My Story

About us

me and benWelcome to ‘A Free From World’, discussing parenting, living with food allergies and eczema. I’m Emily, a Primary School teacher and current stay at home mummy. I’m married to my wonderful husband Benjamin, a church youth worker.

The cute little munchkin below is our 1 year old daughter, Elianah.

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A confession to begin- aside from childhood asthma, I have never suffered with food allergies or eczema. So why this blog? What gives me any right to talk about these issues? How could I possibly understand the pain, frustration and weariness that they bring? Well, the two people most precious to me in the world live with eczema and food allergies.

Benjamin and I have been blessed with a gorgeous, incredibly cheeky and fun little daughter, although I should first describe her as resilient. On a daily basis she copes in her itchy little world battling her eczema, and food allergies to wheat, milk protein (including all animal milk products), eggs, peanuts, and soya, environment allergies to animal hair, soaps and detergents, and hayfever.

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I have breastfed my daughter since she was born and from the day allergy blood results for Elianah came through when she was 4 months old, I have been on a diet that eliminates all the foods she is allergic to. For the time being, for as long as she continues to breastfeed, I am sharing in my daughter’s free from world.

On Christmas Day this year we celebrated Elianah’s first birthday which sparked an inevitable series of nostalgic conversations about our launch into parenthood and the expansion of our eczema and allergy family! The blogs I will share with you are intended as an encouragement to eczema and/or food allergy sufferers and their families and friends, to help you know you are not alone, to share together our frustrations living with, or raising children with these illnesses and, most importantly, to share in our joy as we fight the eczema and allergy battle.

A little more about our journey

I have been on a dairy free diet since March 2014 and a wheat, gluten, soya, egg, milk, and berry free diet since May 2014 in order to eliminate allergens to my daughter’s diet, whom I am still breastfeeding. Here is a little overview to our free from battle over the past year.

From day one, Elianah was always a tricky baby to feed. Like many babies, she was born with a tied tongue which made latching difficult for her and within a few days we were back at the hospital to get it snipped, hoping it would help her take milk. Initially it seemed to do the trick, but soon she was screaming at most feeds and staying on for barely 3 minutes at a time. For the second week of her life I expressed every feed and fed her breastmilk through a bottle, topping up with formula. Expressing my milk on top of trying to coax Elianah onto me to feed left me exhausted, sore and frustrated. On the advice of the midwife at our checking out appointment, my husband and I made the decision to go cold turkey on the bottle. Without my husband’s help, getting up with me every night feed and soothing Elianah onto me for the feeds there is no way I could have continued. I say this to explain that I only have one opinion on the best way to feed your baby and that is the way that allows you to be the best parents for your baby. If that is bottle feeding with a trusted and tested formula, hypoallergenic formula, expressed breastmilk or if that is breastfeeding, that decision is best made by you as parents.

For us in our situation, given what we now know of Elianah’s allergies and eczema, it was truly a miracle to us that Elianah and I were gradually able to get into the breastfeeding groove. However it was certainly not without pain, both emotional and physical.

At around 6 weeks old, Elianah was screaming at nearly every feed, and broke out in small hives on her cheeks, resulting in dry, red skin. I spent my time at baby groups and church creche, rocking a screaming baby, boobs flashed to all in sight, crying, feeling completely helpless. Her skin was soon out of control.

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My husband, who suffers from eczema and a peanut allergy, recognised Elianah’s pain as an allergic reaction. After a visit to the GP for requests for lactose free formula and a very unsuccessful period trying to get Elianah to take the new milk, and still with clear reactions, I was a struggling mess. Postnatal depression had truly got its grip on me. In the end, a visit from our health visitor was the stimulus for getting the help we needed. As she watched Elianah feed, she immediately appreciated that this was not a happy feeding baby.

