Started with a birthday cake and ended at the ER

It was the day of Raphael’s first birthday party. 


6:30 PM


I was watching Raphael play while Mark went to the Pharmacy to get some medicine. He just drank 4 oz of milk, was super content and playing with his favorite toys. I was looking at him and suddenly tears were running down my face. He was so strong, so brave and obviously I was having a melt down. I hugged him as close as I could and told him over and over again, how much I love him. „What would I do without you?” I asked him and he looked at me with his big brown eyes and clapped, and I started crying even more. But at the same time I started laughing because he is just the sweetest little human being I’ve ever met. Gosh, I love him SO MUCH!
„What was he thinking?! Putting the mascarpone creme on the floor while Raphael was crawling around, even just for a few seconds. He knows that our son is the most curious little guy.“ „What was I thinking?! Baking a cake with ingredients which he’s allergic to, on his first birthday? I must be insane!” Ok, to be exact, Raphael wasn’t supposed to have anything from that cake, but anyway?! What a stupid idea! I feel like the worst mom on earth who 

  • firstly can’t even handle those few allergies in her own four walls. How is it supposed to be at daycare?!
  • secondly having an emotional meltdown right in front of her son and 
  • thirdly can’t even throw a little FIRST birthday party for him?!

But let me start from the beginning. 
It was the day of Raphael’s birthday party. We had a friend staying over at our place. Victor came from Pennsylvania to visit us and especially to celebrate the first birthday of our son. I went to Target during the week to get some balloons and some other decorative stuff. 2 days before THE big day I started to bake some chocolate banana muffins and the brownie base for Raphael’s two level high deluxe berry cake I planned to prepare. I found a recipe on Pinterest which I wanted to try for Raphael’s first birthday. And since I am an everything-selfmade kind of girl, of course I wanted to bake the very first birthday cake for my sons first birthday all by myself. That might sound super unspectacular BUT I am not a baking girl (like NOT AT ALL!) The last 3 days I have baked as much as never ever before in my entire life. Sad but true… or let’s say I had other priorities! 

So there have been a lot of birthday preparations going on since the last week. I really wanted to throw a nice get together with the few friends we’ve made since living in Ann Arbor and I was thrilled and excited to celebrate Raphael’s birthday. 


After we had a long and relaxed breakfast I started to work on the cake. I was putting the first layer of cocoa-mascarpone-creme on the first “brownie-layer”. While I did so Mark was already super excited and he started to take some photos with our DSLR camera. Raphael was emptying all our kitchen cabinets – as always – this is one of his favorite thing to do. Victor, our friend, was going to take a shower before starting to help Mark blowing up some balloons for the party. I don’t remember how it came to that situation but suddenly Mark was putting on the last layer of creme on the cake. I was probably cleaning up some dirty dishes?! Anyway – I joined him and started to spread some berries as the decorative layer on top of the cake, while he took some more pics. Suddenly Raphael started to fuss and complain. So I picked him up. He was scratching himself and he was also developing some red spots all over his face. After I observed him for a few minutes I decided to give him a dose of Zyrtec. Since Raphael has a lot of allergies and also some eczema from the day he was born that happens quite often and isn’t something new to us. I was waiting for the rash to get better but the opposite happened. He was scratching himself and rubbing his eyes even more. I started to worry and yelled “I think he is having a sever reaction to something!!” Mark answered incidentally: “He just probably touched something as always, he’s going to be OK.” While I was still observing Raphael thoroughly I heard Mark cursing. “Oh shit, I forgot about the creme?!” And he picked it up from the floor and threw it into the sink. He came over immediately to look at our son. His entire face was swollen and it got worse with every second. He couldn’t even open his eyes properly anymore and developed large red hives all over his forehead. While Mark was holding Raphael, I was running over to get another dose of Zyrtec. Mark found some creme stains on Raphael’s pants. Obviously he got a hold of that empty mascarpone creme bowl and got it all over his clothes and face. Mark grabbed the Epinephrine Pen, typed the Hospital location into Google Maps and started to undress him while keeping his hands down so that he couldn’t scratch himself, while I was packing all necessary things for Raphael to go to the ER. He was screaming like hell! It was really bugging him and he looked more than uncomfortable – his eyes completely swollen shut. After I gave him another dose of Zyrtec I remembered that the doctor from last time’s ER visit gave us an anti-allergic steroid medicine, which we also gave him.


Since Victor was still in the bathroom, Mark went upstairs to let him know what happened and he was shocked when he saw how red and swollen Raphael was. We packed up everything as fast as we could, put Raphael into the carseat and headed straight to the children’s emergency room at University of Michigan Hospital.


After we got there we just jumped out of the car, they looked at Raphael, put him on the monitor and listened to his breathing. He was doing a lot better but his face was still super swollen. The doctor decided to give him a dose of epinephrine anyway since it was still not improving as well as they’ve hoped for. And because he got an epinephrine dose they had to watch him for the next 6 hours. We actually didn’t give him an Epi-Pen this time at home, since the docs told us to only give the Pen if two symptoms are extreme, e.g. swelling AND shortness or breath AND/OR vomiting – now we know better! Eventually we had to stay at the ER for the next 6 hours and unfortunately cancel Raphael’s birthday party. But of course that was our smallest problem at that time. The most important thing was Raphael’s well being. They checked on him every hour. He was doing a lot better after they gave him the epi pen. Although he was bored, overtired therefore really fussy. Luckily he slept a little while (ca. 40 min) during the ER stay. 


5:30 PM 

We got out of the ER. Poor Victor came especially for his Birthday party, but he had to leave that evening – we actually didn’t end up seeing him anymore that evening…


Another crazy weekend came to an end. Raphael was experiencing another severe allergic reaction – to dairy this time. We had our 4th visit to the ER in almost one year. His very first birthday party was canceled and we had tons of food at home including wraps, muffins and two cakes. But the only thing that matters is that Raphael was doing better. Mark and I were just so THANKFUL that he’s ok!! We definitely need to be more careful with what we eat and we have to pay better attention to what he’s touching and to wash our hands before touching him and dispose all allergens immediately.


For a moment I was so jealous of all the moms with allergy free babies. I mean, it is hard enough without all the eczema, the torticollis, his eating/ reflux issues AND those millions of allergies. It makes it even harder since Raphael is a very picky eater. 


But then I stopped right there. 


Raphael is healthy. He’s the happiest and cutest baby and there are people having a lot bigger issues than we do. Real problems! We are very fortunate.


I looked at him and I just felt so much love in my heart. When Mark got home he told me that he was really emotional while being away. I told him the same and he kissed me and Raphael and hugged us both really tight. I just wanted to freeze that moment. It made me so unbelievably happy!


This is what Life is all about. Family!


Oh – how much I love my little family!

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