My name is Charlotte Carr. I am an actress, voice artist and presenter. In late 2012 I was cast in my greatest role – being a Mother to my beautiful baby boy Willow. This certainly was the beginning of my wholefoods Bubba Yum Yum journey. A journey that helped heal my little man’s compromised immune system, reverse toxicity and illness, and enabled him to heal and thrive. Things for us started out a little rocky, but thanks to this wonderful way of eating and living, I can say we have never looked back and that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing my journey and learnings with you.
A little on our history
As some of you may know my husband has fought a very real, public and honest battle against depression and at times extreme anxiety. So severe in fact that our lives pretty much came to a stand still while we dropped everything to sort it out. For those of you who made it to “The Paleo Way” tour, you would be familiar with this story, and understand the incredible role that a holistic approach has played in my husband’s road to health, recovery and overall wellbeing.
What many don’t know is the journey we have walked with our baby boy Willow. Willow was born on November 5th 2012. I had tried and fully intended to have a natural birth, carrying him breech until 42 weeks. Once my waters broke, he went into a footling breech, and my breech specialist decided it was time to change the plan and pathway for birth.
What was happening? I didn’t read this in the book?
Willow was born a beautiful and BIG 4.45 kg by c-section. Things for us started out a little rocky, my milk didn’t come in until day 7 or 8. I was already very fragile, having been up for 9 nights straight in the lead up to his delivery with contractions that kept me awake 10pm – 4am. I was on the back foot. Like so many Mums I was very tired and scared – thrilled to bits of course with the arrival my healthy beautiful baby, but completely shattered physically.
I remember the morning my milk finally came in. I woke in a shaking mess with a “milk fever” and temperatures of 40 degrees, two infected breasts, one starving and very unsettled boy and a bed that was drenched from head to toe in milk and sweat. What was happening? I didn’t read this in the book?
Once we had the help of the lactation consultant on board, things started to settle a little. Looking back it’s easy to see now that Willow always had a sensitive and upset tummy.
He had extreme diarrhoea and a lot of vomiting and then the reflux followed. He always had reflux but things began to get much worse. I took out every possible food group from my diet that may be affecting his ability to digest my milk. I tried so many different probiotics. We tried anti reflux medications. I felt like all I was eating was greens as I was trying a process of elimination and nothing worked. I tried expressing and treating my milk with Lactase. I tried different feeding styles, different bottles, baby massage, sleeping Willow on an incline… nothing worked.
I started to notice Willow’s little hands shaking a lot. Little trembles. I was happy to hear it was just ‘neurological development’ from our Doctor , and that it too would settle.
Now there was a lot of protesting after my feeding, lots of vomiting, yet I was told everything was fine. Willow also still had the chronic diarrhoea.
Willow’s little shaking hands got worse and developed into opening and closing of his hands. Non-stop. I could hear him all night tapping anything he could. His head, the cot rails… back and forth all night. Not for a few minutes. Hours and hours on end. What on earth was going on? Another trip back to the doctors. This time it was recommended for us to see a different therapist, an osteopath and chiropractioner to check what was going on.
Within a few minutes of the appointment, the new therapist turned to me and said “Willow is stimming” ” do either of you have gene mutations?”
He was presenting with extreme sensory processing issues. We now know after test with our Dr that Willow has MTHFR A1298C gene mutation. The clinical notes of this gene explain: “The MTHFR Gene may affect fertility in both sexes, mood disorders and mental health and autism spectrum disorders.” The MTHFR mutations plays into their ability to process and excrete virus and metals. We have only just discovered this after 18 months of tests and trying to find answers. From here it was recommended I see a Pediatric Doctor who also confirmed Willow was “stimming” and that I was to remove any casein and gluten from his diet. I went for a second opinion both with the same diagnosis. For those that don’t know what “stimming” is, here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Stimming is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in individuals with developmental disabilities, but most prevalent in people with autistic spectrum disorders. It is considered a way which people with autism calm and stimulate themselves. Therapists view this behaviour as a protective response to being overly sensitive to stimuli, with which the individual blocks less predictable environmental stimuli Sensory processing disorder is also given as a reason by some therapists for the condition. Another theory is that stimming is a way to relieve anxiety, and other emotions.
Common stimming behaviours (sometimes called stims) include: hand flapping, rocking, head banging, repeating noises or words, snapping fingers, spinning objects, etc. Stimming is almost always a symptom of autism, but it is also regarded as part of some non-autistic individuals’ behavioural patterns. The biggest difference between autistic and non-autistic stimming is the choice of stim and the quantity of stimming.
