(This is part one of a three part series on food allergies by Molly Ridenhour)

If you know me at all, you know that I’m willing to share! A good book, a funny story, food, a favorite website, a good deal, a successfully delicious recipe…you name it. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been this way – usually never at a loss for words. My kids say I am “chit-chatty”. But the bottom line is, if I think I have something that may help you, or that you may enjoy, I’ll tell you. I think I often share because I have the need to be shared with. I mean, if you know something that would help me or that I need to hear, I’m all ears.

Nine years ago in April, my first son was born. Motherhood was new, he was new…I listened and learned. Everyday challenges and successes came and went and my husband and I settled into our new normal, loving every minute with our little family. Then, two days before Mack’s first birthday party, and a couple of days past his actual birthday, things changed.

Mack turns one!

Eggs have always been one of my favorite foods. A staple in our house. I grew up eating them all the time. What’s not to love about eggs? I mean, think about how many ways you can make eggs and never grow tired of them. Ok, I’m sure you see my love of eggs by now. I love eggs, so why wouldn’t my son?

After finishing his normal lunch of a few fruits and veggies, I decided to indulge Mack in one of my favorites – eggs! After only two TINY bites, he refused more, spitting out what he had not yet swallowed. At only one, he was done and knew something was not right. Immediately, his eyes began to swell and I began to panic. I called my husband at work, and then my mom who was close by. I needed backup. At that point, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Was he sick? Surely it wasn’t something he ate? After all, eggs were my go-to.

I took pictures and quickly called the pediatrician who advised me to head to their office. Upon arrival, they assured me that swollen eyes were often caused by an allergic reaction. Still, I was unsure what it could be. I knew no one with food allergies. No one in our family was allergic to foods. And remember my beloved eggs….no chance they could have caused this!

They dosed him with lots of Benadryl, a prescription for the days ahead, and sent us straight to the pharmacy for an Epi-Pen and to the allergist the next week. The routine I thought we had settled into was no more. This was the day our food journey began.

The next few weeks were full of confusion. I barely had a plan of what to feed a one-year-old, but now I needed a different plan. Feeding a one-year-old with food allergies…how would I do it?

Back to the sharing. The next few years of our lives were spent talking to folks who were willing to share! The people I met through doctor visits, college friends who had dealt with similar situations, friends of friends and a community of online support (bloggers, support groups and authors) who were all willing to share. Without them, we would not be where we are today.

To be honest, I’ve been a little hesitant to share this story. Food allergies are minor in the grand scheme of things. Once we were able to settle into a routine we found that you can enjoy life, and actually thrive, with dietary restrictions. Many people face much larger challenges and must walk through much longer, bigger fires. Ours is minor compared to many. And I am thankful for that. Nonetheless, it is a challenge. The willingness of others to help us walk through the changes we needed to make is what got us through. My only hope is that by sharing our experiences, we will be able to help others who are beginning this journey, to do the same.

So, now we have to re-learn how to eat, but how?!?!  Stay tuned where my next post will discuss how we didn’t allow this diagnosis to crush our love of food, eating out and being able to share meals with our family and friends.

Are you struggling with food allergies?  Have you just been diagnosed with a food allergy, or are you like me and your child is facing this new way of eating?  I’d love to hear from you–leave me a comment so we can share!


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