Tell us about your allergy story.
Rhys showed signs of baby acne within the first couple of weeks of his life. His older sister suffered from this so it wasn't a surprise. It started to get worse so we saw our GP who gave us a cream to try. At 3 months it became so bad he was admitted to hospital and given an antibiotic drip. It was there that he was diagnosed with a milk allergy and atopic eczema. During this time he started to exhibit other symptoms with sickness and reaction nappies. On reflection we now realize that his sister also had a milk allergy but her symptoms were much less severe. Her symptoms were reaction nappies and reflux. Since we were breastfeeding I immediately cut dairy from my diet. While on the antibiotics Rhys briefly improved but swiftly became worse again. On advice from the GP we cut soy and egg. Things still weren't improving and through elimination and sheer determination we started creating a long list of foods that Rhys was reacting to through my diet. Rhys has only recently started to eat properly and so we have tried very few foods directly with him. We have been working with our dietitian and dermatologist to get Rhys's eczema under control as it's the only symptom he is exhibiting now we have a substantial safe food list. He has never had clear skin but we are the closest we've ever been.
What piece of advice would you give to parents who just discovered their child has allergies?
Be prepared. Get an action plan in place for a bad reaction. Worst case scenario. Talk it over with your doctor so you know exactly how to deal with it and give your child the best chance for a swift recovery.
What keeps you motivated in this journey?
As a parent you can feel helpless when it comes to allergies that breastfeeding is one of the few ways I can help Rhys. Whether it's for comfort or antibodies or any of the other benefits. I've suffered from some serious aversion from feeding which I never experienced with my daughter. I've also had lots of family/friends/strangers tell me I should just stop as I'm restricting my own diet too much. The way I see it, i will have a better understanding to Rhys's diet requirements if i experience it myself. My main motivation is the determination to prove to myself and others that what I'm doing is what's right for my son.
What do you wish others understood about food allergies?
The benefits that breastfeeding still provides even if an allergen has been ingested by the mother and that not just peanut allergies can be life threatening. Anything can be.