“Place your oxygen mask over your own face before putting an oxygen mask on your child.”
Ahhh it sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Take care of yourself first so that you’re able to care of others. The logic is certainly sound. And in the case of putting on your oxygen mask (the inevitable hysteria, blind fear and trauma associated with aviation incidents aside), seems like a manageable action plan.
Perhaps where allergy parenting is concerned, the analogy is slightly different. In the case of unexplained non-IGE allergies, often featuring severe and ongoing reflux, persistent skin conditions, stomach cramps and chronic malabsorption diarrhoea, it’s more complex. More like attempting to continuously hold your oxygen mask to your face while cooking a meal, comforting a baby and simultaneously entertaining a toddler and their pet bear who’s trying to overturn every piece of furniture in your house. (The pet bear is the allergy- in case that wasn’t clear!)
I remember the health visitor making suggestions for how to keep your oxygen mask on. The risk of post-natal depression, after all, is very real in overtired, overwhelmed and overstretched Mama’s. Suggestions such as an activity for yourself each day. A trip out for a coffee with a friend. A long, bubbly bath with your favourite book in the evening. All lovely suggestions I might add. But they neglect to take the bear into account! For a good number of allergy families, the bear, never, ever, sleeps.
For me, the solution has been about moving the sitting room experience upstairs. By building a Mama nest by the baby/toddler bed, I’ve managed to create a special space and time that I look forward to each day. The close proximity to the allergy baby sleeping on his wedge, means that a simple extension of the arm enables me to vomit catch and prevent the otherwise unavoidable wake ups without having to move. My Netflix binges can continue with minimal interruption and if the little one needs holding, the lighting and ambiance remain constant and don’t end up waking him any further than necessary.
The addition of fairy lights, bean bags, a super soft throw and a travel kettle may have been the result of an overtired whim, but they’ve certainly improved quality of the nest experience too!
Xx Allergy Mama