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I couldn’t help it, I cried

Posted on September 5th, 2007 by Alison Read 9 Comments - Add Your Own »

crying1.jpgI had a hard day the other day. It was the end of the Labor Day weekend that we spent with family members in a shared vacation house. Because of my 3 year old daughter’s food allergies, which include cashews, I emailed everyone ahead of time and requested that no one bring nuts to the house. Everyone complied and it was a nut-free weekend. I didn’t really worry about her allergy to eggs or her sensitivity to gluten, dairy and soy, since these are not life-threatening for her.

The last morning there were eggs for breakfast. She didn’t have any, but everyone else did, so who knows where egg ended up – on counters, on people’s hands, etc. That same morning she ate gluten-free pretzels with soy flour in them because she found them in the cupboard before I realized it.

I don’t know whether it was the eggs or the soy, but my little girl all of a sudden turned into a monster. For a while I thought she was just having a tantrum and I kept battling her, trying to win because, well, I’m the mom. She said she was cold, but didn’t want clothes on, even to go outside. She became upset because her sandwich was not cut in half. Okay, I thought, she is having some 3 year old behavior. Because there was nothing I could do to satisfy her, I decided to ignore her – or at least stop trying to please her. She then became hysterical, kicking her legs like a maniac and screaming. It turned from a tantrum to something else – it was like she became possessed and like she was trying to get out of her own body. Something was not right and I knew she needed help.

When I laid her down on the bed, I asked her if anything hurt. No, she said. I then asked her if anything itched. She nodded and pointed to her tummy. When I lifted her shirt I saw hives dotting her torso. She also had a rash on her upper chest and upper back. I quickly gave her Benadryl, gave her a kiss and she fell asleep, exhausted.

And then I cried. I cried because in that moment I felt I had failed her as a mother – I didn’t keep her safe and I didn’t respond quickly enough to spare her the agony that she felt but couldn’t explain. I hardly ever cry about my own celiac disease or my daughter’s many food allergies and intolerances. I try to stay positive because I know that despite our food sensitivities, my family is happy and healthy and enjoying life. I know that I am doing a pretty darn good job at managing all the food challenges and that I shouldn’t beat myself up about this one time. I know that, but I couldn’t help it – I cried.

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  1. I wish I could give you a hug right now. I totally agree with you that sometimes it all becomes so overwhelming that you just have to find a safe place to hide away and cry.

    Good gatherings always involve food, and it’s so hard to make sure that everything is safe — and not just when it’s being consumed, but afterwards as well.

    But you are doing a great job, and you will pick yourself up and go on again. Your daughter is so lucky to have you looking out for her.

  2. Hi Alison,

    I feel your pain. As a mother, and as a celiac. Tears are appropriate. It is next to impossible to protect our children 100%. As attentive as we are, there will be mishaps. And when our children inevitably suffer, we suffer with them. It’s so difficult.

    You are obviously a wise and caring mother, and this is the most important thing. Love. Your daughter knows you love her. It’s the love that will get you through. Mistakes happen, even when we try our best.

    Hope she feels better! (You, too.)

    Hugs, Karina

  3. Gladys and Karina,
    Thanks for your nice words – I know you both understand! I have heard from other mothers too who can relate to the emotions that go along with dealing with food allergies. Food is such a social thing as Gladys points out – that’s the struggle.

  4. I am in tears at your story…… although I am still in the new stages of being gluten free and a diagnosed Celiac for a mere 5 weeks……… I am immediately drawn into everyone’s personal trauma as if I have had this my whole life……. Unfortunately, I am still in the stages of crying here and there, but I know this will pass, or not……… having Hot Flashes of menopause, doesn’t exactly help, not does the osteoparosis and anemia…….. But I am FEELING TERRIFIC, without the Celiac symptoms I had, so I CANNOT COMPLAIN, but only share in your moments, Thanks for sharing,

  5. Oh Alison…thank you for sharing this. You’ve helped me reconcile the night I made my husband take our son to the ER, because I just didn’t think I could “handle it”. I stayed home with our sleeping infant daughter and cried for two hours. I felt like I’d failed, too. All this stuff we’re supposed to know, and yet we’re only human.
    You’re such a good mom.

  6. Sharez,
    It does get easier… I promise! And when you feel a million times better, it is all worth it!

    Being a mom is hard enough without this extra stress! I think we all need to get a massage at least once a week, don’t you? :) (can’t remember the last time I had one…)


  7. It’s OK. You hurt for her and are frustrated about the situation. Even as children get older, you’ll cry sometimes. There have been some times when I want Lucien to tough it out a bit and go to school, only to find out he really is sick. Even watching, sometimes it’s easy to miss the real symptoms.

  8. Thank you for sharing. Whenever I become exasperated with my 1 year old because he “refuses” to eat, I go thru his food diary(he’s allergic to gluten, dairy, soy, and meat). When I realize I’m on day 3 of a new food we’re experimenting with, he’ll lose interest in food when his tummy hurts. It’s takes a lot of extra tender love and care to understand what these little guys go through with their difficult diets.

  9. Marji,
    Thanks (Auntie) for the support!

    I have kept food diaries on and off for both my children – it is a lot of work but necessary. I am cautious with new foods just like you.


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