I’m not a helicopter parent…just a mom

Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

With Toy Story 4 out in theaters, we decided to show Olivia Toy Story. She LOVED it and has been dancing with her daddy to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” for days. So, in the spirit of fun toys that talk and play we decided to throw on “The Toy that Time Forgot”. I had never seen it before but it came free with our “Toy Story” purchase so I thought, why not! I’ve never been more disappointed in Disney than I was today…

Only 2 minutes into the movie, a scene plays out where the dinosaur is dressed up as a pretentious looking mother – pointy glasses and all. The dinosaur yells at the little girl playing the waitress that there is a bug in her sons ice cream and her son is “ALLERGIC TO BUGS”. So the little girl flicks the bug out of the ice cream and says “there you go sweetheart, enjoy”. And then the movie moves on.

In our world, food allergies are constantly seen as a burden and a joke. This scene does nothing but perpetuate this unfortunate view point. When a child watches this movie and sees this scene, they may learn that by simply removing an allergen from someones’ food, it is now safe. They may see food allergies as funny, simple and as a simple inconvenience. This scene in this movie does food allergies an extreme injustice – making a life threatening occurrence seem joke worthy and mundane. The mother who says her son has a bug allergy is shown as a know it all ‘helicopter’ parent and the waitress brushes off the allergy like the mom is simply being a pain.

At restaurants I am hit with constant dirty looks and hear whispers under their breath about how ridiculous I look wiping down the booths and chairs, bringing our full course meals into perfectly nice dinning rooms. I thought I never wanted to be that kind of parent – never wanted to be the ‘neurotic’ mom who keeps her kids in a bubble. That is until I became an allergy mom. My judgements are GONE. Now, I lock eyes with other moms who may be seen as ‘neurotic’ and give them a supportive nod. I want other people to know, that I am not being neurotic. I am taking care of my baby in the best possible way that I know how. Having food allergies in a world that uses them as the butt end of a joke is tough. When characters in movies laugh about something that could kill my daughter is heart breaking. But I know that Olivia is going to teach others about why this movie was wrong and educate others on how to keep her safe.

So, please talk to your kids about why this scene is so wrong. Simply removing an allergen from the food will NOT remove what makes kids like Olivia deathly ill. Removing that bug from her sundae would not get rid of the bug protein. I know – Im talking about bugs and pretend ice cream sundaes – but to kids, these stories are as real as they can be. And give that mom insistently wiping down the tables and chasing their kids around as much grace as you can, because you do not know what they are going through. So no, I’m not a helicopter parent – I’m just keeping my little girl safe.

In the meantime, just keep advocating!

When two disabilities collide…

Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

Olivia was born with two disabilities:

1 – Persistent Fetal Vasculature which has caused near blindness in her right eye requiring her to wear a contact lens and patch daily

2 – Life threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs and wheat – resulting in strict avoidance of anything that may contain, contains or has come in contact with those ingredients, for fear of an anaphylactic reaction.

These two disabilities are pretty separate entaties. Both serious in their own way but also completely their own thing. Until today!

Olivia has been squinting her eye a lot these past couple days. At first, we thought she was squinting her eye because her contact was bothering her. But even when we took her contact lens out, she would still squint her eye. She even got to the point where she would say “momma”, get my attention, point to her Nemo eye and sign all done for me to take the contact out. So, we decided to take her in to see the lens doctor today – just to be safe. With everything Olivia has gone through concerning her eye, we never wait and see – we always get her checked out. Due to the nature of her condition, we are constantly on the look out for retinal detachment and Glaucoma – two issues that are fairly common for people with PFV. Anything out of the norm warrants a doctor visit.

When we got there, the doctor took a look at her eyes and was shocked at how well behaved and amazing Olivia was. She sat there, completely still, as the doctor shined a super bright light into her eyes. Since Olivia did so well, the doctor was even able to pull her up to a machine to check under her eyelid – there is no better compliment than someone saying “there is no way this little girl is only 18 months old!”

When she took a look under her eye, she saw little bumps that had formed due to….you guessed it…ALLERGIES. Because of all of the allergens and heightened pollen count outside, Olivia’s eyes developed these bumps that are making it uncomfortable to have her contact in. We were prescribed some allergy drops and a new cleaning routine for her contact lens. When we know the pollen count is high or during a change of season, the world we see a lot more Olivia in cute glasses so her eye has time to breath.

During the appointment, I said to the doctor that I can’t believe it’s allergies of all things. Now she has seasonal allergies affecting her eye on top of her food allergies! That’s when the doctor explained that Olivia suffers from something call atopy which is a “genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases”. Atopy is “associated with heightened immune responses to common allergens, especially inhaled allergens and food allergens” (AAAI). She explained that kids like Olivia are just more susceptible to allergies affecting them in more ways that one.

So, today was the day that both of her disabilities collided into one. But whichever we are dealing with on that given day, there is one thing I know for certain. My warrior daughter is going to show up with a smile on her face, a snack in one hand, her ‘baby’ in the other and a high pitched “HI” coming out of her mouth. She is the happiest, most resilient kid I’ve ever known and I am proud to navigate these uncharted waters with her. So even with a new contact lens cleaning routine, new eye drops and glasses a few more days a week, we will continue to just keep patching.

Favorite safe foods for our baby with food allergies

Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

**Disclaimer: I am not a health care provider or allergist. These recommendations are what work well for my family with a child allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs and dairy. But what works and is safe for her, may not be safe for another. As always read labels and triple check that what you are eating is safe for you. I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of these products and have linked them for your convenience. Thanks for reading!**

When Olivia was diagnosed with so many life threatening food allergies, my first thought was what can we feed her?? What can I feed her that is free from nuts, wheat, eggs and dairy? And that means free from containing them AND free from cross contamination?? Doesn’t breakfast consist of eggs and toast?!! My husband and I went to the grocery store only to be completely overwhelmed. It felt like everything either contained, may contain or was made in the same facility as at least one of her food allergies. The vision I had in my head of my daughter enjoying pizza, bread, Mac and cheese, cookies – all the foods kids can freely enjoy – was crushed. Or so I thought.

Over the next few weeks I did so much research on how to feed my little girl. We took some wonderful advice from a family friend – thank you Elizabeth! – and searched for some good options. I did not want her food allergies to define Olivia and I knew there had to be a way through our fear to the other side! And there certainly was :). So many companies make really delicious and safe foods for Olivia. And when I took a step back and thought about what we eat, I realized most of what we eat can be modified so its safe for Olivia. This diagnosis is SO over whelming if you have never had to deal with food allergies. I hope that some of what we have tried may help you feel a little less over whelmed. Here are some of Olivia’s favorite safe meals! 🙂

Breakfast:

Snacks:

Lunch&Dinner:

    turkey or chicken breast
    Ham steak

Drinks:

Extras:

As we continue on this food allergy adventure, I know our pantry will continue to grow. How I feel about dealing with food allergies since Olivia’s diagnosis has changed so much. I have gone from being constantly anxiety ridden and terrified to being a lot more confident and sure of myself in the kitchen. Remember we must be prepared, not paranoid because not everyone is perfect.

So just keep cooking, trying, eating and as always advocating for even more delicious and safe options!!