Our Journey to Freedom

I was only ten weeks pregnant when my husband and I signed up to take Prep for Parenting [now called "Along the Infant Way" and also known as Babywise in its secular form] at a reputable church. Family members and friends recommended the course. We wanted to be the best parents we could possibly be for our first child.

My husband didn't really want to take the classes, not due to lack of interest in fatherhood, but rather, he thought the idea of taking a class to prepare you for parenthood seemed silly. Oh, how I wish I had agreed with him! Even more, how we both wish we had researched the Ezzos and their program. At the time, we felt there was no reason to do so.

The teachers told us this program would work and we believed them. Since this was taught at a reputable church, we accepted what we have since learned is ungodly teaching. We both experienced a few hesitations throughout the classes, but for each question our instructors had reassuring answers as to why this was the best way for a child.

I think our biggest concern was the rigidity of the program and the lack of comforting, nurturing and simply enjoying our baby. It just seemed like our baby would be in his crib, whether asleep or crying, an awful lot. We had visited a family who was using the Prep methods and they let their two week old cry for at least a half hour. I remember leaving there and my husband said "We will never do that when we have children."

But, the Ezzo videos, book and instructors convinced us to go against our God-given instincts. We even ignored the warnings we heard in our labor and delivery class taught at a University Hospital. Without being asked, our instructor, who is a certified lactation specialist and labor and delivery assistant, warned against Gary Ezzo and his teachings. However, at the time my husband and I smugly smiled at each other, "We know better because we're going to raise our baby according to what the Ezzo's taught was God's way." Boy, were we mistaken. God definitely has a way for parents to rear their children, but it is NOT Gary Ezzo's ways.

The story we are about to tell you goes back to our son's first three weeks of life, although the emotional damage caused by Babywise has lasted far longer than three weeks. It took us a while to begin telling our story because it was too painful to discuss. While I, my husband, our son and other family members are still being healed from the pain and distress, we feel it is necessary to tell as many people as possible about our story in hopes of making people aware of something very dangerous and even life-threatening. Let us begin.

In late 2003, our son entered the world at a healthy 7 lbs, 5 oz. He was an alert baby who took to nursing right away. He would cry a lot in the afternoons but we thought that was just his fussy time of day. I never even tried nursing him during that time to see if he was hungry because it wasn't the "correct time" according to Babywise.

My husband and I are reasonable, informed and well educated people, however, the Ezzos tell parents to accept the fact that babies have fussy times and parents shouldn't be anxious about it. Though the book does contain cautions to feed a baby when hungry, Ezzo undermines the thought of feeding the baby off schedule by pointing out that going off the schedule will cause fussiness and that feeding too often can cause "colic-like symptoms."

Had I simply nursed our baby to bring him comfort, I would have realized that he wasn't a fussy baby, but a hungry baby. "The baby cries, and mom offers the breast" is part of Ezzo's teachings on what the wrong approach to fussing is. Looking back, we were so deceived by the PDF (parent directed feeding) plan taught by the Ezzos and their disciples that we ignored our son's needs so that our baby would be a "prep baby".

The internal anguish I was feeling about letting our son cry it out in his crib literally made me nauseous. If I had only listened to that still, small voice that was prompting me to pick up my baby, nurse him and get rid of the "Ezzo rules", I wouldn't be writing this now. But the book predicted I would have these feelings in response to my baby's cries, and advised setting them aside and "thinking" and then reacting. It trained you to ignore the emotions, instincts and DESIRES to comfort your baby by holding and nursing them, and instead view the situation through Ezzo's lens.

In the midst of this inner battle, I consulted with our Prep instructors several times. I was instructed to "stick with it", "don't feel horrible, it will get easier to hear him cry", "You ARE doing the right thing for your baby", etc.

From the time I was a little girl, my biggest desire was to grow up and be a wife and mom. All the nurturing and tenderness I envisioned could not be a part of my relationship with my son as I tried to implement the Ezzo program. All of this was leading to more than disappointment, it was leading to disaster!

At his one week check up, our son had lost more than the normal amount of weight and our doctor just said to bring him back the following week. When we did, we were alarmed! He was still losing weight and at a fast pace. Unfortunately our pediatrician at that time didn't recognize the symptoms for what they were. He had us begin collecting wet and soiled diapers and he immediately sent us to the hospital for extensive blood work. I remember calling my parents with the horrifying news that things weren't going well.

While waiting for the results, God was busy at work in my heart, nudging me that we needed to go in a different direction with a different doctor. Through a series of God-ordained events we switched to a pediatrician who played a vital role in saving our son's life. We called her on Wednesday morning and she had us in her office that afternoon.

Our son had to endure more painful pricks for blood work and examinations so that a correct diagnosis could be made. Later I found out that this new doctor suspected that we were using Babywise.

I saw my husband's heart break for the first time as he left the room crying because he couldn't endure watching our son suffer for another second. When both the nurse and doctor tried to collect urine via catheter (4x's), there was no urine to be collected (later we realized it was because he was so dehydrated).

Over the next twenty-four hours, my faithful Abba Father who is so full of grace, opened my eyes to the fact that I was not making enough milk because I was not nursing our baby often enough. The Ezzo's teachings ignore the principle of supply and demand as it applies to breastfeeding.

When we returned that Thursday to the doctor, I told her that I knew in my heart that our son was not getting enough to eat. Yes, I was nursing him according to the Ezzo's specified times, but because of the lack of stimulation my body was not making enough milk for our baby to thrive. The Ezzos' program leaves no room for the differences in women's milk storage capacity, milk production and babies' stomach sizes.

