2.24.2009

Jonathan's Story: How Real Food Healed My Son


The picture above was taken September 17, 2007 when my son, Jonathan, was 3 months old. It's hard to believe that the face above is the same face as that of my smiling, chubby, 20 month old. Many people don't believe me when I show them his early baby pictures. How did this sallow-faced, acid-reflux, colicky baby of three months old who was dropping percentiles every month become the thriving, rarely-sick, joyful boy who wears 2T at 20 months? The answer: God's grace and Real Food.

For the most part, Jonathan's pregnancy was textbook. After a traumatic birth with many complications of his older sister, it was nice for everything to go smoothly. I followed a Weston Price diet of raw milk, coconut oil, beef, and cultured beverages daily. I exercised, I wasn't too stressed. Everything went perfectly, and he was born a good size of 7#, 6 oz just a few days after his due date.

Not everything was perfect, however. My attempt to birth him VBAC had failed due to cephalo-pelvic disproportion (I have very narrow hips and tend to birth big-headed babies who never engage). That wasn't so bad in itself, but the administration of lots and lots of antibiotics during labor (for Strep B) probably posed a problem for little Jonathan's gut. I also have a low milk supply due to breast hypoplastia, which is a lack of glandular tissue. I nurse, but must always supplement. Thankfully, I was able to continue nursing my daughter until she was four years old thanks to a device called a Lact-Aid. I thought that perhaps my supply would improve with my second child, but all of the pumping, herbs, and nourishing food I ate did not significantly improve the situation.

Jonathan needed supplementation (as per the lactation specialists and the pediatrician's advice) so I quickly sought out the ingredients for the Weston A Price Raw Milk formula. I was so proud that I could at least make his food with my own hands, if my body could not. I knew this was far better than anything in a can, and I wasn't worried in the least about "raw milk germs" because of the immense trust and faith I have in my farmer, who uses immaculate cleanliness practices in her small, certified dairy.

In spite of the near-perfection of the raw milk formula (it was scientifically formulated by Dr. Mary Enig, PhD and world-renown fats expert, to mimic the properties of breast milk as closely as possible) it just didn't agree with Jonathan. He was gassy, burpy, and spitting up constantly. In an effort to improve the digestibility of the formula, I began using kefir made from raw milk since it is already predigested and full of probiotics. To my utter surprise, this made things worse!

There was lots of spitting up. Feedings spanned 45 minutes to an hour. There was bad gas that was keeping him from being able to sleep. And worst of all, he wasn't growing.

At every well baby check up in those first three months, he fell a percentile each time. He went from 50th percentile at birth to less than the 5th percentile in 3 months. My pediatrician, being the non-alarmist that she is, patiently allowed nature to take its course a few months before she suggested an acid reflux medication and Nutramagen formula (it's that expensive formula that smells awful).

At that point, commercial formula was totally out of the question for me. I saw the damage it did to my daughter, and I knew this ultra-high heat processed product was not food. It may have had chemically-formulated vitamins and minerals added, but it was chock full of soybean oil (an industrial waste product) and corn syrup solids. Not real food that my baby needed.

We had explored the breastmilk donor option, but none were available that I trusted, save for my dear sister, XK, who was just getting pregnant with her second at the time! Hope was beginning to dry up. I tried the Liver Formula (using bone broth and chicken livers) from Nourishing Traditions and the results were a less gassy baby for sure, but there was still no growth. In fact, his stools turned an awful dark black which is totally not natural for a baby!

The Nourishing Traditions book has a brief mention of goat milk formula, but doesn't seem to extol its virtues as much as cow milk, and gives very little information about it. I decided to give it a try since a relative of my husband's had been raised on raw goat's milk. He turned out beautifully, so I figured it was worth a try.

I began making phone calls to the limited goat dairies in Oregon. There aren't many anyway, and all but one had dried their does up for the winter, which is common.

Enter Mrs. Amazing Goat Milk Farmer, an amazing Christian mother of 6, including two autistic sons, who homeschools and runs her goat dairy with her husband, Mr. Amazing Goat Milk Farmer(who works a full-time job away from the farm). Mrs. AGMF's heart's desire is to help babies just like Jonathan; babies for whom neither breastmilk nor formula are options. She has helped many, many babies thrive on the goatie milk, and takes a personal interest in supporting and loving all of us weary moms.

When I first spoke to Mrs. Amazing on the phone, I had lost hope. I knew goat milk would help him, but I couldn't find a source. When she said "I can have 3 gallons for you this afternoon, when can you get here?" I about fainted! Mrs. Amazing said "Of course I'll help you! You have a baby!!" The Amazing family generously sacrifices their own supply, along with other faithful customers, so that a baby in need can come to the top of her list. Since winter is a low producing time for goats, she gets what she can and gives it first to the young ones who need it most.

