Posts Tagged ‘Parenthood’

Jeshuah, You are Two-Years Old! (A Little Late:-)

(Forgive the spacing…I am having internet issues)

Dear Jeshuah,
It is April 3, and I am finally sitting down to write you your birthday letter. Not only does you birthday fall at a busy time of year, being December 22, but December 22, 2011 was particularly eventful! I was 34 weeks pregnant with your little sister, Eliana, and had been put on bedrest because she kept wanting to be born too early. Nana drove over to pick you up for a whole entire week so that I could rest better, because, let’s face it–no one gets much rest with you running around! A week was a long time to be apart from you, but you had a blast at Poppa and Nana’s farm.

On your second birthday, they brought you home. I had planned a low-key birthday party with all the grandparents, but you were so exhausted by the time you got home that you went to bed without any cake!

Of course, you had time for presents!

Two weeks later, you became a big brother, and you love every minute of it! When Eliana first came home and cried, you would burst into tears with her, your sensitive little heart breaking for her. But as the days passed and you became more accustomed to her crying (what little she did), you would say “uh oh!” and go try to shove her paci in her mouth or give her kisses and hugs to console her. One of the first things you ask for every morning is “bebe!” and there have been many times when I have lost track of you and found you leaning over her in her bed as she sleeps.

Two years and three months with you have flown past in a flurry of more fun than I could ever have imagined! You are truly the joy of our hearts, filling our home with laughter and much silliness! One of your favorite things to do is run around the house dancing a little jig (either to real music or the music that seems to be constantly playing in your head). When Daddy is home, you love to be chased in circles around the main living area shouting “peh-peh” (pizza) and repeating any other words Daddy yells as he chases you.
You are growing very opinionated in your taste for music and stories. Your favorite music is anything by Owl City, and if you want to listen to music, you say “Owl!” When we drive in the car, we love to listen to Steve Green’s “Hide ’em in Your Heart,” and Sovereign Grace’s “Awesome God” and “To Be Like Jesus.” You know your favorite songs and shake your head, saying “no” until I land upon one of your favorites, at which point you smile hugely, and begin bobbing your head and slapping your leg in time to the music.
I love watching your imagination work. You are so playful and creative. You love to build things, like train tracks or Duplo towers. You love driving your cars up and down hills. You love playing in water, dumping it from one cup to the next. You love to draw, and every time you see a pen or pencil, you shout “ga-ga?” looking for any paper to draw circles on. Unfortunately, if there is no paper available, you may draw your ga-gas on whatever surface is nearest, including the couch cover, and your arms and legs.
Your favorite thing in the whole world is to be outside. I love walking down into the woods behind our house with you. You find the biggest logs to climb over or sit on, and you love finding acorns to toss into the ravine, excitedly clapping after each splash and shouting, “oh, mah!!” for more. You pick up leaves and examine them contemplatively, and you gasp in delight when you see ants or other bugs crawling around the forest floor.

Searching for ants

You are definitely the most agreeable two-year-old I have ever encountered, as your favorite answer to almost any question is a profound “yeah!” We laugh as we recount the evolution of your affirmative. It has changed from “haaa?” to “yah” to “ya’am” and back again to “yeah.”
Shortly after your second birthday, you began wearing big boy underwear full-time during the day, and now you are staying dry most nights. You love going to the bathroom on the big potty while reading your favorite “put-put” (tractor),”poe pow” (snow plow) and “Kck” (truck) books.

Your vocabulary is daily increasing, though it is still mostly unintelligible to anyone but Daddy and me. Besides the common “mama” and “dada,” you like to say “bee-bee” for Ellie, and cousin Coralynne is “Coco.” “Peh-peh” can mean pizza, popcorn, or–most recently–puppets, due to the Hands Toward Heaven Puppet show we went to at church last week. You LOVED it. You kept yelling, “mah peh-peh!!” for more when they were all done. Somehow chocolate is “ka-cheese” and raisins are “oy,”  but you say “cheese” very decidedly. When it becomes “gar” (dark), you love to look for the “moo,” though sometimes it disappoints us by hiding behind the “cows.” Speaking of cows, you still ask almost daily to go see “Poppa cow” and feed them hay. When asked what a cow says, you respond with “Mmmmmm,” followed by a triumphant smile.
And you are learning your colors now! At first everything was “boo,” but you can now identify “yeyow,” “gwee,” “puhpuh” and “reh.” You are eager to learn new things all the time, and it usually only takes us telling you a new thing once before you have a handle on it. Last week we played with play-doh and (between me pulling it out of your mouth), I showed you how to make big and little circles. You now love to identify big and little, but most of all, “ga-gas.”

I’m writing this as you drive all your toy cars around the driveway, finding any slope big or small to race them down, giggling gleefully at their speed and flapping your arms in excitement. We love watching you grow, and each new day is a brand new adventure with you. We are continually thankful to the Lord for giving us our sweet boy.

We love you forever,

Daddy and Mama


Hello, Baby Bunting!

20 week ultrasound photoshoot

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday.  I was counting up, and even though I have had six total ultrasounds, four with this baby alone, I could hardly contain my excitement for this ultrasound.  Every time I see that tiny little baby squirming around in there it fills me with such awe of God’s creation!

The ultrasound was just as exciting as I anticipated, including Grandma Lisa accompanying and seeing her grandchild in utero! Baby Bunting (as I have affectionately dubbed him or her) was wiggling around like crazy. We had an amazing technician who explained and pointed to everything we were seeing and informed us the baby is weighing in at 13 oz and a due date of January 26 looks accurate.  We maintained our resolve to keep the gender a secret until birth and left the room thrilled that we get to have that little mystery this time.

