She ate plenty. Oh, she loved to eat. It just didn't help that this was a kid who, from the time she was a toddler, preferred Jell-O over pudding, popsicles over ice-cream, and fruit over any form of protein ever invented. I frequently wheedled her into eating a dish of full-fat ice cream when what she really wanted was an apple. (Sidenote: how is this my kid? How?)
At my most desperate, I started making her peanut butter sandwiches. She'd only ever tried peanut butter a couple of times, around the age of five, and declared she didn't like it. But now - I had to bring out the big guns. She brought the sandwiches home in her lunch box with a bite, maybe two, taken out of them.
"Bear, this is ridiculous. You won't eat lunch meat. You don't like the school lunches. You have got to eat these peanut butter sandwiches to give your body enough protein to build muscle."
"Mom, they make my mouth itch," she whined.
"BEAR, YOU ARE TOTALLY MAKING THAT UP," I told her firmly. (In retrospect, not my proudest mothering moment...)
Luckily, the next week we had an appointment with an allergist to address to seasonal allergies. When he asked if she'd ever reacted to a food, I initially said no. Then I remembered The Battle of The Peanut Butter and said offhandedly, "Well, she says that her mouth itches when she eats peanut butter..." (Probably my second proudest mothering moment).
He scrawled something quickly in her chart and added peanut butter to the list of things they would test her for that day. In addition to a host of trees, grasses, dust mites, carrots, celery, etc., peanut butter tested positive. To be certain, they ran bloodwork as well. Positive. Class 2 (out of 0-6, with 6 being the most severe).
Our lives shifted hugely. We read up on peanut allergies. I apologized to Bear for not believing her. We carried an Epipen and learned to read labels and ask detailed questions at restaurants. Did you know that peanut butter is a common thickener used in restaurant chili? Or that many Asian restaurants cook in peanut oil? We began ordering snack foods like granola bars and cookies from Canada, which has some completely peanut-free manufacturing facilities.
Our big consolation was that since she tested at Class 2, her allergist felt that she had an excellent chance of outgrowing the allergy. We would be excruciatingly careful to keep her away from peanuts and re-test in two years.
We are now at two years. Yesterday, the allergist's nurse called with the results. Positive. Class THREE. She's getting worse, not better. Bear was devastated.
I sat last night on her bedroom floor, with Bear in my lap, like she used to when she was younger. She leaned her cheek against mine, as I rocked her back and forth and said every consoling word I could think of. If the worst thing that happens in your life is that you have to be careful of peanuts, that's not so bad. Her face was still, so sad. Tears slipped down both cheeks, but she nodded, I know. I just really hoped it would be gone.
I would give anything to be able to make this go away for her.