Wednesday, July 16, 2014

24 Lessons From A Multiple Food Allergy Family

Reed's Allergies: dairy, goat dairy, eggs, all fish, all nuts, gluten, and mustard
Izzy's Allergies: cashews
FYI: 1-4 are the reason I'm writing a book
1: if something is gluten free it will definitely have eggs
2: if something is vegan it will have gluten
3: if something is vegan AND gluten free it will have nuts
4: if something is free of "normal" allergens it will most likely have mustard
5: people will say things like "because of people like you..."
6: {insert rude comment about how your child's food allergies is ruining someone elses life}
7: you will not be invited places
8: you will be invited and then told "but we're having boiled eggs,  peanut butter icecream, and fried fish"
9: you will be told you're being over protective by not having eggs and milk in your house
10: you will be "weird"
11: you will have nightmares
12: you will find out who your real friends are
13: you will be unable to find a loaf of store bought bread that doesn't taste like soap or cost you under $10
14: buying "safe" icecream will break the bank
15: doing your taxes takes as much time as a person who owns their own small business
16: life saving medicine is stupid expensive
17: you will be turned away from some activities when a person says "we're not changing anything just for one family"
18: you will learn that you just have to do whats right for your family no matter what anybody else says to try to make you feel bad
19: most days will feel like "you against the world"
20: you will be thankful for everyday that your child lives because of all the close calls
21: old people will not even understand what you're talking about when you say "anaphylactic shock" from food
22: feeding your kid a new food will be terrifying
23: every year that you go back for testing you will hope the numbers have gone down and when they have gone up instead you'll say "maybe next year"
24: you will instantly fall in love with anybody who makes an extra effort to keep your kid safe
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Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Steps To (anaphylactic free) Playground Fun

Since we are quickly approaching (have reached?) park season, I wish to enlighten all of you people who eat normal food.

I will likely offend at least 2 people who will take this personally and be angry about how I want my child to have a safe place to play too. 
Not sorry.
You like your kids enough to want to keep them alive don't you?
Guess what, me too. Crazy, I know. How dare I.

Steps to having a safe, somewhat stress free (ok thats a lie) day at the park:
1. pack a safe lunch (duh)
if you can't do step 1 you should probably just drop your kids off at the nearest child services office right now

2. check med bag for epi pens/benedryl/inhalers
you already knew they were there but you have to check and probably re-check because you cannot leave the house with out them. absolutely. can. not.
especially when dealing with the possibility of 20 other people who use puppy chow as confetti

3. drive to park

4. pull into parking lot, see 5 kids running around, and immediately regret this decision
its too late though. you are there. you promised the 4 minions and you are now weighing the consequences of turning around and just leaving

5. release the cracken!
they will fall out of the van. its a given. but you're not worried about them getting hurt. nope, there are other evils afoot. 

6. do a quick scan for tell tale signs: wrappers, white or brown smears on the equipment, (ice cream people, not poop) other kids eating on the run

7. now you have to do the thorough walk through. you have to go up on the slide, check under each set of stairs, look under the swings, check all handrails, check the ground, check all picnic tables and benches. 
think i'm being crazy? here are examples of things i've had to clean up before my kids could play:
-pick up a peanut butter sandwich
-wash icecream off the step
-wipe the cream from a doughnut off the grass
-pick up pistachios
-pick up other peoples nasty *ss garbage that has cheeseburger remnants and milk shake all over it

c'mon humans. stop being nasty. even if my kid couldn't die from touching this garbage its still gross that you can't even throw it away.

8. get up the courage to go to the mom who is feeding her child snickers bars at 9am and ask her if she could please have her kid at least sit still while they're eating it so i don't have to leave
ask the kids eating puppy chow to stop throwing it around the play ground (while their mom sits there staring at them and not doing anything)
ask the other kid to stop shaking their sippy cup of milk all over the place

99% of them will start to stare off into space and get a glassy eyed look as i try to explain to them how touching/ingesting this long list of food can send my kid into anaphylactic shock. 