The ultrasound was followed by an appointment with my midwife, where she assured us that everything looks wonderful and healthy with the baby, but where she cautioned to continue to be careful and take it easy throughout the course of the pregnancy.  Last weekend I had such intense cramping that I couldn’t even stand, so even though I feel carefree because we haven’t had any bleeding scares in awhile, things are still a bit risky for a preterm birth.

So, here’s hoping Baby Bunting continues to incubate for another 4 months!

I discovered an amazing Scripture this morning in my reading.

Psalm 71:6 “Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.”  Whenever it is that this baby makes its entrance, it is an amazing comfort to know that it is God who will bring this baby into the world. What an awesome God we serve!

Making an Informed Decision Concerning Vaccines


Since posting our story on Hope for Healing Autism, I have been asked a lot of questions regarding my opinion on vaccines and whether or not we would choose to vaccinate in the future.   When our son was born and the question of vaccines came up, all I knew was that it was a widely debated issue. I myself had been fully vaccinated and had no reason to question the validity of this practice.  But, with my awareness that this was a controversial topic and my “question everything” personality, I knew I needed to study this issue myself and come to my own conclusions on the matter.

At first I was overwhelmed by the mixed reviews and conflicting reports. I became so frustrated with the fact that everything I read seemed to come to a different conclusion on which vaccines were safe, if any. My doctors urged me to vaccinate for the wellbeing of my child and the world at large.  Parenting magazines stated that there is no validity to the claims that autism is linked with vaccines. Friends urged me that this was not true and that vaccinations were dangerous. Other friends argued the exact opposite.

In the end, it was largely my research into the autoimmune disorder epidemic that heightened my awareness that there is more to all of this than meets the eye. After much reading and studying, we have come to the conclusion that we feel it is safest not to vaccinate.  I know that statement will turn some people off instantly, but I have compiled a list of facts I wish I had known when I began researching this issue in the first place.  It is my desire that these facts will help you better understand the debate, become more accurately informed, and most of all, will help you to be comfortable with whatever choice you make in this area for your own family. Feel free to disagree with or disregard any or all of this information.  To the best of my knowledge, it is accurate, but as with anything, it may have its flaws.

I do not want to convince anyone of anything.  I do not want to cause arguments or debates. I simply want parents to be able to make more accurately informed decisions concerning vaccines.

Interesting Facts Regarding Vaccines and Disease[1]

  • A two month old baby can receive as many as 8 vaccines on a single day. At age 15 to 18 months, a child can receive as many as 12 vaccines on a single day. 
  • During the past quarter century, the number of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma and diabetes has more than tripled.
  • An epidemic of chronic disease and disability is plaguing America. Our children are the most highly vaccinated children in the world and they are among the most chronically ill and disabled.
  • More than twice as many children have chronic brain and immune system dysfunction today than did in the 1970’s when half as many vaccines were given to children.

Factors that Weighed into our Decision on Vaccinations:

