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Have your kid's allergies turned you into an overworrying mom? (I think they did for me!)

(14 Posts)
eskimomama Wed 31-Aug-11 16:27:35

OK, this is just a thought I've been having recently. I've been wondering if maybe some of you had been feeling the same...

We found out DD was allergic to cow's milk protein, eggs, hazelnut and almond at 6 months, suspected gluten too for a couple months, and I think it has somehow turned me into an overworrying mom for many aspects.

Her dairy allergy is the reason why I kept BFing her until now - she is 22 months old - and I don't know ANYONE else who has been BFing so long, apart from Mumsnet's members in this forum!!
I think had a lot of consequences on her sleeping patterns (she's always been a terrible sleeper, eczema + strong nursing habits combined) and maybe also her separation anxiety...(?)
I do NOT regret to have BFed her so long and would gladly do it again, but I do think there is a correlation somewhere with her sleeping issues.
Now I'm just too knackered to make a change.

Then it's just every day things:

Because of food restrictions, I think I somehow delayed her eating development by cooking the same "safe" things over and over again (or maybe I'm paranoid!!), and she has become a picky eater recently.

Also... When I started looking for a childminder, I found many of them refused to look after an allergic child - made me even more aware that my child is somehow more "fragile" than the rest, and as a result I'm even more protective of her. So far she has only been with me at home (we relocated abroad and I haven't found a new job yet).

I really don't like being so overworried about her but I don't know what to do about it!!
Is anyone in the same kind of boat? Sorry just my silly rant of the month!

ChocaMum Thu 01-Sep-11 19:20:05

Unfortunately I think worrying goes with the territory of being a mum to a dc with allergies. I think part of it is the unpredictably of allergies and how you always need to be on guard because the most unlikely products contain allergens, and I think the other part is how little people know about allergies and therefore the very little support you get from people around you.

Our dietician told us children with allergies appear to be fussy eaters because they are scared to try new foods when they could feel extreme pain and have a reaction to unknown foods, while if they stick to limited foods then they feel safe. So I think it's a combination of maybe providing less variety as well as their own feelings about food. We were referred to sessions with a speech and language therapist and a dietician to help with this, because it's about unlearning behaviours that dc's have developed to protect themselves, which requires a lot if time and help.

On the bf threads there are clearly lots of mums who have done extended bf other than 'us lot' so I don't think it's that unusual. I had always kept bf and sleep quite separate which included rousing my DD when she was getting too comfortable so she didn't associate bf and sleep. I think there's lots of dc's with sleeping issues that aren't extended bf or have allergies, so I'm sure there's more to it than that.

We had to go with a nursery instead of a childminder, but I'm really glad we did as I feel a lot more confident with a nursery that has taken a lot of time to work out what they can cook for her, order in special snacks, are a completely nut free zone etc which a childminder can't offer. It also helps to prepare you both for the challenges that lie ahead when starting school.

Anyway basically I think we all naturally worry al lot about our dc's with allergies, and although we learn to cope with it, the worry doesn't go away. There was a recent study that looked at the quality of life of families and children who suffer from diabetes and need to inject themselves daily with insulin, and it found that the quality of life including the anxiety and stress it caused, as well as the difficulty with everyday situations was much worse in children with allergies. So you are definitely not alone!

eskimomama Fri 02-Sep-11 07:16:25

Thanks ChocaMum, interesting insight. Why the speech and laguage therapist? How old was DD when you went? That's interesting because DD doesn't speak at all at 22 mo, although I think its because she's in a bilingual home and we moved abroad when she was 12 mo. (and because I'm always there for her ;) )

Weta Fri 02-Sep-11 10:36:08

I agree that to a certain extent it does go with the territory, and also that some of what you describe is probably more down to your parenting style (maybe boosted by the allergy issues but you were perhaps that way inclined anyway?).

The picky eating may well just be a phase and is probably something you just have to work through gradually - I wouldn't blame yourself or think it is your fault because you have been overprotective or anything.

I have often felt embarrassed and concerned that others think I am overprotective (DS1 also had a lot of problems with virus-induced asthma as a baby and toddler so we were always very careful about wrapping him up warm and not playing outside too much in the depths of winter) and often find I am justifying myself to people. But I remember saying this to a friend once and she was really surprised and thought I was very stoic and rational about the whole thing - so that made me feel much better!

I think over time you work out an approach that mostly you just accept and don't question too much, which undoubtedly involves a fair bit more worrying and protection than for non-allergic kids. For me it is a big priority that DS1 doesn't miss out on activities etc because of his allergy, and that he leads as normal a life as possible. This does mean I will bend over backwards to provide nice substitute food for him at parties etc and try to encourage teachers to let me know in advance about activities involving food so I can provide a substitute.

But actually I've never had any vibes from anyone that they think I'm overprotective - well apart from my SIL who told me DS2 was so lovely and outgoing etc and asked if I thought DS1 was different because I had been more protective of him owing to his medical problems (when actually they just have very different temperaments) - but I can't stand her anyway for plenty of other reasons so I didn't take much notice.

eskimomama Fri 02-Sep-11 13:49:14

Thanks Weta - the allergies def boosted my naturallly overprotective parenting style - well pointed smile

Hopefully the picky eating phase is just a short phase, it's also typical of her age according to what I'm reading about it.

I see what you mean feeling embarrassed and justifying yourself with people you'd like to ignore instead. The most annoying being justifying myself breastfeeding so long, nobody understands it! They all see it as me not letting go of the babyhood stage - so now I'm just not saying anything about it, just giving my piece of cake/ice cream/quiche to DH when no one is looking ;-)

ChocaMum Fri 02-Sep-11 23:27:01

Hi again, the speech and language therapy was for dd's 'fussy eating', our consultant told us children with allergies are often wrongly labelled as fussy eaters when they are actually like this because they have become scared of food from previous reactions and mild reactions we aren't aware of, so not to do with speech but to do with the way children use their mouths. For example DD use to spit out foods that were lumpy or things she didn't recognise, refuse to try new things and get very worked up. Also gagging and choking on things she wasn't struggling on but because it was a different flavour. Our DD is 18 mo.

