When I was pregnant with our son, I was so excited to meet and learn about this little human and who he was to become. Granted, I didn’t know the sex of our baby, but what I did know is that he had two older sisters who were great sleepers. I had no reason to assume this wee one wouldn’t follow in their shoes, but that was not going to be the case.
Odin was born in early August in a lovely water birth at home, just like his sisters. From the start we loved him fiercely and he loved us back. Going against all counsel and advice I have given the postpartum mothers I’ve worked with over the years, I strapped him on at ten days old and went back to work as an Advanced Nutrition Response Practitioner. My associate couldn’t pull the weight of my practice at the time, and rent had to be paid and employees were expecting a paycheck. I showed up, cried my eyes out, and let my village help us raise him.
By the time he was a few months old I could tell something was off with his sleeping pattern. A restless one, he slept only if attached to me, and only if nursing at night. Testing him showed that food intolerances were a concern, along with chemical and metal toxicities. Per usual, we followed protocol, though his sleep cycle never improved.
I get that sleep disruption is common in babies. I spent twenty plus years as a Birth & Postpartum Doula and worked with many couples around sleep with their wee ones. I also know what it looks like to see a disregulated nervous system. For a child receiving weekly Nutrition Response Testing from birth, weekly chiropractic adjustments since just hours old, and who has been under the care of a homeopath, he was still off.
Now, in all other ways he was a healthy and well adjusted little one. He was funny and so smart, very verbal at a very young age, strong, agile, and quite able. He captured the hearts and humor of everyone around him.
He just didn’t sleep.
Let me define Didn’t Sleep: to nap he had to nurse to sleep unless someone laid with him for, at times, hours, until he fell asleep, and then we were lucky to get an hour of sleep out of him. Bedtime was even more difficult. Not only did it take more than a couple hours to get him to sleep, he would wake within 2-3 hours. Rarely did he wake in upset, he was always rather calm and happy. It’s like he just needed someone to be with him, because he was awake, and it was dark, and it was night. I could tell digestion was an issue, though, because he would flop around like a fish out of water. Younger than two, he would turn my body on its side so he could lean against me like a personal La-Z-Boy. I began to lay him like that at night if I could remember because he would sleep for a solid two hours if I could hold that position for him.
He would wake between 5-8 times per night and would be ready to wake for the day between 4:45-5:15. Our homeopath one time said his remedy describes an orphan, one who can live on little sleep and food. It described him perfectly.
By 18 months of age I was feeling the effects of sleep deprivation. Emotionally stressed already, I took Odin with me to Florida for an advanced clinical training weekend to have him tested by my supervisor. Finding more chemical and metal toxicity, this new protocol brought his night waking from 5-8 times per night down to 3-5 times per night. That was a monumental shift at the time, and a shift I thought I could live with until the consistency of it became too much.
Three areas of interest that had shown up in Odin’s health was that he was so petite—such a small little dude. He had good muscle tone, was strong, very physical, just small. The second was he began to show mollescum on his skin. I had experience with this common toddler issue, and though we see it typically last 6-9 months, we were now at almost 2 years of it, and it seemed to be coming on more quickly and intensely. The third was that he continually tested for many rotating food intolerances. Egg yolks, ancient grains, fruit, rice, cheese, beans, wheat, oats all came and went until finally he tested for food phenolics. With the beginning of that, this was the first list of foods he could and couldn’t eat:
AVOID: cauliflower, chicken, yellow pepper, orange pepper, banana, avocado, strawberry, millet, oats, packaged almond milk, red lentils, chia seeds, red pepper hummus, brown rice,
OK:pork, beef, red & green apples, potato, sweet potato, raspberry, pear, almond, peanut, onion, broccoli, dates, raisins, plantain, goji berries, mango, almond, goat yogurt, cucumbers, chickpea pasta, zucchini, Dynamic Paleo Protein vanilla, white basmati rice, cocoa powder, collagen, popcorn, brown rice pasta, hemp seeds
Pulling the above foods made a difference in his sleep patterns as well, meaning he would wake one time less per night (for a little while), then he’d revert back to multiple wakings. Pulling so many of these foods over time was also getting difficult as he was breastfeeding, and would sometimes go a day without having more than a bite or two of food, it was obvious that he knew when food didn’t work for him.
October 2018 he finally tested for the immune challenge I had been suspecting was wreaking havoc on his little body. It explained so much about his experience and symptoms, though no protocol worked, so we continued to march on.
