Poppy's Pediatric Peanut Protocol

Poppy was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when she was nine months old. We’d started playing with solid food around the six month mark, and she’d shown some interest, but we also noticed an increase in how angry she could be (baby gal has never been shy about voicing her rage,) her sometimes rash-y skin became constantly inflamed, and she kept spitting up in earnest (we’d hoped that once she wasn’t exclusively breastfed, maybe she would become less leaky).

On one particularly rough morning, Poppy started crying after breakfast and it wasn’t a normal cry. It was a panicked, anxious cry. There wasn’t anything in our environment to produce this type of cry; Grady was puttering around getting ready for kindergarten, Shawn was at work, the dog was busy eating the breakfast remnants under the highchair, and I was drinking coffee. But Poppy was wailing. She contorted her body and clawed at her sleeper. I thought maybe a bug (what bug? It was winter!) had crawled into her pyjamas so I stripped her down to her diaper. As I peeled the sleeper from her wildly twisting torso, I saw an angry red rash spread over her entire body. I quickly snapped pictures with my iPhone (how did people parent before iPhones? Serious question.) and made an appointment with her doctor as soon as they opened.

Poppy’s doctor looked at the rash photos on my phone and called in an urgent referral to an allergist on the spot. We were seen within days, Poppy’s peanut allergy was confirmed, and we were thrust unwillingly into the world of Epi-Pens and IgE blood tests.

When Poppy was first diagnosed, her allergist told us that because she was so young there was an approximately 20% chance she could grow out of her peanut allergy. As the years passed and her skin prick test reactions got smaller and smaller, he upped his estimation to 50%. Last April, her skin didn’t react to peanut protein. We were ready for an Oral Food Challenge.

Today was the big day. The day Poppy would eat peanut butter, on purpose, after almost two and a half years of us creating a peanut-free bubble for her. To say that I was anxious is an understatement. I couldn’t even acknowledge the day, or talk about it with anyone, until yesterday. Last night I slept in drips and drabs, spending the majority of my hours just watching Poppy breathe. I was in excellent shape to face a challenging day this morning is what I’m saying.

The challenge itself was just that: a challenge. Poppy was confused and frustrated that I was trying to get her to eat peanut butter after our years of allergy training. Grady was with us because he’s on summer break, and I underestimated a: how freaked out he would be and b: how pissed off Poppy would be that I made her brother anxious. I am still processing the event (I literally zoned out when we gave her the first taste of peanut butter. I have zero recollection of it) but the result was better than we dared to hope. Poppy ate a significant amount of peanut butter and suffered no reaction. No rash, no hives, no runny nose, no vomit, no tingling, no wheezing, no rage, nothing, nada, zip, zero. It still doesn’t feel real.

So now Poppy starts a pediatric peanut protocol to build and maintain her immunity against peanuts. We’re starting slow and steady. We’ll feed her tiny amounts of peanut butter regularly and cross all of our fingers and all of our toes that she stays symptom-free.

We’re not out of the allergy woods yet (she’s still allergic to eggs) but it is a huge relief to cross peanuts off my worry list. Being responsible for a tiny allergic person is overwhelmingly stressful in a way I struggle to articulate. It was terrible. Today it feels less terrible.

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Enjoy These Moments

It is 10pm on a school night and both of my kids are currently awake and crying because they’re “not tired” and “it’s still light outside” and I would like to bottle this feeling up so whenever someone tells me to “enjoy these moments, they go by so quickly” instead of awkwardly acquiescing, I can use it to instantly summon my rage and shut that shit down.

I love my kids with every fibre of my being but I need them to stop making noises at me and go to sleep. Hashtag: too blessed to be stressed *cry face emoji* (help)

 

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Three

Three is not my favourite kid age. When Grady was three, I’d lament that anyone who had complained about the “terrible twos” had obviously never met a three-year-old. Poppy is a week into three and she’s already outdoing her brother in the big emotions and loud opinions department. 

Three does have its perks, though. Poppy’s gone through a bit of a vocabulary boom, and the stories she tells are often hilarious. Today I picked her up from daycare and when she asked where Shawn was, I told him he got stuck in a meeting. Her eyes got wide and her voice got loud as she told me we better go save him. It took me a beat before I realized she thought he was physically stuck. 

Three is a test of my patience and my endurance, but it’s also the shortest season between toddler and big kid. I’m trying my best to savour it and focus on the funny bits so I don’t grind my teeth into dust. 

Seven

Dear Grady, 

Today you are seven. 

I’m not quite sure how that happened. One minute I was rocking you to sleep in your nursery and the next minute I was listening to you read Charlotte’s Web to Poppy.  

You love to draw. You spend hours drawing every day. You fill page after page with superheroes and knights and Ninja Turtles. One day I was admiring your artwork and I remarked that maybe you would be an artist when you grew up. “I’m already an artist,” you corrected me.  

You have a sweet, gentle heart. You care deeply about fairness and being kind. I’m always cringing as you pick up other people’s garbage in the park (“it’s my job to keep the earth tidy!”) and wishing you cared as deeply about the state of your bedroom floor as you do the playground.  

Your favourite band is still the Foo Fighters but you’ve branched out to other music too. When “No Roots” by Alice Merton comes on the radio when we’re driving you tell me to turn it up, “it’s our jam!” You’re king of the car dance, and somehow we always end up in a pile of giggles. Your enthusiasm and your belly laugh are infectious. Nothing makes me happier than hearing your laugh, Grady. Nothing in this world.  

You’re an amazing big brother to Poppy. You look out for her and worry about her and take pride in teaching her new things. I know as long as you two have each other, you’re going to be okay.  

Happy birthday, Grady. I love you bunches.  

 

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