kids are at a great age to enjoy the summer fun, as long as we are well-equipped! The round up I shared above lists all of my favorite baby summer items- and guess what? Everything you see is from the one and only Target!

This week, Target has an ahhh-mazz-inggg baby sale going on. The sale is currently running and lasts through Saturday, May 16th. Deals from the sale include: ALL Eddie Bauer for Target baby gear is on sale, a FREE bassinet with purchase of the Rowan crib, FREE $20 Target gift card with any baby purchase (excluding apparel) of $125 or more and a FREE $10 Target gift card with the purchase of two Pampers or Huggies diaper packs. If you're like me, you are buying most of these items from Target on a regular basis anyways, so these deals and specials are like icing on the summer cake!

Even though we're only down to one kiddo in diapers (holla at the potty trained HDawg!), we still buy a lot of them. As soon as I heard about the sale this week, I picked up a few boxes of Pampers and scored a couple of $10 gift cards. I know, such a glamorous purchase but it's a necessity. I also stocked up on some of our favorite Target baby essentials- lightweight summer Carters pajamas and BabyGanics sunscreen.  Finally, I made a big baby gear purchase during the big sale this week- we are now proud owners of a BOB Revolution Duallie Stroller. You guys know David is a big runner and while I'm not, I do like to get out there and run every once in awhile. We've been eyeing this double jogging stroller for awhile so we can do family runs. And by that, I mean David zipping along pushing 60+ lbs. of baby while I struggle alongside him solo. Anyways, armed with a great Target price and the free $20 gift card incentive, the stroller finally became ours this week.

Like I said, the sale only lasts through Saturday, so head over to check out the baby gear on the Target website and stock up on your favorite baby summer essentials!

*Thank you to Target for partnering up with me on this post and supporting our baby sale shopping spree!

Vintage Home Decor Source + $75 Giveaway

As hard as I've tried, I'm not that person who strolls through a Goodwill store and happens upon the perfect solid wood vintage campaign dresser. Or that perfect condition Turkish wool rug. I need a little help when it comes to searching for the perfect vintage item. Enter the website Everything But The House. It's an online estate sale that helps sellers coordinate the sale of their vintage items- rugs, furniture, art, everything... well, everything, but the house. Bidders use the user-friendly website to shop and purchase their items. They've got items for sale from many different cities around the U.S., including two new sales coming up in Atlanta this week! Learn more about the Atlanta sale here.

And y'all, the goods are awesome. Everything from the eclectic living room mood board above is sourced from Everything But the House. Totally amazing, I'm telling you. Look at that rug! If you want to sign up and shop this vintage fabulousness, head right here. Setting up a profile through this link will get you an automatic $20 applied to your shopping cart. And with items starting at $1 bids, $20 can get you pretty far.

So. Let me recap. Check out the website here. Sign up here. Enter to win $75 to shop EBTH below!

Thanks to Everything But the House for partnering up with me on this post. In full disclosure, I have spent hours on their website and fully endorse it's awesomeness! All opinions are my own.

Dairy Free Lemon Iced Baked Donut Recipe

During both of my pregnancies, donuts and the lemon iced pound cake at Starbucks were pretty much my best friends. Let's be honest, I'm not pregnant now and these two desserts rank almost as high on my priority list as my children and husband. I love me a donut.

Even though donuts are my jam, my sweet little HDawg had never had one before due to his severe dairy allergy. So, this momma decided to concoct a recipe (I pulled the cake donut recipe from here) to make my favorite dessert for my dairy-free kiddo. Because what two year old doesn't NEED a good donut in his life? And don't worry, Little Lady June got to enjoy too. And as she would say: TA DA! Now I've got a recipe for dairy free lemon iced baked donuts! Enjoy.

I N G R E D I E N T S :

-one (1) cup flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 cup almond milk
-1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 egg
-4 tablespoons of Earth Balance
-1/4 tablespoon salt
-donut pan (I used this one!)

-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-4-5 tablespoons lemon juice

D I R E C T I O N S :

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In small saucepan on medium heat, stir in almond milk, vinegar, vanilla extract, egg and Earth Balance. Stir until butter melts and then combine wet and dry mixtures. Stir until smooth and then pour into ungreased donut pan. Bake for 12 minutes. While baking, mix together sugar and lemon juice to create icing. Once donuts cool, ice and let set. Zest some lemon peel over the icing for extra lemon-y effect.

Psst! I also made a dairy-free chocolate icing for HDawg (with sprinkles, duh). Simply mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons almond milk. Delish.

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