A couple of months later, after dermatologist, dietician and pediatrician referrals, a round of blood test allergy results revealed Elianah was allergic to wheat, milk protein (of all animals) and egg. In the meantime I had cut out dairy products, thinking this would be a likely suspect but substituted into my diet a lot of soya which had an adverse reaction with Elianah’s skin. On the dietician’s advice, soya was added to the no go list for Elianah.

e reactionWhilst I didn’t want Elianah to have food allergies, I must admit to feeling a sense of relief when they came through 4 ½ months after Elianah was born. Firstly it confirmed to me and my husband that we weren’t being fussy parents and secondly it gave a reason for Elianah’s pain and reactions during breastfeeding. (Recent blood tests results in January 2015 confirmed a positive IgE allergies to soya and peanut as well as wheat, egg and milk).

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At 6 months old, once the new diet had settled in, it felt like Elianah and I were able to start afresh with breastfeeding and I am so thankful to God, to friends, to family and doctors that our multiple daily and nightly battles soon turned to times of bonding.

A diagnosis is such a helpful starting point and there are still unexplained reactions Elianah has on a weekly basis with her skin, but knowing the underlying issues at least gives us a framework in which we can shape her diet and to some degree her environment.

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Navigating our way through the weaning process has been a little bumpy which is the main reason I wanted to share our experiences and hopefully in the meantime provide some tried and tested free from recipes, and some useful resources.

 

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing your experiences too,

Emily x

24 Responses to My Story

  1. Paula Lonardo says:

    What an inspiration. May God bless you and your family. I believe this valuable blog will be a light in the darkness for many. I have a friend ( who used to go to your sisters chuch in Dereham) whose son, who is now 21, had terrible allergies, some times at church he would lie listless in his mothers arms and honestly looked like he had been in a house fire. Like you, she never wavered in her love for her son, and found many natural and organic ways to help him…. Josh is doing so well now😊
    I will pray for you.
    Paula.

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Thank you for your prayers. Wonderful to hear God’s goodness guiding your friend through parenting a child with allergies. Jesus joins us in our suffering and celebrations. How good it is to be known and loved by Him 🙂 Thank you x

      Like

  2. David Hague. says:

    Not that I have any food allergies, but I know the problem because Maggy has coeliac disease and cannot have anything with wheat. It is sometimes a nightmare trying to find a snack in some of the Eastbourne cafes, and expensive when shopping in the supermarkets. Sainsbury has the best range of free-from foods.
    David Hague

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Glad you’ve managed to find decent free from food for her in Sainsbury’s… Safe treats can play a bit of hide and seek in supermarket aisles but the range is definitely improving 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      Like

  3. Hi lovely, what a brilliant idea. This is such a good idea, and I’m sure it’ll be such a lifeline to someone struggling with similar issues in the future. 🙂
    Has your dietician said anything about Elianah growing out of her allergies? I know you met my nephew and sister in law at Owen’s thanksgiving – they are gradually introducing soya (and hopefully dairy) into his diet and have been told that he might grow out of his allergies.
    Can’t wait to see you and E again soon!
    Love Na x

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Hi hun,
      We are currently waiting for more results so will see about ‘challenging’ her after if some come back negative. Maybe forward tag your sis in law in link 😉
      Love to all, speak soon x

      Like

      • That makes sense. I know so little about how it works, I’m sure it’s a quick learning curve when you are thrust into the situation. I will send her the link, I’m sure she’ll be interested. Xx

        Like

  4. Sally Law says:

    Brilliant Blog Emily, a wonderful story of determination and love for Elianah. You are a fabulous Mum. xxx

    Like

  5. Katarina says:

    Reading your story and feel so stupid now.My Son has got ‘only’ milk protein and egg allergy and I was feeling so miserable..you battle with so much more with your head up..what an inspirational woman you are..this blog is a great idea..good luck to all your family x

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Hi Katharina,
      Thank you for your message and reading the blog. One thing I’m certain of with all this allergy business… It’s not a numbers game, a case of how many allergies or reactions. Only room for encouragement and support between families. It’s tough for anyone in whatever situation they deal with. I’ll be praying for you and your little one. Thank you again,
      Emily x

      Like

  6. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Emily. I have been living a very similar situation with my soon to be one-year-old. He has a peanut allergy and also reacts to dairy, soy, wheat/corn/other grains and sugar. His reactions cause eczema flare-ups, mostly on his face, just like Elianah’s picture. Like you, I chose to adopt his diet and breastfeed. I look forward to following your blog and would be glad to share success stories and challenges! 🙂
    God bless your precious little angel. xo

