The Vaccination Debate- Part 2

My first ever blog post was inspired by a heated social media debate over vaccinations.  Or more accurately, a bunch of inaccurate blog posts being thrown back and forth substituting for scientific data or argument.  I shared a little of my position on vaccinations when I wrote that post, but over the last 10 months, I’ve wanted more and more to do a followup that focused on my opinion and reasoning.  Now seemed like a great time to do that.

I am pro-vaccination.  I received every vaccination that was scheduled to be administered as a child, and opted for additional vaccinations as an adult.  I did not live in a college dormitory so at the time I was not required to be vaccinated against meningitis, but I was.  After graduating college, and working as a plasmapheresis center, I opted to revaccinate against Hepatitis B instead of having a titer drawn for my levels.  I have received a flu shot every year for quite a few years now.  Before D1 was born, my husband received the DTaP, and I received it the day I was discharged from the hospital.  Recently, it was brought to my attention that receiving another DTaP vaccination could produce a response in my unborn infant, therefore protecting her until she can receive her own DTaP vaccination at 6 months; so I opted for another DTaP, and of course a flu shot, at my 28 week prenatal visit.

D1 and D2 have been given all vaccinations on time, starting with a HepB vaccination at birth (and vitamin K, but that is not optional, it is not a vaccine- don’t even get me started on that one).  In the interest of full disclosure I will say that D1 did not receive a flu vaccine his first flu season; my reasoning was that all parties around him were vaccinated and he was not often around people who were not vaccinated.  Since I work from home, he was not around other children who may have had flu symptoms.  In hindsight, I regret this decision and feel very lucky that we escaped nearly his first year with no illness.  Nearly, because at 11 1/2 months, he was diagnosed with his first case of strep throat.

Did I have concerns about vaccinating my children?  Of course I did!  But I did my research, I asked my pediatrician, and I advocated for my children’s healthcare to be in their best interest.  So let me tell you about those concerns..

The primary concern for me was the pain for my children.  Having been vaccinated myself, I know that not only can the shots be painful, but the achiness after a shot can be fairly uncomfortable as well, and that a mild fever after vaccination can be expected.  After speaking with my children’s doctors, we determined the correct dosage of anti-inflammatory medications and used them as needed after a vaccination dosage.  However, this response is not a bad thing!  This achiness and fever is the body’s response to being vaccinated, and it’s a great thing, because it means their tiny little bodies are producing antibodies- the very things that will prevent them (or reduce their reaction to) the disease if they are exposed to it.

I was concerned about the side effects of any given vaccine.  I educated myself on what those are (thank you to the CDC website and the wonderful handouts our pediatrician provided with each vaccination) and knew what to watch for.  I also was very aware of the rarity of a severe reaction.

Those were my concerns.  As an educated adult in America, I can’t quite imagine that there are any other concerns that a parent might have about vaccination.  But moving on..

Since we live in a developed country where many illnesses have never been a part of the lives of today’s parents, I believe this has actually skewed our view on vaccination.  Many parents have never seen or experienced a severe case of chicken pox, let alone known a mother who had a child born with severe defects because she contracted measles during a pregnancy, or had a relative who was disabled from a childhood infection with polio.  Many parents are ignorant to the fact that yes, it could indeed, be their child who dies of pertussis (whooping cough).

I don’t believe it’s anyone’s right to opt out of vaccinating themselves or their child and here’s why.. This is not a personal decision that only affects you and your child.  The decision not to vaccinate effects the mailman, whose child is immunocompromised.  It affects the pregnant grocery store clerk who doesn’t know her immunity to measles has dropped in the years since she was vaccinated.  It affects the elderly person at the table next to you at a restaurant who is on medication that lowers their immunity and ability to fight off infection.  And quite frankly, it affects me- the mother who will have a child who cannot be vaccinated against many illness, but can certainly contract them before, 6 months and up until one year.

No one, and I mean no one, has the right to put my children at risk because of their own selfishness.  The only exception, for me, to a fully vaccinated child, would be one who is immunocompromised, or who has a parent who had a severe (and by severe I do not mean redness or a rash) reaction to a vaccination or vaccination component, therefore putting that child at risk of the same reaction.  I would think, I would truly hope, that if a child falls into one of those two categories, that their parents would be on the same side of this (what should never even be an) argument as me.  Because, quite frankly, the only way for those children to be protected is for everyone else around them to be vaccinated.

My Third Baby

As a great deal of my posts are, this was inspired by a recent conversation with a close friend.  Many of my friends now have children, many more are having their second, and a few are like us- thinking about or working on baby three.  (I can still considering it “working on” since she’s not here yet, right!?)

There are the standard rude comments like “was this one planned?” or of course “are you hoping for a (insert gender opposite other children)?” and the second seems to be the favorite of strangers everywhere when it’s the third child.  I talked about rude things people say to parents and expecting parents alike in this post, but it’s become all that more apparent that people overstep their boundaries the further along in this pregnancy I’ve gotten.

