When I first started this journey of motherhood, I never knew the person that I would and could become. I could not even begin to imagine all of the experiences that I would encounter and the lessons that I would learn whether I was ready or not. Before all of this began, I was a rather simple person on the outside: I loved my family and friends, running, listening and helping people through problems, teaching, tutoring, drinking wine, eating pizza and spending time with my best friend/husband. However, like most people, I was and am a much more complicated person on the inside. From as early as I can remember, I was always a deep thinker with a lot more to say that ever came through to my lips. Sometimes, if I catch myself in the right moment, I put these thoughts to “paper.” Back in 2014 when giving my breastfeeding support group friends a long-winded update on my son’s food allergies and our journey together with it, I made fun of how wordy I can be. I said that, I should start a blog instead of pestering them with my rants. So that was exactly what I did!
Then, it stuck…. it was something that I knew I had to do. While there is a lot of information out there about food allergies, much of it is very conflicting. Everyone has a different theory, suggestion, and plan of action. Often, when I first told people about my son’s allergies, they would say, “Did you eat a lot of peanuts and eggs during pregnancy?” Or, “so you are definitely going to start him on formula now right?” Or even the doctor who thought it would be funny to make the joke only two days after my son’s food reaction. “What did Mommy eat or not eat during pregnancy to cause this?” He asked my son and I held back tears before coming home and losing it to my husband. Mommy guilt is no fun! (Looking back at this, I know this doctor did not mean anything by the comment at all. At that time, I was not ready to understand that.)
Due to these questions and a lot of this mommy guilt, I spent much of December and January trying to defend myself to others as a good person who hardly ever ate eggs or peanuts during my pregnancy. Or, explaining why I chose to continue to breastfeed through these allergies. I was trying to explain myself to everyone to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom. It was exhausting in itself; let alone the fact that I was on a strict elimination diet and dealing with all the fear and anxiety that comes with food allergies. I knew I had to change my thinking about it all. I knew I needed to research more and learn as much as I could about all of this. I knew, as hard as it may be, I could not sit around and feel bad for myself and try to defend myself to others.
While I spent the first month doing this, I have learned to take this whole experience on quite differently. I could and can no longer selfishly wish away the rest of my son’s first year to be at 12 months so that we could retest again. I needed to learn to love every second with him like I had before all of this and stop living in fear. Therefore, I started to research and reach out to a lot of people. Many people had a story similar to ours; however, none exactly the same.
But, whose story is ever is?
That is the beauty of this life. Everyone has a story so uniquely different from everyone else. However, everyone’s story deserves to be heard and told. I found I was able to relate to each of the food allergy stories that I heard on some kind of level, learning something from everyone. That is why I want to share our story. If it encourages, educates, or motivates one person out there, it will be worth it. Even if that one person is me. Also, I can stop sending people novels about food allergies when they simply ask how my son is doing. =)
Last, but definitely not least, I have been and continue to be inspired by my now four year old son each and every day, even though the name of my blog has changed. You see, throughout all of our emergency room trips, endless doctor and allergist appointments, and even the worst of days, he always smiles on.
It is in his smile that I first learned of my own courage to do so too.
That is why I first chose to call our story, “Smiling Away Allergies.” However, food allergies does not and cannot define us because we have learned to embrace life throughout all the stages… as we are now learning to love it all, including our beautiful mess.