My journey as an allergy mum (the abridged version) and the birth of Mem & Maeve
My journey as an allergy mum began with the birth of my beautiful middle daughter, Miss 3.
She was 10 days overdue and born via emergency caesarean section; she had a rocky first few days of life. By 6 weeks she had developed allergic symptoms, most notably bloody and mucus filled nappies.
As I was exclusively breastfeeding my daughter, it was recommended I eliminate dairy and soy from my diet. While this initially improved her ability to digest my breast milk, the effect was short lived. She began to lose weight, however the diagnosis of a lip and tongue tie were flagged as potential reasons for this. I was changing endless nappies; she was basically unable to keep anything in her tummy.
At this stage we were referred to a paediatrician, paediatric immunologist and paediatric gastroenterologist. To say we were feeling overwhelmed and scared was an understatement. Bloods were taken, stool samples collected, and my baby even underwent 3 separate sweat tests for Cystic Fibrosis.
My days were a blur- I monitored what I ate and how it affected her, whether she was more unsettled than expected for a newborn, what triggered her eczema flares, and inspecting her pooh. I couldn’t keep track of all the information I needed to collect and communicate to the doctors, so I developed a simple Symptom Tracker (download it here).
We were (and still are!) blessed with a wonderful GP and a community nurse who provided us with the education and support we needed. By the time my daughter was six months old, she was under the care of a fabulous specialist. Skin prick tests were performed which showed she was positive for peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, dairy and eggs.
As per our specialists advice, we chose to delay starting solids until she was 8 months of age. Thankfully, she loved food and would eat anything I put in front of her. However, the challenge for me was learning how to cook for my family in new ways. I took to the internet – I joined forums, followed allergy friendly cooking pages on facebook, purchased vegan cookbooks (which are so handy for egg and dairy free cooking). One of my favourites was the No END (Egg, Nuts & Dairy) Cookbook – I felt like it was written just for my baby and me!
Easter rolled around and I thought, what now? Even though this was only a few years ago, dairy free chocolate was nowhere near as readily available as it is now. This lead to me discovering Happy Tummies (www.happytummies.com.au), a fabulous online supermarket full of allergy friendly foods. Since starting Mem & Maeve, Lisa, the wonderful owner of Happy Tummies and I have “met” online in several different places. It has been wonderful to get to know the woman behind the store that helped me keep my sanity!
When my daughter was 18 months of age, repeat skin prick tests indicated no reaction to tree nuts or sesame. I was able to slowly integrate them into her diet without any reactions. By the age of 3, she had outgrown her egg allergy. Now at 3.5 years, she remains allergic to dairy and peanut.
As hard as those first few years were, I feel that we have a really good handle on her food allergies. Her eczema is another story!
Miss 3’s eczema has remained a constant challenge for us. Her poor skin is often red and inflamed, despite trying so many treatments over the years, from steroid creams to emu oil. We frequently do wet wrapping, and at times we have dressed her in mittens and a silk balaclava to stop scratching, rubbing and friction, and protect her skin from further damage. Day to day, we have made some progress, however her eczema flares continue to be epic and long lasting.
Renee is my friend of 20 years and the co-owner of Mem & Maeve. She has been by my side throughout my entire journey as an allergy mum. In fact she was even in the room when my beautiful little allergy baby was born!
Renee saw how difficult it was for me to source clothing and skin care that was safe, suitable and practical for my daughter’s specific needs. Considering that allergic conditions are among the fastest growing chronic diseases and public health issues in Australia, it made no sense to either of us that these products were not more easily accessible and readily available.
We were inspired to create an online store to help other parents of children with allergies source high quality allergy essentials and allergy management supplies. As a result, Mem & Maeve was born.
At Mem & Maeve, we understand and empathise with the challenges faced by our community in caring for children with allergies. We make it our mission to seek out the safest and very best natural, hypoallergenic, chemical and toxin free products for babies and children on the market. All products in our range have been hand selected for their ability to promote comfort and wellbeing, thereby minimising discomfort.
Some of our favourite things:
We love mums that blog! They create supportive online communities, which provide an avenue for learning, sharing, and connecting, no matter what life path you are on.
We feel blessed to have met some incredible women in the course of running our business, who have given their time and advice so generously.
We appreciate when people truly take the time to understand the seriousness of allergic conditions and the impact they have on a child’s quality of life.
We adore our suppliers who have created clothing, skin care and other essentials with the specific needs of little ones living with allergies, eczema and asthma in mind.
Anna – It would have to be the ScratchMeNot Mitten Sleeves and Tubifast garments. I remember discovering these products and incorporating them into our daily eczema management routine and being amazed at the difference they made.
Renee – I adore the Bubba Organics Australian Goats Milk Baby Hair and Bath Wash. My youngest daughter has dry, sensitive skin that is itchy and prone to irritation. This product is gentle on her skin, and makes for a great natural bubble bath. I also love the book Bugybops: Friends for all time. It has been a valuable resource in helping me teach my children about their friend’s food allergies in a fun and engaging way.
Love & happiness
Mem & Maeve