Lilah, who just rounded a year old, is an elegant eater.  She prefers to dine, picking up one pea at a time, as her older brothers storm through the meal beside her.  Benjamin eats like a caveman and Zachary eats like a compulsive dieter.  Their baby sister eats like a girl who realizes her mother has enough drama without more dinnertime histrionics.

She eats what we give her, selecting from amongst the morsels with measured enthusiasm.  While she prefers beans to chicken, she doesn’t whine or cry if the dinner is not her first choice.  She just eats it.  Then, when she is finished, she looks at me and starts talking as she clears off her placemat.

She is asking for dessert.

I bring in fruit, and she eats that for awhile, too.  Meanwhile, Tweedledum and Tweedledee have left the table twenty minutes ago and are pummeling one another in the living room.  J and I sit at the table, deflated, trying to pretend for a few minutes that Lilah is an only child.

It is a pleasure to feed this little girl, truly it is.  Except.  And here’s the big except.

The hives.

Oh, my god, the hives.  Everything she eats seems to make her break out in hives.  First, it was just all forms of squash.  OK, we can avoid squash.  Then it was eggs.  Fine.  Daddy and Zachary are allergic to eggs – we can handle that.  But then we noticed a few other things seemed to trigger the problem.  Like lentils.  And possibly other beans.  And tomatoes.  And chicken.

Who the fuck is allergic to chicken?

How exactly are we supposed to get protein into a child who has only one tooth but is allergic to everything?  I would prefer to limit her soy exposure, as I don’t want her getting bosoms before she leaves preschool, yet a (hormome-free) t-bone is out of the question.  She doesn’t even have enough teeth for hamburgers.  Plus, of course, I need to be cooking food for the entire family, which means that it has to be something that suits Benjamin’s tastes, Daddy’s peculiarities, and my rather high health standards.  Since Zachary doesn’t actually eat, he gets no vote.

(By the way, don’t even try to suggest things to feed her.  Please trust me when I tell you that I have thought of every possible permutation and there is some problem with every conceivable meal.  Either Benjamin doesn’t like it or J won’t eat it or it makes Lilah’s head spin around and sprout horns.)

We need to figure out to what she is allergic, as baby Zyrtec is currently her third biggest source of calories.  When Zachary got his allergy tests, they poked his back with a series of plastic prongs and then looked for the reaction, a procedure that he is in no hurry to repeat, allow me to add.  They decided he was severely allergic to eggs, which we could have told them.  He has always had a reaction to anything made with eggs unless it involves baking them with lots of grains to absorb whatever proteins make him ill.  There also seems to be a tree nut allergy, which is fine, as I cannot imagine him requesting something like a handful of walnuts or a bowl of toasted almonds.  Thank god there was no reaction to peanuts.

They prescribed an epipen, a nifty little device that his exemplary parents manage to forget to bring with them about 92% of the time.  Fortunately, Zach promptly vomits up all egg products, so we will probably never need the thing.

Lilah, however, seems to be a lot more sensitive and she is still tiny.  She needed blood tests to determine exactly what she can safely consume.  We were able to narrow the possibilities down.  I rarely feed her processed foods, so I know all the ingredients in everything she eats, but it still involved a very long line of little vials they needed to fill.

So, I was assigned the task of holding her down with my body while three technicians sucked seven vials of blood from her arm.  Baby girl did her job, too.  That consisted of screaming with fury as she vainly attempted to get to her right thumb, which was tragically the same arm out of which they were removing a third of her blood.

As soon as the technicians were finished, she stuck that thumb in her mouth and then sat on my lap and whimpered.  Eventually, when I felt strong enough to walk, I took her out to the parking lot and managed to get her to the car without hyperventilating.

As I was strapping her in, a man walked by with his child in a wheelchair.  It was clear this little boy was severely disabled, both physically and mentally.  He and his family face enormous challenges every single day.  What ails that child will not be healed with a few tubes of blood and some Zyrtec.

Lilah’s blood tests haven’t come back yet.  Yesterday, baked beans gave her hives.   I suspect there are a few more epipens in our future.

20 responses to “Food

  1. She Started It

    Our first didn’t get any teeth until her first birthday, but was able to mash up everything with just her gums. Lilah might do fine with the hamburger.

    Here’s hoping you find out some answers soon.

  2. “Who the fuck is allergic to chicken?” made me laugh. And so true!

    You have such food issues it’s astonishing! Too bad you didnt get just one kiddo who could and would consume anything with no ill effects. Like my youngest. His day care teacher says she loves to feed him because he’ll eat anything. He is the only toddler she’s ever had ask for seconds of cole slaw.