  • It is a common misnomer that when children aren’t vaccinated, they are at risk for life threatening diseases.  It is widely believed that vaccines have saved our world from all sorts of diseases.  However, health statistics show that there was a steady decline of infectious diseases in developing countries whether they had vaccines or not.   There was also a decline in infectious disease for which there were no vaccineIt is believed that this decline is due to improved sanitation, hygiene and better nutrition.[2]
  • By 1850-1940, instances of infectious diseases were down by 90%.  This was long before we began introducing most vaccines.  In a study done by John and Sonja McKinlay in St. Martin’s Press, New York, it was stated that “it is estimated that at most, 3.5% of the total decline in mortality since 1900 could be ascribed to medical measures introduced for the diseases considered.  Furthermore, medical measures were introduced several decades after marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influences in most instances.”[3] Only 10% of the world got the smallpox vaccine.  Yet we hear that this vaccine eradicated smallpox.  According to Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, “Smallpox would have died out anyway regardless of the vaccine.”[4]  This is also the case with Polio.  The disease was already dying out before the vaccine was introduced.[5]
  • But if you don’t vaccinate, your kids could get meningitis, etc.!”  Statistics actually show that the majority of people who report getting these infectious diseases are, by far, the ones who were vaccinated. 80% of people who get the flu have been vaccinated against it.[6] Multiple studies show that more children who have been fully vaccinated get measles than those who are unvaccinated.
  • The amount of required vaccinations has more than doubled in the last twenty years, bringing the grand total recommended vaccinations to 49 within the first 6 years of a child’s life.[7]
  • The FDA wants to add even more vaccines into these tiny baby’s bodies almost as soon as they are born, including a flu shot twice a year for the first two years followed by an annual flu shot for life.
  • Most of these vaccines are given before the age of five.  Yet the majority of the brain’s development is in the first five years of life.  The toxins in the vaccines inhibit the brain’s ability to develop properly.
  • It is a common misnomer that a student is required to be vaccinated in order to attend school. However, each state has exemptions.  Find out how you can be exempt in your state.
  • The things that fill vaccines are known neurotoxins (e.g. formaldehyde, thimerosol (mercury), aluminum, ammonium sulfate, aborted fetal tissue, antibiotics, MSG)[8], meaning they are literally poison to the brain. Our bodies cannot detoxify these substances, and therefore, they hide away in our brains and bodies creating new diseases.[9]
  • Each vaccine has been tested individually.  However, they have not been tested together.[10]  And now that so many vaccines are required, they developed “cocktails” so that our little ones only have to receive one or two pricks instead of five or six.  This sounds appealing to the mother concerned about the pain involved in getting shots, but can these little bodies handle this many toxins at once?  Once again, studies have not been done to show the safety of these vaccines given in numerous doses, nor have there been long term studies on the affects of all of these new vaccines being given to our little ones at a younger and younger age.
  • Vaccines artificially expose the body with these viruses in a way the body was not meant to defend against. God made our bodies with the amazing ability to heal and protect itself. Babies are exposed to germs in the air, and their bodies are constantly learning to detoxify them and strengthen them. But only when they are introduced in this natural way, by breathing them in etc. are their immune systems able to build up a defense against them.  When they are injected directly into the bloodstream, the body’s natural defense mechanisms are not triggered properly.[11] As one researcher said, our bodies never grow stronger by taking the easy way out. It is only through the difficult way, that is, being exposed to and fighting the germs the way God intended that our bodies can build up that lifelong immunity to the much scarier adult forms of the diseases (shingles from chicken pox for example). Vaccines do not trigger the lifelong immunity that actually catching the disease does. This is why you have to be re-vaccinated every 5-7 years.
  • Many of these vaccines, like the Hep B vaccine, were never tested on newborns for safety–only 5-6 years olds.[12] Yet new moms are told to give their babies this vaccine moments after it enters the world!
  • Most of the vaccines–like the one for pertussis–are not even given until after two months of age, and yet an infant’s greatest risk is before they are two months old.[13]
  • Statistically, infectious diseases such as influenza and pertussis are rarely fatal.   When these diseases prove fatal, it is in those who are autoimmune compromised, such as the very young, the autoimmune disordered, and the elderly.  However, because of the nature of vaccines introducing disease into the body, autoimmune disordered children are recommended not to receive any further vaccinations.  And yet they are the ones with the highest risk for fatality if they catch the disease.
  • We are not taking into account the cost at which we are attempting to “save” our children from illness. We will vaccinate in hopes of preventing them getting polio and tuberculosis, but at what point do we say, “Which is worse? The threat of an illness that has all but been eradicated? or the new childhood epidemics autism, asthma, ADHD and allergies that are paralyzing people and are called “living death” that are strongly linked with receiving vaccines?”
  • Much of what drives the vaccine issue is fear. We are so afraid we will harm our children we will do anything to help them! And most people think this IS helping them. Fear is the big motivator. We are running to get these vaccines because we are afraid.  But the more we inform ourselves, the less we realize we need to fear.

Understanding the Immune Response to Infectious Disease vs. the Immune Response to Immunization[14]

What is the difference between normal immune system response to illness and vaccination?  If we do not inform ourselves, we live in fear.  When our babies are born, everything in their body is underdeveloped except their brain stem.  This is a time when they need to be protected from toxins, not assaulted with them.  What is the process?  When the body is exposed to an infectious illness, the body identifies it and begins detoxifying to fight against it.  It initiates white blood cells and T cells which attack the invader directly.  When the THi cell gets involved, your  body develops lifelong immunity.  A fever (up to a certain point) plays a critical role in fighting off the infection in the body.  There is no system in the human body which is strenghtened by avoiding challenges, but only through overcoming them. The medical model does the opposite of what the body is doing.  If you challenge the immune system and it overcomes, it is healthier.  If children are not well, there are so many things you can do to proactively help their bodies respond better.

Let us look at the way our body responds to food poisoning for instance. When we eat bad food, we vomit.  Is this unpleasant? Yes.  But it is actually our body ridding itself of the poisons.  The body goes through a similar process when it is exposed to infectious illnesses.  However, there are some major differences in the body’s response to an encountered illness and an injected illness. First, when an unvaccinated child is walking around the world, they are being exposed to infectious diseases slowly.  A child is not going to be exposed to eight different diseases all at once.  When we are injected with a vaccine, we are not only changing the timing of exposure, but the method. When we vaccinate, we bypass the normal method and inject it straight into the muscle (also all the toxins).  If it goes into the blood, that disease can go into all the vital organs of the body and wreak havoc. TH2 cells are stimulated, and they do not have lifelong immunity, which is why you have to be continuously re-vacccinated for the rest of their lives to maintain “immunity.”

Hep B vaccine was designed for the prostitutes and drug users.   Hep B is passed by having multiple sexual partners or by dirty needles. Now they are giving it to babies within the first few hours of their birth.

Being informed on the facts of how rarely anyone actually dies from these illnesses, we realize we do not have to live in fear to do whatever it takes to prevent it—even exposing ourselves and our children to even more harmful toxins to avoid them getting the actual disease.

A bit about mercury content in vaccines[15]

The FDA has stated “lead, cadmium, and mercury are examples of toxic elements that are toxic even when present at relatively low levels…”  Mercury is the most poisonous neurotoxin on this earth.

When women become pregnant, one of the first things they are warned not to eat is any type of fish. Why is this? Because of the mercury contained in fish.  Even a nursing mother is told to avoid fish due to the mercury content.

Thimerosol is a form of inorganic mercury.  It has long been associated with serious neurological disorders.

