At 9 months old, Isaiah was already a very picky eater.
I was that lady blocking the baby food aisle at the grocery store reading every single label to see if just one food contained some magical ingredient my kid would eat.
There was no remote control airport hanger that would open at my smiling face, and this OCD kid would not be made happy by smearing the food all over the place.
He was belligerent and frankly, I think he knew what he was doing even then. The master manipulator had mommy’s number.
I had discovered this line of breakfast baby food by Earth’s Best. Combinations of barley and oats and rice, mixed with other delectable ingredients, and we had finally bought ourselves a few weeks of eating bliss!
One day as I perused the labels of the Earth’s Best breakfast food and found a new one, yahoo! Maybe he would keep eating and I could live a few days without frustration.
The first bite was a success! Yes! And the second……. but by the third things seemed to be taking a turn.
He was done and I was sad. Then, when I really looked, I realized he was sad too.
No. Not sad. Miserable. He had started crying and was rapidly becoming inconsolable.
This was not my happy, mischievous, belligerent little eater. This was an unhappy, uncomfortable baby.
Within the hour we were sitting in the office with the only available pediatrician. Someone who had never seen my son before, and clearly thought that I was an incompetent mom as he told me my child was only teething.
It didn’t matter that I explained he never cried, and he started crying within minutes of refusing to eat anymore bites of food.
I clearly didn’t understand what the symptoms of teething were, and was sent home to administer Tylenol and watch my child suffer.
Only that’s not how it went.
It went like this:
I got home with a screaming child. Frustrated and scared I screamed at my husband to help me find the Tylenol.
We stood in the middle of the living room with said child, attempting to get some Tylenol in him, when he began to projectile vomit, full on exorcist style, all over my husband and the living room.
My heart stopped. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good.
While my husband showered with the child I cleaned the living room. Until my husband started yelling from the bathroom.
It seemed that things were only getting worse.
My husband handed me my beautiful baby boy. And he was covered in welts. Covered. Head to toe in angry red hives.
On the phone with the nurse at the office I was told to give him some liquid Benadryl and that the hives were bothering me more than they were bothering him.
What do you do when the person who is responsible for keeping your child alive tells you something that you know is wrong?
You call back every 10 minutes until the doctor gets on the phone.
What did the doctor say you ask? She said, “Is he getting any worse?” I said, “No, I don’t think so, he’s sleeping in my arms right now (read drugged on Benadryl) but he’s still covered in hives EVERYWHERE.”
She told me to bring him in the next morning and we’d go from there.
During our appointment, she said he clearly had an allergic reaction, and handed me a referral to a pediatric allergist.
That morning would be the last time I saw that pediatrician.
I discovered later that these things that the pediatrician did not do, risked my child’s life.
- She should have sent me to the ER when I said my child was covered in hives and vomiting. Those two things constitute anaphylaxis.
- She should have written me a prescription for epi-pens there on the spot, in case of another event before I could see the allergist.
The next week would change our lives forever. It would create in me an anxiety I didn’t know I could ever feel, make me scared of the world and completely distrustful of the medical profession.
However it also turned me into something that made all of that okay. That week turned me into one of the strongest advocates for kids health that I know, and set into motion the last 10 years of me encouraging and teaching other parents to advocate for their children.