The question I am asked more than any is “how did you find out Felix had allergies?” It was a day that will always stay with me!
Felix was a hungry and chubby baby who apart from his very first feed in hospital was exclusively breast-fed. I started weaning him on all the health visitor recommended basics of the time, baby rice mixed with breast milk, puréed carrot and stewed apple until I thought he was ready for some finger food at 6 months old. As you’ve probably guessed from my blog I love to cook and was so excited to share my love of good food with my family. I had always planned to spoon feed Felix but introduce a little finger food for him to explore. Baby led weaning was a new thing back then!
One morning I was making my husband some cheese sandwiches to take to work and decided to give Felix a finger of cheese to bash around and gum a little. He seemed to enjoy this – until he started to make choking noises. I thought he was gagging as this was the lumpiest food he had experienced so far but suddenly he was sick everywhere and was covered in that morning’s milk feed. At this point my hubby was dressed in his suit ready for work. It seemed a little unfair to make him clear it up so when he offered help I shouted for him to just go to work! I was wearing my PJs and a cozy dressing gown and accepted I was likely to get plastered in more sick. Better me than him.
I took Felix upstairs to strip off his soaked vest and as he lay on the changing mat I noticed his face started to swell. The sight of sick in the morning does not bring out the best in me. He was looking red and puffy. When the vest came off it revealed a body covered in bright red hives. I panicked, scooped up Felix and ran to my neighbour’s house (still in my dressing gown) and asked for her advice. Now my neighbour, Katie, has 4 children and a very generous of spirit so I valued her opinion of what to do. I have been known to judge people who stand in the street their nightwear but at that point I really didn’t care. Katie stayed very calm and suggested it was probably a reaction to the cheese and I should phone NHS direct to ask for their advice immediately. At this time another friend pulled up in her car (having noticed me in my Obe Wan Kenobi style dressing gown) and asked if we were ok. She had witnessed a reaction to egg in another child and could see Felix swelling up further and firmly told me to get to the doctors immediately. I ran in the house, threw on some clothes (jeans, dirty t-shirt and flip flops) and got in the car and drove Felix to the local doctor’s surgery 2 minutes drive down the road. I could hear on this short journey he was having difficulty breathing but had strapped him into the car seat in case I had an accident in my panic.
All of this coincided with the morning school run and our doctor’s surgery is close to the school gate. Needless to say the area was rammed full of cars. I dumped the car on double yellow lines, ran into the surgery screaming ‘my baby is having an allergic reaction.’ The receptionist had been warned by my friends that I would be arriving any moment and she sprinted in very high heels to find the doctor. Every time we see this receptionist she always remembers Felix’s name! I was rushed into the Doctor’s room where he stayed very calm and followed an action plan printed and stuck to the back of his door. The plan told him where to look up the quantity of adrenaline and antihistamine to administer to a baby of Felix’s size.
By this point Felix had blown up like a balloon and resembled Sloth from the Goonies. My beautiful baby’s eyes were closed over and he was struggling to breath. The two injections took affect immediately and we were sent to the local hospital by ambulance where the effects of the adrenaline could be monitored. My friends were waiting in the surgery to check I was ok and find out if I needed any support. I don’t know why but in a genuine crisis I was able to remain very calm and pragmatic. I said I would be fine and we drove away with blue flashing lights clearing the traffic.
Felix’s recovery was incredibly quick and I was given the advice of ‘no new foods’ by the hospital. I awaited their referral to a paediatrician who could give advice on the next steps. Whilst I remained calm at the time I was petrified to give any food to Felix for the next week and gave myself some firm advice:
NO NEW FOODS UNLESS YOU ARE FULLY DRESSED AND THE DOCTORS ARE OPEN!
If you are weaning a baby I wouldn’t be scared to introduce new foods but make sure you are prepared for what you would do if your child was to have a reaction. This all happened over 6 years ago but feels like it was yesterday. The strangest thing is Felix bounced back from it as if nothing had ever happened. He even slept for a full 12 hours that night. I hate myself for writing that but my goodness I needed the rest!