posted with permission
This essay is written both as catharsis and restitution. I regret that I encouraged many parents to use the Ezzo materials and feel compelled to warn against it. I also want to share how level-headed parents can be allured by this program.
There are many other resources online that outline the medical, Biblical and character problems associated with Gary Ezzo and his parenting programs. With this, I hope to offer a personal view of how these materials can negatively effect a family.
I cradled my six month old son in my arms. J* was peacefully sleeping. Tears were streaming down my face, and anxious thoughts raced through my mind. For the first time since he was born, I was watching the video my sister had taken of his birth. I was reliving the joy of a new life coming into this world. But at the same time I was so fearful this miracle would be taken from me. Something was wrong with my baby. I cried more. The doctor had not yet determined if it was something that could be treated easily, or if my precious first born was facing a terminal illness.
That morning I had taken J* in for a routine six-month well-baby visit. My pediatrician asked at each visit, “And are you still breastfeeding? Good job, Mom!” I glowed at her praise each time we were in the office. Of course I was breastfeeding-my Mom had modeled it for me when she nursed my younger siblings and I just assumed that’s what was done. Only later did I realize there was any “controversy” over breastfeeding or formula feeding. From birth, J* nursed like a champ. We teasingly called him “Baby Sumo” and could count the chubby wrinkles on his legs. At a well-baby appointment at 3 ½ months he weighed a hefty 16 lbs–the 95% percentile on the baby charts.
That is why the drastic drop to 14 lb 2 oz, caused red flags to go up at the pediatrician’s office. I could see the concern on our doctor’s face throughout the visit, but she remained calm as she talked to me. Before we left the office, the doctor had scheduled an appointment for us with a specialist in Tampa for the following Monday. We had firm instructions to call her immediately if J* had certain symptoms before then.
Waiting through that weekend for our appointment was agony. They were some of the longest days of my life. Waiting, worrying, not knowing–scared I was going to lose my baby, my firstborn.
On Monday my husband took off work so we could go see the specialist together. We drove the two hours to All Children’s Hospital in Tampa. The specialist was laid back and tried to calm our fears. He reviewed the very serious possibilities we were facing. Likely suspects included a gastrointestinal birth defect, missing enzymes needed for metabolism, and other possibilities that ranged from the more minor to life-threatening. Our doctor recommended we take a conservative diagnostic approach, rather than bombard our son with tests right away. The first step in finding the root of the problem was to measure the calories he was taking in, observe him, and do weight checks. I saw the doctor notate on the medical forms that the diagnosis was Failure to Thrive.
The doctor suggested that I could pump my breastmilk and notate the amount the baby ate through the bottle, and follow up with super-concentrated formula. Whenever I had tried pumping before, I couldn’t get more than an ounce. I was so worried about knowing the exact amount my son was eating that we decided that I would just stop nursing cold-turkey. My baby had his very first bottle of formula on the way home from Tampa. I kept a journal and wrote down exactly how much he ate and when.
J* was weighed every other day that first week, and then once a week for several months. Follow up appointments with my pediatrician and phone consultations with the specialist led us to forgo further testing. It was determined that J*’s FTT was due to insufficient caloric intake.
I had starved my baby.
“Whatever happened to common sense?”