Joshua at 18 months old
Surfing the net last week, desperately trying to avoid a huge pile of work, I decide to check into the Current Debate Forum at Parentsplace.com. Lurking occasionally, but never posting, I settle down to read the debate on Extended Breastfeeding. Only to find they were debating about ME! Or more specifically, about the article I'd written, describing my son's health problems - Joshua's Story - The Child Who Could Not Eat!
...perhaps given the child's allergies her body was trying to miscarry him for a reason -- I mean why didn't she trust her body in that aspect...?
...it does truly sound to me as if nature did not intend him to be here.
I have long grown past letting such insensitive words hurt me. Believe me, much worse was said to me while I was going through it. If he wasn't meant to be, Joshua simply would not be here.
More likely, nature was using him to show us just how much damage we are doing to our planet, and to ourselves. Through the contaminated and over-processing of our foods. The use of dangerous chemicals - everywhere. The pollution of our land, air and water. The ravaging of our earth's resources. Joshua is the
canary in the mine-shaft. When the canary died, the miners knew it is time to get out - due to a build-up of dangerous gases. Who's child will be next??
Sage Breastfeeding and Beyond: Wisdom from the Front Lines for the Connected, Badass Mama
While it was such a struggle to keep Joshua alive, at what point would they have decided their child's life was no longer valuable??? If their child had been born with a heart defect - would they have refused him surgery? If their child was not born perfect, but something could be done, would they still just let their child die? Should I have gotten genetic testing while I was pregnant - to see if he was an
Joshua at 2.5 years on his mom's shoulder
With nothing more than bedrest and prayers, Joshua did survive to be born at term and, as his mother, I was given the responsibility to care for him. This is a normally-functioning - walking, talking, highly intelligent child. Whose life is happy and (most of the time) healthy, not
a living h*ll as one debater described it. As a loving mother, I have done the very best I could for him, in a difficult situation.
When I look at this beautiful young man, who has brought so much love and richness to my life, and to those around him, I can't imagine how empty our world would have been without him in it. Other than breastfeeding him for an extended period of time, and protecting him from chemicals and allergens, I did nothing that would have prolonged his life unnaturally. No extreme medical procedures, no medications, etc. Not even vitamins or other
natural remedies! His body simply would not allow such things.
Some of the debaters said they would never go to such extremes to save their child. Had their child needed a blood transfusion to stay alive, would they have told their child it would be better off dead, because it was really too much of an inconvenience and bother to the parents?? My son required a daily infusion of
white blood to keep him alive. I loved him enough to give this to him, even if it wasn't terribly convenient or easy. Why wouldn't they do the same for their own child?
I believe Joshua waited to come into my life, until I had enough experience and maturity to cope with his difficulties. If he had been my first child, I can't imagine that he would have even survived. My first son, Jason, was only breastfed for 3 weeks, when I gave up easily, because he wanted to nurse so often. With poor advice and no support, I put him on formula. By six weeks Jason was hospitalized with severe pneumonia, and went downhill (health-wise) from there. Today Jason is a severe asthmatic, and lives on a great deal of medication simply to breathe. A mother's guilt...
By six months, our family doctor found Jason's immune system levels just above those of the famous
Boy in the Bubble. From six to nine months, Jason had diarrhea so bad (15-20 liquid, burning stools a day), he basically had to live on sugar water. Anything else (including bananas and rice!) went right through him. Oh, how I would have been grateful for breast milk back then!! But I knew nothing of the value of breast milk, or of allergies, milk banks or relactation. I can't imagine what damage this sugar-water diet must have done to his rapidly developing brain... However, when Jason didn't lose more than one pound on this poor diet, my doctor insisted he must have lived on love!
Yes, as one debater suggested, there does seem to be an immune disorder in my family. However, no-one medical ever bothered to check into this further nor did anyone advise me about having any further children. I have had to do all my own investigations, and come up with my own solutions. There were many days I would have preferred to stay in bed, and pull the covers over my head! But, I had three children that needed me, counted on me - and fortunately for them, somehow, I always found a way to rise to the challenge.