Other symptoms he began to show include: feeling like he was “sick” every other week with something, random puking with no other signs of sickness, a couple of allergy episodes with bright red swelling on his arm as if he had just had a blood pressure cuff on too tight and removed, sinus congestion, face rashes, torso rashes, itching at night, and super soft bowel movements. These symptoms came and went and by the time he was 3 ½ they included itching anus, cat allergies, seasonal allergies, and a respiratory allergy to his own dog of two years resulting in monthly asthma attacks around 1:15am three months in a row. This was followed by a once monthly for another three months of waking around midnight on a full moon and screaming for about three hours. It occurred like he was still sleeping, but was screaming and thrashing-wanted out of his room, out of my arms, into my arms, into his bed, onto the couch, onto my bed, back into my arms, throwing his body around like nothing I’d ever seen before. He’d wake the next morning completely exhausted.
Enter the perfect timing of the Ulan Nutrition Systems annual spring symposium and the promise of unlocking hidden and morphed immune challenges. Just for fun, there are under 800 of us trained as Clinical Masters in Advanced Nutrition Response Testing in the nation. There were only 125 of us at this symposium being taught this ground breaking technology. What I found in my own health blew my mind. I went home and found MULTIPLE morphed and hidden immune challenges in my son.
Let me tell you something. Being woken in the night by what I thought was him coughing, and upon further listening, realizing our son couldn’t breathe, is something I don’t wish upon anyone. Running into his room as he’s pushing at his trachea gasping for air, trying to call out for me, exhaling more than he’s able to inhale is something I DO NOT want to revisit. I am beyond grateful for the tools I have, my ability to stay calm, the resources I have on hand, and my quick thinking as within 5 minutes I had his lethargic and heavy body laying against mine, sitting upright in our bed, quietly weeping tears of relief. From that night on there was no more sleep as I lay at night listening for him, not wanting him to experience that fear of not being heard ever again.
March 3, 2019 began the unfolding of these deeper challenges and what lay underneath them, as what continued to test was more and more hidden. I knew we were on to something big, I knew we had tapped into the answers. I NEEDED answers.
He was so intuitive. He would tell me in the middle of the night that he could feel buggies moving around in his stomach. He would point to where and would sometimes begin to slap at his stomach and grab at his skin. My heart hurt for him and it continued to drive me to find the answers we needed for him.
April 16, 2019 I had a hunch that I needed to expand my reach beyond the many nutritional lines I had been trained on and found the answer in a company some colleagues had been using. I also reached further than I normally would for a child into a line trusting this work enough to know that if he tested NO for these immune supports, I wouldn’t use them, and if he tested YES for them, I would begin adding them a bit at a time. And test YES for them he did.
What happened next still feels like a miracle to me.
He slept through the night for the next four nights in a row for 8-10 hours each night.
Three days in I found a rice like immune challenge in his wet diaper, and when I grabbed my husband to show him, he told me that he had seen that same thing the day before when he had changed Odin’s diaper.
The sleeping continued. This time, if he woke, it was to have a quick diaper change as he doesn’t like the feel of a wet diaper, or for a quick snuggle that would instantly put him back to sleep. There were mornings I would wake up to him quietly snuggling into bed with us, working his way under my arm.
Remember I shared his small size earlier in this writing? He grew 2.5” in less than 3 months and completely potty trained himself during that time as well. His already “hunormous” vocabulary exploded another level, and his mollescum has gone away with the scars left behind healing nicely. There are no foods left on his intolerance list. He’s been sick with some sinus congestion ONE TIME in five months and his nutrition protocol continues to dwindle in size.
Four months later, still on the same protocol, he had a bowel movement that looked like a little barbell held together by a 2” piece of string that smelled absolutely putrid. In that moment I knew we may not be done with the path that we’re on, but we’re well on our way to true wellness.
The next day I knew it was time for me to quit nursing him. We talked about how much we loved nursing together, how much the nursey milk helped him to grow and how strong his body is because of it. We talked about how tired mama’s body is and how now that his body is so big and strong, mama needs a little break. He held my cheeks in his hands and said to me as both of us cried, “It’s ok mama, I just love you and want to be with you.” He nursed for the last time that night just one day after his 4th birthday. I’m so glad I stuck with that commitment to keep him feeling safe with breastfeeding. The power of my breastmilk in keeping his constitution solid and steady is more than I’ll ever know. It’s obvious to me that his intuitive ability has something to do with our closeness and being tuned in to each other’s needs.
I’m so clear on the lessons in this for me both as a mother and as a practitioner.
46 months of not sleeping through the night for he and I are over.
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