Thank you so much for all of the kind words and love on my first post. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it and all of the interest in learning more about us. This post has taken longer to get into words than I thought it would and as you'll read, it is mainly about Liam and how he was the catalyst throwing us into this new lifestyle. I don't know about you, but for me, as a mother living the uncertainty of our decisions and the choices that had to be made was hard, putting pen to paper and getting it all out there has proved even harder. For me, it's that vulnerability aspect, opening up to share our story which is so close to my heart, has been harder than I thought it would be, sharing the parts about my babe have been even harder.
Three years ago our journey to live a more simple, traditional and holistic lifestyle began. We had no idea then, that the seemingly simple changes we were making would add up to where we are today. Our number one goal as parents has always been for our children to know how much they are loved and to never doubt how far we would go for them and what changes we would make for the betterment of all of our lives.
I had a healthy pregnancy with Liam, despite the fears of my obstetrician and oncologists when I got pregnant just over two years after finishing my treatments. I was followed closely by two obstetricians and had a natural birth in hospital four days after my due date. Liam was a healthy baby, weighing in at 8lbs 5oz and 20 inches long. He was perfect and he has fit well into his fiery Cancerian soul from day one. This phenomenal being has thrown a wrench into all of our plans that he would fit right into our schedule and lifestyle from the moment he was. We had a very rocky start with breastfeeding, poor latch, tongue tie, low milk supply, a mama who had no clue what she was doing and if it wasn't for Ken's assurance and support and the knowledge of lactation consultants and Dr. Jack Newman (my breastfeeding saviour), I never would have started what proved to be the most beautiful journey and lesson of my life.
As long as Liam was close to mama, breastfed, changed and had lots of outdoors time, he was a content and happy babe. When it came time to introduce solid foods at 6 months, I had this vision that we had to do what everyone else was doing, and like I had with James, begin with rice cereal or baby oats. Liam would have none of it. He spit it out, screamed, just wouldn't eat it. We decided to try pureed vegetables instead, thinking that maybe it was an issue with texture. We hadn't heard of baby led weaning at that time and although he was reaching for all of the food at the dinner table, I thought we 'had' to stick to the rules of purees so I just kept trying. He hated them, after a couple weeks of trying, I decided to listen to Liam's cues instead of what everyone else was saying and doing. Liam's first successful solid was a piece of steak from Ken's dinner plate. Liam was in love, it was as if it was exactly what he was waiting for. As the months went by, we fed Liam the typical baby/toddler diet of organic baby crackers at snack and fruits to snack on, on the go. He would eat the same as us at our meals but was snacking consistently throughout the day on organic toddler granola bars, bunny crackers and fruit, although they were organic, they weren't providing his body with the nutrients it required.
Throughout 2012 Liam started to have issues with his stomach, cramping, pains and constipation. It began as going a few days between movements and increased from there. We tried to increase his dietary fibre, gave him foods that have been known to help with constipation, saw our homeopath, had regular chiropractic adjustments and nothing was helping. We were referred to a pediatrician at our GP's office and after an xray of Liams stomach, the verdict was that Liam was constipated and he was prescribed laxatives on the basis that some children withhold going to the washroom as a form of control. I was still breastfeeding Liam at that point, he was feeding 6-8 times per day and we still weren't sleeping through the night (he breastfed on average twice per night). I told the Dr that Liam was still breastfeeding as I felt confident I was providing his body necessary nutrients when clearly something was off internally. The Dr not so politely disagreed with my choice to continue breastfeeding and stated to me that Liam would grow up and go away to college breastfeeding and still co-sleeping with his mom because I had babied him too long. Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with that response and being the emotional mother that I am burst into tears and left feeling defeated. We never gave Liam the prescribed laxatives, instead we opted for prunes (which he loved) and other foods that could help move his intestinal tract along and continued with daily fish oil and probiotic supplements and remedies prescribed by our homeopath as well as regular chiropractic adjustments.
