Whilst writing this blog I came across some thoughts. Before my Little Bear arrived I never realised how much we judge ourselves and others as parents. Since having Little Bear I’ve had other parents, people I know, and strangers judge my parenting style. I’ve been given many reasons for why Little Bear behaves like he does, such as ‘I’m mollycoddling him’. I’m spending too much time with him’,’I’m too soft’, ‘he’s just a fussy baby’ and so on. I know a lot of women that have gone mad when people say such things to them but I think we need to help these advice givers to understand as unless you’re the one holding the baby 24/7 then you won’t see it. As Little Bear is becoming a toddler people now start to associate his behaviour with him being a fussy or a stubborn toddler. We often have comments about how well he looks and he behaves. In some ways this is nice, but sometimes it messes with your head. It makes you start thinking, crap… Am I imagining this. Only those fellow allergy baby sufferers will understand that this is just not the case, after all allergy baby mums are the ones who through the dark and lonely nights may witness their child in pain, maybe even passing blood, painful rashes that flare up on their body and burn as well as a whole host of other symptoms.
I think we need to start listening and learning more especially as allergies are on the rise. Don’t get me wrong a child with allergies is still ‘normal’, they can also have times when they appear perfectly well, particularly when distracted, they still play up, make you laugh, make you scream, can be ratty, can be hilarious and so on. As can a ‘normal’ child be ill, have problems, play up and cause a whole manner of problems for their parents. However, having a child with allergies can place a huge amount of stress on a family and affects how the family may operate together and on a social level. People think we are the strange ones when we don’t really go out, particularly in the evenings. This is either because we are too tired or there is no way we could leave the baby with anyone – it wouldn’t be fair on either parties. Sometimes I would love to go out but when you’re exhausted after being up night after night, on a restricted diet and have no idea what the next night might hold it isn’t worth it. Is it? Admittedly it is good to get out, so we should try but being an allergy mum you never always know what is coming and you always need to save a bit in the tank…just incase. Plus, I could barely speak by the time darkness descended. I’m sure this is ringing a few bells! On a financial level I ended up taking extended leave from work and my husband taking an extra job just to get through. Don’t get me wrong, I love being at home with the kids but there is no way I could function and also Little Bear would be bloody hungry! Things you normally take for granted are also hard, meal times, going away and parties just to name a few. I still remember the first invite Little Bear got to a party, my initial thought was ‘ahhhhh’ how do I manage that? How do I stop him picking up food? How do I stop him coming in to contact with other children that may have eaten something he can’t have? If he goes and has a reaction am I going to have a week of hell?. I said no to the first invite. I wasn’t ready for it, but inside I wanted him to go and be ‘normal’. When I finally plucked up the courage to let him go to another party he had reactions, even following his own party he had reactions to something unknown.
These are only a snippet of what an allergy parent may be up against.