While thimerosol has been largely removed from vaccines, there are many concerns about the legitimacy of this claim.  First, if it is not an active ingredient, manufacturers do not have to list it in the ingredients. So you may ask for thimerosol free and think you are getting it, but it may still be in there. Also, they have been gradually weeding out the thimerosol over the past few years, and when tested, trace amounts still exist within the vaccines. It is kind of like a food that has been manufactured on equipment that had previously been used to produce peanuts.  They list that fact on the side because even trace amounts of peanuts can be fatal to those with an allergy.  And remember what the FDA said about even trace amounts of mercury—it is toxic. And then there is the question of what they replaced the thimerosol with—are there studies on their safety?

In the 1950’s, the amount of thimerosol that five year old children were exposed to via vaccines was 50 micrograms.  By the year 2003, children were receiving 212.5 mcg of thimerosol by the age of 5.  According to the EPA Safety recommendation, infants should receive no more than .01mcg-4 mcg a day.  However, in one round of vaccines, an infant will receive 41-60 times the amount of recommended thimerosol (FDACenterfor Biologics Evaluation and Research).  These neurotoxins do not get eliminated.  They are absorbed into the brain like water in a sponge, causing long term damage.

Rhogam still contains full level of mercury-25 mcg.  It is possible, though very difficult, to find Rhogam shots that do not have thimerosol in them. If you are pregnant and have the Rh factor, ask for a specific list of ingredients and ensure you are receiving the vaccine without rhogam.


I have done my best to gather reliable information in my research on vaccines.  I would have liked to footnote more thoroughly, but it was rather overwhelming since a lot of the information was gleaned from multiple sources and can be found at numerous locations.  I have listed below many of my sources so you can seek out further information for yourself. Please do not fault my improper citation below. I did not list every publishing detail, etc. I mostly just linked to websites or articles. It is not my mom’s fault. She taught me better. Really.

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics, Dr. Kenneth Bock

Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell

The Vaccine Book, Dr. Bob Sears

Infant Potty Training: 20 month update

Reading "Pooh" while going poo:-)

I figure it’s about time for another update on how the infant potty training (aka Elimination Communication, aka EC) is going. Jeshuah is now twenty months old, and at 18 months, I was despairing that he would be out of diapers any sooner than your average kid.  However, I reminded myself that no matter how soon I could call him wholly and completely Officially Potty Trained, choosing to EC has been one of the most rewarding practices we have chosen as parents.  Even if it isn’t every single time, I am thankful to wash less diapers–and definitely thankful to rarely ever have to deal with a poopy diaper!

However, last month, we had a breakthrough.  When Jeshuah was 18 months, I realized I was being lazy with his training and ought to just put him in his undies on a regular basis, since I knew he was capable of staying dry and telling me when he needed to go.  But because I didn’t want to have to deal with accidents and being concientious all day long of whether or not he may need to go to the bathroom, I just kept him in diapers.  And I noticed a significant regression in his training from 12 months (when he was nearly completely potty trained) to 18 months (when I found his diapers nearly always wet, even if he did also use the toilet).  I knew this was due to my lack of consistency, and determined to do better.

For the first couple of weeks, Jeshuah had multiple accidents a day and rarely made it to the toilet. I definitely felt like a failure at EC! Thankfully, my SIL has been doing EC with her two year old and we encourage each other in the rough times.  We both switched our babies to underwear at the same time, and within days, her son was consistently dry–even at naps and nights! This gave me hope that we would reach that point soon, too, so I kept persevering.  Three or four weeks ago, I started putting Jeshuah in undies nearly all day every day, even on outings of 3 or 4 hours.  He not only stays dry, but he often lets me know when he needs to use the toilet while we are out.  While he is almost always dry when he wakes up from naps, I still have not made the jump to undies for naps.  That is my next goal.

I honestly was nervous about putting him in undies all the time, and even more nervous about going out in undies.  But after the first couple of days, I realized an occasional wet outfit is really not that big of a deal, and seeing the fruit of my labor is very rewarding.  I love seeing him without the bulk of his diaper. I love knowing he is cool and dry in this heat. And I still love our toilet time–when his favorite activities are either reading stories or driving his toy cars around on my legs as I sit across from him on the tub.

Of the things on my list that I look forward to most with this new baby, potty training is right up there with snuggling, holding, and smothering with kisses.  I am so excited to learn to communicate with a new baby, to watch for cues and clues, to pick up on him/her letting me know when they need to go.  EC has never been about pressure or guilt for me, it has just been fun and extremely rewarding.  If I get in an emotional place where it is too stressful, we let it slide for a bit until I get my feet on the ground again. And I am okay with that. Would my kids be potty trained faster if I were anal about it? Yes.  But my goal with Infant Potty Training is not to get them out of diapers as soon as humanly possible, or to beat the average kid out of diapers.  My desire with infant potty training is to establish a bond of communication with my babies, to clean less diapers :-), and to give them the relief of not sitting in soggy or messy diapers.  But mostly, I do it because I enjoy it, and I know Jeshuah enjoys it.  If I didn’t like doing EC, I wouldn’t do it. But I find it intriguing and rewarding and am eager to do it all over again!

