Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Naturally Better by Kristen Morrison

When you find out you're expecting a baby, you're probably anticipating all the exciting milestones like hearing the heartbeat for the first time, feeling the baby kick and watching your belly grow. You dream about what your baby will look like, what his or her name will be and what his or her personality will be like. Kristen Morrison and her husband Joseph were no different. They were ecstatic to learn that they were expecting their third child, a long-awaited baby boy, after having two perfect daughters. But when their dear son Gryffin was born and diagnosed with Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome, their worlds were turned upside down. Instead of researching the latest, greatest blue baby gear, they were reading medical abstracts and contemplating technical jargon like "neurotransmitters" and "oxidative stress".

A self-proclaimed homebirthing hippie mom, Kristen was dismayed at the lack of positive online resources and the prevailing attitude of local Early Intervention centers, which encouraged her to prescribe Prozac and "just buy a big TV". She traded her successful fashion design career for the role of full-time medical researcher and took matters into her own hands. Her ultimate goal was for Gryffin to be completely normalized in both appearance and behavior. Forgoing the traditional pessimistic outlook, she set out to make the "impossible" possible.

Naturally Better is the culmination of Kristen's research and methodology, interspersed with diary entries, emails and texts. Using a holistic approach, Kristen chronicles Gryffin's treatments and progress from 5 days old to 3 years old. Some of the therapies she describes in detail are:
  • Flaxseed oil massage
  • Diet / Targeted Nutritional Intervention (TNI)
  • Supplementation
  • Naturopathy/NAET Allergy Relief
  • Osteopathy
  • Yoga
  • IAHP (Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential)
I was simply amazed at Gryffin's transformation. Just a few months after starting supplements, Kristen noticed he appeared less drowsy and more alert. His skin turned from jaundice to red and rosy, almost sunburned. Thick, blonde hair also started to grow where it had once been sparse and mousy. NAET treatments helped to quickly heal symptoms such as astigmatism, constipation, skin rashes, weak grasp and tongue protrusion. Osteopathy helped to lift Gryffin's nasal bridge and dramatically reduce his epicanthal folds, thereby resolving his sleep apnea. By the time Gryffin began the IAHP program at one-year-old, he was functioning at 83% brain function, which was fantastic in and of itself. But by two-and-a-half, Gryffin was operating at 114%! This meant he was no longer underperforming in any one area, and was actually performing ahead of his "normal" peers! His pediatrician is astounded that not only does Gryffin show nearly no characteristics of a typical child with Down Syndrome, but he is growing along a "normal" growth curve.

Kristen also shares personal color photos of Gryffin from birth through age three, in which the changes over time are blatantly obvious. To look at him now, you would be hard-pressed to know that he has Down Syndrome. He looks like your average, beautiful tow-headed toddler!

I loved that the book was written in layman's terms and doesn't bore you with mundane medical terms. You may be more conservative or you may not agree with all of her approaches (such as no vaccinations) but as a parent, you have to respect and admire the lengths she'll go to give her son the life she had imagined for him. Kristen always follows her gut and instinct and the drastic results they've witnessed are due in large part to her relentless determination. One particularly emotional part for me was when Gryffin was just a few days old and Kristen had a private conversation with him, assuring him she would do everything in her power to find a solution. She then recited the words to Coldplay's "Fix You" ("Lights will guide you home, I will try to fix you"...). I admit I welled up a little as I imagined this scene being played out like a melodrama.

Seeing as Nate is dealing with a significant speech delay (for which we are currently seeking early intervention), I was comforted that some of Kristen's natural methods are not exclusive to Down Syndrome but can also be used for Autism and Developmental Delays. After reading this book, I feel so empowered to be an advocate for my son and to never settle for anything less than what my hopes and dreams are for him. No matter what the naysayers may throw my way.

Naturally Better is an awe-inspiring, empowering story about defying the odds. Even if you don't have a child with Down Syndrome, it will open your eyes to the benefits of homeopathy and maybe even move you to tears.

BUY IT: You can purchase paperback or e-book versions of Naturally Better online via (ARV $25.39 excl. international postage or $15.45/e-book).

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is coming up in October! Be sure to visit the website to learn more about the book and follow Kristen on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in my review and purely my own. Your experience may differ.


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