9. leave

10. finally take a deep breath

While the rest of you can just frolic and play without a care in the world,
i will be standing guard with epi pens in my pocket and i will automatically view your peanut butter icecream covered kid as a major threat

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inside the Mind Of An Allergy Mom

Normal to us is nowhere near what normal is to every one else.
2 days ago I was driving through west Nashville, all happy go lucky, when I heard Reed cough.
My brain said: asthmapufferohcrapilefttheemergencymedbagathome!
no epipens
no Benadryl
no inhaler
Then the panic set in.
I was 30 minutes from home.
I still hadn't gone to the store I needed to go to.
I decided to skip it and try again another day.
I pulled into Ashland City Walmart because I NEEDED diapers. It was a dire situation. The diapers AND the epi-penless state of our little family at the moment.
I made Reed sit in the buggy with Hank because my nerves couldn't handle the thought of him wandering off for just a second and touching something dangerous.
Most of you can walk through a grocery store without a care in the world.
Not us.
When you have forgotten the life saving medicine that you carry with you everywhere, (and I mean everywhere) every container of yogurt, every bag of trailmix, every prepackaged snack is practically jumping out and exploding in your child's face.
Every human in the vicinity is covered in peanut dust and scrambled egg remnants.
That's just how our minds work.
So while you all are prancing gleefully through the grocery store without a care in the world, remember that somewhere is a mother with a watchful eye who views you and your snack-eating child as a major threat.
Obviously we made it home without we do on the days we have our medicine. But it was slightly terrifying. I felt I had failed as a mother.
That if something were to happen somehow that I was the one who had hurt or killed my child because I couldn't remember the very thing I have had with me everywhere I go for years.
I don't remember what it is like to go into a grocery store without fear in the back of my mind.
If its fall, the fear gets pushed to the front of my mind because stores seem to think its cool to have giant bins of nuts out in the middle of the store.
I wouldn't know what to do with myself if someday I could go into a friends house and not see landmines in every corner of their kitchen or attached to their children.
Family parties might cause stress for some people because...well...its family. Family parties for us cause stress because food.
Food has to be everywhere.
I hate food.
Food and I have never had a great relationship but it has only been worsened by the deadliness that comes with it now.
Today I was told by the kids' new allergist that Reed is ready to start food challenges.
This means that the very things that have sent him into anaphylaxis, the things that have caused so many tears and stress, are now going to be baked to a temperature high enough to break down the proteins and then I have to feed them to him.
I don't know if my poor heart can handle it.
I don't know that I can even begin to explain how terrified I am.
I have 1 week to mentally prepare myself to walk into that office with my little man.
Can someone please come hold my hand?
It could go extremely well and he could be on the way to becoming desensitized to normal food that nobody else thinks twice about eating.
It could also end badly.
It could end in a bad reaction that sends him across the street to the emergency room.
So while probably none of this makes sense to you, can you just please pretend it does so I feel like I'm being understood?
K. Thanks.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kids Say Things At The Darndest Times

These are real things said in real situations by my very real children.

In the van while I'm driving:
-i need a drink right now!
-can you tie my shoe? (let me get out my other 3 arms)
-can you get my underwear out of my butt? (no. get your own underwear out of your butt)
-can you go back? i saw a turkey (why yes, of course dear. i'll turn around right now)
-I want a high five
-can you reach my finger? (i'm inspector gadget)
-help me get my shirt off!(because thats important right now)

While I'm in the bathroom:
-can you get me a drink? (yes, let me just dunk that cup you're holding in the toilet while i pee)
-i need more dinner (yes...they're carrying a plate with them)
-I need to poop...NOW!
-where are my shoes/book/cup/that toy i lost last year...etc
-i brought you a spider
-I need to see your teeth

While I'm Sleeping:

