Immediately following my blog post, Destined for Food to be the Focal Point, I was contacted by a friend on Facebook, who I had been connected to by a mutual friend. She expressed an uneasy concern about how my description of Austin’s symptoms and issues matched that of her, at the time, six-month-old son. We spoke in detail over the phone and through text messaging, and we both concurred that all signs pointed toward food allergies. However, pediatricians do not advise testing until babies reach the one year old mark. She, a Rutgers University graduate with a psychology degree, and I, a Michigan State University graduate with an elementary education degree, were brainstorming and strategizing on how to alter her diet by eliminating allergens to track changes in her son’s skin condition and physical reactions (i.e. spitting up, vomiting, etc).
Similar to myself, Domenique Edwards had an older daughter who was 2 years old at the time her son was six months old. Her frame of reference was, of course, her daughter, so she was aware something was wrong, but needed help. As a mother, this can be one of the scariest moments of all time: knowing your child is suffering, but unaware of who to call, how to determine the issue, and if there is a way to resolve it. I lived it. I get it. Domenique was fearful, inexperienced, concerned, and unsettled; the same exact words I would use to describe the way I felt during the time of Austin’s unknown conditions.
Her baby was born with eczema, and she was advised by her doctor to use cortisone cream to treat his skin. Her angst to use Cortisone drove her directly to Whole Foods Market where she purchased and experimented with every single cream and treatment. When those did not resolve the eczema, she invested in Arbonne and Harmon products. You name it, she bought it, and tried it. Finally, she came upon the Mustela brand, and that, along with oatmeal baths, alleviated some of the inflammation.
Domenique frantically called me to express her concern, yet relief, at the same time. She described it as an, “Aha,” moment. At six months old, the time I published my blog, Domenique watched as her son’s dry skin and rashes turned to hives. There was clearly a much larger case than just eczema.
Immediately following our conversation, she called to schedule an appointment with a local pediatric allergist. Sure enough, her son tested positive for cow’s milk, peanuts, and tree nuts. Though she had resolved many questions, the severity of his reactions once he came in contact or consumed these allergens remained unknown, and still do.
“It was such a blessing when Erin began blogging,” Domenique explained. “The timing was perfect because as I was finding out about my son, she, unfortunately, had gone through the overwhelming episode her son had after he ingested peanuts. My first thoughts, as I cried reading about it, was always, ‘What will I do, and will I react fast enough if my son stops breathing as he tries new foods? Are there going to be more allergies, in addition, to the ones he tested positive for?”
As a mother to a child with food allergies, not only are you constantly protecting him or her from physical reactions, but you are from emotional ones, as well. It is heartbreaking, no matter how many times you do it, to take your child to a birthday party where pizza and cake is served, and you watch as all the children are bonding over the special treats, and your child is secluded for safety. Sure, we understand that there are worse things out there, but as a mother, we all strive for our children to be included and participate in any activity.
She continued, “Hearing the struggle that Erin went through was heartbreaking, but reassuring, knowing my son will be okay. To this day, it breaks my heart that he can’t have the things that my daughter can or go to a party and eat cake and pizza. Even when we go out to dinner I have to make sure I cook a meal to feed him beforehand or bring along with us. It’s a way of life for us now. I still have control of my son because he is only a year old. My fear is when he begins school and other things out of my control. I’m also praying he grows out of these, as well. There’s still hope, and I understand that God wouldn’t give me anything that I couldn’t handle! If you watch my son eat… He is definitely not deprived! And he is a happy, little guy.”
My mission in blogging and speaking about both of my personal experiences regarding food is to educate, help others who are struggling, and inspire people to overcome obstacles they encounter. I reached Domenique in my blog about Austin’s food allergies, and to me, I could not be happier. If my experiences help others, than my goal is achieved.
Thank you Domenique Edwards for sharing your story, and how my blog positively affected you, your son, and your family.
Domenique Edwards graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a psychology degree. She went on to play professional soccer, and then coached at the collegiate level at Monmouth university, while pursuing a MAT degree in special education. She is now employed as a physical educator at an all girls private high school. She has demonstrated strength and perseverance in sports, school, and now, her family, and I could not be happier to have been a part of her journey in finding a diagnosis and treatment plan for her son to regain health.