Monday, February 9, 2015

Just My Opinion

  1. From the free online Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  2. judg·ment

     noun \ˈjəj-mənt\
    : an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought
    : the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought : the act of judging something or someone
    : the ability to make good decisions about what should be done
    I have been avoiding blogging.  Why?  Because what I want to write about is pretty controversial.  You see if you go back on my blog to the middle of last year you'll find that we "finally" got "smart" and vaccinated our children.  At least, based on the memes and posts I've seen from my friends, that must be how it is viewed. People that don't vaccinate have been called everything from child abusers, idiots, to criminals that should be jailed.  It is all because of the measles outbreak here in the US.  I get it.  People are scared.  What I don't get is the judgement.  I don't get the desire to cut out informed choice, but I guess I should.  You see these problems are "first world" problems.  So one of my friends posed a question on her status of why in the world would someone choose not to vaccinate.  So I've been avoiding my blog because of the controversy but really I'm going to step out here, take the heat, and respond to that question.

    First I'll say it wasn't because of the "possibility" of autism (which has been debunked) and it definitely wasn't because of Jenny McCarthy (I don't take stock in celebrities and what they have to say and I really don't even know who she is).

    When I was pregnant with my first, who is now 14, I researched everything (anybody that knows me knows I like to research and do it thoroughly, to the point I was able to find a specialist in another state and put my endometriosis into remission with a surgery down there).  I'm not opposed to medical interventions or preventative care, but I am fully aware that humans make mistakes (our pediatrician and the first ER doc misdiagnosed my Sugar Bear).  Anyway, during that pregnancy I researched everything.  Homebirth, hospital birth, circumcision, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, co-sleeping, cribs, SIDS, Brewer's diet, and of course vaccinations and immunizations.  My husband and I discussed everything.  He already had vitiligo and psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.  All autoimmune diseases.  I had endometriosis.  His Mom had thyroid issues.  More autoimmune diseases.  My husband's autoimmune issues are all skin issues.  I read the inserts for vaccinations.  Side effects included allergic reactions to milk and eggs in the vaccines.  I'm lactose intolerant.  The side effects were numerous and many were very rare but my husband and I already had "rare" issues.  I couldn't imagine giving my baby a shot for hepatitis when neither my husband nor I were drug users and my baby wasn't "sexually active".  So we decided to forgo the shots, for now. We figured we would revisit the issue periodically.  If I was opposed to autism risks, I wouldn't have been induced.  My induction was medically necessary though and I knew it.  By the way, our first birth was a hospital birth due to pre-eclampsia even though I ate organic and vegetarian.  I narrowly avoided a c-section.  I was a stay at home Mom, I breastfed, my child wasn't in daycare or preschool and when we decided to homeschool again we'd be right there with him. Exposure to others was limited to grocery stores and visiting friends. We definitely baby-mooned. Vaccinating or not very much was a tough decision.  It required me to read on herd immunity, effectiveness, disease symptoms, and treatments.  Had I been living in a third world country I wouldn't have even been debating whether to vaccinate or not.  We would have.  But because we live in an industrialized medically luxurious nation this informed parenting decision was afforded us.  Yes, herd immunity allowed me to not vaccinate my child.  Then we had our second baby.  We had a beautiful homebirth with no interventions, not even fetal heartbeat monitoring.  He was half way out on my own when the midwife showed up.  Easy.  Peaceful.  Lovely.  Our oldest was four when his brother was born.   They were inseparable.  They both were active children and we live in an Old Victorian house.  When they got injured the first time and needed stitches or ER, we got their tetanus shot.  It was an easy decision.  It was something I had to do too when I stepped on a nail outside chasing our cat and it went through my flip flop and it had been 10 years since my booster.  We were not opposed to doing what was needed when it was needed.  And we didn't feel like we were jeopardizing the health of other people or children.  When my children had a sniffle or a cough or even just a low grade fever, we stayed home.  If they were "off" in their normal routine we stayed home.  I have had friends bring sick children into my house or even to my child's birthday party.  People send sick kids to school.  People go to work sick.  More people die from flu and pneumonia than from measles.  Anyway, my job was and is to protect my children.  And I have done that and continue to do it.  We had planned on getting our oldest's titers checked but then his brother developed Type 1 diabetes (which by the way is a possible side effect of the MMR vaccine listed on their insert--wonder if he would have developed Type 1 earlier had we done the shots "on time", have friends on a parent's list for type 1 who's children have been documented as developing it from the vaccination--Type 1 is something you are born with that needs a "trigger", it's autoimmune).  So we decided in order to protect them, and especially Sugar Bear who is still homeschooled, further to go ahead with getting their shots up to date.  Our oldest, who has always had some skin issues, definitely developed rashes after the shots.  Sugar Bear had a massive headache.  We stayed in touch with the pediatrician after both sets of shots.  Now here is the fun part, even though they are vaccinated doesn't mean they are immunized.  Vaccinations aren't 100%.  So all that research I did is still necessary.  I still have to be aware of disease symptoms.  I still have to be aware of disease treatments.   It doesn't stop me from being protective of my children.  When people talk about the risks with vaccinating they make it personal.  They imagine those things happening to their children.  When people talk about getting a disease they again imagine their children getting that disease.  It's our human nature to empathize.  So why is it that people think it is okay to label someone who is making a tough decision on whether to vaccinate or not a criminal?  It comes down to fear and judgement.  Fear that their child or a child they know will develo p a disease and either die or have serious complications to it even though they are vaccinated.  And judgement that people didn't make a decision like they did.   And that they should have.  And then the name calling starts.  How could someone be so stupid?  What an idiot?  They should be in jail?  Why would they do something like that?  Instead of vaccinations substitute breastfeeding or bottlefeeding, substitute organic food versus mainstream eating, substitute any parenting choice and it will happen that there will be judgements.  There will be people saying the other is making awful parenting choices.  But that is exactly what it should be, parenting choice.  My children did not have the chicken pox vaccine.  They didn't need it because I purposefully exposed them to "wild" chicken pox.  They both got it at the same time.  They both survived with just a few pox scars, just like me.  My Mom had measles as a child.  She has a few pox scars from that.  Could it have been worse for my children, yes.  Could it have been worse for my Mom, yes.  Is there a possibility of a reaction to a vaccine, possibly severe, yes.  This is only my researched, informed opinion there are pros and cons to vaccinating; there are pros and cons to not vaccinating.  Will I call you a child abuser if you don't choose to breastfeed (proven scientifically to be healthier), no.  So please don't call me one because I delayed our vaccination schedule, because I made a parenting choice for my children for their protection.

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