Life is grand

Motherhood: When Spirituality Hits the Fan (Part 1)


I never expected to be a perfect parent. However, I do know some things about holistic health and natural living, and I did expect to have a handle on raising healthy children. I had wonderful pregnancies and two fantastic home births, under the care of exceptional midwives. I didn’t use drugs, prenatal testing, monitors or medical interventions of any kind. I’ve tried to raise my daughters in the healthiest way I know, without interference from the medical establishment.

I believe a healthy diet is the foundation of good health. I buy only organic, seasonal whole foods. I put limits on sugar. Juice is an occasional treat and soda off limits. I avoid giving my kids anything with citric acid, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup. We don’t eat many soy foods or products containing processed soy. I also try to limit our family’s exposure to toxic chemicals. I don’t buy food containing artificial colors or preservatives. (I read labels.) We don’t drink water that has been treated with fluoride, chlorine or chloramines. No fluorinated toothpaste. I won’t use aluminum or nonstick cookware. I bought a corded phone for the children to use, to protect them from electromagnetic frequencies. I choose not to infect their bloodstreams with toxic vaccines. I almost never administer Tylenol or antibiotics. I dress my kids in natural fabrics and particularly avoid material treated with flame-retardant chemicals. (This includes all children’s sleepwear sold in the US.) I’ve tried to limit the amount of plastic toys in our home, and food or drink stored in plastic. The cleaners and cosmetics in our house are organic, non-toxic and/or environmentally friendly. We do yoga together. We spend time in nature. We dance and sing. We get lots of exercise and fresh air.

Despite my best efforts to protect and nurture my children, my beautiful perfect first-born angel had a tumor in her brainstem by age four. My waking nightmare. How could this happen? We tried many holistic approaches to reduce this tumor including: Toaist herbs; a regimen of many different vitamins and supplements; dietary restrictions; Mangosteen juice; medicinal mushrooms; blessed spiritual medicine; oils blessed by priests; vortex healing; prayers; mantras; visualizations and meditation; homeopathy; Qi Gong; psychic “surgery” and a visit to a Brazilian miracle healer. Despite all that we tried, the tumor continued to grow.

As time and options ran out, I had to hand my precious child over to a medical system that I have never trusted. A corrupt, profit-driven system that, in my opinion, has little or no understanding of health maintenance or disease prevention. A system which I believe is generally more harmful than healthful. Suddenly I had to put my hope and faith in a miracle of modern medicine. I can’t describe how difficult this process has been, and continues to be, for me. Each time I enter a clinic or a hospital, I am an atheist in a strange church. I wish I could believe that doctors know best. For years I hardly felt the need for routine check-ups with a pediatrician. Now we are in the hospital at least once every three weeks. I believe my daughter has the best specialists in the world taking care of her, but I find little comfort in that. My daughter has been subjected to ten MRIs under general anesthesia with gadolinium dye contrast, one CT scan and two brain surgeries. Not exactly the natural, holistic upbringing I had envisioned.

Before my children were born, I thought about all the things I would share and do with them. I thought about what I would teach them. But so far the path of parenthood for me has been more about the lessons I need to learn. I know that life is joyful and also full of pain and injustice. This knowledge does not make it any easier to see my child suffer. Many days I am consumed by stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, my sweet baby girl lives a full and happy life. I do not take that life for granted. Still, I struggle with my fears. Fear of the known, fear of the unknown and the fear of fear. Meanwhile, she blossoms and thrives throughout this medical ordeal. The ecstasy and the joy that my children express help me to appreciate the beauty of life at each moment. This is the bittersweetness that I savor. I have also found tremendous gratitude and respect for the team of doctors that manage her care. I believe their interventions have saved her life thus far. Motherhood is much more challenging than I ever dreamed possible, and for that too I am grateful.

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