Today I want to introduce you to my fourth child, Dominic, aka baby Saint Dominic. For him, eating clean is a breeze. He never falls to temptation of ice cream or cake and never polishes off a sleeve of Oreos in one sitting. But again, he’s a saint, so it’s not really a fair comparison. Let me explain. Dominic was born with a very rare genetic condition called Genitopatellar Syndrome that affects almost all of his body systems. When he was born the first sight that flooded my mind was a limp, blue, skinny baby. The room flooded with nurses and doctors, lights were switched on and a flurry of confusion and action had overtaken the room. You see, he did not breathe and only took his first breath through the ambu bag the midwife was using to resuscitate him.
Later in the NICU, where he would live for the next 5 weeks, my wife and I were told to bring him home and let him die there, with dignity. But how could we? This was our child! So we fought and chose interventions to keep him alive. And eventually he was breathing on his own with only a little oxygen for good measure. But there was something else we noticed. He couldn’t eat. I would try to feed him a bottle with the watchful nurse standing near and he didn’t know what to do. He would bite it, clamp down, but never suck like the other kids did. We discovered he needed a g-button to eat, which is a hole in the abdomen that allows the food to be pumped directly into his stomach. We consented, and he came home a few weeks afterwards (for only 1 week before another 3 month stay where he would get his trach and ventilator, but that’s another story for different time).
As Dominic grew and he began needing more than just what my wife’s expressed breast milk could provide, we started looking into options. We learned quickly that most kids who are fed by a G-button are given a liquid-only diet which consist of standard formulas like PediaSure or other pharmaceutical formulas. While these products are easier for medical professionals to calculate caloric intake, Macro and Micro nutrient consumption and the like, it didn’t sit well for my wife and me to settle for feeding our child formula for the rest of his life.
Perhaps it was because it was the only thing in his precious life that we had control over, but we decided that we could provide Dominic with real food through his G-button once we blended it enough to be squeezed through a syringe into the tube. While getting the blend consistency just right has resulted in numerous green and purple explosions all over our laps and furniture over the years, I am a firm believer that the clean diet that my wife has chosen for Dominic is greatly responsible for his growth and relative infrequent disease contraction.
Since Dominic’s birth, my wife has made it her mission to show the world the dignity that inherently lies in people like Dominic. She has documented our journey more eloquently than I could ever in her blog http://blessedbyd.blogspot.com/. Once a month she and my mother in law throw down better than Bobby Flay in our kitchen in order to whip up a healthy balanced diet that is perfectly mixed with protein and carbs from veggies and good sources of fat like avocados. This labor of love used to take 6-8 hours but now they’ve got it down to 4. It provides the super nutrition for Dominic to thrive and do things that no one expected him to ever do.
While this may be a touching story to most, you might be wondering what it has to do with you, the IE man? Should I get a g-button to stay on our clean diet? Although it would be a cool party trick, the real lesson that we can take from Dominic is that we are all made with an innate dignity. We are all broken in varying degrees, but it is important to realize that our bodies are a gift from God.
When we get this right, then we can begin to see how we can honor Him by taking care of this gift by eating real food and gaining the discipline necessary to make good nutrition choices which can help lead us to true freedom. Unless we are born like Dominic, incapable of sin, then we are affected by concupiscence and morally walk with a limp. We are therefore thrust into a battle for heaven in this life and must pick up our Cross daily with the help of God to win our freedom back. If you look closely enough, you will find a lesson that applies to each of us in this unexpected place…a boy named Dominic, and get a glimpse into the inherent dignity that each of us has been given.
Be Strong. Be Holy.