While Nursing Asher
-carry me
-you need to wash the floor

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some Thoughts About Birth

I love natural childbirth
that said, it sucks
I remember asking my mom "why do we do this?" and her saying "well honey, i don't know" and then we both laughed a little before another contraction punched me in the gut and slashed through my back
Ash is going to be 1 month old this Saturday
I've spent alot of time thinking about birth and all that goes into it and just how this little guy got here
I remember (with a slight cringe) the raw power that a woman's body has
It is a hidden strength that even she doesn't know about until the time comes to tap into it
I can honestly say that prior to each birth I had planned on being one of those women who silently and calmly brings a baby into the world
It was never meant to be
I am loud and somewhat animalistic
My outlet for the pain is not meditating or hypnosis or calmly listening to flute solos while my body rocks and sways
My body will still do what it needs to do
and i will let it
I will not fight
but I will also yell and scream and punch the wall or the bed or Chris' chest
I will cry and look into his eyes for support
this time i thought that maybe if i had some herbs and oils to help me i would be more calm
by the time I got into the thick of the emotion and pain i completely forgot that my "birthing bag" even existed
it sat there in the corner all by itself and never was touched
all i needed were 6 hands on me and some hot water
I was left completely alone for one solitary contraction
during the rise in intensity i yelled "SOMEONE HELP ME!"
and within seconds my 6 hands were back where they were needed
birth was not meant to be accomplished alone
at least not for this mama
this mama needs a husbands hands to hold/break, a midwifes hands to massage, and a mothers hands filled with hot compresses
I look at this tiny baby who is quickly becoming a fat cheeked little man and I will wonder HOW in the world did that fit through *that*
THAT is the true miracle of birth
I might have said inappropriate things, screamed "I CAN'T DO THIS!" and tearfully confessed that I felt like a wuss, but I think about each of my 4 labors with a twisted sort of love for those hours of torture
but the few hours of labor, althought important, are just the beginning of parenting...
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Asher Memphis and How He Got Here

10am - contractions started. they weren't bad but i knew they were different than all the fakies i'd been having for weeks. 4min apart
2pm - contractions switched gears and got kind of terrible
4pm - everything stops. i cry.
we went to my parents for a 4th of July cookout
i was grumpy because i thought i was in labor but then figured, once again, my body had changed its mind
6pm - everything starts again. slowly. but it started
7pm - i told Chris i needed to go home. i consider taking castor oil to help things along but chicken out and only take 2 tsp. i'm a wuss.
9pm - chris puts the kids to bed because i can't handle noise or tiny humans climbing on me. i am not convinced i'm in labor
930pm - chris rolls over in bed and i almost punch him because i'm mid contraction and the bed moving hurt like hell. i still don't think i'm in labor
chris very nicely offers to go sleep on the kids bed so he doesn't make me mad
i accept
i still don't think i'm in labor
1030pm - i get in the shower because i can't get comfortable
of course...NOT in labor right?
1130pm - i have tried every position but the contractions are still coming 2-3 minutes apart and some back to back. i'm concentrating really hard on each one. i start bleeding.
 i STILL don't think i'm in labor.
whats wrong with me? you'd think i would know by now what this is like.
1230pm - i'm groaning through each contraction and can't walk or talk through them anymore. they're coming back to back or 1-2 minutes apart
i call my midwife
i wake chris up
he calls mom
i'm still worried that we're going to get there and i'll just be sent home because i'm not really in labor
i cry a little on the way to the hospital
why are all the roads suddenly SO effing bumpy?! why why why?!
1am - checked in.
what?! i'm having a baby for real you say?
i get a room...WITH A TUB!
i sit in the tub for a while
my contractions slow down to about 5 minutes apart
they will stay this way until the very end
some are even farther apart
between 2am and 5am i try all kinds of things:
tub, birthing stool, standing, hanging over the back of the bed, leaning on chris, sitting on the toilet
i actually SLEPT on the toilet
it was weird
my sweet midwife set pillows up between the wall and my head so i could fall asleep between my very far apart contractions
when will they ever get closer?
i can't possibly have a baby if they're still so far apart
4am - i'm in transition
5am - still in transition
550am- STILL in transition
there is lots of yelling, groaning, more yelling, squeezing of tophers hand, my mom putting hot rags on my belly, my midwife pushing on my tailbone to relieve at least a little pressure of this child's head squeezing through a very small space for hours
everybody was helping me
i cried and said i couldn't do it anymore
then i tried a push and felt like i was going to throw up it hurt so bad
my midwife gave me the green light to try pushing
for the past 3 births, when i made it to pushing, it was a relief. it actually felt good.
NOT this time
this time it was miserable
pushing hurt MORE than transition
610am - first push
Photo is loading
this might be my favorite picture ever. hanging onto Chris for dear life and taking a breath before the next push.
618am- water breaks

