About Hunter – Part 1

I have three boys, all of whom I love more than anything, and one of whom is severely physically and mentally disabled. As you might expect, people are often curious about his condition, and about how we have dealt and continue to deal with it. Here is at least some of his story.

You can read part 2 here.

Hunter at 3 weeks old

Hunter at 3 weeks old

On February 7, 2009, my entire world changed. My wife gave birth at home to twins, causing our family to double in size overnight. Hunter was born first, and then Mason.

"I have no idea what I just got myself into!"

“I have no idea what I just got myself into!”

At first, Hunter, being so small, spent most of his time sleeping, and he wasn’t latching on to nurse as easily as his brother was. Then, at around 2 weeks old, he started getting really fussy. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. Saying he was fussy is sort of like saying Hitler had some disagreements with jews.

"Seriously, guys... This comparing everything bad to me is starting to be hurtful."

“Seriously, guys… This comparing everything bad to me is starting to be hurtful.”

No, I’m not comparing my son to Hitler. He’s incredibly sweet. What I’m saying is he wasn’t just fussy, he was screaming constantly. Repeatedly, throughout the day and throughout the night, he would scream. Often, I think the only reason he would fall asleep was because he’d scream himself into exhaustion.

Don’t get me wrong. We had our good times. The fussing would pause for a little bit, or we’d be able to keep him momentarily distracted with a video or song. But it still felt relentless. Our child was unhappy, often appearing to be in agony, and nobody we talked to and nothing we tried seemed to help.

I was able to take a few weeks off from work for “baby bonding” time, but when that ended, I had to head into the office (I didn’t work from home at that time), and my wife was left alone. Trying to manage a constantly agonizing baby in itself would be a challenge, let alone the fact that he had a twin brother, with all the needs of a regular infant. There were times when she would call me from work and beg me to come home. She would feel helpless to comfort Hunter, and I would feel helpless to comfort her.

Yeah... yeah... I know... gripe gripe gripe...

Yeah… yeah… I know… gripe gripe gripe…

This went on for several months, during which neither Esther nor I got much sleep… or much of a life. We couldn’t go out alone because no babysitter could really calm him down. We tried taking him with us on a date once, and had to leave the restaurant before we could even order our food. We took him to church now and again, but that didn’t always go so well, either.

...though we haven't ruled out the possibility that it was due to theological differences...

…though we haven’t ruled out the possibility that it was due to theological differences…

My wife’s family lived about an hour away. We usually couldn’t stay long because his wailing would get worse and worse the more tired he got. On our way home from visiting, his screaming would reach such blood-curdling levels that we usually had to pull over once or twice on the way home to calm him down. I remember one family gathering where Hunter just couldn’t stop his outbursts. One family member couldn’t take it anymore and loudly expressed her annoyance. We left, and I couldn’t help think, “You can’t handle it for a few hours. Imagine how we feel.”

Many of our friends and family were there for us as much as they could be, but ultimately, it was something nobody else really understood or fully knew about. It was something we ultimately felt we had to bear on our own.

Then, when the twins were about 5 or 6 months old, somebody offered a very unexpected suggestion: See a chiropractor. I’d never used a chiropractor before, and didn’t know much about them other than they worked on peoples’ backs. But a chiropractor for a baby? That just sounded bizarre. Nonetheless, we were at the end of our rope, and were desperate to try anything. So we did.

My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think he looked something like this.

My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think he looked something like this.

Our chiropractor determined that Hunter had a pinched nerve near his spine, and began to work on his back. We took Hunter five days in a row, and within the first week, we saw a night-and-day difference in his screaming and fussiness. We took Hunter to see him five times a week for the first two weeks, then three times a week for a few weeks after that, and finally once or twice a week for another month or two.

Our insurance did not cover our chiropractor, which was $50 a session. As a result, we racked up some hefty credit card debt. But it was worth it. We had our sweet boy again. He wasn’t keeping us up late with inconsolable wailing. We were finally able to take him places without having to worry about any disruptions.

The worst was over!

...And he lived happily ever after...

…And he lived happily ever after…

The worst was definitely over, but there were still more challenges to come. But I’ll save that for a future post. At this point, what mattered most was that our sweet little boy was finally happy.

Hunter, after being treated by the chiropractor.

Hunter, after being treated by the chiropractor.

Read part 2 here.

  • Timmera B.

    I have appreciated watching Hunter’s growth through your Facebook. I have had the pleasure of growing up with a severely disabled aunt, (cp) whom my grandparents have truly given up their lives to give the best life possible. Your story is very similar to those my grandmother has told me about much aunt’s early years. It takes special people with big patient hearts to do what you and Esther are doing, and Hunter is truly blessed to have you guys as parents (as you are blessed to have him as well). It won’t always be easy, but the love keeps you going. Can’t wait to read more, you guys are an amazing family!

  • Irina

    Wow, thank you for sharing such an amazing act of love. I don’t have words to describe the feeling I got reading this, but let’s just say I fully enjoyed and was touched to the core, reading this. Love you guys, and it was great to see you for a split second on Sunday in the children’s rainforest at Calvary.

  • Vernon

    It is truly great that you are able to write about your struggles and keep a sense of humor. In my opinion, this is healthy on your part. I have a friend that was not so fortunate. This is hard to talk about but, he also had a child with a condition. This friend and his wife were truly people of God. But my friend snapped and killed his son and is now in prison serving time for it. I was in disbelief as was everyone. His wife speaks at women’s conferences and church groups to talk about her experience with the whole ordeal.
    God bless you and your family.

  • Laurie Carriker

    Thank you Chris. You and Esther are incredible and loving parents. We are blessed to know you and love on all of your babies.

  • Even though we are family, it’s a large and busy family, so we don’t always get to share in each others lives as much as we’d like. I want to thank you for sharing this story, Chris. I had no idea how hard it had been in the beginning. I had to hold back tears as I read your words, and it makes me wish I’d known and could have somehow helped. You know, I’ve been wanting to talk to Esther about Hunter and his care, since Ryan and I are moving towards foster care and have discussed a special needs adoption. Anyway, it’s wonderful to learn about how God is equipping you to care for this special little boy with whom He has entrusted you. I appreciate that you’re opening up about the journey. It is a blessing and encouragement. God bless!

  • Julie Butera

    Chris, you and Esther are awesome parents! With the Lords help you are raising an awesome family despite the challenges. It has been wonderful to see Hunter so happy now and to watch him grow as well as Mason and Connor. Hunter adores you and Esther and it is so awesome to see him laugh and enjoy his brothers. He is truly a blessing!

  • Jamie Gomez

    wow, I am amazed by the chiropractor solution… I can’t even imagine how a chiropractor would work on an infant! That being said, you have a great way of making a difficult story happy, sad, hilarious, and heart warming all at the same time! Thank you for sharing a piece of your son’s journey :o)

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