When our youngest son was born, we battled ear infection after ear infection, beginning at 2 weeks old. Every time I took him to the pediatrician they asked me the same set of questions:
- Does anyone in your household smoke? No. (No one. Never.)
- Do you put him to sleep with a bottle? No. (I breastfed him.)
- Is he in daycare? No. (I was a stay at home mom.)
Every month a new antibiotic prescription. Every month we got less sleep, not more. Every month he ate less instead of more. I was getting really concerned. The phrase "failure to thrive" haunted me. I knew we were doing everything we knew to do, but my baby wasn't gaining enough weight and he was sick so much of the time.
By 6 months he had his first set of tubes put in his ears.
By about 7 months feeding him became a battle ground. He would put his little hands out in protest when it was time and cry. I felt so rejected and helpless.
By 8 months he still wasn't babbling, and he couldn't sit up without eventually toppling over (as if he couldn't maintain his balance).
During that time friends from one of my support groups (LaLeche League) suggested something that blew my mind.
"He's probably allergic to milk."
I immediately took this nugget of information to our pediatrician who just as immediately dismissed it.
"But you don't know what's causing his chronic nasal congestion and resulting ear infections," I said. "I think this is worth investigating."
"I doubt a milk allergy is the case," he said with unreasonable authority.
The next day I put myself on an elimination diet. Since my milk was my son's only food source, what I ate had to matter. I cut all dairy out of my diet and took a calcium supplement. This was not easy. I love dairy! Always have. It was really hard for me, but within just days my baby stopped putting up a fuss at feeding time. Within weeks he was eating more than he ever had. And one month later he caught up in his expected weight gain. And by the way, no nasal congestion or ear infections.
I was right. Our pediatrician was wrong. I changed pediatricians.
Have you ever gone to bat for your child and experienced resistance? Have you struggled with what to say that might get others to see it your way (in order to meet your child's needs)?
From doctors to teachers, coaches to grandparents, we stand up for our children, stand between them and the cruel world, and stand in the gap between what they need and what others are willing to give them.
There are ways to increase your chances of success when you advocate for your child. There are words you can say and ways you can say them that make a difference.
I invite you to participate in a parent survey that would benefit both you and other parents who've experienced what it means to stand in the gap for their children.
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