Willow and Omi
Our family’s story
Since becoming parents, our lives have been affected significantly by food allergies. The first time we introduced a cow's milk-based infant formula to our first daughter, Willow, she broke out in hives. The same reaction occurred to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, celery, and—more mildly—corn and soy. We immediately put her on a very controlled diet of safe foods, striving each day to meet her nutritional needs while avoiding her allergens.
A few years later, we knew that her baby sister, Naomi, was considered at risk for developing food allergies, too. During her first two months, she spit up nearly every time she drank breast milk and struggled to put on weight. Rebecca eliminated cow's milk, eggs, and nuts from her own diet, and within a few days Naomi stopped spitting up and started hitting her growth goals. Eventually tests confirmed that Naomi is severely allergic to cow's milk. When Naomi was 5 months old, she experienced an anaphylactic reaction to an unknown trigger, and, as she struggled to breathe, we administered an EpiPen and called 911. We have seen first-hand that epinephrine can be a miracle drug, and we now have no hesitation in using it if necessary.
The first few years of an infant food allergy diagnosis are tremendously difficult for families. We struggled with understanding the science behind the tests (it's often contradictory, and results can fluctuate or mislead). We struggled to bring family members and caretakers up to speed on the dangers of cross-contamination and accidental exposure. We grieved the lost opportunities for socializing with friends and other children, as many events present dangerous opportunities for allergic reaction. We battle our own internal frustrations and angst daily. While time hasn't made life with food allergies less difficult, it has conditioned us to master safe eating behaviors and better accept the limitations we face.
We have seen minor improvement in Willow's case in that she can now tolerate corn, celery, and soy. We hope that she (and Naomi) will follow a generally positive trend in the research that shows that most children outgrow their allergies to cow's milk and egg by adulthood. It's likely that Willow will continue to be allergic to nuts.
So, we are asking you to support us in one of two ways:
First, we are asking for your empathy. We talk about our kids' allergies A LOT. We spend a lot of time debunking myths and even putting up with a mix of disbelief, mockery, and ambivalence. So, if you can take a few minutes to imagine how food allergies would affect your own family's life, and then understand how important it is to keep food-allergic children safe, it would mean a lot to us. If there's any good that can come out of our circumstances, it is that we are now more sensitive to and empathetic about the struggles other families face in a multitude of ways.
Second, if you're in a position to do so, consider making a donation to FARE in Willow and Omi's honor. FARE has become an invaluable resource for us, and you can learn more about it on this website. Your support, however small, however big, adds strength to our family. To all those who have helped us along the way, thank you. And to all those who will help us as we continue on this journey, thanks in advance. We are forever grateful for your support.
Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S. A life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease, food allergy affects 32 million Americans.
Right now, there is no treatment or cure for food allergy... but there is HOPE.
That's why I'm raising funds for FARE to help them fulfill their mission to improve the quality of life and the health of individuals with food allergies, and to provide them hope through the promise of new treatments. Here’s how you can help:
DONATE NOW! My goal is to raise as much money as possible in honor of the 15 million Americans with food allergies. Any amount helps, and when you donate, you help FARE to fund food allergy education programs, advocacy and awareness initiatives, and world-class research. Together, we can create a better future for all who are affected by food allergies!