This is a story that Misty has written about her journey with 3 children who have allergies, We want to thank Misty for her story and hope you enjoy.
My name is Misty and I’m an allergy mum. Three times over to be exact. Of course I’m also an IVF scientist, a business owner and a wife, but somehow “allergy mum” has been the most challenging of roles, and yet also the most rewarding.
I’m no stranger to the allergy lifestyle. My own random health issues were traced back to a “severe dairy intolerance” in my mid-twenties which was later updated to allergy status in its full, face-swelling glory. A diagnosis that saw me enrol and complete a postgraduate certificate in nutrition medicine under the misguided notion that I could fix myself (forgive me, mid-twenties me was pretty cocky). You’d think I’d recognise the symptoms when I saw them, but I was totally unprepared for being faced with an allergic child.
Baby girl came screaming into the world after an uneventful pregnancy and a hectic, complicated “natural” delivery. Five weeks of antibiotics followed, and soon afterwards it became obvious that baby girl was not thriving. “Failure to thrive” is such an awful phrase. Not that i even heard the whole phrase. All my brain absorbed at that point was failure. Me. Failure.
Solutions weren’t offered, people who should have known better brushed off symptoms as normal. They weren’t. It wasn’t until baby girl was 5 months and an amazing GP and fellow allergy mum connected the dots. Baby girl was allergic to dairy. The diagnosis had been missed, because as an allergic person myself, I thought I didn’t consume dairy. But dairy is insidious and cross contamination is rife. Baby girl’s allergy was more severe than mine and she was reacting to the traces of it in my milk.
Baby girl is now 5, and we’ve added two little brothers - with their own bunch of allergies - to the mix. Life with three allergy children is interesting. For starters, I’ve spent years on restrictive diets in order to breastfeed my babies without allergic reactions. Prescription formula was offered along the way, but each were rejected in the most epic, projectile vomiting manner.
Then there’s my favourite game that I like to call “is this a virus or an allergic reaction?”, where you check your child from head to toe for signs of allergic reaction, and mentally recall EVERY morsel of food that they ate for the last 24 hours at the first utterance of “I don’t feel so good”. Eating out is a minefield, not only from an ingredient-checking point of view, but also because of vast ignorance about allergies in the hospitality world. No attempt at trying a new cafe is complete without having to explain that lactose-free is not dairy free, eggs are not dairy.
Don’t even get me started on navigating schoolmate birthday parties and walking the precarious line between keeping your child safe and potentially offending the host, letting your child participate but being discreet enough in your food questioning so that they aren’t excluded in future.
Then there’s the guilt. Mum guilt is endemic, but allergy mum guilt is next-level. Every new study released is a new opportunity for self blame: Antibiotic use during delivery is linked to childhood allergies, low vitamin D can trigger allergy genes, poor gut health is implicated in allergies, having the wrong bacteria in your gut is obviously the problem, caesarian delivery is definitely the cause, early introduction of solids can cause allergies but so can introducing allergens too late. Every headline, every media story is just another reminder that maybe you could have made different choices - refused the antibiotic, taken the supplements. Would it have made a difference to my children? I honestly doubt it. It is what it is.
But in all of this, there is joy. Have my children inherited some horrible genes from me? Yeah. Do I feel terrible about it? Sometimes. But you know what? They also inherited my ear for music. My scientific brain. My tenacity. And some pretty awesome stuff from their dad, too. In dealing with their own allergies they have developed an amazing capacity for empathy, they are learning to cook, and they have a fabulous knowledge of nutrition. They are well placed to be amazing human beings who will make a difference to the world, and I’ve no doubt they’ll navigate anything that life throws at them. Except cheesecake.
My name is Misty, and I’m an allergy mum.
A little More about Misty
Misty is a senior embryologist, with over 15 years experience in the fast paced and unforgiving IVF industry. She’s also a nutritionist, business owner, blogger, wife, mother of three and in serious need of more holidays.
With a passion for creating great food, lasting memories and memorable experiences, Misty is continuing her mission to educate and empower women on all things fertility, parenting and health. All whilst hunting for that perfect cup of coffee …
B. App. Sci (Biotech); G.C. Nut. Med.
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