Dr. Kestner: A special Christmas delivery: One year later

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A year ago today I met the most wonderful person ever … my daughter. I imagine most parents feel the same way when they celebrate the first birthday of their children.

A year ago my wife and I welcomed Eliana into our family. She has led me through an amazing adventure during the first 12 months of her life. As a writer, it is impossible for me to find words to describe the sensations, thoughts and feelings that she has evoked.

We have been through typical sleep-deprived nights, occasional concerns about minor health issues and a few bumps and scrapes. She has even been whiny and cranky once in a while, but only briefly. All told, we have been blessed to experience a tremendously joyful year full of giggles, coos, shrieks and laughter.

As a parent, I have had to make some decisions about health care along the way. Obviously, I want my daughter to experience the greatest health possible throughout her life. I have previously written about my discovery that many baby bottles on the market contain the chemical BPA, which can leach into the contents when heated. BPA is related to increased cancer risk. We chose to switch to glass baby bottles to avoid that problem.

We had to make decisions about immunizations. Some health experts question the wisdom of recommending the current schedule of immunizations for children. After weeks of research I decided that my daughter would receive the immunizations. There is no foolproof option. My decision was finally based upon my informed belief that her chances of enjoying good health are improved by having the immunizations rather than not having them. That’s the basis for most health decisions. All you can do is determine what course likely improves your chances. There are no “sure things.”

Other things we have done to improve the odds that Ellie will enjoy good health include providing constant air circulation in her room and filter the air. Research has shown that babies with circulating air sleep better and have much lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). For us, a ceiling fan works well, along with the circulation provided by the room air filter.

We have chosen her foods carefully to try to provide optimum nutrition for the various stages of her development. Thankfully, she has a hearty appetite for a wide variety of foods.

We wash our hands a lot in my house. Even relatives are asked to wash before reaching for the baby.

We try to follow a routine for Ellie. She gets a bath every night as part of her bedtime ritual. Daddy’s biggest joy is rocking her to sleep.

And yes, she has had gentle chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy and delicate acupressure treatments. These treatments have helped with constipation, colic, congestion, ear problems and sleeping through the night.

As more birthdays approach, we will have to make more decisions about her future, perhaps more difficult or complex at times. There will be discussions about schools, activities with friends, church activities, clothes, responsibilities, jobs, boyfriends, and (Lord, help me) even marriage. Of all the challenges I have faced in life, this is easily the most daunting.

And yet I have great faith that God will bless her with uncommon goodness in life. This child was welcomed into our family with great thanksgiving. I wish every child were embraced so warmly upon arrival.

Like most parents, I think my daughter is bright. She is inquisitive and curious, exploring every inch of her domain. She delights her mother when she picks up a cell phone, holds it to her ear and begins serious discussions with the imaginary party on the other end of the connection. She mimics me when she points the remote control like a magic wand. As I observe her actions, my chosen interpretation is that she is very smart.

I have many hopes for Eliana in addition to continued good health and intelligence. More important than anything, I hope she learns early in life how to be happy. She is happy 98 percent of the time now. My greatest hope is that she feels the same way on every birthday for the rest of her life.

Dr. Mark Kestner
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