Justin Bieber Helped Save Toddler’s Life, Says Mom
Justin Bieber’s “Baby” helped save a toddler’s life. Two-year-old Theo’s grateful mom, Kera Bolonik, shares the story in a moving essay called “How Justin Bieber Saved This Kid” for New York.
The little boy had been suffering seizures and was put on Keppra, a medication that made him sluggish and nauseated, and his parents could never get him to eat enough to stay nourished. Enter Justin Bieber.
We were especially frustrated because when his caretaker, Erin, arrived at 9 a.m., she could get him to eat scrambled eggs with cheese, yogurt, cereal—a meal fit for a kid twice his age and size. Why? And why was he suddenly chanting “Bee-bee, bay-bee” every five minutes?
Because, we eventually discovered, she’d bribe him by playing a music video on our iPad: Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” The song came to be Theo’s life raft, as well as our measuring stick for how long it would take to feed him. I’d sworn that Bieber would never be allowed in our household, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and the track was playing so frequently it became like white noise: Theo would demand the video repeatedly until his meal—or any task we needed him to endure — was done. It was an easy request to oblige.
But Theo’s troubles continued, and he wound up admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit in September 2013, shortly after his second birthday. His “panicked and desperate” parents and their doctors still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Theo, and his blood-sugar issues were only getting more severe. As physicians put Theo through a grueling regimen of tests to diagnose and properly treat him, Bieber was indirectly involved once again.
One afternoon, as nurses wrapped Theo in a sheet, preparing to insert a new IV line, he tried to fight them off—he’d had enough. Meredith and I were trading off soothing him, brushing his frightened tears away while the other held the iPad over his head, playing the “Baby” video to distract him as he weepily bellowed “Mama.” But he couldn’t catch his breath. Suddenly, the doctor started singing the Bieber song, and soon the nurses joined in. Theo stopped crying, his long eyelashes blinking through tears to watch the group of women harmonize in an attempt to soothe him. They know this song? he was clearly thinking, and so was I. I’d forgotten that “Baby” existed outside our crisis.
Eventually, doctors determined that Theo’s mysterious illness might be hyperinsulinism, a rare disorder that essentially acts as the opposite of diabetes — the pancreas produces too much insulin, dropping blood-sugar levels. He was given medication and quickly stabilized.
Now, Theo has found a new favorite song:
It’s been more than six months since Theo has requested “Beebee Baby.” He’s enamored of a different song, whose video made me cry the first time I saw it—perhaps they were tears of joy. Because every time Theo watches the video, he heads for his trampoline. So what if it seems smarmy or unhip? It’s simply the truth: Pharrell’s “Happy” is our new jam.
We like happy endings.