My family and friends have actually been very supportive and don't think I'm overprotective at all. I think it's people who don't know me and want DD to go to their house and then get asked a hundred questions by me, and my in laws who don't really believe allergies exist. I think if you ate naturally overprotective it is only too easy to to overboard with a child with allergies. I was very for my DD being independent, mainly because she has always shown that streak since birth! So I try as hard as possible to not limit what she does do and gets involved in. But I still won't leave her alone with my in laws! And I got completely fed up of justifying bf to them as they all bottle fed and were convinced DD was so small because I wouldn't give her bottle milk!

eskimomama Sat 03-Sep-11 14:07:24

Thanks ChocaMum, that's very interesting to know - I'm glad you were refered to speech & language therapy, I hope it helped?
I'm pretty sure that wouldn't happen where I live (rural countryside and old school doctors!).
What did they do during the therapy to help her overcome her "fussy" eating habits?

Also what kind of reactions did your DD get prior to this therapy from foods? Our DD only had a reaction at 6 months from 1 spoon of formula, I don't believe she would remember that, but it must depend on the type of allergies? The rest has been eczema from my breastmilk if I ate anything containing eggs/dairy/nuts.

(and it's unbelievable how our in-laws generation got brainwashed with the benefits of formula over breastmilk! hopefully this snotty attitude will go away with them.....)

inmysparetime Sun 04-Sep-11 12:06:26

OP 22 months is quite typical for many kids to get picky about food, as they stop growing so fast so need less calories, and their taste buds develop so bitter foods taste really strong to them.
Couple that with becoming self-aware and terrible twos and it's a wonder how parents get any food into them!
DS has a milk allergy, and his pickiness was from about 18 months till he was 4. He would eat weetabix or sausages, and not much else. I stuck with offering what we were eating and taking it away without comment, but it still took years to crack him.
It is actually illegal for childcarers to refuse to take a child due to additional needs, it's disability discrimination, I would contact Ofsted as all childminders should show that they can make reasonable adjustments to accommodate needs.
My DS is now 9, and takes responsibility for his own food. He tells people what he can and can't eat, and checks labels. I can finally relax when I go to restaurants and not be so neurotic at the chefs!

eskimomama Sun 04-Sep-11 13:19:16

thanks for those comments inmysparetime it's very useful to know - indeed she hates anything cold (fresh fruit!!) and anything that doesn't look like a trustworthy biscuit or piece of bread. She will treat them as poison!

Looks like I also have many months ahead of me offering nice food and then quietly cleaning the floor grin

We live in France now and there is no Oftsed equivalent here, which is a shame... but to be honest I wouldn't have left DD with any of them, they were clearly doing it for the money. Hopefully the local creche will open spaces soon.

Weta Mon 05-Sep-11 01:36:30

Ah but I wouldn't class your parenting style as overprotective smile, more just that the things you describe tend to go with a certain parenting style which you might have wanted to adopt anyway, albeit to a lesser extent perhaps...

I think the fact that you are in France is a huge part of it actually. I BF both of mine until 15 months because of DS1's allergy - in NZ with DS1 this was by no means abnormal (and I have several friends there who BF until anywhere between 2 and 4 years) whereas in France with DS2 anything beyond 6 months was seen as a bit strange and rather too 'fusionnelle' as they like to put it. But then I also didn't agree with putting children in school for 8 hours a day from the age of 3, leaving them alone at parties from 4, shouting and smacking and various other things that seemed fairly common in France smile

eskimomama Mon 05-Sep-11 10:07:39

oh yes I am the ultimate "maman fusionnelle" here, been told this a lot! My mom was Finnish so I am prob repeating the same patterns, and I didn't turn out too bad myself so it can't be that wrong smile

Regarding smacking/shouting, it's interesting you say this because I saw exactly the same in London, and also in Ireland where DH is from, so I never thought it was a French thing. Are you talking about schools only though?

Weta Mon 05-Sep-11 10:31:16

Just enjoy being a 'maman fusionnellle'... I always had a line to give people that went something like 'yeah, I know it probably seems strange but in my country this is what we do' which was suitably assertive without being confrontational smile

Actually with the smacking/shouting I meant the parents... I often had the impression they would smack and shout (in public) for what I would regard as very minor misdemeanours worthy of a mild reprimand. I guess you do see it in every country but these would be people I otherwise got on well with and had plenty in common with - I just felt there were different cultural expectations as to what was ok (or even, from their perspective, necessary).

eskimomama Mon 05-Sep-11 14:16:45

I think this kind of parent behaviour is (almost) all down to how you were raised yourself... There are exceptions - like my best friend who had very strict parents and is the kindest, calmest mom with her 2 girls.
I've got a real problem with parents shouting at their kids, whether in public or not, and whether they've done something really bad or not. I'm always thinking, sometimes saying, "it's your little baby, not your dog"... My Irish MIL is a notorious shouter and her 3 sons always ignored her, but they all have the same tendency to shout easily.

I have changed my opinion on quite a few people I considered friends (ie lots in common) after I saw how they treat their kids - but that's a whole new thread smile
(hope you don't think the French are bad parents wink )

Weta Mon 05-Sep-11 17:45:24

Well my DH is French, so no! but I do think there are cultural differences - though really I try not to judge even though I find some things hard to understand, but equally refuse to be judged for being more 'fusionnelle' than the norm smile

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