621am - out comes sweet little Ash (i will not terrify you with those pictures folks)
daddy cuts the cord
wait. so i WAS in labor? apparently.
i am always shocked and surprised when i survive birthing a child
i mean seriously guys, it kind of hurts
i remember looking up at Chris and saying "i did it! i did it! its over!" several times
Photo is loading
this is my midwife, lisa.
she rocks
also she wears cowboy boots with her scrubs
to read the first 3 birth stories go here
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

the realistic hospital packing list

usually i wait until about 36 weeks to pack a bag for "go time"
izzy was born at 37, with no help from anyone, so i just like to be prepared
this time, with everything going on in there and down there i'm starting to get ready a few weeks early
i'll probably still be sitting in my perfectly cleaned and organized house ontop of a packed bag until 42 weeks
but hey, at least i'll be ready
i have been on both ends of the "prepared" spectrum
with izzy, i was absurdly overly prepared. typical first parent syndrome.
we had clothes, birthing ball, a large bag of crap just for the baby, tons of books, food etc.
most of that came home with us completely untouched
with hank i was not ready at all. he came the latest out of the 3 too so i don't understand why i wasn't ready. i think i was just convinced, by 39 weeks, that he was never coming out and had given up. i remember taking clothes out of the bag i had packed to wear because i was lazy and tired and had given up
but i will say this friends: after giving birth to hank, hanging out in the hospital for 3 days, and finally being let go, i had nothing to wear home but one of those half robes that barely covers your butt. yes, its true. i forgot to pack the "going home clothes" and was NOT about to put back on the things i was wearing when i went into labor.
so that was a tiny bit embarassing
onto the list
there are so many suggestions of things to bring to the hospital for baby time
i like to go minimal (as we all saw in the paragraph above) but still be prepared
also, i have parents and siblings coming back and forth after the birth who can always grab something if we need it so i don't really have to panic about forgetting the carseat. yep, we forgot the carseat too when i went into labor with hank. we're awesome like that.
 During Labor:
i list this first because it is MOST important during labor. your lips will feel like you've been making out with a cotton ball. also i screamgrowled at chris to find my chapstick ASAP when i was in transition with hank. be sure to fill his pockets with sticks of the stuff so he's not tearing apart your purse while you're screaming
ginger hard candy
you will be told that you aren't allowed to drink water
you will also be tempted to start taking gulps of tub/shower water while your midwife is not looking
its a thirsty time
ice chips are cool and everything but the ginger will help calm you down too
whole foods has a delicious one
hair ties, headbands, bobby pins
put your hair up in early labor
once the real stuff starts you wont want to be touched
you will also be EXTREMELY annoyed with any stray hairs touching your face, ears, head
you will wish you shaved your hair off
its better to just get it out of the way early on
camera, phone, and all the chargers
sure, you might end up with some scary pictures but you will also end up with some awesome ones. my mom was there helping me and was able to get pictures of all of us immediately post birth. some of those pictures i don't ever want to see again. think of the goriest scene in the patriot. yeah. see if that gets out of your head any time soon.
it is also possible that your husband will wish to snap quick pictures of you with sweat dripping down your face, veins popping out of your neck, and crazy eyes. don't deny him this moment.
if he says you're beautiful, believe him
personally i think most women are gorgeous immediately after pushing out a kid
sleep bra
notice i didn't say anything about packing "cute comfortable clothes to labor in"
thats because this is useless
(unless you're having an epi, then wear all the cute stuff you want)
i actually did it with 2 out of 3 and never used them
stick with the hospital gown
you will most likely tear it off in a fit of hormonal rage once sh*t gets real
they will take it away in a hazmat bag and you don't ever have to see it again
i wore a sleep bra because i wanted my ladies covered. honestly i don't know why it just made me feel better. everything else was showing but hey, they were covered.
and i threw it away as soon as i got to take my first shower
it had white slime and blood on it from snuggling with the baby right when it came out
Post Birth and Recovery
sounds weird
but once the baby is out will you start to shiver and shake like you're naked in the north pole
some hormonal thing happens
i don't get it
but the stupid little hospital sheet wont help
i did get lucky last time and some sweet nurse brought me a pile of blankets straight from the warmer
but i plan on being prepared with my own big blanket this time just in case that doesn't happen again
its miserable
i will be going to goodwill for half price day in a couple weeks and picking up some cheap blankets that i wont mind throwing away if they get something nasty on them...which they most likely will