Let me say this- we have two amazing boys that I would not trade for the world.  I couldn’t imagine my life without two boys in it.  The fighting, giggles, wrestlings, trucks, and dirt.. and the drama, yes boys have drama.. every bit of it is incredible.  There’s something special about mommy’s boys and I already know that one day I will be overprotective of them when they date and cry some day at their weddings.  There’s a bond there that I could have never imagined with my boys.

And I feel sure I will feel the same once this little girl arrives.  There are so many things that will be the same about raising a girl and boys, and just that many as different.  There will be new things to learn about her and ways of loving her that I can’t imagine right now.  It will be awe-inspiring to see her bond with her brothers and her daddy.

But had this baby been a third boy, I would have felt the same way.  Yep, you read that correctly.  I wasn’t hoping for a girl, or a boy for that matter.  I simply was hoping that we would be granted the chance to have a third child in our lives, one more sibling for each of the boys, and another person for us all to love.

There were times when I felt that I couldn’t even be excited that I was having a girl, for everything that she will be, because other people were more excited that it wasn’t a boy.  Maybe it’s just the hormones, but that is truly how it felt.

Maybe parents who ask have forgotten what it’s like to feel your heart grow in size like the Grinch’s on Christmas- because that’s how it feels when another child, be it your second or third or tenth.  Your heart doesn’t have to share space, it just doubles with the love it now holds for another child.  As you see your children learn about and love each other, it continues to swell.  Sometimes, it overflows.  And that, is a beautiful thing.

Forgiveness

I don’t tend to hold grudges.  “Yeah, whatever” you may be thinking if you know me.. but honestly, I don’t.  I’ve been hurt a lot in my life, but who hasn’t?  I tend not to let people close to me after they’ve hurt me, and I truly never forget.  But forgive?  I can do that.

See, it doesn’t do anyone any good to hold onto the anger and hate that they sometimes too.  After all, the person you’re feeling those things towards isn’t being hurt by your feelings- you are!  I sound like some self-help book, so I think I’ll keep this post short.  But I wanted to share my take on forgiveness for anyone who’s struggling.

There are two choices as I see it..

  1. You can spend your time and energy thinking about what someone did to wrong you, or..
  2. You can forgive the person who hurt you.  You can accept that not all people you have welcomed into your life are destined to stay there.  You can accept a person for who they are, knowing that you have no control over that person, and no control in changing them.

Which path do you take?

Advocating For Your Health

It’s a crazy time we live in with healthcare being what it is today in America.  I consider my family to be blessed that we have the options of healthcare through my husband’s employer or mine, and that we’re able to make the decisions and receive the care that we do.  We pay for a portion of this health care out of pocket, but it’s absolutely worth the peace of mind knowing that we will be covered if (and with 5 people, 3 being children, let’s face it when) something happens.

I’m not sure if many people outside of the medical field realize the strain that new healthcare laws and rules are putting on our physicians and the medical community.  Instead of your doctor being able to order a test or proceed with a procedure that’s right for you, they have to go through the rigor of running other tests and seeking approvals before proceeding on a course of action.

I grew up in a medical family and 3 of my siblings have entered the medical field.  Truth be told, I wanted to me a doctor but I knew I didn’t have the commitment needed for medical school or the long hours that would follow in a career in medicine.   But I know a lot about a lot when it comes to medicine; my undergraduate degree is one many future doctors share as their undergraduate.  And I’ve spent a lot of time learning through personal experiences and other outlets about diseases and other things I’m interested in.

While I completely understand that this isn’t something that interests everyone, I have recently become acutely aware of the amount of people who know and participate so little in their health care and decisions, and it saddens me.

Most of my experience with this recently has obviously been in the world of pregnancy.  I’m blessed to have a phenomenal doctor and, along with her staff, trust them implicitly with the health of me and my unborn baby.  But I recently had an experience in which I was told by another medical professional that she was going to perform a procedure; I promptly cut her off and told her she was not.  From the look on her face, I gathered this was the first time that she had received that response.  This both shocked and saddened me.  The procedure was minor, carrying almost no risks, and yet it wasn’t something that was appropriate for the stage of my pregnancy, and it was something I had discussed with my doctor previously as not being appropriate at all for me.  Yet here was this woman, assuming that I was going to go along with whatever she wanted to do, as if my care was ultimately in her hands.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near a doctor, or even a nurse for that matter- those people are well trained in their profession.  I would agree that most times these medical professionals have their patients best interest at heart; after all, they’ve committed their lives and careers to helping others.  But sometimes, we as the patient, need to advocate for our own care.  Once in awhile we have to ask for a second medical opinion.  Sometimes we have to do some research and ask the right questions so we know more about the plan.  And sometimes we have to step up and say “no” to a test, a procedure, a general plan of care.

