First, came the egg
Introducing egg to the little was pretty easy. I hard-boiled, then removed the yolk from an egg and mixed it with expressed breast milk. The baby loved it (I'm sure because it basically tasted like her favourite food at the time). I loved that she seemed to be fine with it, meaning we were in the clear with this particular allergen. One more check off my list.
Over the next few meals, she ate egg yolk blended with swiss chard, one of the biggest winners so far. No reaction. All good. The doctor suggested adding in the whites to provide a different textural experience for her. Apparently there was a time when whole egg exposure was delayed until after the first birthday, but we were assured that early exposure was the safest bet.
I made a tomato soup and dropped a whole scrambled egg into it. It smelled awesome. But something weird happened. She wouldn't eat it. For the first time, she pursed her little mouth tightly shut, turning away and pushing the spoon from her mouth. I tested and retested the temperature, convinced that although it was barely warm, maybe that was the reason for the resistance. Or perhaps the scrambled egg had a weird texture to a baby who had only eaten smooth puree prior to this. I did the airplane spoon thing, I sang songs about how delicious soup is. Reluctantly, the baby gave in to my persistence and tried another bite.
It started as a blister in the middle of her top lip. Appearing out of nowhere, I was convinced that I had inadvertently burned my precious baby's lip! But no, the food was definitely not hot so we took photos and emailed our doctor for guidance. Needless to say, the wee one refused to finish eating but was desperate to nurse. Long story short, shortly after that, she puked. Like everywhere. Like a lawn sprinkler. And this is a wee one who had NEVER puked before, not even as a newborn! You want to see panicked first time parents? Put them in a meticulously decorated nursery with a five month old who is puking up a belly full of breastmilk mixed with, yeah, tomato soup. It looked like a horror movie.
Ten minutes after that, she puked again. Ten minutes later, she was fine. Honestly fine. Like nothing had ever happened. Even the blister was gone. We chalked it up to normal kid-puking stuff and got on with our lives. There was speculation that maybe the acid levels in the tomato were too much for her young GI tract and I started to doubt my whole food approach to food introduction. Maybe this is why plain rice cereal is how most people start. Maybe being a mom is more of a big deal than I thought. Maybe I'm not as good at it as I thought.
So here's the kicker. When introducing the major common allergens, my husband and I always made sure we were both home, that it was in the morning and that if she showed any symptoms of reaction, we could move quickly as a team and get her whatever help she needed. So, the morning after the tomato soup incident I was strolling around the house in my pjs and so was our little (she wasn't actually strolling). I had shaken off the doubt of the night before and decided to be adventurous in the new foods for the week. Egg custard was on the menu, sweetened with a small amount of date puree. I used both the yolk and a small amount of white in the recipe, thinking nothing of it.
Let me tell you. It tasted good. I decided to let the little one have a preview by licking the spoon like my mom used to let us do as kids. One lick.
My little baby went scarlet in her cheeks and up her neck. **Here's what not to do in this situation!**I thought if I gave her a bath and an antihistamine that it would help with the itching, so I popped her in a bath of breastmilk and water, and tried to remember where the heck I had last seen her medicine. The hives got worse and her nose started running pretty dramatically. I realized I needed help.
So, I will say now what I was told later--call 911. I think I was so nervous about being labelled a hysterical new mom that I was kind of afraid of calling for emergency help. Instead, I wrapped up my little in a blanket and raced to the walk in clinic across the street. When I arrived, in my pyjamas, carrying a half-naked hive-covered rabbit-pink eyed infant in my arms, the medical receptionist looked up at me and, smiling, asked for the baby's health card and then our address. Then asked me the question that probably kept me from asking for help when I realized I needed it, "Is this your first?"
Like that means I have no recourse to be panicked, or nervous, or to think that something might be actually wrong with my baby. As if having a baby makes your common sense just leap out the window. But that's a whole other thing. We did get in to see a doctor who did confirm that the baby was having an allergic reaction to something. She gave us an antihistamine. The baby puked all over the doctor's office floor. This time it was beets. The nurses cleaned up the mess and sent us on our way. I was led to believe that the vomitting was a good sign that the baby was expelling the allergen from her body.
Everything seemed fine.
Months later an allergy test confirmed a severe anaphylactic allergy to eggs among other things.
I had to rethink my entire approach to food and to feeding my baby.