Sound asleep in my bed I woke to her crying. It was only 5am and not her usual wake up time so in my delirious state I assumed she just wanted her dummy to go back to sleep. Then I realised the crying was different. It wasn't a high pitched demanding cry, it was a quieter whimpering. It was a sad, help me cry. I picked her up and took her over to my bed and turned on the light. That's when I realised it was happening again.
She was having another choking episode. It can happen at any time, but night time is always scarier. When it happens I feel helpless. All I can do is get her upright and pat her on the back to try and loosen up her airways enough for her to breathe. Other than that we just have to ride it out. It can go on for up to half an hour. The whole time I am rocking, patting and hugging her I have to remain calm on the outside and keep reassuring her it will be ok. Its hard to do while watching your baby so helpless, red faced and struggling. The look in her eyes is so heartbreaking, its the look of complete fear. While I remain calm on the outside so I don't get her any more worked up, on the inside I am broken. There is always that fleeting moment where I contemplate is this it? Will this be the last time I hold my baby? I have to quickly push that thought aside so I can focus on helping her. After the choking is over there is always a period where she is very lethargic and goes floppy, reacts slower and tries to work out what just happened. Once she realises she is safe she normally falls asleep. I imagine she is completely exhausted after struggling to breathe. I always cuddle her for much longer than needed at this point. I need the physical closeness to emotionally heal after such a traumatic experience.
This is not the only reaction she has from her allergies, but it is by far the scariest. What happens is thick mucus starts coming up her throat and nose and she can't breathe. If she is lying down its worse and will result in complete choking. The choking itself is silent, so I'm glad she managed to get out a cry and wake me up this time. Unless you are looking directly at her and can see her face go bright red and her struggling, you wouldn't even know she was choking. Needless to say I didn't really go back to sleep after this happened.
As a mother my biggest fear is that something will happen to my child. I'm sure many other mothers can relate. Unfortunately because of her allergies I am forced to face my fear on an almost daily basis. The more I go through it the more I learn to deal with it. I know what to do during these episodes so I don't freak out as much as I did before, but it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking watching my baby choking. We have been hospitalised for it before.
She has a cows milk protein allergy and also a soy allergy. If she has any of the protein she breaks out in red spots (which she gets every feed) and they turn into a rash and then full blown eczema the more she is exposed. She also gets extremely dry skin that means cradle cap treatment every day as well as hair washing. She also has extremely sensitive skin and reacts with hives and red patches easily. She has reacted to different bath washes, moisturisers and even olive oil (which I tried for the cradle cap).
Her allergies mean we have had to be very careful with everything that comes in contact with her skin. I use sensitive washing detergent and have gone organic with some products and am in the process of trying out more organic products as it appears the allergies will be sticking around for quite a while. Most children with cmpa will grow out of it by 1, but we have been told she might not grow out of it until 2-5 years old (if she does indeed grow out of it).
Of course her food is most affected by the allergies. It meant the end of our breastfeeding journey and going through a series of different prescription formulas to find the right one. We are trying a new one this week as she is still reacting to them. Each time I am sitting in a mothers room feeding her a bottle and I feel the breastfeeding mother next to me giving me dagger eyes I want to yell at them that she has allergies and its more healthy for her to have specialised formula. I didn't want to stop breastfeeding. If she didn't have such a bad reaction to my breast milk I would still be doing it now. I loved the bond I had with her that only a breastfeeding mother knows and I still mourn the fact that I can't do it. So to sit in the room with a stranger and feel the judgement being flung in my direction just adds salt to my wounds. Not only do I have to deal with all of these symptoms and reactions, I also have to deal with judgement from people who come into my life for a few minutes and then walk out again. Giving me condescending looks or deliberately talking loudly about how they are feeding their baby because they want to make sure I know that they disapprove of my decision to give my baby formula. They assume I am taking the easy way out instead of the best option for my baby, when I am actually doing what's best for my baby by giving her body the best chance to eat without having an extremely painful reaction.
These are all the things that my daughter and I have to deal with on a daily basis. To all of those people who say that allergies are not real and that they are just made up excuses for when people don't like a certain food, I invite you to walk a day in my shoes. I wonder if your child had an allergy if you would dismiss it and be so judgemental. I imagine most people would do what is best for their child, just like me. It would be nice if people would think about these things before they judge others.
By the way I am not pro anything when it comes to parenting, except doing what you feel is best for your child.
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