Taking Refuge in the Gospel

Willcox Baby, Week 16

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13: 5-6

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure…You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill my with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:9, 10, 11

Stephen and I have been reading the Psalms lately. It has been awhile since I poured over them, and I had forgotten what a balm to the soul they are! If anyone knew suffering and trials, it was David! I love how honestly he relays his struggles, “How long will you forget me, oh God?”, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger…be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint.”  He grapples with serious, painful situations, but in the end, he always comes back to preaching truth to himself. Even while David may feel abandoned by God, he knows that God has always been faithful in the past. The Psalms always end with truth and rejoicing in God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Two major things have weighed heavily on our hearts these past few months.  The intensity, difficulty, and increasing demands of Stephen’s job, and this pregnancy, which seems to be ever hanging in the balance.  While we are grateful for his job, because it brought us to the Quad Cities and First Baptist Church, it is taking its toll on our family. The ever-lengthening hours and physical requirements take everything Stephen has to give, and he has practically nothing left when he gets home.  While we have been crying out to the Lord to provide another job the whole time we have been here, in the last few months, our cries have reached a new intensity as we both have reached our breaking point. Some days it is tempting to wonder if God has indeed forgotten us.

And then there is this little life within me.  It seems every couple of weeks, we are shakily calling the doctor again (it always happens to be after hours, too!) asking what we should do in light of the current situation.  When I get into the ER or the office, the answer is always the same.  They simply do not know what is wrong, if anything is wrong, what to do about it, and if or how this pregnancy will continue.  On our last visit, the doctor’s main concerns were 1)possibility still may miscarry 2)risk of preterm labor.  While it is wonderful to hear a heartbeat every visit, and amazing to see that tiny little body on the ultrasound screen wriggling around inside me, I am always left with the reality that that doesn’t promise anything for the future.

I have good days and bad days. I have days where I feel confident, hopeful, and peaceful, that everything is going to be fine, and I will deliver a healthy, full-term baby.  And I have days where I cannot climb out from under this weight of heaviness over my heart, gnawing at me that I will not get to raise this baby either.

That is why I am grateful for the Psalms! In God’s wisdom, he inspired men like King David and others to detail their heart’s wrestling over similar struggles, and in the end, to point them to God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his sovereignty.  In that is my hope found, and in nothing else.  God has placed us in such a way that we really have nothing to place our hope in, other than him. The doctors are baffled. They have no answers, only more questions. They have no promises that everything will be fine. They can quote statistics and say “You’ve carried the baby this far, hopefully that means something good!”  But that is a false foundation on which to build my hope. If I placed my hope in all of that, I would crumble and fall if that all fell through.

But if I hope in the Gospel, Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf, in God’s love for me, in his faithfulness and control over all things, I can rest securely that his will will be done, and he will be with us through it all, whether painful or joyful.  And I can trust that he is working all things together not only for my good, but for his glory.

“I have set the Lord always before me…I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

Hope for Healing Autism: Our Story

Any of our friends who have known and interacted with Jeshuah over the past few months will notice a drastic difference in his personality and behavior from that which we had been so concerned about for the better part of a year. That is, the very real possibility of him developing an autistic spectrum disorder. Indeed, every day I continue to marvel at the changes in him, hardly able to believe it myself. And yet it has all happened so fast, I realize I have not had the chance to tell many of you yet.  I find many friends whom we do not see regularly are completely unaware of how our household has changed in these last few months.  Allow me to fill you in on what has happened.

While Jeshuah, currently eighteen months old, has never been officially diagnosed with the label of autism, by twelve months of age, there were many symptoms which caused our pediatrician and therapists to be concerned.  He had some precursors, some “red flags” or warning that he may be developing it.  You see Autism as we define it nowadays is a kind of regressive autism, in that these 1 in 110 kids who have it now are not born with it. They develop it by the age of three. For more detailed information, see my post on Autism here or check out the resources at the bottom of this post.

Since this form of autism doesn’t typically show up fully until between two and three years of age, when he was evaluated by his doctor and therapists, they all said he has some concerning symptoms, but we would just have to wait and see.

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our son, Stephen and I are not “wait and see” type of people. I remembered remarking to Stephen after watching Temple Grandin last year, “If someone was going to have a kid with autism, it would be me.  I would be Temple’s mom. I would be beating down doctor’s doors to find the answers to help my child and not just label and give up.”

A couple of months later I began noticing things about Jeshuah that were developmentally and socially disconcerting.  It began with his obsessive spinning of round objects around 9 months of age. At first it was amusing, adorable, amazing, and entertaining.  But after a few months, when I realized that was all he ever, ever, ever did and he was growing further and further behind all his friends developmentally, I began to grow concerned.

And then he got his 12 month immunizations (at 14 months since we were behind).  I had been hesitant to get him immunized in the first place, as my research on the issue was inconclusive and left me just plain uncomfortable.  However, well-meaning people and doctors pressured me that it was vital to his health and well-being and the health and well-being of all children, and I felt compelled to do it.  Although I noticed a distinct disturbance in his habits and sleep every set of shots he got, I tried to brush it off as inconsequential as everyone sites these concerns and thinks nothing of them. (Now that I have had a chance to research this issue further, I have blogged some of my findings here.)

Because I had delayed and denied some, the doctors were catching him up to date, and I was distracted by that visit by our doctor’s concern over Jeshuah’s obsessive spinning. I didn’t notice how many immunizations they were giving him, nor that they were giving him immunizations that I had previously been denying. When I left the office and gathered the papers of info for the shots he had just received, my heart was sickened at the amount of vaccines he had been given in a single day and that he had received vaccines that I didn’t want him having in the first place. But it was too late now. I would watch much more carefully next time I was in the office.

