I was recently contacted by a family in New York, the Spindells, who have asked me for help. Here is their story.
A few weeks ago, their 13 month old child came down with a fever. The family is vegan/raw and the mother is still breastfeeding her child. On the fervent urging of her mom to take the child to the ER, the mom, Alexandra, finally agreed to do so.
The ER doctor found the child to be borderline anemic, and weighed 19 pounds, putting him on the low end of the weight charts. He labeled the child "failure to thrive." An appointment was made for a follow up blood test to have the child's iron tested again. Alexandra did not make this appointment herself, but was merely given the appt at the hospital. She told the doctor she didn't need it, that she would follow up with her regular caregiver.
She did not take her child to that hospital appointment, and because of this, her baby was removed from their home and Alexandra and her husband were charged with neglect. Alexandra had taken her baby in for a follow up appointment with her regular caregiver instead, but this did not satisfy the "system."
Things got ugly from there.
The baby was put into the care of Alexandra's mother, who started feeding the child meat and dairy products, against the strong wishes of Alexandra and her husband. Alexandra provided her breastmilk for the baby, but her mom refused to give her baby the breastmilk.
The Spindells were so upset, they "kidnapped" their own child and hid out while they sought legal counsel. It is their belief that a breastfed child should not be so abruptly weaned and feel it is the child's right to continue to be breastfed (or at least to receive pumped BM) until the investigation is concluded.
Today Alexandra has told me that the baby is with foster parents pending her court trial on Sept. 21. She is only allowed to visit her baby twice a week for a very short time. Obviously, the breastfeeding relationship has been severely disrupted. She has continued to bring her pumped milk to the Foster Care Agency and has asked them to give it to the foster mother to feed to her baby. She does not know if this is being done.
When I asked her if there was anything I could do for her, she told me what she really wanted was for me to spread the word about her case and to let people know she is seeking support (medical, legal, and related to a child's right to be breastfed).
She lives in New York City. She would love for breastfeeding moms to rally around her at her courtroom trial on the 21st. Her lawyer feels she will have no problem getting her child back and the charges of "neglect" dropped since they can prove she did indeed follow up with a different lab other than the hospital.
But she wants to send a message to the doctors and social service system that a child's right to breastfeed should not be stepped upon while the child is in the system. The damage to this child is immeasurable. He went from being a happy, well cared for baby to being ripped away from his parents, forced to be weaned, and forced to eat foods the parents have a strong belief against.
If you can help this mom, please pm me and I will give you location details and all that. She is looking for a lactation consultant in the New York City area who might be willing to testify for her or to call the doctors and judge and explain how the breastfeeding relationship works and why abrupt weaning is so bad.
She is also seeking a pediatrician who will see her baby and who can give him a proper check-up, someone who understands how breastfed children might be lower in weight than formula fed children, etc. Obviously an ER doctor is not up on this kind of information.
So, if you would like to help or know someone who can, please pm me asap. Time is running out. Thank you all!