    Gosh I hope they can figure Lilah out without taking more blood – goodness!! Poor baby.

  3. Poor Lilah, little trooper. My oldest also used to get the worst exzema rashes all over and still has fairly sensitive skin – looked like hives – but it improved dramatically with age.

  4. Poor kid, but you both got through it, and as you said, this is inconvenience, not something insurmountable. A friend of mine’s son was allergic to absolutely everything. He outgrew most of his food allergies and is now a strapping 11 year old. I gave both my daughters soy formula as babies, that being before the soy/boobs thing came out. We also eat plenty of tofu, being vegetarians. No premature boobs have sprouted here.

  5. Ah, the world of the epipen. We have one for The Snake’s peanut allergy. And we too, typically forget to take it out with us. Luckily, his one reaction was hives, and he has had no further exposures. Miss Peaches is my child that eats everything (maybe it is a girl thing? or the youngest?), but lately she too gets quite rash-y on the face and has eczema. I’m just waiting to get the LONG list of her allergies. The pediatrician remarked yesterday how she has these creases under her eyes that are classic for allergies. Sigh. Just waiting for the skin test days.

    Hoping you are all recovered from your trauma and get some answers soon!

  6. Oh poor baby love – and poor Mama! I do hope you get some answers so you can at least start working around her allergies. At the moment with everyone involved it must feel like every meal is a mine-field.

  7. Hoping you get some answers in the results.

  8. I am hoping these are allergies she will grow out of, my sister was allergic to everything…I still don’t know how my mother managed (but I do remember my sisters eating a lot of rice cakes!)…. hope you get it sorted out soon, I know how scary those hives are….. Allie is still getting them if the dog licks her, but thankfully instead of increasing in reaction she is getting fewer and fewer. (I cant even get my 16 month old to eat chicken, or fish, or really much red meat… somedays she loves beans, somedays she wont touch them).

  9. also with the epipen’s I had to carry one around for awhile (worked at a place with a black mold problem)…… and I asked my doc for a script for a couple of them, that way one could stay at home, one at work and one in the car.

  10. That all sounds so frustrating. Poor baby, and poor you. I know you don’t want food suggestions, but since my guy was late to get teeth, too, I figured out that a good butcher is happy to put almost anything through a grinder for you. Grass-fed organic ground lamb patties, anyone?

  11. Seems like they’re giving a lot of those out lately.

  12. I’m sorry you had to go through that. No. Fun. I hope that the answers are swift and that there are some good food options left.

    I have had a similar experience taking my generally well kid to the hospital, too. Nothing like a trip there to remind you how good you really have it, relatively speaking.

    PS – I know you said not to offer suggestions, but I pureed beef in the blender with a bit of water for my toothless baby and he loved it. It looked awful but actually tasted really very good.

  13. We are right there with you.

    I was really discouraged to discover that the skin test for babies that age is too sensitive, and the blood test is not sensitive enough, so in addition to having the same problems you are with feeding her, the blood test came back negative. Seriously.

    I’ve started cooking in bulk for Silas – a whole chicken, just for him to snack on throughout the week. It has helped to at least have some options for him. I’ve also discovered some dairy-free, chocolate free, dye free, cinnamon free desserts that I can make for him, which is beginning to matter – he no longer just ignores whatever is on everyone else’s plate.

    Good luck.

  14. Yeah okay, in one way it’s not as bad as it could be, but in another — jesus christ, could you not, for once, just catch a teeny tiny fucking break? (just sayin’ it so you don’t have to).

  15. Our son is allergic to eggs, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and lentils. And he doesn’t like meat, except for bacon. So it’s been hard getting protein into him.

    This summer we started giving him a protein shake made with rice milk, cocoa, rice protein powder, a little sugar, and a banana or some frozen mango if we have it. He loves it, and finally he’s getting some protein — he’s grown significantly since we started it.

  16. Our niece had to be tested at one year old for allergies and apparently when they were done she pointed at the doctor and screamed something about a lawsuit at him. At least that’s what her mother and father thought she was screaming about in her baby talk.

  17. sucky. for sure. sucky for lilah having so much blood drawn. sucky for you having to hold her down and hear her cry. here’s to a day when all the food things work out and someone is cooking for YOU.

  18. Ugh, food allergies! My little sisters are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and about twenty other things, so I know how it goes! I personally managed to get away with having no food allergies at all, but I swear I’m allergic to everything airborne! What is the purpose of allergies, anyway???

  19. Poor baby. I hope you get some good answers soon.

  20. Oh my God, this is nightmarish. So what exactly do you guys eat???