But that night Jeshuah woke up screaming.  A couple of hours later, he was awake again.  And then again.  While he had been sleeping through the night beautifully long before that, for the next month, Jeshuah awoke in the night multiple times, screaming and distraught. When he awoke in the morning, I wept as I watched him crawl around the house, sobbing inconsolably, banging his head on the hard wood floors, writhing, flailing and screaming. Nothing I could do calmed him.  At first I chalked it up to teething.  But now that he has grown multiple more teeth without so much as a fuss, I realize that correlation was most likely inaccurate.

It was around that time that we noticed spinning things both consoled and distressed him.  He would spin by the hour, his body stiffening, his face contorting, eyes squinting, making choking/gasping noises, and then he would look at us and begin to cry. And spin again. The whole cycle would repeat itself continuously. (This video shows only a very mild stiffening/seizing compared to what it later became.)

That was when we took away everything he could spin.  That proved difficult as he tried to spin everything so we were pared down to a few simple toys that didn’t have pieces or any rounded edges.  But now we had a difficult time any time we left the house. He would see wheels on cars or rounded light bulb posts and go into fits and frenzies, signing that he wanted to spin them. He began withdrawing socially, cowering into me as soon as we walked into church or anywhere there was a crowd of people. Clinging to me, he would burrow his head, cry, and refuse to be put down. (I am aware of separation anxiety. This was very different. In general, he has never minded new people or been clingy to either Stephen or me only.  This terror in large crowds was a reaction to sensory overload, and if I took him in a dark room by himself, he would calm right down).

As I researched further, speaking with friends whose children had begun to develop similar issues, many seemingly unconnected symptoms began to connect like pieces in a puzzle.  Jeshuah has always had allergic reactions to things, breaking out in hives, turning red with hot skin, watery eyes, etc.  Since he was eight months old, he has been sick nearly constantly. Almost every time we end up at the urgent care with an antibiotic prescription. He catches every germ that passes and his body simply cannot fight off any infection by itself.

Doctors are beginning to find that this regressive autism is actually caused by an autoimmune disorder.  Short version: their little bodies’ immune system has backfired and turned on itself.  Because it is constantly attacking itself, it cannot ward off any infection it is exposed to.  This would explain why such a large number of families report drastic behavioral changes directly after their child is immunized.  While vaccines may be considered “safe” for the general population, they are not recommended for anyone whose immune system is already compromised. Why? Because a vaccine is actually a tiny bit of that virus (or, in our day and age multiple viruses in the same vaccine) that, when injected, is designed to build an immunity within your body to the real virus.  However, if your system is already overwhelmed by attacking itself, it cannot adequately defend itself against this new virus. Instead, it buries itself away in the body and wreaks havoc. Many children develop immediate and severe behavioral changes following vaccination, but this goes largely unreported, and when it is reported, doctors brush it off as a coincidence. Which is exactly what our pediatrician did, with a disgusted shake of his head at my concern. When I cited concern that his behavior had dramatically regressed immediately following each vaccine, he denied the possibility that they were connected and informed me that I would need to find a new pediatrician if I intended to discontinue vaccinations.

Around this time, I had been conducting extensive research into the area of upper cervical chiropractic and its treatment of autistic kids.  Through a family friend, we heard about a practitioner in the area who was working with autistic spectrum disordered children and seeing dramatic improvement.  Stephen and I are both very skeptical and wary of chiropractors in general, but we know there are both legitimate and illegitimate ones out there.  I have to admit, it took many weeks of thinking, praying, and researching for us to even begin to think a chiropractor could in any way help our son.

However, when we finally took the time to watch the documentary on upper cervical chiropractic, the lightbulb went on in both our heads. This particular school of chiropractic focuses on the atlas, the first bone in your neck.  It is through this bone which all your nerves run, sending messages to the rest of your body.  The following quotes were taken from

“The brain, like a powerful computer system controls and monitors all bodily functions. Brain messages; signals from the brain to the body are the medium used to communicate instructions from the brain to the different body parts. These brain messages move in a vast network of connections, our nervous system, which allows the brain to communicate with even the most remote part of the body.”

When the atlas becomes misaligned (which can happen for any number of reasons, from birth trauma to a bad fall, car accident, etc), the nerves running through the neck become pinched, inflamed, or irritated and can begin to send the wrong signals.  These incorrect signals include anything from mimicking multiple sclerosis, to blindness, to autism.  But when this bone is set back in place, the symptoms disappear within hours, days, or weeks (depending on severity and length of misalignment).

“As soon as the correction is made, muscles begin to relax, blood and oxygen circulation increases, the immune system gains strength and vitality and the body’s natural, self-healing process begins.”

Does this mean that everyone who has cancer, is deaf, and has allergies should go to an upper cervical doctor and will be healed? Unfortunately, no.  These, and many other issues, are very real problems which may be completely unrelated to the atlas, and therefore, this procedure would not help.  However, the fact of the matter is that many, many issues are merely masquerading as other problems, when in reality, the brain simply has its wires crossed. Rather literally.

Now that I am done with that rather technical explanation (sorry! I probably find this way more fascinating than most people), I want to tell you about our own experience with this chiropractic care.  Once we understood the premise, we figured it was worth a try.  After all, the doctors don’t have any answers for us, and other people are finding help this way–we might as well try!

We scheduled the appointment with Newhouse Health Solutions and took him in the next day.  Sure enough, his little atlas was off, and with a couple of gentle nudges (most of which made Jeshuah giggle because he thought he was being tickled), Dr. Newhouse set him to rights and informed us that we should expect a very large poo and a very lengthy sleep that night.

