Meet Sarah O’Brien, long-time blogger of Food Allergy Living! Sarah is also a digital marketing manager, specialized in pediatrics at Nutricia. She works closely with the Neocate brand. Sarah has two children, one of who was born with a cow milk allergy. We recently had a conversation with her to find out why she got into this field, and learn more about her food allergy journey with her own children.
Why did you choose to work in this field, and what do you find most interesting about the medical foods industry?
I think health education is the most interesting part of the medical foods industry. I chose to work in this field because I felt that it was a good fit, given my interest in health and nutrition, and also in leading a healthy lifestyle, which is so important. I also really like to talk to people going through this food allergy journey, and do what I can to help change their lives.
How often do you draw from your own experience as a mom to help Neocate customers?
I draw on my own experiences all the time. I don’t just draw on them when interacting with customers, though. I also find myself drawing on them in internal meetings, and when we are strategizing. I try to put my mom shoes on in those situations, and get the rest of the team to think as parents whether they are parents or not, and pull that thought process through the strategy.
What was your best pregnancy memory?
When I felt my children kicking and moving, it was such a great experience. I remember I would be sitting in meetings, and I would feel a kick in the middle of a meeting, and I would have such a smile on my face. I felt like it was such a blessing to have a human growing in me, like it was a miracle.
Provide an example of what you do when one of your children does not like a certain type of food (i.e. getting them to eat broccoli).
I continue to put it on their plates, and try to get them to smell it, or lick it, or at least do something with it. I don’t pressure them and I’m okay if they don’t, but I will continue to put it on their plate and hope they will try it eventually.
What are your children’s favorite Neocate products?
My daughter really enjoyed Neocate Nutra, when she experienced a cow milk allergy.
If you had one piece of advice for parents with children who have a cow milk allergy, what would it be?
First of all, I understand that finding out your child has any type of allergy can be a relief that you found the issue (and the solution) but can also be disappointing. As a parent, you immediately think, “my child isn’t perfect,” but with time you realize that it is okay, and you learn how to incorporate it into your life, and it becomes a normal part of your family. Parents with a child who has a food allergy will indeed have extra things to worry about like how food allergies will affect the child’s life, but it’s important to remember that they can still play and learn just like everyone else, they can still ride roller coasters, and do all the fun things other kids get to do. I would remind parents to keep a positive outlook and what a blessing it is to have such a healthy child so full of energy!As a parent, you will worry about your kids no matter what. Having a food allergy certainly adds to the list but as you gain experience and confidence with what to avoid, how to avoid, what to do in an emergency, educating everyone around your child and seeing your child take their food allergy into their own hands will hopefully lessen your worry a little.
Is there anything else you want the readers to know about you?
I was in your shoes at one point too. I went through the journey, the multiple doctor visits with no answers, many tears, sleepless nights, desperate for a solution, overwhelmed with emotion, guilt, denial, struggled to gain family support, I went through it all and came out with a happy baby and in a really good place! I am someone knowing what you are going through, and trying to work to make it better. I’m not just someone in the office doing a job; it’s more than a job or brand to me. It’s something I have lived through, and I have now made it my mission to make the journey for others better.