Before having kids, I used to say to my husband that if our children had food allergies like mine, I'd be that much more prepared to deal with it, having been through it myself. But in all honesty, I'm not so sure how confident I really am about it all. I recently read Feeding Eden by Susan Weissman and it brought all of the issues of allergies and parenting to light. I absolutely loved this book. Hats off to Susan Weissman. Seriously. The book is not only beautifully written, it also tells a compelling story of hope and and the tremendous efforts, emotions and rollercoasters that parents endure when dealing with children and their allergies (and the issues that affect their non-allergic children as well).
The newest limb on my family tree is just three weeks old as I write this. Because of my own anaphylaxis, my kids are statistically more susceptible to food allergies too. It's my third time around the newborn block and while I feel incredibly lucky that my other two kids have no food allergies (that I have discovered as of yet), I worry about this little gal.
Having allergies is a huge part of who I am. As a kid, it made me feel vulnerable and afraid at times, and it made me stick out like a sore thumb sometimes. As an adult, though, I feel stronger and capable of taking care of myself. I know how to read labels carefully and ask questions in great detail. I know how to use my epi-pen in an emergency and that makes me feel empowered and in control of my own health. I've given decades of thought to how having life-threatening allergies makes me feel. But frankly, reading Feeding Eden enabled me to see a perspective that I hadn't given nearly enough consideration to before: what it's like to be the parent of a child who could die just by eating the wrong thing. I have a whole new view and respect for those who care for and try their best to protect food-allergic people. Kudos to you. And deep thanks to Susan Weissman for having the courage to tell others about her family's struggles and triumphs.