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Thank you for reading Sylvia. So sorry you’re dealing with allergies too. Would love to hear your coping strategies 🙂 afreefromworld has a fb page for private messages too 🙂 thanks again, and praying for your family x

      Like

  7. Lynn D says:

    I have gone through a very similar experience with my daughter who is now 4. She still has multiple allergies but all now well managed and in turn her skin is doing great. She does seem to be having a lot of asthma symptoms though. I think your blog is a great idea as I can remember clearly how alone and isolated I felt not knowing what to do or where to get help for my daughters health. X

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Thank you for reading. Good to hear your daughter is doing better with her eczema. Asthma is a common link isn’t it… Hope you’re getting the support you need for her.
      Thanks again,
      Emily

      Like

  8. Thrive & Shine says:

    Hi Emily. Your story is very moving, poor little Elianah. I don’t know if you’ve come across this before but I work with Forever Living Products – producers of fine quality aloe vera. It is not a cure, but certainly has had some good results with both eczema and allergies amongst a plethora of other things. If you’re interested in knowing more, please either email or ring me 0044 7773 270015. Email is:- masondj95@icloud.com. Otherwise I hope everything is going well. x

    Like

  9. jkosuda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is incredibly inspiring and Elianah is very lucky to have you as her mommy. My almost 15 month old son’s story is a similar one of food allergies and eczema. After his anaphylactic reaction to his first taste of yogurt in December, we soon learned that he was allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, barley, oats, sesame, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, coconut, and peas. I decided that continuing to breastfeed him on a strict elimination diet was best for him. After 6 months of this at 13.5 months, after he outgrew soy, I weaned him from breastfeeding. Here is my blog and our story: https://smilingawayfoodallergies.wordpress.com/

    Please share around if you don’t mind. I feel like I need to help and I am looking for ways to do this and spread our story to give others the courage to share theirs. If you have any suggestions on how to do this please let me know. It has been in my heart for awhile and now I know that God is leading me to take action.

    Keep being amazing! Your story has been and continues to be inspiring.
    Thank you so much!
    Jen Kosuda

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      Thank you so much for your words and for sharing your story. Your blog has had me in tears reading through. Everyone who sees this, please click on the link, pray for Jen and her family and for healing for our little ones. Always encouraging to hear someone who has gone through the draining yet essential process of exclusion diet breastfeeding. Praying for strength, peace and protection for you and your family. Keep in touch,
      Love in Christ,
      Emily

      Like

  10. Marivel says:

    Thank you for your blog. It’s comforting to read your story. I too have a baby with food allergies and had to change my diet. It’s tough and scary to introduce solids or introduce certain ingredients back into my diet.

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Hi there,
      I’m so sorry to hear your baby has allergies too. Hoping you have a better idea of what is safe and what to avoid now. It is definitely scary. Lots of prayer in our house. Will pray for your baby to be growing strong and enjoying all their yummy safe foods!

      Like

  11. Barry says:

    Hi There. this is such an amazingly inspiring blog. Thank you so much for sharing your story. After struggling with eczema all my life, I decided to do something about it and started a blog to detail all the remedies out there that I personally tested and researched thoroughly. You can check it out at http://www.besteczemaremedies.com. I hope it helps someone out there.
    Once again thanks so much and may God bless you.

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Thank you for your kind words. Hoping to write again soon. I have another baby, now 8 months old, with the same eczema and food allergy problems so have been busy since she was born in October. Great work on yoru blog. The more ideas the better in this area. All the very best.

      Like

  12. Karen says:

    Phew, my husband emailed me your blog to read and I can’t stop the tears from flowing. Thank you for posting your journey. My son is 8 months and well I think of him and the challenges that lie ahead. Your blog is encouraging! God is with all of us and with your family. Many blessings.

    Like

    • emjlucas says:

      Praying for your son. Elianah is now 3 and we have 14 month Bethany (who also has eczema and multiple food allergies). God has protected and strengthened our girls and we are so thankful for his provision and grace. Hope you continue to find encouragement and support for your family x

      Like

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