I am ready to celebrate! Sunday we declared rice an official pass and yesterday E passed the initial oat challenge!! We still have to finish out the oat trial, but things are looking good!
If you recall, I was not looking forward to this December. In fact, I was dreading it. I was so focused on all of the challenges that we were set to face that I didn’t even think about all of the things that we would have to celebrate this season. I was so caught up in the stress and negative aspects of FPIES that I totally forgot that I was going to get to spend Christmastime with a two-year-old! Without knowing it, my own little elf has reminded me of what this time of year is all about. So, in contrast to the post I wrote about a month ago, I want to share with you all of the fun that we’ve been having this holiday season, despite living with FPIES and enduring serial food trials.
We kicked off the season with a dairy challenge the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know, how festive! Despite the stress and uncertainty of the trial, we managed to have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Jonathan’s sister and her husband hosted a beautiful family dinner. They graciously offered to make it safe for E but we decided to err on the side of caution. The possibility of mistakes or cross-contact was too high, especially during the dairy trail, so I brought a safe dinner for E. It wasn’t necessarily a traditional Thanksgiving meal but he gobbled up his turkey meatball, mashed potatoes, applesauce, green beans, and corn bread. He also ate in a highchair so that he was a little more removed from the table (and allergens). I don’t think he even noticed that he wasn’t at the table or that his dinner was different. He loved eating with the whole family, especially his cousins!
After Thanksgiving, the countdown to Christmas began! For as long as I can remember my mom has always made a paper chain to help us countdown to Christmas. I was so excited to make one for E this year because he can finally understand what it signifies. Every night before he goes to bed, he rips a link off and declares that we are “one day closer Christmas and Santa Claus will be here.” It’s the cutest thing ever!
After two weeks of trialling dairy we aren’t totally sure it’s safe and decided to retrial it after things settle down in January. It’s disappointing to spend another holiday dairy-free but we are becoming pros now at finding substitutes and modifying traditions. E is in love with the idea of “kissmiss coosies.” In addition to the safe chocolate chip cookies, we have been experimenting with recipes for shortbread cookies (which are naturally egg-free!). Baking and decorating the cookies is almost as fun as eating them!
Next up was the rice challenge, which went so well we were able to combine it with a visit to see Santa Claus. E has been so excited by the whole idea of Santa Claus and talks about him every day. I think he was a little starstruck when he first met the jolly old elf in person, but managed to file his request for his “own kitchen” (which is all he’s been talking about!). He was also lucky enough to get a private visit from Santa Claus who arrived at his Grandi and Grandad’s house via firetruck! The icing on the (allergen-free) cake was definitely the email that he received from Santa last night. Santa sent a video that announced that E had made it to the nice list! We have watched this video about 10 times already and each time E gets more and more excited!
We’ve also been spending time watching some classic Christmas TV specials and, of course, choosing and trimming our Christmas tree.
E’s excitement about Christmas and Santa Claus has absolutely been contagious. I think actually at this point I might be more excited for the big day than he is. I can’t remember the last time I was looking this much forward to Christmas! Seriously, I’m giddy.
When you are in throes of FPIES, or any other stressor, it’s hard to step back and remember that this is not the only thing going on in your life. The holidays are full of parties that center around food (food that is full of dairy, egg, and shellfish). So, having a child with food allergies can be stressful. It means more planning. It means more work. It means constant vigilance. But it also means that we will spend lots of time surrounded by people we love and who love us. It means that E will get to hang out with his family, many of whom we don’t see enough. Sure, some traditions have to be tweaked, but E is two! He doesn’t know that there are cookies that we’ll omit from our baking menu this year. He doesn’t care that he can’t partake in my dad’s famous Christmas Eve shrimp scampi or Aunt Jean’s lasagna. He’s never had those things and would probably even prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m definitely guilty of mourning the things he can’t do and I love that he is always ready to remind me of all that he can do and what’s important to him, and what’s really important about the holidays (hint: it’s actually not the food).
I hope that the joy of our Christmas season can bring hope to those of you that are in the thick of life with FPIES or any other challenge. We’ve had so much fun watching E getting excited for Christmas and enjoying all that comes with this time of year that we’ve been able to shift our focus away from FPIES (even though we were in the middle of some pretty serious food trials). The opportunity to take a step back and remember that there is so much more to life than FPIES has been a bit of a Christmas gift (and lesson) to me.
Thank you for celebrating our passes and Christmastime with us. I wish you the joy and excitement of a two year old on Christmas and a happy and healthy new year full of your own celebrations!