I am an allergy mum. Always have been and always will be. It is just so natural to me, it’s ordinary. I didn’t even know another way to parent, for 4 whole years. Until I had Roma that is.
Eva had allergies and skin issues pretty much since the day she was born, I wrote about it last week here and as I was reading it back, it really hit home. Just how different it is to be an allergy mum or rather how different it feels not to be.
Despite suffering her whole life it took until Eva was 5 to have a skin prick allergy test and when she did she reacted to every aero-allergen they placed on her arm. Even though a huge part of me already knew, we had 5 years of reactions, constant monitoring and attending A&E with swollen eyelids and face every single year as grass season started, even though it was a long time coming and not in the least bit surprising, I still cried. It was a mixture of pride at how brave she was never flinching or scratching as all shades of angry red dots appeared on her arms. To guilt that somehow my tough pregnancy, her early birth, the fact that I wasn’t able to breastfeed for long or that I may have passed it on from me. To relief that we now had confirmation finally after all these years. To utter sadness that this is her life, that she is not only allergic to food, but to the outside, and the inside too. And of course a little bit mad that it isn’t just somehow going to disappear and change in an instant. This was her path, this was ours.
Because of our history of allergies and eczema, we were offered to take part in an eczema study at our local hospital when I was pregnant with Roma and didn’t hesitate. If I can be a small part of research for answers I would be there in a heartbeat. We’ve had questionnaires and check ups ever since she was born and they also offer allergy tests as part of the 2 year visit too. So this week I walked into the same hospital, paced down the same stifling corridor with a little hand in mine. We sat in the same chairs, walked into the same room faced with the same little bottles of concentrated fluid. The same room, the same tests where everything, and nothing, changed for us just 18 months before. It was all the same. Except that little hand I held so firmly in mine, her warm fingers wrapped around mine, yet not quite as tightly as mine were to hers, could not be more different.
Roma has no signs of eczema or allergies at all and has breezed through life without really much illness to be noted, yet of course I was still nervous. My heart was still racing as she so confidently walked in to be met by three ladies and within minutes offering them tea and telling them her life story, or rather mine. She showed them her perfectly soft skin, listened as I answered no to all the questions and told them all about her favourite foods – cheese cheese and cheese if you were wondering! When it was time for the tests she wasn’t one to be distracted, she didn’t want to look at the tractor that the lady was drawing for her to keep her eyes away, she was quite happy having a look at what letters they were writing on her arm. In a moment it was all done, and we waited. Would allergies appear that we didn’t even know, that I was so blinded by her sisters health that I had somehow missed?
But this little one, this tiniest little lady of mine that I still somehow feel like has just been born, was so far the other way that in actual fact by the time they had read the results, there was absolutely nothing to see. Not even the positive histamine control result was showing. They had to repeat the test and as Roma looked up at me and said “that hurts a little bit mummy” I just knew that this was so very very different.
I walked out of that faded blue door, through the little wooden gate, past the giant connect 4 and back into the all too familiar bright lights of the corridor with a tear in my eye once again. Not the floods of emotion from the last time but the silent cry. Again of pride, of relief, and of enormous empathy for Eva. Because I’m an allergy mum but I’m also an allergy sufferer and every single time she has a reaction I feel sad for her. That her life is a little less carefree than I would want it to be and that sometimes she misses out. And most acutely that now there will be someone right there beside her that doesn’t have to. Don’t get me wrong I am really really glad, I am relieved for us, and for her, but also a little bit sad and that feels like a whole mix of emotions I don’t want to have to feel as a Mother.
This pull of guilt this week has been quite overwhelming. They are individuals who are so different in so many ways but now I know what being allergy free is like I just want that for her too. I don’t want them to have this difference at all and answering all the questions which were all firm “No she’s fine” with Roma I wish I could revisit and do the same for Eva too. To fix her and to protect my precious little bundle of life. We do feel lucky that we don’t deal with life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, but life changing is certainly still true. Every meal, every holiday, every outing, every single day is monitored with pros and cons weighed up and medication precautions administered. Sometimes, that is as hard for me as it is for her.
We may now have confirmation that they are so very different and that Roma walks a different path through childhood and life. But they are both my innocent children, both precious, both absolutely perfect, both in need of guidance through life and now, both there for each other.
I am an allergy mum, and I’m also not. But what I am and always will be, is Eva and Roma’s Mum, no matter what form that comes in.