I study immunology, for my ph.d. work. As a result, I know a lot about how vaccines and allergies work. This became useful working knowledge when it came to parenting.
We waited the requisite two years before giving J peanuts. Today, he had his first bites of peanut butter. 2 hours later, he was crying in his room instead of napping; he was itching himself, and shouting ‘ALLDONEALLDONEALLDONE’. I could see hives developing on his neck and torso. small ones. So I gave him Benadryl, and rocked and shushed him.
For the first 5 minutes, he got more and more upset, and I could hear him wheezing. I pulled his shirt up, and the hives had spread into huge blotches across his torso, into his armpits, down the backs of his legs. And all that knowledge, about priming, about mast cells and basophils, about histamine, it all came to nothing. All I knew was that my baby was miserable, and now faced a lifetime of having to abstain from a relatively common food.
I cried along with him, for about a minute. 16 months of breastfeeding, of me abstaining from peanuts while pregnant and nursing, of letting him play in dirt and eat sand and mingle with other babies germs at daycare (hygiene hypothesis), it was not enough to conquer genetics (my brother is allergic to peanuts) and other unknown factors. I couldn’t… I CAN’T fix this.
So we cried.
Thankfully, the wheezing went away quickly, and the Benadryl brought his hives down to just splotchiness within 2 hours. He’s allergic, but not acutely so. He didn’t need a trip to the ER, or even to the Urgent Care Clinic. In short, J is just fine.
I wish I felt fine about it. Part of me still wants to cry.