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You are not alone

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As I dropped my 2-year-old off for her first day of preschool, I was filled with all of the typical mom emotions. Joy for new beginnings combined with sadness for time passing by. I was also filled with emotions that only other "allergy moms" can relate to. For the past week, I've been filled with anxiety. Will the teacher understand celiac disease? Will she know red dye #40 is in almost everything? Will they accidentally let her play with the regular play dough? As I walked into the school, armed with gluten-free play dough, gluten-free crackers, and regular school supplies, I could feel my heart starting to beat a little bit faster.

As I waited in line to pay tuition and hand over our gluten-free goods, I noticed the mom behind me was holding EpiPens. I couldn't help but wonder if she spent sleepless nights wondering if and praying the teacher was informed of allergies or if the preschool staff was trained on administering EpiPens. I didn't say anything to her, I just looked at her and smiled. An unspoken kinship between allergy moms. 

For all of you who have spent nights worrying and wondering if you've explained the severity of your child's allergies correctly, for those of you who have sent letters, made home made play dough, and worried about being "high maintenance". I want you to know you are not alone. You are your child's best advocate and that's no easy task. Sometimes you can feel alone as an allergy mom, but I want you to know you're not.

For those of you who are sending your kids off to school, I've heard some amazing advice from moms all over the world. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Write a letter to the teacher thoroughly and kindly explaining your kid's food allergy(ies). List common foods containing the allergen(s) and what to do in case of accidental ingestion or reaction. If your child needs an EpiPen administered in case of emergency, include instructions on proper administration. Your child's teacher can keep this in their desk to reference. 
  • When explaining your child's allergy, celiac disease, etc to the teacher, please use kindness. Don't be timid and downplay your child's allergy, but also don't be brash. Your child's teacher is there to teach and nurture your child. The last thing he/she wants is your little one to have an allergic reaction. 
  • Offer to bring in any extra items needed to keep your child safe. My daughter's school supply list included play dough, I simply made our own gluten-free, naturally dyed play dough (It was actually really easy and way cheaper). I also brought in a couple boxes of gluten-free crackers for the teacher to have on hand as an alternative to the Goldfish crackers occasionally given to the kids.  

What do you do to make the school transition easier and less stressful? 

From the trenches of celiac disease, allergies and motherhood. You are not alone.