Liam's stomach issues were on and off for the rest of 2012 and continued into 2013. Fast forwarding to spring 2013, Liam was two and a half years old and I started noticing that he had an increase of plaque on his front four teeth, we brushed twice a day, never drank any juice, he was still breastfeeding on average 4 times per day, we were still nourishing our bodies through an organic diet, we thought we were on the right track. I booked him an appointment to see our family dentist for a consultation who referred us to a local pediatric dentist and by April 2013, the seemingly extra plaque became full decay and talk of general anesthetic, crowns, pulled teeth and fillings was thrown around. Ken and I left that appointment completely defeated. I (again) endured a 20 minute lecture from a doctor on the dangers of extended breastfeeding and that at 2 years old a child should not be breastfed and that I was the cause of his decay. I was heartbroken. I can still feel the emotion I felt that day as I type this two years later. As a mother and as the parent who had stayed home from work to take care of our children, I had failed. I had not only failed Liam, I had failed Ken and myself. Liam was still breastfeeding because it wasn't his time to stop, there was something that he needed, something life sustaining for him and I was adamant that there would be a sign (a big marquee in the sky) when it was time for this chapter of our lives to come to an end. I hadn't received that sign, so I kept on breastfeeding him as much as he wanted to feed. After that appointment, I spent hours researching a link between extended breastfeeding and tooth decay, I came across a lot of articles of dentists and doctors agreeing that yes, breastfeeding causes tooth decay, but I also came across a seemingly equal amount of literature stating that no, breastfeeding does not cause decay. In the days that followed, I found Mommypotamous' blog and I felt a twinge of hope as I read her story, read of her daughter and read of their journey. Still, I felt that we needed a second opinion from a pediatric dentist as really, we were in unchartered territory. June 2013 we saw our second pediatric dentist; a sweet mother, she herself had a child with a similar story to Liams. Once again I felt a twinge of hope and that maybe this appointment would go far better than the first. She didn't chastise me for breastfeeding; she encouraged me and agreed that breastfeeding did not promote Liam's decay. I was brushing and flossing Liam's teeth twice per day and he was still under the recommended age 3 to see a dentist. On paper, we were doing it all right ... but we weren't. We left that appointment with the same talk of general anesthetic to put Liam to sleep, to either fill or pull the front four teeth depending on the level of decay, two crowns on his back molars and several resin fillings throughout his top teeth. His bottom teeth were all perfectly white, healthy and cavity free. The estimate went off to our benefits totalling $5000. Five thousand dollars worth of dental work for a two year old. I cried, I still cry as those feelings of failure as a mother creep back in. We went home that day armed with paperwork and waiting for confirmation of Liam's surgery, which would be scheduled for early August (7 weeks later).
The issues with Liam's stomach continued, he started having nosebleeds quite frequently and would complain to me that he had headaches. He also had really, really bad tantrums, I watched as my sweet babe would turn into this child that I didn't know nor recognize for 20 minutes and as quickly as it started, it stopped. I was puzzled. I'm not a doctor, I don't have any formal medical training but I am a mother and I knew as much as I know the sky is blue that all of Liam's ailments were somehow connected. We continued to see our homeopath and our chiropractor, Liam also started getting cranial adjustments in hopes that they would help, and I spent days trying to find some sort of answer or even a sign of what we should do.
After reading Mommypotamous' story (Can A Weston A. Price Diet Reverse Tooth Decay), we ordered Ramiel Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay and after reading the entire book in one sitting, decided that we would dive head first into his Advanced Healing Protocol and see what happened. I purged our cupboards of our organic snacks, ditched the oatmeal and prunes and nuts that Liam was regularly snacking on, copied down Ramiel's list of foods to avoid and transitioned Liam onto the protocol as quickly as we could. It wasn't easy, he was almost 3 and he was used to eating certain foods. He loves fruit, he loves to snack and like all parents know, changing a toddler’s diet and encouraging them to eat new foods can be a challenge. Two weeks in and Liam's constipation issues tapered off as quickly as they had begun, he seemed more even keel, less quick to anger and all around was a happier child. As the time approached that we would be booking Liam's surgery, Ken and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the correct choice to make for Liam. His decay hadn't progressed, he had no complaints of pain or sensitivity and we decided to take a wait and see approach and make what changes we could to our diet and lifestyle. We ordered Green Pasture's Butter Oil/FCLO Blend, became members of the Weston A Price Foundation, found real milk, began eating organ meats and fish regularly, started making bone broth and added gelatin, raw eggs and cream to the kids smoothies, we visited every farmers market we could to find local organic produce, consumed less fruit and more cooked greens, I began preparing and cooking all of our meals (nothing came from a package any longer) and little did we know, that was the start of our lives changing and Be Naturally Prepared coming into existence.
We have continued to follow the teachings of Weston A Price and have stuck to following Ramiel's Balanced Tooth Decay Remineralizing Program and the Advanced Tooth Decay Healing protocol. As of today, Liam's front four teeth still have some discoloration and slight decay but the rest of his top teeth appear to have healed (to be confirmed at his next dental appointment), his bottom teeth remain cavity free. Our breastfeeding journey ended at 39 months, when I got a pretty severe case of mastitis, that was my marquee in the sky, if you will, and after successful treatment from my homeopath, once the infection had cleared up, Liam and I decided together that September 18, 2013 was our last feed.
As a family, we have forged meaningful and lasting relationships with our farmers, other Weston A Price Foundation members, families following along a natural and holistic health path and health practioners. Although recounting our story brings up some past wounds and fears, I realize just how much we have learned in three years and wonder how much we are yet to learn, for I know the learning process never quite ends. Our business has grown like a tiny seed from a place of failure, uncertainty and fear of judgment to a place of hope where we can provide the knowledge and health foods that have helped us land where we are today. I still hesitate and am scared to share our story but if it can help one family to not feel alone or one mother to not feel like she has failed her child, then my heart will be happy for sharing.
Thank you for reading and thank you so much for following along, we really appreciate you, and Ken and I can say for certain, if it wasn't for others sharing their stories, our story would have quite a different ending.
With love and admiration, Heather