As Stephen and I drove away, we both had a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach that we had just wasted our money on quackery.  We spoke about how neither one of us could even imagine our son seeing a round object and not spinning it.  We could not fathom taking him to a parking lot and not seeing him seize up at the sight of wheels.  It was all too good to be true. A fairy tale dream that didn’t exist.  I began settling in my heart what my next steps would be when this treatment proved to fail.

That night Jeshuah slept like a log and, true to prediction, had one very. large. poo.  I still held out little hope that I would actually see any improvement in my son’s obsessive, abnormal behavior.  However, the next day I brought Jeshuah home from a round of errands, set him down on the floor, and relayed to Stephen, “I just took Jeshuah to multiple stores, and I just realized…he never even seized up at the sight of all the cars.”  Later that day, I took him for a walk, and he merely walked past the cars parked on the street, hardly noticing their rounded wheels.  Two days prior, we would be permanently waylaid at the sight of any wheel, and then there would be tantrums and fits when he wasn’t able to spin them. I locked these observences away in my mind, still too afraid to hope.

Earlier that week Jeshuah had taken some of his first real steps, and by the end of the week, he was practically unstopable.

And then came Sunday.

Because Jeshuah had had strep throat earlier in the week, I didn’t want to put him in the nursery. So I stayed with him in the library, where there were speakers to listen and a window in the door to see the pastor.  I had brought a can of Puffs in case he got hungry and pulled them out towards the end of the sermon.  As soon as I whipped them out of the bag, my heart sank as I realized I had not only let him see the lid, but I had placed it on the floor as a plate for the Puffs.  If I ever let him see the round lid, he wanted nothing to do with eating the Puffs, but only wanted to obsessively spin the lid. I reached to retract it quickly, but he was faster.  He had eaten the Puffs off it, lifted up the lid, and the beckoned for me to hand him the can. I blinked in confusion, but handed it down to him.  He took the lid in both hands and placed it on top of the can. He then removed it, looked at it, then put it back on.

Even as I write this, I know it is impossible to convey to you how significant that event was.  Never, ever, ever, had Jeshuah even attempted to place a lid on its container. When the therapist worked and worked with him, all he would do was spin it.  I could not let him see any of the tupperware when I would pull his leftovers out of the fridge. There would be a frenzied panic to spin them–even the square ones.  But the first time, I watched as Jeshuah not only didn’t react to seeing the round lid, but he used it as it was intended to be used, to seal a container.

As soon as church was over, I rushed into the auditorium to relay the news to Stephen.  Jeshuah was on my hip, and I realized, as we headed into the crowd of people eager to go eat lunch, he was not cowering into me.  In fact, he was reaching for me to put him down! In shock, I let him down, and he took off down the aisles, chasing the older kids back and forth, laughing at his accomplishment.  I turned to Stephen, eyes wide.  How many times had we tried to put him down on this same floor to show off his tricks to the people there? Every time, he clung and cowered and whimpered. But not today.  Today it was like we were watching someone else’s child laugh and play with other kids, unfazed by the lights or crowds of people.

When we took him to lunch that day, we sat near the windows, where I only later realized he could see straight to the cars on the street. Halfway through the meal I marveled to Stephen, Daniel and DeAnna to look at Jeshuah and take note of the fact that he didn’t even care about the cars driving past, even though he had seen them.  Not two weeks before, while out to lunch with a friend, I couldn’t even get him to eat because he was transfixed by the window, stiff, shaking and seizing the entire meal as he watched the parking lot.

After that, we began to notice more and more little things.  Suddenly Jeshuah was “into everything!” like so many moms complain about. He was pulling things off shelves, dumping out baskets of toys, and driving objects around the house, making motor noises as he followed behind.  He was curious about everything, finding new ways to use toys, opening and closing cupboards and drawers, hiding little toys to find later. His constant runny nose cleared up, his cheeks and ears stopped flushing red-hot.  He settled into a restful pattern of waking and sleeping. He began jabbering constantly, making dozens of new sounds and responding to questions like “what does the monkey say?”

Last month, I called his therapists and withdrew him from the early intervention program.  He has no need of it anymore. He is as normal as normal can be.  I thought I would never know what that felt like. I don’t think we will ever take “normal” for granted again, though. As difficult as this road has been, I am so thankful we have walked it. I am thankful to have stood in the shoes of parents who wrestle through the possibility or reality of their children having disorders, syndromes, and other “abnormalities.” I am thankful for all the research I did and all the knowledge and resources I have tucked away to hopefully be able to encourage others now.

I want others to know our story.  I want other people to find the same help.  It is not for everyone–a misaligned atlas is not everyone’s problem.  But I guarantee you it is some people’s problem. It was our problem, and now it is gone! We continue to see progress as Jeshuah’s immune system regains its full function.  Two weeks ago he had strep again, and he has had some seizing recently.  Dr. Newhouse explained that it is like a sprained ankle.  You can regain the use, but there may still be some scar tissue there that flares up occasionally.  Perhaps the seizing is residual from the infection and a weakened immune system.  Perhaps it is because I have been extremely lenient with what he has been eating over the last month.  Perhaps it is because I reintroduced dairy.  His diet may play a part in all of this, too.  Over the next few weeks I will experiment with his diet and see if that helps.  But even the mild seizing that we have seen is so mild, and so different from what it used to be. It is more of an excitement than anything, and it doesn’t cause my heart to plummet the way it used to.

