Birthday boy!

Liam turned One Year Old! I cannot believe this time, over a year ago, I was laboring in the hospital, about to greet my baby boy.

We love our “puppy” “googy bear” “pup pup” “baby head” SO MUCH. He is the SWEETEST little boy. He brings so much happiness into our family. It’s amazing how he completely changed from being the hardest baby, EVER, to being the sweetest, happiest, little guy! I understand now, when parents say their kids feel like “gifts.” I feel that way about Liam. He just brings so much light and joy to my heart and the heart of everyone in the family! The girls can be at each other’s throats and then Liam toddles into the room and suddenly they are oohing and gooing all over him and inviting him to play with them. And then they quickly start fighting over who gets to play with the baby…but that’s not a horrible problem to have!

I was so excited to have Liam turn one and “officially” be past the SIDS risk. However, my heart aches because we simply replaced the fear of him dying in his sleep, to a fear of him dying while he is awake. Sometimes, when I write, I feel like I sound dramatic. But it’s true.

It turns out Liam has a “severe” peanut and egg allergy.

I discovered this by accident a few weeks ago when I gave him the tiniest taste of peanut butter on his lips. He immediately started throwing up. Then, he got some on his fingers and wiped his face and immediately broke out in hives all over his face! I didn’t know it at the time, but that was an anaphylactic reaction! When I took him to the allergist and described the reaction, she said, “That was an Epipen worthy event.”

So instead of getting a cake for his birthday, I substituted Oreos. I took the top off an oreo and put a candle in the frosting. I had taken him to the allergist that morning so the news of these allergies was fresh and instead of feeling happy to celebrate his first birthday, I felt sad and overwhelmed. I know it’s not a big deal that he didn’t get a cake to smash in his face, but it felt sad to me. I have to reframe some of my hopes and wishes for Liam and the Oreo substitutes felt symbolic of those changes…and he didn’t like the Oreo.

I want to do a “do-over” for his birthday where I can make an eggless cake and I’m not in such a negative headspace. For a couple weeks after we got this information, I felt I needed to grieve. I felt angry and deflated that it feels we don’t EVER get to let our guard down! The whole first year it was anxiety over whether Liam would die in his sleep, and now it’s anxiety about an anaphylactic reaction with an accidental exposure to peanuts! We purged the house of peanuts and stocked up on Epipens, and I have been practicing with trainer pens on the girls (they think it’s kind of fun).

Now, a few weeks out, I feel less overwhelmed and that this just is a new normal I need to get used to. I have talked with several people who either have, or have friends, who have similar allergies, and they’ve been really helpful. I know as I get used to reading labels and making new recipes, eventually, this won’t feel so overwhelming. Also, there’s hope that Liam can outgrow these allergies!

The allergist said that 80% of kids with egg allergies outgrow them and 20% of kids with peanut allergies outgrow them. I did some research on Oral Immuno-Therapy for kids with peanut allergies and while it is a newer practice, it has excellent research to back it up and has great efficacy rates (as high as 80%!). Liam’s allergist doesn’t do that kind of treatment so I found a doctor in Salt Lake who does, with a great reputation, and we have an appointment in July. I’m hoping Liam will be a good candidate for that treatment. Even if we can just get him to a place where exposure to peanuts isn’t life threatening, I’d be super happy! But we shall see.

Looking at Liam, I can almost forget he has these vulnerabilities. He’s so healthy, and happy, and thriving! Now that he is one, I’ve begun to wean him. That’s been a bitter-sweet experience for me. As you know, I’ve worked so hard to keep up my milk supply and I love nursing him. And while I’m happy to keep nursing him in the morning and at night, I don’t think my milk supply can keep up. We are trying, but it just keeps going down. I tell myself it’s ok. Maybe even a good thing, as Liam is a little on the skinny and small side. Drinking whole cow’s milk might help him grown and gain weight. But it’s such a heartbreaking transition from my BABY to my little toddler, who will forever just continue to grow more independent!

Having Liam has brought so much unanticipated but much appreciated healing. He doesn’t, can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t fill the hole in our hearts left by Charlie, but he has breathed so much needed joy and life into our family! I honestly think he’s everyone’s favorite in the family right now! He has the biggest smiles and happiest coos for his sisters, his dad, and me. Grateful to have him in our arms, every-single-day!




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