make up
sure, your sweet man will snap pictures of you while you're still reaching down to grab your slimy white and purple baby. he will say you look beautiful.
but later when you finally realize you're exhausted and your face gets the memo you'll wish you had a little mascara before the guests start coming in
you thought your breath was bad when you woke up after a crazy night of eating cheezits?
think again.
it will be terrible
you will thank me for this one
you wont be allowed to stand up to brush your teeth for at least a few hours, possibly longer if things went "zombie movie" on you
the hospital gives you those super awesome old lady socks (to go with your old lady depends) but they are scratchy and don't breathe one little bit
i always bring a few pairs of my own
at this point you will want to feel slightly human again
you will also not be wearing prepregnancy clothes
nice try friends
bring yoga pants, pajama pants, sweatpants, tank tops that are easy to nurse in, A BRA (because i forgot mine), a hoodie.
sure, you will get a meal brought straight from the kitchen even if its 2am
you will eat said meal in about 30 seconds while your husband snores on the bed beside you
you will think it was a dream because you will still be SO FREAKING HUNGRY
so bring healthy things to get back some of those calories you just burned
you can have friends and family bring you stuff later but i think they might get mad if you call them at this ungodly hour just to bring you a bag of raisins and sunflower seeds or some granola bars.
its cute how most packing lists i've seen online say "bring snacks for your husband"
no, you will not allow him to eat while you're in labor. its just not going to happen. unless you have an epidural and you don't need his hand for crushing during each contraction
and no, he's not going to want to eat after you give birth
he will pass out the second BEFORE you get to the recovery room
yes i said before. the nurses actually tucked chris in and put a pillow under his head because he fell asleep so fast after hank was born
hospital pillows are terrible
you will probably use some for under your feet or something but bring your own for your head
unless you like sleeping on something that very closely resembles a folded tarp
going home clothes
don't try to get fancy
unless this is your first baby and you'll be taking the "first step into the house for the new baby" pictures. but like i said before, don't forget this important thing.
magazines/amish books
ok fine you can substitute any other light reading you wish if you aren't into beverly lewis
honestly you probably wont get a ton of reading done because you will be holding your new baby, napping, or have friends visiting you in your room but its a nice thought right?
For the Sweet Babe
going home clothes
baby mittens
the baby is obviously easy
the hospital will most likely provide you with a very small stash of newborn diapers, wipes, stuff for the beef jerky in their belly button, stuff for a circumcision if applicable, and a blanket.
they will also be checking the baby in all sorts of places while you're staying there and its just easy to keep the baby in the little tshirt they give it
the mittens are important though because after 2.5 seconds after making its grand entrance into the world, the child will start using its razor claws to scratch up its beautiful little smushed swollen face and you will get sad
for the husband/birth coach/sexy baby daddy you will not be allowed to jump for 6 weeks
(just had to remind you of that. your welcome)
this is tophers most important item on the list
he will NOT set foot on the hospital floor without his slippers
after seeing what comes out of a woman during/after labor he is terrified
he wont even walk on the floor with just his socks
nearly as important to chris as his slippers but coming in at a close 2nd
apparently staring at the new baby for 3 days isn't entertainment enough
who knew
he'll want it
possibly 2 because he'll be uncomfortable in the chairbed they give him
he will also wish for a shower after being sprayed in the face with what he calls "placenta juice" when your little purple lizard child comes flying out and he will want his own soap, shampoo, and beard oil
because every husband wants to look good for the student nurses who will be coming in to check on you
i mean...for you, his beautiful radiant wife who just spent 9 months growing his sweet baby
there are some unconventional things i will be bringing as well that most people wouldn't have on their own list but i will share with you anyway
-a little box of my essential oils
-baby powder (because i will only wash my hair once in the hospital)
-a jar of coconut oil (because this is pretty much my only "toiletry" item
-my little shady looking baggies of vitamin powder
-nettle tincture
-ginger tincture
For Me:
  • chapstick
  • ginger candy
  • hair ties
  • camera/phone/chargers
  • sleep bra
  • blanket
  • makeup
  • gum
  • socks
  • clothes
  • snacks
  • pillows
  • books/magazines
For Baby
  • going home clothes
  • carseat
  • mittens
For Dad
  • slippers
  • books
  • pillow
  • toiletries
  • clothes
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