Updated: Apr 14
It started with incessant crying and a diaper rash that just wouldn’t go away.
A mother finds peace knowing her child is calm and settled. But my baby just wouldn’t settle. He would turn from side to side, rub his face and yell. The crying didn’t stop. I was tired, frustrated and overwhelmed. Why were other young moms enjoying their babies while I was praying for some relief from this miserable boy. And I felt bad. What was I depriving him of that he couldn’t find his place?
This went on for weeks and weeks until days and nights merged together. My confidence as a mom started to flounder. This was my second child and I couldn’t seem to pinpoint what the issue was.
Then he started to cough. The coughs were deep and sometimes turned into spasms until he couldn't breath. Finally we went to the emergency room to assist with the breathing. They told me he had asthma. Looking back now I can see I didn't have the right pediatrician to guide me. At that point it seemed like one big confusing mess.
One day I had a checkup with the doctor for the baby and came five minutes late. Getting on time to an appointment with a baby is challenging. I showed up holding my baby with eczema all over his skin. He was covered in red blotches, bleeding and some parts of his scalp had thick layer of hard skin. The secretary looked at me and said "Sorry you are late- we can't accommodate you today." I held my baby, almost burst into tears and left the office.
Anytime I asked the doctor if I can get my son tested for allergies, he said you can try but it's not accurate when they are under one years old. I begged to be referred to an allergist to assist with the asthma but the doctor said he was capable enough to prescribe the puffers and we didn't need an allergist. I was strong willed and didn't take no for an answer.
The turning point was when one day I gave Meir formula instead of nursing him. Immediately his lips began to swell and he was thrashing about. I had never seen an allergic reaction before and wasn't sure what was happening. Fortunately we were at my in laws so we weren't alone. We called 911 and hatzolah who gave him the epipen and we headed to the hospital. I was a mess and terrified but at least there was some clarity at the end of this tunnel.
He settled down at the hospital and instantly fell asleep. The doctor at the emergency room explained he had an anyphylactic attack and we would need to go to an allergist to get tested for other allergies and promptly handed us a prescription for an epipen and told us never to leave our home without it.
Today allergies are quite common. But it was my first time dealing with it as a mom and it was quite the journey.
For the first few years there were many bumbs on the road. I had to get over giving cortisone creams to keep the eczema at bay so my son could function. Many people told me it was dangerous and would make his skin thin. But the difference in his ability to function was night and day when we used the cream. Thank G-d after a few years the eczema disappeared. What a a blessing to have healthy skin.
We also had many life threatening allergic reactions where we had to give the epipen. Like the time my three year old Mendel was fighting with meir and bit him. Meir had an instant anaphylactic reaction and we had no choice but to administer the epipen and take meir in an ambulance on Shabbat to the hospital. The sweet nurse and I sat together and brainstormed. What had caused the attack? Bingo! My older son Mendel had just drank milk before he had bitten Meir. Did you ever know biting your sibling can be dangerous?
Meir is allerigc to dairy, nuts, soy and fish. He has outgrown his allergy to eggs. We started to call meir the chicken monster as he ate so much chicken. We accepted the challenges food allergies bring and I was determined to make it smooth. We are constantly aware and looking over our shoulder but it's part of life now.
Most of all we are blessed that Meir has the personality to carry it with grace. He makes really funny jokes about his allergies and asthma that sometimes gives me panic attacks. When our third son was born and Meir heard that he wasn't allergic to anything he said "Baruch Hashem I am so happy for him!" His complete and selfless joy for his brother made my heart swell with pride.