Born This Way?

Have you ever done one of those exercises where you have to come up with adjectives to describe yourself? Within that, if you had to choose just 10, what would they be? What if you had to choose 5?

I always find things like that entertaining. For me, "allergic" is in the top ten sometimes - depending on where I am in my life. It certainly played a major role in my childhood. When I was a kid, no one we knew had anaphylaxis like I did. People we knew didn't understand it. They thought we were joking. Or lying. Or overprotective. Or picky. My parents had friends who literally said "send Gillian to our house... we'll teach her not to be allergic to nuts and fish" as if it were a parenting flaw. Shameful. 

As a parent of three little ones, I find the ever changing allergy recommendations frustrating and yet incredibly daunting at the same time. I wouldn't wish my allergies on an enemy - the confusion alone is horrible. I read articles like this one from The New York Times suggesting that an early introduction to fish may help protect against allergies and I think No.Way. I cannot find a way to agree with a study that would suggest that if my parents had given me fish before I turned 1 that I wouldn't be allergic to it (or to one of my other food allergies) today. Omega-3 fatty acids are supposed to be awesome and all, but are they the magic bullet? The one and only? I think not. It's maddening that there are no clear answers when it comes to allergy. If my mom gave me walnuts before I turned two, would I be allergic today? Who's to say. My gut says yes. I think allergies are born, not made. I cringe every time I hear a mom say something like "maybe if I had done X, Y or Z, my child wouldn't have allergies?" 

As I carefully try to walk my own tightrope when it comes to my children, I just want to throw my hands up. If they end up with allergies, is it my fault? Or is it just biology? If my infant ends up with a dairy allergy, is it because of the pounds and pounds of cheese that I consumed while pregnant with her? If my son ends up with a peanut allergy, is it because he still hasn't tried peanuts and he's almost 3?  At some point I just have to draw the line. I am no scientist. And as someone who was told repeatedly as a child that I might as well just live in a bubble, I feel like I'm right there in the trenches with the allergy community. And in my humble opinion, I think these allergies – these defining traits of mine – are not the fault of anyone in particular or any poor diet-related parenting decision. I think I was just born this way.