Through my son Joshua, and our struggles, I have found a deeper, more spiritual, meaning to life. Every day I marvel at just how special he is. To get a bit mystical, I sometimes wonder who Joshua truly is, and where he came from?
Sometimes I think he is an angel - he is often so wise and mature - and incredibly insightful. Then he does something so child-like, as if to relieve me that he is perfectly normal!
The outpouring of support and love from my online friends, due to these debate postings, has been so wonderful! I have grown past the need for affirmation that I am doing the right thing for my child, but it brings comfort to the
lost soul I was back then. When it seemed no-one understood or cared about our struggle to survive.
Josh is now 12 years old, and asking how old he needs to be to start dating - YIKES! He is programming his own computer games and organizing his own jr. hockey league. He is a wonderfully caring uncle to my grandson, Christopher, and a great step-uncle to three little girls.
Yes, Joshua was weaned a very long time ago! Without the immunities, enzymes and antiboties of breast milk, it has been touch-and-go for for him for many years. At six years old, he began having anaphylactic-type reactions to many things, including just the odors of some foods and chemicals. But with all those years of protection, his immune system had grown stronger and he has survived. Though not without more wear and tear on his poor mother's heart!
Joshua is even stronger since we moved into our new home, just three months ago, and he doesn't seem to tire as quickly. He is happier here, the air quality is better and we have a 100 x 150 ft. lot covered in gardens, bushes and trees. Our own piece of heaven! If it hadn't been for Joshua, I never would have imagined we could own our own home. He brings miracles into our lives!
Joshua at 6 years, running at the beach
Joshua's diet is still very limited, and he is small and underweight (54" tall and 62 lbs.). But I swear he has grown a foot since we moved. His hair had suddenly gotten so long, his bangs completely covered his face before I cut them. I have never needed to cut his hair that often!
So many people have stopped by, as a result of this debate, to read Joshua's Story. As of the writing of this article, the counter says 2,810 people have read his story! Many more went to my web site to read it, which was the link that was posted to the Current Debate forum.
Having read Joshua's Story, many people have written to me, both by email and post - with tears in their eyes, their hearts touched, and with renewed strength to carry on with their own struggles with their children.
Some, who realize just how simple their problems are in comparison - something we all need to be reminded of at times. And some who find, in Joshua's Story, the support they needed to keep going in their own terrible struggles.
Yes, some the debaters words were shocking and insensitive. However, their words could not possibly hurt me. They do not know me, or my wonderful son.
They can't imagine what beauty Joshua has brought to my life. How he taught my family to love again when we were nearly lost. How he shines so brightly, I am honoured to call myself his mother.
Joshua at 10 years, in his baseball uniform
How Joshua has taught me so much about the sanctity of life and the precious gift we are tossing away with our destruction of the earth and its natural resources.
How, through struggling to help my son, I have found myself again, and anything wonderful, that people see in me, is thanks to Joshua. He has a very high moral sense, a deep sense of justice and expects the best in everyone. I find I can give him no less.
We are living one day at a time, and doing our best to enjoy the time we have. There was a point I truly believed Joshua would not live to see his sixth birthday - every day we have together is a miracle!
I have searched my heart, wondering how to respond to this debate discussion. I have chosen not to do so on that forum. No matter what I say, I can't imagine those debaters could possibly understand. This was just a topic of discussion for them, and they have moved on. However, I decided to write an article in response, because I feel these words must be said, if only for my own satisfaction of having said them.
Thank you, everyone, who have written to say how my articles have touched your hearts and your families. I have a quiet mission in this world, and this is part of it...
This article compliments of Born to Love.
Breastfeeding: New Discoveries, by Dr. Wootan.
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Last updated - February 8, 2017