I’ve been wanting to share this piece of my life with you for quite some time, but it’s been difficult for me to find the words to share. Well, today is the day! I need to get it all off of my chest because I know that one of you who is reading this desperately needs to hear my story.
I’ll never forget being in the labor and delivery room, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my oldest. They were inducing me 4 weeks early because I had preeclampsia. I had to labor on my left side and after 2 1/2 hours of pushing we opted for a c-section as my little guy (5 lbs. 9 oz.) couldn’t fit under my pelvic bone. While we were waiting for the nurses to get themselves and me ready to head to the operating room, my husband and I had a few moments to ourselves. I was a hot mess, as I REALLY didn’t want to have a c-section. All of that is a blur now but I’ll never forget what the Hubster said to me in that moment. He looked at me with eyes that looked a lot like my tear stained ones and said, “You aren’t going to want to do this again, are you?” We both wanted a house full of children – well at least 3. Of course my immediate thought was, “HECK NO!” But knowing that many women have gone through much worse deliveries and turned around and had more children made me reevaluate my response to him. Instead I said, “I don’t think now is the best time to ask.”
Fast forward 7 months, my cycle was a day late (totally not normal for me) and when I mentioned it to the Hubster, he exclaimed, “You’re pregnant!” We weren’t trying for another kid yet and I didn’t have a single pregnancy symptom. With my oldest, I had every symptom in the book. So I laughed and said, “There is NO WAY that I’m pregnant. I have one test left, I’m going to take it to prove to you that you don’t know what your talking about!” Well those were my famous last words. Because as it turned out, I was pregnant. Looking back now I can see how God clearly orchestrated this pregnancy and the timing of the arrival of my youngest. Of course God orchestrates every pregnancy and delivery, but with this one it is easier for me to see Him at work.
It was just 6 weeks after my little man’s arrival that my oldest had his first reaction to scrambled eggs. We saw the allergist two short weeks later to confirm his egg allergy and we were sent home with EpiPens. You can read more about his diagnosis here. Of course the big takeaway from that appointment with our allergist was his response to my question about the odds of my 8 week old having food allergies. He said, “The chance of more than 1 child, in a given family, to have food allergies is incredibly rare. And even if he did, he would most likely have less allergies and they would be less severe.” I left feeling like I still had lots to learn about my oldest’s egg allergy but at peace that my youngest wouldn’t have any. I felt hopeful and confident that our life would only change a little bit. Boy, was I wrong.
Just 2 months later, my youngest had his first reaction to dairy formula and that began my elimination diet to continue nursing. Still incredibly naive, I thought that my little men would just get hives from ingesting their allergens. Anaphylaxis was only something that happened to other people’s kids. Then it hit me like a thief in the night – BOOM! – our first anaphylactic reaction to peanuts on April 5th, 2011. It robbed me of so much. I no longer felt safe unless I was home, I constantly lived in fear for my little men, and above all the fear to have another child. Did you catch that? I became incredibly fearful about having a 3rd child. Did I still want another child? ABSOLUTELY, YES!
Lots of questions arose. What if that baby had life-threatening food allergies, too? Would I be able to handle 3 children with food allergies? We were already avoiding dairy, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts – what if the 3rd child was allergic to more? The only thing that my little men could eat out of the top 8 allergens was wheat. What if baby #3 was allergic to wheat? And is it fair to that child? Is it fair to bring another child into this world knowing that the chances of him/her having food allergies were incredibly high? I mean let’s face it…the odds are not in our favor! For whatever reason, when the Hubster and I procreate fireworks erupt and food allergies are the result. Of course I expected the fireworks…just not the food allergies.
Can you relate? Do you have one or more food allergic children in your house and desperately want another child but are too fearful of the “what ifs?” I struggled with these fears and questions for longer than I like to admit. When my youngest was a little over a year old, the Hubster and I had a conversation about baby #3. He was ready but not only was I not ready to try for #3, I also wasn’t ready to admit to him my fears about having a third with food allergies. So instead I focused on keeping my little men safe and stuffed my fears as far as I could stuff them. Somehow thinking that the desire to have more children would just disappear. Of course that didn’t happen. Instead my fears of the what-ifs and what-could-bes totally enveloped me like a straight jacket. Isn’t that just how Satan works? He tells us lies and instills fears that are so debilitating that we can’t see God or hear His voice.
It wasn’t until I was invited to dinner with a group of well-seasoned and very wise food allergy moms 6-months later that those chains finally began to break. It was incredible listening to each of their stories. I sat there soaking in all of their expertise and knowledge as they had been where I was – and survived! Their children were all older and I was in awe of them. I finally turned to a group of ladies next to me and asked them about their decision to have more children after a life-threatening food allergy diagnosis. I shared with them some of my fears and one lady in particular spoke words to me that I so desperately needed to hear. She said, “Lauren, remember that each child is a gift from God. God will never give you more than you can handle and so what if baby #3 has food allergies? You’re already doing the food allergy thing. If you have to, you’ll just omit more and honestly it won’t be any worse than what you’re already doing. Do you really want to miss out on the blessing and joy of having another baby and all that child will bring to your family just because you are afraid of food allergies? What if God wants to bless you with a child who doesn’t have food allergies? You will be missing out on that blessing.” I went home that night and her words tumbled around in my head. I prayed, perhaps for the first time about my fears and desires for baby #3 and God lifted those chains. He reminded me that He is in control and that even if baby #3 has food allergies, He would give me just what I needed to provide a “safe” environment for that child.
Of course I didn’t turn around and begin trying for baby #3 that night, but over the course of a couple months I was finally at peace with having baby #3. And so the trying began. Little did I know that coming to peace with having baby #3 would just be the first cliff up the side of the mountain. It’s now been 17 months of trying, and I can honestly say that the emotional element of secondary infertility is much worse than just coping with life-threatening food allergies. I know – that’s a BIG statement. I seriously have a whole new appreciation for women who have gone through years of trying and fertility treatments. It’s probably the hardest thing that I have ever done. (more on this topic to come)
For inquiring minds, we have been to an infertility specialist and all of the testing that’s been run on both of us has come back normal. Which really is good. But sometimes you want to hear that something is wrong so that you have an explanation for the infertility. The doctors can’t explain why we haven’t been able to conceive. And although that’s been hard and some months harder than others (especially with all of my friends having babies), I still know that God has another baby for us. Even if it’s not biological – there is a little baby waiting for us and it’s just a matter of time before baby #3 will be more than a dream. What if that baby has food allergies? Well, then I know that God has brought that little baby to the right family because we know how to do food allergies and he/she will fit in perfectly here!
What about you? Do you desperately want more children but the fear of food allergies are standing in the way? Don’t listen to the lies. Live in the peace and knowledge that God is good and wants good things for you.
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.