As soon as we returned home from the goat farm, I immediately fed Jonathan the goat milk. He guzzled the entire 5 ounces down in 5 minutes (remember, it had taken 45 minutes previously!) and I was amazed at the changes I noticed almost immediately. This picture was taken just a few weeks after Jonathan started drinking the goat's milk. I started noticing that his stools turned yellowish/green. He immediately became more alert and quickly filled out in his face. Within a couple of weeks, we returned for a weight check and found that in two weeks, he had gained two pounds (and he had only been drinking the goat milk for about one week at that point!).

His growth continued to take off. People noticed and commented on how big he looked all of the sudden. His clothes became tighter and there was fat around his wrists. The gas and reflux became a thing of the past overnight.

I believe that goat milk is liquid gold (next to breast milk, of course!). There are too many virtues of goat's milk to list here, including smaller fat molecules that more closely mimic mother's milk. The protein structure differs dramatically from cow's milk, as does the lactose. Essentially, it's a different chemical altogether. I will devote a separate post in the near future to most specifically talking about the benefits of goat's milk and share what formula I personally used for Jonathan. Until then, check out this resource for a comparison of raw milk to infant formula/pasteurized formula published in Scientific American.
At this point in time, I made a choice to work more closely with my naturopath in healing Jonathan's gut, which had been damaged by the prolonged use of cow milk. We gave him L-glutamine to heal the gut lining and additional L-Bifidus probiotics. Although Jonathan grew and developed tremendously on the goat's milk, he did go through what I believe was an intense detox period as his body let go of accumulated toxins (from undigested cow milk proteins). This manifested itself as a runny nose that was persistent for about 8 weeks total.

In due time, Jonathan's gut healed and he began to enjoy a variety of nourishing foods. I started him on chicken liver pate and broth, along with avocado, sweet potatoes and egg yolk. Initially his gut was not ready for egg yolk, so we held off until after a year. I introduced sauerkraut and lacto-fermented beets, which he loves. Sardines and salmon were also a favorite, along with butternut squash.

Armed with more information this time around, I was determined not to go down the empty carb path that so many children find themselves on, my first daughter included. I introduced Jonathan to real food from the start, and he got no crackers, pretzels, bread or grains of any kind (babies lack amylase, the enzyme that digests grains, until they get their 2 year molars). Nor did I introduce refined sugar, and I limited fruits so that he could develop a taste for vegetables (covered with plenty of healthy fat like coconut oil and butter). Of course there was also the Cod Liver Oil, which he excitedly takes every day and asks for more! Train them young!

I am so thankful for Mrs. Amazing and for the sacrifices she makes every day for babies like Jonathan. I am incredibly thankful as well for the support I received along the way from my Naturopath and the few close friends who knew the truth (that I was feeding my child raw, homemade formula!) and didn't give me grief about it! I think the proof was in the pudding, in this case!

I thank God every day for my Farmers and for his leading me to this much-needed medicine.

I hope someday to keep a goat so that we can free up the Farm's supply for others, but goat milk is a mainstay in my kids' lives. They both still love their goatie milk and it's worked wonders to help my daughter as well!

Jonathan is twenty months now and is growing bigger every day. He's wearing a size 2T, talks in sentences, and has a huge vocabulary. Other than the occasional cough and runny nose, Jonny is healthy, active boy who prefers to walk on his own rather than ride in the carseat. Everyone who knows him can attest to his almost other-worldly sweetness and peacefulness. Always smiling, Jonny brings the joy of life to all he encounters.

My prayer and hope is that more mothers who feel like commercial formula is their only option will be able to try this real food baby formula if they face irreparable milk supply issues as I did. Of course, if you have a low supply, please see a lactation specialist before supplementing! There is LOTS you can do to improve your supply!

For more stories of real food healing, check out Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave!

25 comments:

FoodRenegade said...

What an encouraging testimony! Thanks for sharing. I also know someone who was raised on raw goat's milk. It's been used for thousands of years to nourish babies who have been separated from mothers, particularly in places where no wet nurses were available.

Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home said...

Thank you for this inspiring testimony! I've thought about switching to goats milk (we don't drink cow's milk), but my niece almost died from e-coli. If we had our own goat and I KNEW that the milk was clean, I'd give it to our kids. I'm just nervous about getting it from someone else. Do you think I'm overreacting?

Carrie T said...

Thanks, FR!

Laryssa,

I don't think you're crazy! It's a rational concern. I always look for raw milk from farmers who have small heards. I drill them about their cleanliness protocols, and I make sure that they drink the milk raw as well (if it's good enough for their families, it's good enough for us!).

