The two times I have been maddest at my husband both occurred probably not coincidentally while I was pregnant. I don’t usually use hormones as an excuse for otherwise unacceptable behavior, but I realize there isn’t much of a rational explanation for the first incident. I am willing to acknowledge that incident might not even be the best word because, you see, the “incident” was not something he actually did, but rather something I dreamed he did. Shakespeare has that whole concept that “we are such stuff as dreams are made on”, but even I recognize that my reaction was a bit over the top.
The incident involved paint color and Jason painting over the color (a light lavender) that I had carefully chosen for the nursery. Jason and I had discussed the color when we bought the house while trying to get pregnant. When we found out Max was a boy, I persuaded him we would just add bright yellow accents to the lavender walls and it would be plenty boyish. To his credit, Jason just smiled and nodded and then painted to my specifications. I can’t say as he ever gave me any indication that he was anything less than happy with these color choices. Therefore, I am not proud to admit this, but after I dreamed the dream I held a grudge against him for pretty much two full days.
The second incident was more complicated and took place while I was fully conscious, although with several years perspective I can say that I at least see the other side now. It happened when we were visiting our parents in the town in which we both grew up. We were staying with his mom. Max was probably about 16 months old, which would have meant I was probably about 7 months pregnant with Claire. I may have the details foggy but I distinctly remember Jason was bathing Max, which was our usual routine. Max, in part because of his dairy allergy, continued to nurse two to three times a day. Jason would bathe him and I would nurse him and read him stories before bed.
This particular visit it had been several months since Jason’s mom had last seen him. At the time, she lived alone. She somewhat understandably had saved up a few projects for him. He has always helped both our parents with technology issues in particular whenever we have visited. So his Mom had called him away, and I had taken over the bath that night. I don’t remember my feelings about that, but I imagine I was rather grumpy. I am picturing the tub and the bending over and by that point the fairly large basketball of a baby that would be in between, and I can’t imagine feeling chipper.
What I do remember distinctly is feeling hungry. Most people indulge pregnant women in some cravings, but when you have eliminated dairy, egg, soy, tree nut and peanut, and you are nursing as well as gestating – well let’s just say in the best of circumstances it’s not a good combination of limited choices and growing appetite. I remember I was thinking of forbidden foods I would like to eat when the knock on the door sounded downstairs. It was Papa John’s delivering a pizza – a gooey, cheesy, dairy laden circle of goodness kind of pizza – which I couldn’t eat. His mom had found out he was hungry, and this was her solution. I was furious. I called him upstairs immediately.
Jason once he assessed my emotional state immediately and profusely apologized and said he wouldn’t eat the pizza either. He offered to find us another allergen-free snack, and said all the right things from that point on. I can’t remember what I eventually ate, but looking back on it now that was the low point in my nursing life. In some ways, I feel like it was good to have the experience of having to follow the same diet as Max for as long as I did. While unlike me he has neither memories of what cheesy pizza tastes like nor does he have pregnancy hormones with which to contend, he does have to pass by a lot of food. He is a remarkably good sport about this I think in part because he doesn’t really know what he is missing. Still I feel as if I did get a sense of the disappointment he must feel at times when everyone else is able to eat what he cannot.
It also brings up the issue of what to do about everyone else in the family. As I suggested in my post about how we handle Halloween treats, I don’t think an easy answer exists. At first, when someone is newly diagnosed, I think it helps immensely if everyone in the family follows the same restrictions. Jason and I worked it out that Jason would eat allergen free in front of me. What he did away from me was his business. At the same time, I made exceptions too. There were times, for instance, we went out for dessert. He would order ice cream, and I would get dairy-free sorbet. That was OK. I’m also sure I didn’t care if he had cheese on his burger or ordered eggs with his oatmeal. I don’t particularly care for either one.
Now that Max’s older we don’t try to make everything entirely dairy-free, but we do try to respect Max’s feelings. For instance, when we have frozen pizza night, he gets his own Amy’s roasted vegetable pizza. Everyone else shares one with cheese. I set his on the table. I leave ours on the counter. I think this is OK with him in part because I sincerely believe his tastes better, but I have explained to him at $8 for a small pizza I’m not buying two. He shares his crusts with me.
We also have tried making our own pizzas. He makes his without cheese, and he doesn’t seem to mind that the rest of us add cheese to ours. One time Claire accidentally dropped cheese on his while she was making hers (thus ruining it), and I have never seen her more upset. I explained and offered to make him a hot dog because we were out of pizza crust at that point. He was fine with that substitution as hot dogs are a favorite of his. She cried off and on the rest of the night.
I am certain that Claire’s empathy makes our situation a lot easier. She is known to be fairly considerate of his feelings. When we go out, we pretty much let her have free reign to choose what she would like. Nonetheless she will often do things like forgo the fries at McDonald’s (which somewhat surprisingly have a dairy component) for apples because she knows he wishes he could have fries, although she does take his dairy-laden caramel dip. Remarkably though, she has several times (certainly not always) passed on ice cream, opting instead for an apple pie, again so he won’t feel left out. She loves McDonald’s fries and ice cream.
In fact, I imagine that if anyone in our family is going to need therapy to deal with food-related issues it will be Claire. We don’t help matters much. Whenever Max has something special planned somewhere else, our alone time with Claire usually centers on going out for frozen yogurt, ice cream, cookies, cupcakes or other goodies. She enjoys it so much. It is just plain fun for us to watch her get so excited and not have to worry about his reaction. She is the one who talks most optimistically and most often about what it would/will be like if/when he outgrows his allergy.
Of course, Max may want to keep the therapist’s number handy as well. He no doubt will want to discuss that obviously girly lavender nursery that his mom tried to make more boyish by adding yellow accents.
Here’s a recipe if you’d like to try your own pizza night.
Dairy-free Pizza Crust
After years of experiments with cheese substitutions (black beans were our most successful), we have found that Max prefers the simple: tomato sauce, pineapples and ham. Occasionally if I put out enough bowls of toppings, he will add broccoli or spinach. Beware that pepperoni and other processed meats often have lactic acid starter culture which sometimes is derived from dairy. We unfortunately learned that fact the hard way. While it was a small bite of something with a small amount of dairy, it caused a large number of hives.
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 package dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
vegetable spray for the bowl
cornmeal for the pan
To make dough, combine water, honey and yeast. Let stand until foamy. This takes about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl combine the flours and the salt. Add the yeast mixture and knead dough on a floured surface until sticky about 10 minutes. Spray a clean bowl with vegetable spray, place the dough inside, turning once, and then let dough stand covered for about an hour. After an hour, punch the dough down. Let it rest for 10 additional minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. Prepare pizza toppings.
Roll or stretch out pizza dough. Top with desired ingredients. Bake about 30 minutes or until crust is golden.