So again, it's a while since I've blogged. I tend to come here when I feel very vulnerable and scared, yet I also come when I feel overjoyed and confident. I am thrilled to say that Julia has dramatically improved. She is not so fearful of eating and as a matter of fact, she tried two new things for dinner tonight. We've even eaten at our "safe" restaurant again! We have really made a huge difference in just a couple of months. I am so Thankful for the support of my fellow bloggers, it is so encouraging to have you understand where I'm coming from!
Many of you were right in suggesting that I should find a new Pediatrician and we did! Oh my goodness, did that make a world of a difference! This Dr. is very calm, open-minded and very supportive. The kind of Dr. you need when you have a child who has life threatening food allergies.
Yes, we had a cold and unsupportive Dr. before but the problem ran much deeper than that. I realized that I had some soul searching to do when we visited a Psychologist. I knew that we would have to change the way in which we handled Julia's food allergies. I learned that even though we weren't showing fear physically, she could sense our fear and anxiety much like a dog can smell fear. It became very apparent to me that our way of reacting to the situation really impacted her ability to cope. I knew that whatever we were feeling inside in terms of our fears had to be ignored for her well being. Basically, when she showed fear we were fearful too and that had to change.
I learned in speaking with the Psychologist that we had so many fears, constant fears that she was picking up on and it was pretty much becoming who she was. No, of course I am not blaming myself and my husband, it's pretty much organic with her, she is a nervous child. The Psychologist reminded me that my influence on Julia was her biggest and most important one! So I really needed to toughen up and become a strong mommy.
Yes it is so very hard to deal with food allergies every single day of your life, but having a positive attitude really truly makes a big difference. When my little girl started to trust me well enough and started eating all of my food, I started to feel successful in this. I knew once she started to eat without constantly looking at the food labels, we were making huge strides. We still have moments of doubts, fear and anxiety, but isn't that what having food allergies is all about. I assume it's just how we handle the fear.
One thing I learned from the Physcologist that really stuck with me was knowing when to reassure your child. When Julia would be scared and fearful of her food allergies, we would tell her that she was ok. I learned that we were only reinforcing her fears by constantly telling her that she was ok. Of course she was ok, I knew it, Dad knew it, she knew it, yet why was I still reassuring her ? I was only reminding her that I understood why she was afraid. Why would I understand that she were afraid if logically I already knew she was fine. Sure our maternal instinct tells us to reassure our child when they become scared but I was reassuring her at the wrong time. I had to learn to ignore her when she would become hysterical and fearful and tell her that I was there for her when she was ready to talk about something neutral. That was probably the hardest moment of my life. How do you turn your back to your child who is screaming and crying and full of fear? I was desperate that's how.
This Physcologist just met me, yet it felt as if she was reading my thoughts and knew everything about me, so I put my complete trust in her and in the process. Well, needless to say as soon as I showed Julia that her fears were irrational and that I wasn't going to comfort her in those moments, she really began to turn around. The first time that I did it, it looked as if she were in a trance and suddenly I snapped my fingers and she woke up. It really felt that easy. I couldn't believe it, it was like my prayers had been answered. As soon as she saw that I wasn't consoling her and didn't see a reason why she should be afraid she asked,"Mommy ,what's wrong with you? It's like you're not worried about me anymore?" Of course it wasn't a matter of me being worried, I just showed her that I would be concerned when there was reason to be. For example, the Physchologist used a great metaphor, she said,"When someone cuts their head open and is bleeding profusely, what's the first thing the paramedic will say to them when they arrive?....You're ok! You're going to be ok! When your in shock,you need that constant reassurance. They say that some people have been convinced that's what kept them alive. Well, you're giving Julia that same response only her circumstance isn't that severe? You're telling her in so many words that this a serious matter and that she should be afraid." When she learned that I would only show concern when necessary, then she began to do the same. It was as if someone turned a switch in both our minds.
Honestly, I was doubtful of visiting a Physchologist and didn't think we needed someone else to tell us what do with our family. Boy was I completely wrong, it's like that saying goes, "God won't always give you want you want, he'll give you what you need." A visit to the Dr. that very morning was EXACTLY what we needed, even though we didn't want it.