have never been big on all this baby and allergy business. In fact I’ve found
the whole thing rather annoying. It’s not that I don’t believe in allergies. I,
myself, have been known to get the sniffles around cats and high pollen counts.
But this kind of alarmist ‘You can’t feed them dairy, wheat, seafood, nuts, egg
white, citrus, potatoes and tomatoes until they’re old enough to say
onomatopoeia,’ has always felt a little too much like hard work.
when Finn was exposed to most of these potentially toxic ingredients before his
first birthday his little system coped marvellously well and he has been
happily eating breakfasts of hard boiled eggs and whole-wheat toast with
full-cream milk for many months now.
so, a few weeks ago, when I first gave Finn the smallest smidgen of peanut
butter and he developed a rash around his mouth, I was ever so slightly put
out. ‘Hmmm,’ I said to Thandi, as Finn spat out the offending substance. ‘He
doesn’t seem to like peanut butter. I wonder where that rash has come from?’ I
blamed it on him having just returned from the pollen-infested park. ‘He
must’ve been rubbing his face in the park,’ I speculated.
so a couple of weeks later I gave him peanut butter again. This time I spread
the sticky substance on a cracker and gave Finn a bite. He spat it out
immediately and simultaneously shoved his entire fist into his mouth in what
looked like an attempt to yank out his tongue. ‘He really doesn’t seem to like
it,’ I sighed loudly at Thandi, irritated. She had another theory. ‘Maybe it’s
because it’s expired,’ she said. While I checked the expiry date on the bottom
of the bottle (February 2008) small red bumps again appeared around his mouth.
I knew Thandi’s hypothesis was unlikely but I hoped like hell that she was
weeks later Finn and I popped round to our best friends down the road. On
arrival we found them (mommy and two daughters) happily tucking into a large
bowl of peanuts and raisins. ‘Hm,’ I mused, trying to sound flippant. ‘I’m a
bit worried that Finn might be allergic to peanuts.’
there’s only one way to find out,’ my friend pronounced and popped one small
peanut into Finn’s expectant beak. He gobbled it up and quickly demanded,
‘Maw!’ We resisted his request and nudged him off to play, watching him closely
as he tore around her large coffee table, stopping every now and again to push
over a glass vase or empty a cup of tea onto the dog. Finn was clearly his
normal cheerful self.
It was only two-and-half hours later once we’d
returned home and were getting ready for his bath that he started to look very
uncomfortable. He whined and seemed intent on removing his skin from his
abdomen. On whipping off his T-shirt, Roxi and I discovered that our little boy
was covered from neck to bum with large red itchy welts. I knew not to mess
around with things like peanut allergies so once we’d removed him from the bath
and doused him in calamine lotion we rushed off to the pharmacist down the
unmoved and docile young man prescribed an antihistamine and sent us on our
way. Twenty minutes later Finn vomited in that way that only babies can vomit –
covering his entire bedroom contents in thick white goo. But once the
incriminating peanut was out, he transformed. The rash subsided and Finn fell
into a peaceful sleep.
next morning Finn was just fabulous, but I was distraught. How could this have
happened? I’ve never even heard of
someone having a peanut allergy never mind knowing anyone. I thought it was
something that only happened to Americans. But the absolute most devastating
part of the whole saga is that I have to abandon my plans to bring Finn up on
peanut butter sandwiches for the next 18 years. For now, we’re off to an
allergist for proper testing, in the hope that those peanuts he ate had also
Do you think allergies are
over-emphasised? Has anyone in your family had an allergic episode?