We had no idea at the time that we were starving our son. Again, because of the teachings we really thought he was getting a full feeding and was just fussy. Prep for Parenthood gave us no precautionary warnings other than to make sure your baby has a certain number of wet and soiled diapers. Well, as first time parents, what we thought was wet and dirty was not nearly wet and dirty enough! We had no reason to question Prep's teachings.

Thank God our pediatrician listened to my instincts and immediately offered him a bottle of formula. Our tiny three week old son sucked down over four ounces within five minutes. Right then we realized he was starving.

He was admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with FTT (failure to thrive) and severe dehydration. As I was frantically gathering things for the hospital, I collapsed from grief and cried aloud asking "Am I going to lose my baby?" The torment I was feeling at that moment, allowed me to begin questioning what we had been doing.

After being admitted to the hospital, it took several specialists nearly 2 hours to insert an IV because his veins collapsed every time they inserted the needle due to his critical state of dehydration.

God's grace and mercy directed my husband and me to cling to each other outside of the room while my mom attempted to comfort her grandson during this ordeal. We didn't feel like we could handle the haunting images of our baby as he was stuck so many times.

Our helpless son passed out from crying several times and then he'd come to again screaming. We were told they were going to attempt to insert the IV one more time and if it didn't work they were going to have to bring in a surgeon to insert it into his scalp. Thankfully the Lord heard our cries for our son and the IV worked that final time. The only thing that got us through it was the understanding that he had to get hydrated in order to survive.

We can honestly say this was the hardest moment of our lives, knowing that our son was suffering and had been suffering for nearly three weeks because he had not been fed enough due to our foolish implementation of a feeding program taught by Prep.

Even in the midst of this horrible situation, God's love for us abounded. He provided us with a wonderful nurse who gave our baby special attention, a lactation specialist who is a Christian and a concerned pediatrician who was there to answer our questions and bring much comfort.

From that point, we began demand feeding our son per our pediatrician's instructions, but the Ezzo's teachings continued to plague our thoughts. After five very long days, we brought our baby boy home for a new start with our Heavenly Father guiding us.

Although we recognized some of the problems regarding Prep, we didn't immediately understand the deceptions and danger associated with the Ezzos and their programs. My mom happened to research Ezzo on the Internet and was shocked by her findings.

Because our Prep instructors told us that many people wouldn't understand why we were following this program and to politely tell them, "We are raising our kids God's way, according to the Ezzos, and to please support us in this," my mom was hesitant now about how to inform us of her findings. Thankfully she followed her heart and gut and pleaded with us to look on the Internet. What we found made us sick to our stomachs and made us cry for our son and for so many who have suffered at the hand of the Ezzos and their programs.

It was difficult to immediately expel the cult-like ideologies that were so ingrained in our thinking. Day by day, the Lord removed the scales from our eyes and we really began to enjoy and cherish our precious gift from God.

I can recall an e-mail I received from our Prep instructors expressing some sympathy for what they heard our son had endured but still encouraging us to return to the Prep teachings, as they were "best for our son." They never made the connection between our son's FTT, dehydration, etc. and Prep. It was interesting to us how after we contacted our Prep instructors (via e-mail) telling details of our experience, many other families experiences and so many warnings against the Ezzos dealing with their integrity, backgrounds and character, we never heard from them again.

After much prayer, tears and a mixture of so many emotions, I displayed my new decision to parent from a heart of love rather than a program and I threw the Prep book away. The instant freedom I felt was indescribable!

I immediately began pumping to try to build up my milk supply but it was too late. Apparently, because I had limited the stimulation in the first three weeks, I never could sustain our baby on my milk alone. One of my greatest desires as a mother was demolished because of Prep. Our baby started on formula and began gaining weight. It was a slow process involving daily weight checks for a month and weekly weight checks after that.

As we prepare to celebrate our son's first birthday, we rejoice daily that God intervened just in time and that He allowed us to see the truth so that the truth could set us free! That freedom is only available from one source and that source is the best Father figure we could ever follow-our Heavenly Father. Through His leading, our home is filled with grace. Our son is on a wonderful routine that allows him to be the person God designed him to be and for us to be the parents God called us to be for him. He knows how to put himself to sleep, he sleeps twelve hours each night, takes good naps and most of all enjoys life!

We're still going through healing from the guilt and remorse over the losses of those first few weeks and the horrific things our son endured, but we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him.

Our hope in sharing our testimony is that other babies, parents and future families will not have to go through what our family went through as a result of Prep.

We urge you to research this program. For more information about the cult-like aspects of the Ezzos' teachings, lactation concerns, and other issues raised in this story, search "Ezzo" on the Internet. One very organized website is ezzo.info.

Yes, we understand there is controversy over many programs but I guarantee you will be shocked and saddened by your findings. We encourage you to do as we have done and begin reading material truly researched, written and supported by experienced medical personnel with infant/child developmental backgrounds.

We strongly agree with Dr. Sears when he states, "A need that is filled in early infancy goes away; a need that is not filled never completely goes away but recurs later in detachment -- aggression, anger, distancing or withdrawal, and discipline problems. During the first year, an infant's wants and needs are usually one and the same."

Through this experience, we've learned that parenting from your heart allows you to meet your baby's needs and many times those needs include simply being held, cuddled and nurtured with lots of hugs, kisses, songs, smiles, and laughs!

We realized that our son is an individual, created by God and as unique as a single snowflake. Just as our Heavenly Father meets us right where we are, we meet our son's needs right where he is.

To God be the glory for the great things He has done!

by Jeremy, Lori & son
submitted 8/04