So that’s where we are right now. As far as we are concerned, Jeshuah is “healed.”  We do not consider him on the autistic spectrum or in danger of ever being on it. We have wrestled with a lot of difficult things and asked a lot of questions over the last many months.  But we seem to be on the other side of that now. Could we see ourselves back there again? Of course–anything is possible! And yet at the moment, we do not suspect that will happen.

One thing we do know for sure and certain. That is, no matter what the outcome in all of this, our God is faithful to keep us, and we give him glory for all of this!

I shot this video this afternoon.  This was the first time he had even seen his donuts since we put them away six months ago.  Even after everything I have detailed, I was virtually shaking as I showed them to him, anxious that he would do what he had always done and spin, spin, spin. But I had to try and see what would happen!

While I understand this post is far from exhaustive in its scope, I have tried to be as accurate in my information as possible.  Information in this post has been gleaned from many sources, many of which have been friends, relatives, and physicians.  Some websites and books I have read and recommend include the following:

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies

Newhouse Health Solutions

ACN Forums

Gospel Motivation for Intentional Living

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5

“One of the main reasons to manage our home is for the sake of hospitality.  We should also consider managing our home for the sake of hospitality to our family.  Cleaning and organizing is a part of the practical outworking of Titus 2:3-5.  Keeping an orderly home communicates our love in a tangible manner.  Our family benefits from our management on a daily basis, just as guests enjoy our efforts when they visit.” –Practicing Hospitality

At our care group we recently got into a discussion about the purpose of keeping a tidy home.  One of the husbands said, “It’s the making the bed that gets me–why do it?! It’s just going to get unmade again!”

I know this man’s feelings well, since I have thought them so many times myself! It seems like that’s true of everything we do in home management.  Why fold the clothes and put them away? We are just going to get them out again? Why pick up the toys, they will just get played with again.  If we want to be efficient, wouldn’t we just leave this stuff and save time of picking up and putting away only to have to do it again thirty minutes later? Here are a few reasons why it is beneficial to maintain order in your home:

1.  It actually saves time in the end.  How much time have you spent looking for that bill that needs to be paid? Or your keys? Or your shoes? Or that one tupperware? I have always found that disorder leads to wasted time in searching and much, much frustration!

2.  Living in a chaotic home creates a frenzied heart.  When we live from one moment to the next, our hearts are not able to rest or relax because we are never sure what is expected of us.  Creating order allows for us to know what’s on our plate and establish a plan to execute it.

3.  It allows you to show hospitality.  When we have stock of our pantry, when we have a menu plan, and when our home is generally in order, this gives us the freedom to invite people in at the spur-of-the-moment.  This does not mean our homes have to be perfectly clean all the time. This is an ideal of which we need to let go if we are going to truly minister effectively for the kingdom.  The goal is not perfection so that guests will be impressed with how we have it all together, the goal is to create an inviting, peaceful environment where guests feel welcomed and relaxed.

4.  It creates at atmosphere of rest and welcome for your family.  When we ask the question, “Why would we make the bed when we are just going to mess it up again tonight?” It is a legitimate question.  But the better question to ask is, when I walked into a room with clothes on the floor and a messy bed, how does it make my spirit feel? “Considerable rumpled,” as Anne Shirley would say!  I have noticed that, without fail, when I bite the bullet and make the bed, put all the clothes away, wipe down the bathroom sink, etc.  As soon as I walk into that room, I literally breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of beauty and order that surrounds me.  This lifts my spirit, and gives strength to do other tasks, and I Have noticed the same for my husband!  So I am motivated not by the goal for impressing or achieving perfection, but with the goal to bless and refresh our spirits and the spirits of those who walk through our doors. It really does make a difference, even if you don’t recognize it on a cognitive level!

It is important to remember also that our ultimate priority is never maintaining our home.  When we have little ones, it is especially important that caring for and nurturing them is our priority.  The maintaining of an orderly home should not replace this, it should merely facilitate it.  This is something I struggle with, as I am a very task-oriented personality that likes to get things done and check it off the list. Nurturing Jeshuah isn’t something I can check off a list and can fall by the wayside of my housework if I don’t watch out for it.

5.  It is an outworking of the gospel.  “The testimony of a wife and mom who loves and serves her family is a powerful witness to a watching world; it is also something that separates a believing woman from the world.  The manner in which we serve and love our family should reflect the transforming power of the gospel in our own life.” (Practicing Hospitality again!).  Many times I catch myself being motivated to keep an orderly home to impress others.  I feel like I fail in so many ways that I somehow want to justify myself in their eyes by keeping a clean house.  This is a false and destructive mentality.  The gospel tells us that we are justified through Christ’s blood.  Trying to do it in our own strength and through actions negates the power of the cross in our lives.

We do not have to impress others with our abilities.  We need to be humble and transparent and allow others to see our faults and failures.  While we want our homes to be a welcoming atmosphere, we do not want to be putting on a show. We want people to know that it is by God’s grace and for his glory that we seek to maintain our homes, and that we fail as much as the next person. But that should give hope, not despair.  I find that so much discouragement comes from the appearance of perfection.  When I see someone with an orderly home and a seemingly-perfect life, my heart sinks with despair. I am aware of my weakness and instantly feel that I could never attain a household like theirs, because I am not perfect.  News flash: none of us are! I hope that when people come into my home, they feel welcomed and refreshed, but that they also see that I do not do it without fault.  I strive for these things, but I fail.  But because I strive for them and place priority on them, I will succeed more than I would if I wasn’t trying at all!

May the gospel refresh you as you seek to minister through your home today!