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I’m Afraid to Find Out If My Toddler Has a Peanut Allergy

Image source: thinkstock
Image source: thinkstock

A friend recently told me the following story about her friends (a husband and wife) and their baby, who is a few months older than my toddler:

The dad has a slight peanut allergy — it doesn’t kill him, but gives him a stomachache — so the parents decided to give the baby a little bit of peanut butter and then monitor him closely to see if anything happened.

So mom gives the baby a bit of PB and watches him like an eagle for half an hour. Nothing. Baby is absolutely normal, happy and getting sleepy. She puts him down for his nap, but knowing that she is in DMM (diligent mother mode), she checks on him 10 minutes after putting him down in his crib. He is blue.

At warp speed, she straps him in his car seat and floors it to the hospital, which was thankfully less than 10 minutes away. (Obviously she was sane enough under pressure to make it there safely, but not-so-sane parents, please note: Call an ambulance instead.) On her way, she calls the emergency line, tells them the situation and the ER staff is ready for her when she arrives. They are able to revive the baby and do whatever it is that doctors do to reverse the peanut’s negative effect.

….

I listened to this horror story with eyes wide, arms covered in goosebumps. Now that I’m a parent, I hate hearing “this horrible thing happened to my kid” stories. I don’t say this smugly, but it’s something you can only fully appreciate as a parent, when the thought of “this horrible thing” happening to your own little bundle of joy renders you speechless with fear and a conscious decision to try to avoid said “horrible thing.”

Which is the other reason this tale hit home for me: I have the same level of peanut allergy. On a blood test, I come up positive as allergic to peanuts, but I still eat them. My throat doesn’t close but I’m more likely than not to get a stomachache. (I keep eating them because I have a theory that if I ever cut them out, my allergy could become severe, and also, how else do you eat celery?)

So now, more than ever, I feel like I need to introduce my baby to peanuts to see if there’s a reaction. How else will I know whether I need to alert everyone we know, and maintain an attitude of constant vigilance?

My toddler, who has reached full mobility, is a scavenger and a thief. When my little chubbette enters a room full of other toddlers, she’s reserved, preferring to take things in slowly, and then cautiously move into the situation. But if there’s anything edible within view, she transforms into a bulldozer, plowing and charming her way alongside any morsel she might get her chunky paw onto.

And therein lies my fear: If I’m looking away, she might get a mouthful of Planters into her gob before I can intervene.

So my husband and I are starting to strategize when and where we will give her that first taste of peanut butter (not peanuts — there is, of course, the choking risk, which is why many health professionals advise to skip them altogether until age 3+).

My first thought is that even though we live a good 20 minutes from the hospital, I could probably make it in 12 if my baby was blue. I guess that just like we practiced our drive to the hospital to time how long it would take to get to the maternity ward (which was good, as hubby missed the turn to the hospital), we could practice our emergency-peanut-allergy-run.

“We should take her to that park by the hospital so we’re already nearby,” I suggest.

“Yes,” my husband agrees, “And not on a Saturday or Sunday morning when you might have lots of drunk people from the night before.”

“I hadn’t thought of that. When do you think is the quietest time when you have the best doctors on that aren’t too tired?”

“Oh and it’s better when the weather is fine, so there aren’t car accidents.”

And so we go, on and on with our logistical hypothesizing.

At this point, we have ourselves so worked up and nervous that we seem to be avoiding the inevitable. And then I remind myself: She’s shown zero signs of allergy so far (even though my list of allergies is ridiculously long) and hopefully this will just be one more thing on the list of things I really didn’t need to spend hours obsessing over.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to the park on a quiet Tuesday around 10 AM on an average weather day.

 

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