Little C has allergies. There was something unknown she reacted to in her first oatmeal cereal. Then, there was stomach issues with avocado. Now, she breaks out in a rash if she touches egg, which she had been happily eating for weeks. It’s terrifying to look over and see your daughter’s face, unblemished minutes ago, now covered in red splotches. There is now so much trepidation every time we offer her a new food. A bottle of Benadryl lives on our kitchen table. We haven’t had a serious reaction yet, but there is always that lurking fear. And the guilt. I didn’t expect our daughter to be perfect. I knew I would love her anyway. But once the latest rash cleared up and she was playing happily on the floor, relief gave way to a sinking feeling. Allergies are commonly inherited. We can debate whether she has my eyes or Scott’s (both blue), my hair (light brown) or his (curly when wet), but without a doubt, these allergies are mine.
I know that lots of kids react to a certain food one day, and then are fine with it months later. I know that kids without allergies are born to parents with allergies all the time, and that kids with allergies are born to parents without allergies all the time. But the guilt remains.
I grew up with allergies, so I know it’s not the end of the world. I know it’s likely she’ll out grow this allergy, and we’ll learn to deal with it in the meantime. But I also know how self-conscious you feel when your mom has to call your friend’s parents ahead of a birthday party to let them know about your allergies. How awkward it feels when you’re eating something entirely different from everyone else. How quietly terrifying it is to pretend everything is normal when people find out about your allergies and tell horror stories about a cousin’s friend who went into anaphylaxis.
With the exception of a delicious box of cookies one summer that I ate until my face swelled up, none of my reactions have really merited too much concern, at least on my part. I learned, over years, which allergies cause which symptoms, which allergy meds work on which of my allergies. I coped. And I know she will too.