Most of all, go look at the herd and their living conditions, see for yourself. You'll know!

You can always, however, get one of your own if you're up for that!

Hugs,
Carrie

Rebeca said...

That is so wonderful that you persisted and found healing in good, natural food! Thanks for sharing your story!

SustainableSuppers said...

Jonathan is beautiful, and I'm so encouraged by this story. We are in South Florida, where real dairy of any kind is hard to come by, thanks to the poor nature of our grass. But a friend of mine down here was determined to procure raw goat milk for her baby daughter: four months later, baby Kira is thriving on raw goat milk, and my friend has now started a raw milk coop!

maria said...

It is really awesome to see how well Jonathan is doing!
I may need to try some goat's milk for Thomas. He doesn't like cows milk that much and I find him too thin.

Lauramamadoula said...

I LOVED this post! I have a very similar story about my daughter. however I didn't remember to write it in time for the deadline ;)

I always rejoice when I hear stories like this!!

Donielle said...

We love goat milk over here too! When my son weaned at 15 months he got super gassy, constipated, and just sick. I finally figured out it was the milk and we found a local dairy to which we still use a year later. It's the best thing we've done, buying REAL milk. And the best part is, even my husband, who had been off dairy for a couple years, can drink the goat milk as well!

Jodi said...

Amazing story! Thank you for sharing and I am so excited that you are proactive in assisting in Jonathan's health so your son be the best he can be! Live foods help our bodies so much, and we all need to be educated on nutrition and supplement our healthy diets as well with Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs to assist us.
I wanted to ask if you have a chiropractor and how have they helped? If you don't, ask around your town for the best pediatric chiropractor, as they assist in the healing of the nervous system and the complications that come especially from birth, especially Jonathan's birth. Best of luck to you and know that he will be better because of YOU!!
In Health, Jodi

Anonymous said...

Go to this website for more info on pediatric chiropractic:

www.icpa4kids.org

Also, You Tube has great videos on pediatric chiropractic by Dr. Ohm

Good luck and be well!

Tracy said...

This is all information I wish I'd known 13 years ago with my first child. Of all our children she is the one who has the food allergies and insensitivities. I believe it all began with a bottle of formula on hospital. I was young and just didn't know any better....and I was exhausted after a traumatic 30 hour labour.

You're very blessed to have the option of choosing raw milk. In Australia it is illegal to sell raw milk. If I knew someone with cows or goats I'd go for it! I tried goats camembert cheese not long ago and found it so much cleaner in taste than cows camembert.

Ruth said...

I'm amazed to find this! This sounds so much like my experience! I had 7 doses of antibiotic in a long traumatic labor and never could breastfeed exclusively. My baby rejected the breast starting at 2 mo and now the milk is all gone. I am back at the stage where I have tried everything, even broth and my baby has rashed out badly from it all. Everything, that is, except goat milk. Pasteurized goat milk didn't digest very well and she had lots of spit up, gas, etc. but no rash. The raw milk I tried had been fed with some corn and she is hyper-sensitive to corn. Like you, I began calling goat farms and a kind Christian lady offered to feed a goat corn-free especially for us - I get the milk on Friday. If it doesn't work, I don't know what I'll do! I feel like there is something terribly wrong with my baby's digestive system, but don't know how to fix it. She has been on a good quality probiotic for about 2 weeks. I realize you are a very busy mother, but I'd love it if you contacted me.
Ruth

jmmarkov said...

Carrie,

I only WISH I had a raw goat milk supply. I have been supplementing my nursing with raw cow milk formula, but my son still has awful eczema all over his body, and slightly dark circles under his eyes. He is a skinny little dude (always has been) and caught a cold over a week ago that seems to be going strong. :( He had eczema even when he was purely breastfed, and I was on a GF/CF diet, with mostly whole, real foods. (I had started our transition to NT/WAPF type eating.)

I use pasteurized (not ultra) goat milk from Trader Joe's for his yogurt, fermented SCD/GAPS-style, but I don't dare take him entirely off dairy, or breastmilk. Have you started to look into keeping a goat? You mentioned that you might do so. It would be rather difficult here in Phoenix, as we have no grass!

Kim said...

Hi! I am Kim from the yahoo GAPS group. Wondering if you could let me know which probiotic and which L-Glut you gave your son (and how much). I wrote you on our board, but didn't hear back. Hope all is well!

Maama Kathi said...

Hi Carrie! I am Kathi from Colorado, and I am Kim Walters' sister!

I have a 2-month old granddaughter whose appearance strongly resembles your little Jonathan before he was "healed." Her mom (my daughter) is breastfeeding but now must supplement. I was able to obtain raw goat milk from a local dairy nearby and we started feeding it to her last week. At first we didn't realize we needed to dilute it, and her little body was constipated. However, even after several days of diluted goat milk, she is still constipated.

