Consequences of Medical Unknowns by Gloria Oren

My second son was born in May 1983. He was born in Israel where doctor strikes are not an uncommon event. It was during such a time that he was born.

He weighed 8 lbs 11 oz at birth. I tried breastfeeding him and that lasted a week. He started losing weight and couldn't keep anything down. As soon as he finished the bottle of formula he turned into a bottle without a cap. Lay him down and out it came. I went home with him desperately trying to keep the formula in him, but his stomach refused.

What does a mother do? Especially one who has no clue of what might be going on?

I took him to the Well Baby Center for a routine check at the three week mark. The nurse wasn't pleased as he had lost even more weight. She looked at me and said, "If we don't get some kind of food in him, we'll lose him."

"Miriam," I said, barely able to talk, "what can I give him, he's only three weeks old? Hardly old enough for solid food."

She replied "I know this will sound strange, but as of today you will feed him rice cereal made with water and make sure it is thick. You will have to cut the hole of the bottle's nipple to enable him to suck on it. Come back next week and we will weigh him again. Should the strike end before that, I will get you in the first one the doctor sees when he gets back."

I thanked her and went home to pray this would work.

My son started to gain weight slowly and began to digest his food intake. Next step at five weeks we added thick blended fruit with carrots. If not for Miriam, who by the way received praise from the doctor as well, I might not have had a son today.

Had I known then what I know now, he could have thrived from the start. My son was born lactose intolerant. He couldn't handle my breast milk because I drank milk. He couldn't handle the formula because it had milk. When the doctor came back and added soy based formula we had no problems at all.

And if some dumb doctor a year later would not have switched him back to milk, he would have had a much smoother childhood. As it stood we found out about this some eight years later and it wasn't for another three years until a doctor actually had him tested for lactose intolerance. Now why did I say -- had I known earlier -- well my birthmother is lactose intolerant and my grandmother was allergic to milk. So knowing one's medical history can be very important and save one from needless hardships.

--© Gloria Oren--