"Armed with growth information from birth and a detailed account of the allergy history, I arrived at the appointment eager for information and guidance on what the best next steps might be."
If you have more than one child, and they are the same gender, you may relish in the opportunity to pass down clothes and shoes that are worn infrequently before the next inevitable growth spurt arrives. As spring slowly turned into summer this year, I began pulling out the next season of gently used clothes from big brother. In this season's collection were an adorable pair of sandals; a pair of shoes Big A had worn the summer Little A was born (where is the time going?). I was reflecting on the irony as I realized just how big these sandals were on Little A. I redid the math in my head. Yes, this was the exact age Big A was when he wore them. How could they be so big (literally by a full size and a half) on Little A?
Navigating the world of food allergies is a never-ending adventure. It was the passing down of clothing that brought to my attention the fact Little A has not gained weight or grown in the last 4 months. In an effort to look into the situation I phoned our resources, mainly a thoroughly understanding pediatrician and incredibly supportive and knowledgeable allergist. The general consensus was the ideal starting point is a nutritionist given the extent of Little A's allergies. Armed with growth information from birth and a detailed account of the allergy history, I arrived at the appointment eager for information and guidance on what the best next steps might be.
A month later we are still working on finding the right solution(s) for Little A, but what this experience reinforced is that navigating the world of food allergies requires perseverance and the ability to advocate for what you know your child needs. Until the medical community reaches a point where there is a consensus on food allergies (everything from how to approach from a medical standpoint to what information is reliable and valid) the parent(s) must remain vigilant in all areas of growth and development, while simultaneously putting together the pieces from all necessary resources (including physicians).
I have been fortunate in that my professional skills have enabled me to advocate for Little A without hesitation or reservation. Realizing that is not the case for all parents, I share the following tips for when it comes to giving your parental instinct a voice.
1) Ask questions and remember no question is a bad question. Whether in an appointment with your pediatrician or working with a specialist, questions are the best way to dive deeper into an issue. Don't be shy about asking for research that supports a recommendation or what alternatives are available for consideration. Likewise, don't ever feel pressured to make a decision about something on the spot. Take time to do further research on your own (and ask more question) in order to feel comfortable you are making the most informed decision possible.
2) Create a folder or binder to organize information. It can be challenging to remember what recommendations were made by whom and when, and how long a certain measure was utilized. Maintaining a journal or creating a three-ring binder to store information in one place is invaluable. When first suspicious of Little A's lack of growth I quickly turned to the one place where I had all the growth information received at each check up since he was 4 days old. There was no question that my concern was valid with this information at hand.
3) Remain open-minded as you gather information from professionals, but be confident in your position as the parent. With Little A, I often couch statements I make with, "I know that I am not trained in the medical profession..." but in reality my position as parent is equally important. My own maternal instincts have been spot on every step of the way. This is not to say the professionals have been wrong. It is simply to point out that my instincts, and trust in myself as a mother, have moved things forward in a positive way throughout this experience. I have learned from every doctor, nurse, and specialist along the way. It is truly a team effort.
Each of us is putting forth our best effort and working diligently to ensure good health and safety. There is no clear path, no right or wrong way to support and advocate for your child; however, it is important to find your voice in the experience.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com