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my daughter with eczema March 2004

This is how it all began…

My daughter was born in 2003.  At six weeks my breast-fed infant was diagnosed with mild eczema by a pediatric RN.  This was the beginning of our issues with her eczema, food allergies and asthma.

At five months, she had mild eczema on her face and behind her knees.  When she started commando crawling, my daughter would rub her itchy face on the carpet to scratch it. She might look like a rosy-cheeked baby in the photo, but her skin was telling us that something was seriously wrong.

We started introducing solid foods slowly as the doctor recommended.  One day at the park, when she was six-months old and still mostly breastfed, I offered my daughter a ‘taste’ of my black raspberry yogurt ice cream.  Within seconds she had hives all over her face and neck.

I was a clueless new mom.  I ran frantically to another mother. “Look at my baby!” I cried.  She asked if this was my first child and recommended Benadryl®.  Luckily there was a pharmacy across the street.  After the pharmacist called our pediatrician’s office, I gave her the antihistamine.  As my daughter slept in the stroller on the way home, I thought to myself, “How could this be? What is happening?  She couldn’t possibly be allergic to ice cream–every child’s favorite treat.  Maybe it was just the black raspberries.”

Our pediatrician wasn’t helpful.  I begged him to refer me to an allergist, but he said she was too young for testing.  She still had eczema, but it was no longer mild.  Problems continued and the reactions got worse.  If I ate too much yogurt, the eczema flared up.  She vomited in the supermarket after eating a bite of my muffin and in the high chair after tasting a mixture of yogurt and squash.  Benadryl® became a staple in our house.

When my daughter was a year old, we finally met with an allergist.  I watched anxiously as the medical assistant took seven vials of blood from my baby.  Finally, we received the answer. My daughter was diagnosed with 12 different food allergies including eggs, dairy, peanuts and tree nuts.

Accidents do happen, and despite the fact that we are always vigilant about avoiding the foods she’s allergic to, my daughter has been ambulanced to the emergency room more than once. So far, on two separate occasions, she has needed epinephrine (adrenaline). The anxiety of these incidences was overwhelming.

But, there is hope!  My daughter outgrew her peanut and tree-nut allergies when she was seven. She continues to have reactions from accidental exposure to eggs and dairy.

Parenting a child with life-threatening food allergies is multifaceted—always challenging and at times terrifying. I decided to become a food-allergy coach because I love working one-on-one with people to help them identify and resolve issues.  Through my coaching, I provide support and information to parents of children with food allergies—a resource that was unavailable to me when my daughter was younger.

Rachel eating waffles Pittsburgh - June 2015

This is how our lives changed…

In January 2014, My daughter started working with a Nutrition and Health Coach who on her own with many years of experience, developed an integrative method of oral immune therapy.  The process involved balancing my daughter’s immune system among several other things.  This process was work, but it was also a labor of love!  My daughter and I worked with her Nutrition and Health Coach religiously every week for eighteen months.  Some weeks had their challenges, but during this time her coach helped my daughter gradually ‘work through’ almost all of her food allergies.  Today, my daughter is eating all of the things she was once allergic to in normal portion serving amounts.  This is a specific program and not something you should try on your own without the proper support from a properly trained advanced health coach.

During the time my daughter was going through this amazing integrative method of oral immune therapy program, I was so intrigued that I decided to go back to school at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  I am now a qualified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach working with families who want to integrate healthier eating options into their lives.

One comment on “Holli’s Story
  1. Darlene Bassin says:

    I sure remember when we were at Smuggs and she had a bad reaction.

    Good luck on your new adventure.