It was May 2006 when we found out that Harper was allergic to peanuts, which was ironic, as "peanut" was one of her main nicknames.
When I taught first grade I had a student one year who was allergic to peanuts, which was the only reason I knew anything at all about peanut allergies before Harper was diagnosed. If I hadn't had that awareness our story might have turned out differently and I am so thankful for everything that family taught me.
The week of Mother's Day I had been to the pediatrician with Harper for her 18-month well-check. At that very appointment I had asked her about giving Harper peanut butter. AT the time she wouldn't eat much meat and I was nervous about getting enough protein into her, as well as just having another option for lunch time. We had no history of food allergies in our family and the doctor said we could probably go ahead and try it, despite the general recommendation that peanuts not be given until at least two years of age. THANK GOD I did not put a bite of peanut butter sandwich into Harper's mouth.
Here's what happened:
We were in the kitchen and (seriously, my stomach aches writing about this) Harper pulled the plastic jar of peanuts from a pantry shelf. She was shaking it kind of like a rattle and I was happy to let her play with the harmless plastic jar while I finished unloading the dishwasher.
A few moments later she managed to get the lid unscrewed and dumped the entire contents of the jar into her lap. My initial concern was that she would try to eat one of the peanuts and choke. I never took my eyes off of her so I know she didn't eat any peanuts, but she did have her hands in the big dusty pile. I scooped her up out of the mess and kind of dusted her off before depositing her in the pack'n'play while I swept up and vacuumed in the kitchen.
I retrieved Harper from baby prison and we sat down at her little table in the kitchen with some crayons. After a few minutes I looked up and noticed she was scratching her arm. Then I saw that she had a few blotchy hives on her arms and as I looked I could actually watch them spreading. I immediately thought of the peanuts and shakily dialed the number for our pediatrician's office.
I breathlessly explained what was happening and when I told her I didn't have any children's Benadryl, and that we were less than a mile from the office, she said to bring her right in. By the time we got to the office one of her eyes was starting to swell shut. They rushed us right back and immediately gave her a dose of Benadryl. Within about twenty minutes it started to work.
Fortunately Harper did not have any breathing difficulty with that first reaction. We were lucky. Lots of families discover their children's allergies when they experience anaphylactic shock after a taste of peanuts or peanut butter. I know one family who found out their daughter was allergic after she reacted to a plain M&M.
We left our pediatrician's office that day with instructions for continuing to administer the Benadryl and I think some steroids to help with the hives. We also had a prescription for epi-pens. And I made an appointment with a pediatric allergist as soon as possible. Our first round of testing showed that Harper was definitely allergic to peanuts. This marked the beginning of a very long journey for us.
This is a topic I feel I could write about forever. I got some great questions last week that I plan to address over the next several days, and keep them coming!
In other news, here's one for the What The Heck file... when I got Michael out of his crib after his nap this afternoon, look what was on the side of his head:
I'm calling bug bites or really unfortunate repeated encounter with crib bars, but if I believed such things I would totally put my money on the fact that aliens have marked my kid.