I’m a scientifically minded person. This is probably because ever since I was a little kid I drove my parents and teachers crazy by asking WHY…but I needed detailed answers. “Why is the sky blue?” could not be answered with, “Well, that’s the color the sky is, the light makes it look blue”–no, the whole concept of the color spectrum and so on had to be explained before I was satisfied. Perhaps this expectedly also got me in trouble with the nuns at the Catholic school I attended for asking too many theological questions, but that’s another story.
Anyway, this means I question a lot of things. If I read an article on a news site that says “New Study Reveals Yogurt Cures Feline Leukemia,” the first thing I will do is read the article, point out all the factual errors, and question statements about the results that aren’t backed up with statistics or other links, then hunt for the original study in a scientific journal and point out that the study showed that at 10am on a sunny Monday in March, a cat ate yogurt and tested negative for leukemia three days later which means nothing scientifically and the article was dumb. Yes, really, I do this all the time, probably much to the annoyance of everyone in my life. Anyway, THIS means that I naturally tend to be skeptical of alternative medicines and cures. Sure, millions of people might swear by taking a certain herbal supplement to prevent the flu or something, but if there are no studies proving so, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to try it.
I’m aware that nursing your baby exposes them to antibodies and other compounds that aren’t in formula. But everywhere, people were touting the healing properties of breastmilk. It cured pinkeye! It cured cradle cap! It cured diaper rash! It cured everything! The skeptic in me kicked in, even the entire nineteen months I nursed my daughter. Sure, it’s good nutrition for a child, but as a remedy for a bunch of different things? Bah.
When my son was born, he had a blocked tear duct. It’s fairly common, and mild as far as newborn issues go, but it resulted in his left eye being crusted over with icky yellow goop that never seemed to go away. If I gently wiped it off with a warm cloth, it was back after his next nap. He is a generally happy baby and it didn’t seem to bother him, but his eye was constantly closed, even when his right eye was open and cheerfully taking in his new world, and it bugged me. The pediatrician wasn’t worried and said it would clear up on its own after some time. Still, one day after wiping away the goop I noticed his eye was getting red. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was drag him to another doctor’s appointment, but was worried his eye was getting infected and put “schedule another flippin’ appointment” in my mental to-do list. He started to fuss, so I began nursing him. This was still in the early weeks before my supply regulated, so he apparently got a huge mouthful of milk and unlatched, throwing his little head back in the process—and getting a huge stream of milk splashing directly into his left eye!
He shook his head back and forth as I cleaned up his face, wiping away the milk. Eventually, he fell asleep and I passed out as well. Of course I sleepily nursed him in the dark a couple of times, but the big surprise came in the morning, as the dimming streetlights streamed through the blinds. I picked his happily gurgling little body up from his crib, and–
His eye was better. What? There was a little dried crust on his lashes, but no goop, and his eye wasn’t red. I was confused until I remembered the milk that shot into his eye. What? No, it couldn’t be that…could it?
He never had a goopy, red eye after that day. The tear duct was unblocked and his eye looked perfectly normal. The skeptic in me says it was a complete coincidence; after all, the pediatrician said it would clear up on its own. But the skeptic of the skeptic in me? She may concede that sometimes, remedies might work without volumes of scientific studies behind them. Though, I’ll need statistics on how often that happens first.