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On Our Decision to Delay Vaccination

I think doctors know their stuff.  If I’m taking courses as an undergrad psychology student on how to interpret numbers in scientific studies, I’m positive that doctors get that training times a bunch.  However, I’ve noticed that doctors have different approaches to different things.  Some doctors will tell you that you absolutely must have all vaccines on schedule, and all the scientific evidence backs that up.  Some doctors say that the common schedule has way too many vaccines given too close together.  Some doctors question vaccination either entirely or when very young children are the ones being stuck with needles.

When Gwenna was born, I found a pediatrician I felt I could trust and left the needle stuff to him.  I was too busy checking out articles and books on attachment parenting, baby wearing, breastfeeding, natural birth- all the new mom stuff.  Gwenna is up-to-date on her vaccines.  She had her vaccinations spaced out- one or so once a month.  We never had any bad reactions except for her first MMR, and that was the first time I experienced the horrible feeling of not being able to soothe my baby.  She got over it quickly.

I learned that it could have been much, much worse.  Just checking out the HRSA site (Health Resources and Services Administration- a government program) will tell you that there is a National Vaccine Injury Compensation program.  This program pays money to families of people who are injured by vaccines.  There’s a table that explains which vaccines are covered and how an injury (including death) can be reported to the HRSA and compensation be given for it.

“Since the first Vaccine Injury Compensation claims were made in 1989, 2,975 compensation payments have been made, $2,317,734,924.26 disbursed to petitioners…”  Also, “9,370 claims have been dismissed”- so only about a quarter of claimants were actually compensated.  Even paying only a fraction of claimants results in a huge bill for this program, and that’s a heck of a lot of money to be tossing around for something (vaccines) that claims “no fault”.

That creeps me out.

Nevermind that claims have been made that vaccines have dangerous and untested chemicals in them, that live virus vaccines are so controversial, that some studies/surveys show unvaccinated children to have stronger immune systems than vaccinated children, that vaccines could raise the risk of SIDS, that vaccines don’t truly provide immunity, and that vaccines should not actually be credited with the demise of certain epidemics- it just freaks me out that our country spends that much money on paying people who get hurt or die as a result of routine health procedures.

The bit about Japan moving its minimum age of vaccination to two years for a while really caught my attention.  Dr. Sears, if I remember correctly, encourages delaying vaccination for a while after birth- and he might even say until two years.  Basically, the SIDS rate really shot down.  When they moved the minimum age back to two months, SIDS shot back up.  Producers of vaccinations have not attempted to spin a response, as far as I know, except to say that no link has been scientifically proven.

As scary as some of these accusations are, I don’t think vaccinations are wholly unnecessary evils.  I think they can probably help, and I would prefer to be safe than sorry.  That’s why I compare my girls’ chances of contracting (or carrying) exotic diseases like those the early vaccines claim to prevent versus their chances of being negatively affected by the vaccines themselves.  Even barring outrageous circumstances, vaccines hurt.  They make babies fussy and are sometimes painful for a while.  For me, that poses the very basic question of why I’m hurting my baby when she has no capacity to understand the situation.  I don’t have an answer.

There’s also breast milk to consider: doesn’t my baby get immunity through my milk?  Breast milk contains live organisms, many of which build and strengthen a young child’s immune system.  There are no solid scientific studies which support or refute the idea that a vaccinated mother can pass on her immunity from vaccinations to her baby, but the child is at least getting some immunity.  If my baby and I were both exposed to a cold, for instance, I’d essentially be able to feed my baby antibodies that would work against the cold.

So that’s that.  I’m scared of the toxic backlash of vaccines on a very fragile new person, and I think that my family is suited for delayed vaccinations.  Both of my girls will be home for a couple more years.  I’m going to breastfeed again (and maybe slip some breast milk into some food for Gwenna).  I no longer work with the care of other children.  We don’t travel.  We have good nutrition.

That’s our call.  When Gwenna goes to school, we’ll resume vaccinations (probably).  If there’s an outbreak of some sort, we may consider a vaccination then.  But this is what fits us for now.  Am I a little worried about the possibility of someone in my family contracting a deadly virus?  Of course- but I’m more worried about bad reactions to chemicals and live virus vaccines.  I’m terrified of SIDS.  I am inherently distrustful of pharmaceutical companies.