By this stage Willow was around 16 – 20 weeks and I had started him on a goat milk formula, but the stimming had only become much worse. His tummy was a lot more relaxed and the screaming wasn’t all night long but it was still pretty bad. I had also started having fits. I had Epilepsy in my teenage years and the exhaustion and combination of toxicity, feeding all night, and the all night screaming had started to affect me physically. I was a wreck. I didn’t know at the time that my gut was riddled with bad bacteria too and the levels of mercury in my blood were toxic. Trying to hold it all together, keeping up with my career and now having fits. As well as all this, the feeding wasn’t working. I was pumping over a litre of breast milk a day, treating my milk with Lactase (to break down the lactose) and feeding through bottles that were made specifically for babies with sensitive tummies. I was trying everything. I saw lactation consultants, several Paediatricians, all coming to the same conclusion. I needed to look at other feeding options.
At this stage I was barely coping and we are constantly hearing words like autism, spectrum, stimming and sensory processing disorder. It wasn’t what I’d describe as smooth sailing, but I was thankful beyond anything that I wasn’t in and out of hospital with an incredibly sick child, and I knew it wasn’t life threatening. I just knew something wasn’t right and I had to do something.
I had to work out a way to do absolutely everything in order to calm Willow’s “stimming,” heal his very sensitive tummy and settle my little boy down. I stopped at nothing. I saw so many Doctors until I found the right ones and never compromised with Willow’s diet. At every consult the relationship between gut health and nervous system was considered. Wes and I got to learn over time that our gut health has played a major part in Willow’s composition and we now have a diet rich in fermented foods, broths, probiotics and a low toxin lifestyle. I only wish I’d had this same diet in my pregnancy.
For me, feeding Willow a commercial formula wasn’t an option. I remember standing in my local supermarket looking at all the jars and not being able to understand one single ingredient. How on earth could I go from perfect breast milk to a powdered formula that included corn syrup in its lists of ingredients? What on earth is corn syrup doing in baby formula? All the lactose and caisen free formulas had vegetable oils and none of them were organic. None of it made sense. I felt so anxious. The goat milk formula I had found on the Weston A Price website seemed like an excellent option and seemed to be okay for Willow but now I couldn’t give Willow casein… what was I to feed him? I want to point out that this isn’t a formula bashing. I love respect and support any mother and their choice, but for me, the options that were on offer with no caisen, no lactose and no folic acid weren’t what i wanted as my sons main source of nutrition.
That’s when I came across the wonderful naturopath who took me under her wing and started to help piece our puzzle together. She introduced me to a homemade broth and liver formula, which I made every single day. This formula was based on The Westin A Price formula but had been tweaked to include less liver. A formula developed by American bio chemist Mary Enig who has a PhD in Nutritional Science. That was when our healing journey began. We had a lot of work to do, but I remember his first feed. His shoulders literally relaxed, he was calm and there was sleep. Deep sleep.
Willow was having cranial therapy twice a week, he was having probiotics, was watched closely by his Gp, he was on the new broth formula and had started his new Paleo /GAPS lifestyle. Willow’s entire team of Doctors, Osteopaths and Naturopaths all supported this diet for Willow and were very quick to point out that he would be in a very different situation if he were consuming grains and dairy.
It’s been incredible watching his stimming almost disappear. He will still stim if he’s about to get sick, or comes across a new situation like patting an animal he’s unfamiliar with, but all in all he’s so well now. His tummy is healing. We now know after having a Bio Screen that Willow has Dienomoeba species (many children on the spectrum have it in their gut) plus Strep and he has absolutely no Lactobacillus (good bacteria) present in his gut. Absolutely none, despite the fact we had been giving him Probiotics, they weren’t helping and they weren’t the right ones.
Every day Willow has a diet that includes fresh and in season vegetables, sea vegetables, fermented foods, organic meats, sustainable fish, coconut milks and creams, berries, nuts and seeds, broth, and some fruit. This diet is incredible. As a family we have more energy than ever, and know it is the backbone of our health.
For anyone considering making changes for the better, particularly with children, I encourage you to explore this healing, vibrant and very real way of eating.
If your child has any neurological concerns, allergies or gut issues don’t hesitate to find a practitioner/Dr through the Mindd Foundation. www.mindd.org They are an incredible organisation and have been fundamental in our recovery.
Since going through this journey I decided I wanted to learn more about nutrition and studied through the The Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Holistic Health Coach. I’ve also started this Bubbaymuyum food blog with a heavy focus on healing traditional foods for babies, toddlers, and children.
My food is fun, easy, fresh and engaging. Gluten, grain and dairy free and always served with oodles of love.
I hope to be able to love and support other families in their transition to this beautiful way of eating and living.