Do you know of anything we can add to it to make it easier to process for our little angel? And, you mention a goat milk formula. What do you add to yours?

I appreciate any and all input you may have! God Bless!!!

Kathi

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your story about Jonathan and your goat milk formula choice. I may have to start supplementing due to a low milk supply. I am trying to increase my supply but until it increases we will have to supplement. I hope to use your recipe due to my desire to NOT give my daughter commercial formula. May God bless you in this important blog. I will return again.

Heidi said...

I enjoyed reading Jonathans story! I have a son Ian that is now 15, he had similar issues as a baby. The doctors called it projectile vomiting. Feedings were long, and most the time the milk would just come back up. The dr wanted him to be on "predigested" formula that is very expensive. It looked and smelled awful.I was also having trouble nursing because things that I ate, such as soy, would make him break out or vomit even more.I decided to try goats milk. It was against my doctors recommendations of course, but mothers need to do what they feel is right. At 4 months old I started feeding Ian raw goats milk. I watered it down about 7 oz milk/1 oz water. He loved it. The projectile vomiting stopped. The tummy aches and rashes stopped too.
My son is now 15 and just about 6 feet tall (we are not tall parents)
He only goes to the doctor when he breaks a bone or has a concussion!
5 years ago we decided to raise goats for ourselves. Ian was not getting enough milk to grow as a young teen. I could only buy enough milk to let him have some on his cereal and also 1 glass per day. When we got our own goats and milked them, Ian could have all the raw milk he needed.

If we had not switched to goats milk I may have lost my mind.
Yay! for goats!

Heidi G
www.jkgoats.com in Minnesota

Toni Harms said...

I can't find a link to email you so I will post a comment in hopes that you see it. You can reach me at karmagl@yahoo.com . I have many questions to ask you. My dr is FTT and has other health problems. She is fed through a feeding tube and is 2.5 years old and 18 lbs and constantly losing weight. I have been looking into raw goats milk and as we speak my mom is buying milking goats from a local source. ONe question is how long can goats milk be left out for, since it will be a slow drip from a feeding tube I am wondering if it would be possible or will it spoil. Also what are the sugar levels. She has blood sugar problems so she can't have dairy (cow) because it shoots her blood sugar levels up. I hope to hear from you. Toni Harms

mdiber said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm passing it along to my DIL.

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pharmacy said...

Interesting, I always thought that we are what we eat, and it is a fact that our health depend on what we eat.

raymeds said...

allowed nature to take its course a few months before she suggested an acid reflux medication and Nutramagen formula (it's that expensive formula that smells awful).

Olga said...

many children are placed on a formula-only diet, sometimes for years on end: those who, like my son, need a feeding tube in order to eat. (and there are many reasons for tubes: in our case, he was not swallowing into his stomach but into his lungs. we literally almost lost him). what is less known is that it is perfectly possible to feed a person on a feeding tube REAL FOOD. we did, and the changes in our boy were beyond amazing. for anyone curious, check out youstartwithatube.blogspot.com
(and btw, our regional pediatric hospital has supportive dieticians, too!)

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I've been breastfeeding my daughter since the day she was born.

She was in the 22nd percentile at birth, but gradually declined to 7th percentile by 2nd month and 2nd percentile by the 4th month.
Since then, she's been constant at 2nd percentile.

She slept well and was a good kid till 2 months of age. Once she got introduced to the bottle (with mother's milk in it) at 2 months, she became more cranky, wanting to be held, and didn't sleep well during the day either.

Looking at her weight decline,
Doctor suggested that we start giving her solids at 6 months instead of 4 months.

Now, by 9 months, her solid food is a large part of her diet, and she seems to be happy when she's had enough of it in the day.

Even now, there are days she is cranky and wants to be held (If she didn't have her 3 meals to her full because she dint like 1 of them): But not when she's had her full of the solid food..

She refuses mother's milk in the bottle these days, as she just started daycare.
So, she is given formula in the bottle. But she barely drinks 4 ounces on a good day. Much less otherwise.

She drinks well and often when I breastfeed her.

She is still in 2nd percentile.

Would you suggest raw goat milk for us ??

Am wondering if my milk is not sufficient nutrition for her.

Taruna Sharma said...

Also, you mentioned that Amylase does not kick in till 2 year molars in your blog.

So I googled 'Amylase", and got this wikipedia article, which indicates that Amylase is in fact the enzyme required to digest "Starch" into sugars.

Starch is found in all starchy vegetables as well: which you talk well about.

Also the following link describes how it's ok to introduce grains to child under 1:
http://firststepnutrition.com/should-delay-introducing-grains-your-baby

Just thought that I will share this finding..