Mama’s Gone Nuts: One Mom’s Experience With Tree Nut Allergies

How it went down

I’ve always been concerned about what goes into my kids’ systems. I guess it started with nursing them as little ones. I felt like their bodies were free of any and all toxins since they’d purely been on breast milk during their infancy. When they got old enough to eat real food, I religiously fed them from the Superfood book, carefully boiling containers and blending up all sorts of baby food concoctions for the freezer, and it all took off from there.

My experience as head mom chef was taken to the next level when my youngest daughter had an allergic reaction, which we later found out was caused by cashews. That’s when this mama went nuts! Watching my child struggle to breathe changed who I am as a mom and as a person. Simply put, I was traumatized. I had put loving, nourishing energy into ensuring they ate only the healthiest foods, and I naively gave my 18 month old something that compromised her breathing. (Insert painful face of regret here.) Her anaphylactic response interrupted my sleep, and the trauma was re-triggered at the time of day it occurred in the days following. Certain sights, sounds and feelings took me back to the moment where I thought my littlest was literally slipping away.

Where to go from here?

I took the situation that left me feeling emotionally frozen, helpless and at fault, as an opportunity to learn and grow. Rather than sit and suffer with the trauma I experienced, I completed several sessions of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or EMDR to overcome my fears of her having another reaction. EMDR is a protocol licensed and trained professionals use to reprocess trauma in the brain, connecting the logical and emotional centers of the brain. EMDR is an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for survivors of abuse, military personnel and everyday people living life.  People have healed issues or “simple traumas” such as fear of flying in planes to more “complex traumas” such as horrific years of abuse.

Katie and her daughterFeeling like I was watching my baby struggle for breath changed me forever and EMDR has given me the opportunity to have a different perspective on that event, and has transferred to many challenging parts of parenting and life. When difficulties, arise as they do for all of us (money, health, jobs, illness, stress, to-do lists), I instinctively tell myself, “I can handle this” rather than, “There is nothing I can do”. I’m proactively taking charge of the situation and not sitting in grief. It’s been nearly a year, and my daughter has not had another allergic reaction. We’ve even entrusted grandparents to watch her overnight which seemed impossible to us at the onset of this experience, in fact, that is how I am writing this blog post now! Because of the experiences I’ve had as a mom, I am a better person, wife, friend and professional. I know I can handle whatever comes my way. My child will be the girl that has a “no nut” policy. Yep, that’s us. She’ll also be a little girl who watched her mom take control of the situation, rather than be helpless with the situations that are handed to us in life.

And then…

At the conclusion of the EMDR sessions I was diagnosed with a bone tumor in my femur. Fortunately, the therapist completed a recent trauma protocol of EMDR right away so I could apply the same thinking to the tumor removal surgery that was scheduled. The confidence gained from overcoming these experiences (tumor gone, mom healthy) have rooted more foundation from growth than any other life experience. I’m not saying it was easy, it was just worth it. Worth the tears, worth the fears, worth the “what if scenario’s” that endlessly ran through my mind. These experiences made me who I am and I’m proud of whom I’ve become through the process. This pride is reflected in all facets of my life, mostly which revolve around parenting.

The purpose of this post is to remind parents that we put a lot of responsibility on ourselves as role models for our kids. If something goes wrong we typically look in the mirror to blame ourselves. If sharing my experience helps another parent take steps to heal some of the traumas we inevitably experience as parents, then writing this was worth my time. Until then, happy parenting! And remember, you can handle it!

Katie Brandow and FamilyKatie Brandow, MSW is a Licensed Masters Social Worker, wife to Daddy-O Darren, Mom of two little girls (one mellow, one feisty), and a lazy black lab named Berkeley. Katie is the President of School of Enrichment, Inc., Drop ‘N Hop and is a crafty lunch packer at Criss-Cross Apple Sauce {a modern twist on kids’ lunches} and Easylunchbox fan. This mama loves making breakfast muffins & casseroles and clean meals for her family. She loves to happy hour, run, camp, cook while camping, read, do yoga and meal plan, take tropical beach vacations with her husband and organize stations throughout the house on late summer evenings.