Our now toddler has had skin issues since he was born and he has developed further complications as he has grown older. Even though we were told that he would outgrow his dry, itchy skin condition, it was heartbreaking to watch as his fine motor skills prematurely developed out of necessity to scratch his cracked, rashed head. (Thursday’s post will have the skin regimen and products that made, and continues to make, our lives so much easier in way of relieving his skin irritations.) As I shared in The Start of a Movement: Baby A’s Birth Story Part I and Part II, our son was born via “emergency C-Section” which is probably partially responsible for his current condition. He has recently been diagnosed with three specific allergies to dogs, cats, and peanuts as well as asthma and eczema.
It wasn’t long after our son’s first birthday that we allowed him to try peanut butter for the first time and we noted increasing health difficulties. Almost immediately following his first bite, his eyes and lips turned bright red and became swollen. A quick dose of Children’s Benadryl alleviated the symptoms but we learned to be careful with peanuts.
Then, the coughing started. His chronic cough ended up being our turning point. It was interfering with play time, napping and nighttime sleeping. His nose became a faucet streaming with clear goo and his skin became unbearably itchy. We finally decided to book an appointment with a Pediatric Allergist located over four hours away from our home because he was not sleeping through the nights; it was becoming increasingly difficult for our son to breathe; and we became downright tired of witnessing his misery and feeling helpless about fully relieving his symptoms.
We are currently living the reality of raising a “C-Section Baby.” Although you may not initially consider the relation, I fully believe that the way our son was born is partially the reason we were recently sent home with inhalers and epipens for our 23-month-old. I’ve learned that conditions such as allergies, asthma and eczema can be closely related to one another. Furthermore, many updated studies and research articles are finding correlations between the way a newborn enters our world and allergies they may develop. One of my favorite NPR reports and current pieces on this topic is “Modern Medicine May Not Be Doing Your Microbiome Any Favors.” This report was put out just a few months ago during an April 2014 airing and you can click the above title to listen to the story in it’s entirety; or read through the article. I found the following paragraph to be incredibly important because it addresses the process of acquiring the necessary ingredients through vaginal birth for a strong, healthy immune system:
“…our immune system is quite complex. There are many kinds of immune cells. There are cells that strongly recognize foreign substances, there are ones that try to damp [the immune system] and down-regulate it. There’s what we call innate immunity, which is the immunity we’re all born with, and then there’s adaptive immunity — the immunity that develops when we experience different kinds of exposures.”
Dr. Martin Blaser, the expert being interviewed, explains the importance of being born vaginally, complete with the process of babies ingesting their own mother’s bacteria during the birth process. This is the first, most integral, and important introduction to a newborn’s immune system and one of the many reasons I helped co-found VBAC Casper in order to reverse the mandatory repeat C-Section policy at the Wyoming Medical Center. Additionally, I plan to do everything in my power to deliver all subsequent babies through my birth canal. In the NPR interview, Dr. Blaser goes on to explain:
“It’s developing early in life. That’s what sets, in essence, [the] immunological tone that will determine how allergic a person is, or how stoical a person is in an immunologic sense.”
My mommy guilt over his birth experience has settled back in and I’m still in amazement that our son, whom I intended to create perfectly healthy, could possibly need so much in way of medication just to breathe or sleep at night. I’m sad for him and us that an inhaler may be essential for his well being over his lifetime and equally frustrated that an everyday food could potentially kill him.
In my followup post, Dogs, Cats, & Peanuts, OH MY! A Toddler’s Allergies Part II, I’ll share more about the anticipation of our visit to the doctor; the actual procedure performed to determine our son’s allergies; and the conclusion to our visit. We have had to make a few tough family choices and adapt our lifestyle for the health of our son. Even though there have been tribulations, we are happy to make adjustments to create a better existence for our happy little boy and we are a little nervous about how much more energy he will have once he is fully utilizing his lung capacity! We already have a hard time keeping up with him and I feel the need for a nap just thinking about it!