I am lucky to have two children with no allergies. Pip, my six-year-old has an intolerance to gluten but it is very mild.
When Pip was 10 months old, I gave her some dinner. It was homemade meatballs; she hadn’t had them before but loved them. I wasn’t sure how much actually made it into her mouth as part of the fun for her was squashing and playing with them in her highchair.
Bath time and bedtime routine carried on as usual and all was fine. I noticed though she had a bumpy rash on her face. Nothing serious, just what seemed like a bit of a reaction to something, maybe the soap in the bath. She wasn’t itchy and seemed happy, so I wasn’t too concerned. I put her to bed, and she slept though the night without fuss.
The next morning, I went into her room when she woke, chatting happily as usual and was shocked to see her little face swollen and eyes red and puffy. I couldn’t believe it. She was still happy as ever, no sign of discomfort or distress but she was so swollen. Our GP at the time was in the same building as our day-care and so after dropping off Frida, I took her down to the GP to see what they thought might be happening. It was clearly an allergic reaction, but I had no idea what could have been causing it.
The GP took one look at her and immediately gave her a dose of antihistamine and let me know that I should have taken her straight to hospital as this was a very severe allergic reaction (cue, mother guilt)
The swelling started to settle, and we were referred to an allergist and, in the meantime, told to avoid giving her anything she had eaten the day before until we could be certain what had caused the reaction. Thankfully we got into the allergist the following day. The only thing I could think had caused a reaction was egg as she hadn’t had it before, and it was in the meatballs. All skin prick tests came back fine though so it was a bit of a mystery. As it was such a severe reaction, the allergist said we should still avoid egg completely until she was over 12 months, then we should introduce it slowly and carefully under a GP care plan.
So, no egg. This wasn’t too hard for a baby thank goodness. We let day-care know and she had an anaphylaxis action plan. Something we learnt through this process, was often the initial reaction is milder and it can be the next time that may be more serious or fatal. Needless to say, I was pretty terrified. The thought that a small amount of egg may cause anaphylaxis in my baby was, to put it mildly, stressful.
For Pip’s first birthday, we arranged for egg free cupcakes. She didn’t notice the difference, as you can see from the photo, she quite enjoyed her cupcake.
I was nervous about introducing egg. We started slowly, first giving her a little bit cooked in a cake. Full disclosure, even though I was reassured it would likely be fine, I parked in the hospital carpark while she ate this first bit. Gradually we introduced more and more until I felt satisfied that there would be no reaction.