You should feel comfortable with those providing your care at all times, and if you do not, it’s time to find someone with whom you do.  I urge you to speak up if you feel that something is not in your best interest or the person whose medical care you are in charge of, be it a parent or a child.  Ask more questions, get the answers you deserve, and make sure that you are entirely aware of the reasoning behind a decision.  Ultimately, it’s you who is charge of your health, no one else.

It’s Ruining Your Life

This summer, 5 of our closest friends were married.  As I was sitting as a guest at one of these weddings, I could not help but to notice the amount of people around me who were “capturing the moment.”  Let’s put aside the fact that these couples had hired someone to document their day, in print and some in video, and realize what this actually means.  Instead of watching their friend or family member tie themselves to another person during a beautiful ceremony, they were watching it through their phone.

As disheartening as these moments were, watching these people step back and basically dissociate themselves from these beautiful memories just to capture them on a phone, it’s hardly the first time I’ve seen it.  I see parents dropping their children off at school or picking them up, all the while tied to a phone- talking, texting, “participating” in social media.  I see couples ignoring each other and their children while one or all use devices at restaurants or basically any event.  I hear people asking “did you see that (insert life event or funny sorry here) happened?  I posted it on (insert social media site).”

It’s a sad sad world that we live in that people feel the need to constantly be “connected” without ever actually connecting to anyone; that people feel they must document every moment and end up missing the chance to make a memory.

I know there are hundreds of other blog posts and videos about it lately, but everyone seems to watch, share, and move on.  I urge you to put down the phone, miss the picture, and instead enjoy the moment.  Once you do, you won’t ever want to go back.

Why I Blog

While I was on my blogging break, I thought a lot about the reasons that I blog. I had thought many times about beginning a blog before I actually did. My first post was a little heated and was the perfect jumping off point. I thought about blogging about cooking or children or many other things. It wasn’t until I began reading more blogs that I realized I could blog about all of these things and more.

Ever since my freshman (in high school) English class I have been obsessed with writing. Long before that, I was obsessed with reading. I quickly learned that for me, the two go hand in hand.

Over the last few months, I have spent so much time writing that I had not spent any time reading. Once I started reading, I couldn’t seem to stop. I was hungry for new words, to read all different types of new (to me) books.

I know that I am better with writing my words. I’ve always been better with writing than speaking, both in my personal and professional life.

Writing has become a sort of therapy for me. I love to talk (shocking news to anyone who knows me personally) and I love to write. I love to share my advice and opinions with other people, but I also loving hearing what others have to say. So this blogging world is the perfect place to do that. And not just here, on my own blog, but when I get to comment on so many of the other wonderful bloggers I follow!

So that’s it, fairly simple- I blog because it feels good to do it. Why do you blog? Or if you don’t, have you ever considered it?

Catching Up!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted.. 20 days!! 20!!!!

To be honest my friends, I have been so entirely overwhelmed and tired.  So I thought I would just tell you all a little about what’s been going on in my life these last (almost) 3 weeks.

Little G is due in 7 weeks now.  It doesn’t even seem possible!  So any time in the next 3-7 weeks (I’m personally hoping for somewhere around 5), I will finally get to hold her.  It’s been a long road, and I’ve been very tired, sore, and the whole lot of it these last few weeks.  You know the deal, especially repeat mamas.. things stretch and ache and hurt even sooner every time!  But I’m keeping my chin up, and only complaining occasionally!  Her room is nearly ready.  We painted it once and the color is entirely wrong, so that’s hopefully getting fixed this week.  And then all of the baby items have to come out of the attic.. that will be next week.

D1 and D2 are loving preschool this year.  They are so incredibly tired when they come home, but they’re having a blast while they’re there and I couldn’t ask for a better school to send them too!  They’re very excited about the upcoming arrival of their sister and have been telling everyone all about her.  WIth the cooler weather, they’ve actually been even more active, which has been a challenge being stuck in the house most days.  D1 has actually been asking when it will snow so that he can throw a snowball at daddy.. please kid, give it a few more weeks at least!

The last few weeks, and next few weeks, have been some of my busiest ever in my career.  We have so many new fun and exciting things coming up.  It’s been craziness some days, but that’s a good thing.  In the midst of it all, I’ve been working with the people who will be replacing me while I’m on maternity leave, so some days it’s double duty.

And my books.  I felt the need to take a little break from writing to actually do some reading.  I absolutely love to read and I read quite a few books over the last few weeks.  I feel refreshed and I may even share some reviews with you on the ones I read!  My taste is all over the place with what I like, but I may even do a book review or two in the coming weeks!

So that’s really about all.. when I’m not chasing a toddler or working, I’ve been attempting to relax as much as possible.  Of course, now that I’ve had a little break, you can expect a multitude of posts coming from me in the next few days and weeks!