Saturday, January 19, 2013
Standing up for your child
However, by three months old my beautiful little boy was suffering with horrible eczema. This was the beginning of a long road of learning how to stand up for my child, how to barrack for him, how to advocate for his needs - actually - how to make a FUSS. Totally out of my comfort zone.
The eczema was followed by a violent reaction to milk at 9 months, a positive test to a lot of allergens (including peanuts, dairy, tree nuts, eggs) at 18 months and many months of random vomiting followed by the painful elimination diet for 9 months (strong reaction to amines after second round through the challenges). He was not a well little boy. 14 and a half years later he is an amazingly healthy teenager.
When he started preschool he was on the elimination diet. This was new and seen as something wacky. All he could eat was a plain chip sandwich for lunch. I got into trouble for that (unhealthy) so he took plain Nuttelex sandwiches to preschool and school for many years.
He was the first 'nut kid' in two of the three primary schools he attended. This was mostly taken with little grace and long sighs of 'what a major hassle this kid is'. I was uncomfortably out of my comfort zone. But I had to do it. What choice did I have? I was 'that' mother. That pushy mother. That mother teachers talk about (and I'm a teacher - I know what they/we say!).
Consequently I have a lot more empathy for the pushy mothers. Some are still just silly. But some, especially when it comes to issues of health, have worked out what is best for their child. Even if it looks wacky. When my son started this journey the management of his allergies were seen as a bit of an overreaction ('can't you just try a little peanut butter to see how he goes?'). But as a community we now know so much more.
I learnt through this time that even though it didn't sit well with me to be fussy, actually, it was part of my job description. I had to stick up for him, protect him, defend him - because if I didn't do it, then I had failed him at a fundamental level.