My mum calls me Alex, but my friends have morphed that into Lexy. Why am I here? I’m not sure, I guess I’ll find that out along the way. But here’s a little about me…
About 6 years ago I was 38 years old working in a successful corporate career in financial services. I was doing great, a fab apartment in Bondi, wonderful friends, travel. But I was single and childless and so over the corporate world I was going insane – in a word, miserable. Fed up with internet dating, I’d even started the process of having a baby on my own thanks to the amazing generosity of a very trusting gay friend who was willing to be a donor.
Then – thanks to a last ditch effort on eharmony – along came the lovely and handsome Andy. He managed to convince me that having a baby on my own was a silly idea, and that he wasn’t going anywhere (cue angels singing). But he didn’t want to stay in Sydney a minute longer, he yearned for country life as much as I yearned for a family – I didn’t care where we lived.
The gods smiled upon us and gave us what we wanted. About five years ago, I got knocked up and we bought a 103 acre cattle farm in the Southern Highlands, NSW about 2 hours from Sydney down the Hume Highway. It’s pretty if there’s been enough rain, and it’s cold. Damn cold.
Unfortunately, 103 acres of cattle does not a living make, and we both still have real jobs, Andy with one that requires him to fly away from Monday to Friday.
So here I am: tree-changer, FIFO wife, farm dweller and working mum of a delightful 4yo girl who happens to have life threatening food allergies. If anyone had 6 years ago suggested that I’d be an allergy mum living on a farm with 1 child, a part-time husband, 3 dogs, 55 cattle and 15 or so sheep in cold country, I’d have spat out my flat white in protest. It’s a long way from a swank apartment in Bondi.
You never know where life is going to take you…
Tippi’s Food Allergies
Four years ago my 4 month old exclusively breastfed baby developed horrible, itchy and unsightly eczema on her face. I took her to a GP who gave us a prescription to cortisone and sent us on our way. Her weight was dropping so I tried to get her onto a formula to supplement my breastmilk.
She wouldn’t take the bottle – she’d suck it then spit out the (cows milk based) formula, and where it spilled over her skin she came up in red, hot hives. To cut a long story short, we eventually found the problem – she was ‘moderately’ allergic to dairy and ‘severely’ allergic to eggs and peanuts. Tree nuts also showed a small reading in the skin prick tests, so they were out too.
The first 2 or 3 years were without a doubt the hardest of years of my life. Words cant explain how hard, frightening and stressful severe food allergies are, especially in the early years when it’s new and our babies are so little. Not even my husband, nor my mum really get just how difficult it was. It was down to me (and husband to a certain extent, but mainly me) to figure out what she can eat and not stuff up. If I messed up, even just a tiny little mistake, anaphylaxis could kill her within 15 minutes. I was paralysed with fear, I didn’t sleep very well in those years and I cried a lot.
Four years on, managing her allergies are now second nature. They’ve improved substantially too – she’s outgrown dairy, and tree nuts and the egg has reduced to the point where she can tolerate a little egg baked in, say, a cake. She’s a lifer for peanuts, and that is still severe, and mind-blowingly scary, but it does seem a lot easier when you’ve had to deal with something as common as dairy and egg.
So it’s easier, that’s for sure. But we are lucky – some families have a MUCH rougher ride than us. Asthma, eczema, hayfever all come hand in hand, but other than the bit of eczema as a baby, my daughter has dodged that bullet. Some kids have, like, ONE safe food, or develop oral aversion from food making them sick all the time and refuse to eat and have to be fed by tube. Seriously, it’s horrendous.