So this is mothering… we researched, we listened to both sides.  And now we just keep our fingers crossed.

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Attachment Parenting Myths

There are the ones that get repeated and responded to all the time (“I would go crazy being at my child’s beck and call”) and the ones that are addressed less often and are thus more persistent (“Tummy time is the only way my baby will learn to hold her head up”)- but all of them annoy the mess out of me.  Allow me a moment to respond to these statements that I dare not open my mouth to answer in real time, for fear of venom spewing from my throat.

Attachment Parenting is all about spoiling babies.  Okay, number one: Attachment Parenting places a strong emphasis on family *balance*.  Attachment Parenting is the healthiest thing for me, for my marriage, and for my baby.  By the way, as an AP mom, I know I have the responsibility to communicate to my child that she needs to be aware of others’ needs as well as her own.  At nearly two years old, she is extremely empathetic and understands that sometimes mommy really needs to pee, but will come back and cuddle with her on the couch as soon as possible.  She understands that I will do everything I can to help her have a good day and feel understood.  She also understands that sometimes I am very tired and at those times she plays on her own.  Not something you expected from a baby who was breastfed, worn/carried *constantly* when she was an infant, slept attached to mommy, and was always responded to with love?

Attachment Parenting creates little people who are over-dependent upon parents.  Look, by the time Gwenna was mobile, she was so sick of being strapped to me in a baby wearing apparatus that she barely looked back as she left a trail of dust behind her turbo crawling self.  It may not be that sentiment exactly that was operating in her baby head, but it’s difficult to explain to many people that if babies are extremely sure mommy will be there when they want to come back, they are more likely to explore with enthusiasm.

Breastfeeding is kind of gross.  You mean to tell me that you choose not to do something that gives your baby much higher odds of just surviving the first few months, as well as gives her immunity, a better chance to have a high-functioning mental capacity, and lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels- just because you can’t get over the idea of boobs being sexual?  Okay… I’m not touching that.  I’m also a little offended.

My parents used tough love and I turned out fine.  Elie Wiesel was tortured by Nazis, and he turned out “fine”- but you wouldn’t starve your child, hopefully.  This is a mega statement, but I feel comfortable making it: people are not “fine”.  Our society is plagued by mental and emotional disorders and trauma, violence, murder, rape, and the list goes on and on.  Everyone should be aware of the power of parents- we can raise loving, empathetic, free-thinking individuals, or we can continue the trend of “unidentified” issues with members of our society.  The answer is love, lots of it, and AP fully promotes love.

Babywearing must really put babies behind- how do they ever learn to walk?  I love this one.  Gwenna lived in the Moby wrap for the first few months.  We did tummy time maybe 3 times total, and she hated it.  All babies do.  They struggle, they can’t control their body in the way they want, and they can’t do anything about it.  I didn’t want to communicate to Gwenna through leaving her on the floor upset that I didn’t care about what she was telling me- that she was uncomfortable and it wasn’t working.  So I stopped putting her on her tummy.  Now here is the best part: Gwenna was sitting up by the end of three months, crawling by the end of 5 months, and walking by the end of 9 months.  Being in the Moby wrap upright and looking around (as opposed to spending a lot of time in the car seat, in her bed, on a play mat, in a swing) really strengthened her core muscles.  On top of that, she really loved being snuggled up to me for walks, naps, chores, shopping… and I credit the fact that she is so affectionate now to how we used to always hold her snuggled up to us.

The Cuddle IV

Most days, I’d add a disclaimer to make sure I’m not unintentionally offending anyone, but today, I’m just going to ask you to use logic.  If you’ve ever suggested breastfeeding is gross, I mean to offend you.  If you didn’t breastfeed because you couldn’t produce milk due to thyroid issues or something, notice that I didn’t mention anything about you and therefore do not mean to offend you.  And so forth.

Feel free to leave questions/comments and I’ll address them in the next post, when I will definitely be in a better mood.