Be nice: A vaccinated mom’s decision not to vaccinate

I have been holding my tongue for awhile now. I keep seeing uncensored comments and bold accusations flung to and fro amongst friends, acquaintances and total strangers. Words come from either side of a number of issues to the often unsuspecting members of an opposing view, whatever it may be. The only thing these comments have in common is that they come from other MOMS! Mean, hurtful and often HATEFUL remarks come out of the mouths (or fingertips, as it may be) of the very women who are meant to raise the next generation of respectful adults. It is no wonder that bullying seems to be a growing issue. It appears kids are learning how to bully, especially CYBER bully, from their parents. What in the world goes through the mind of a self-respecting human being who types some of these things to another person? Is the computer screen the buffer that dehumanizes the user on the other end? I mean, really? Is there no realization that you may actually have to defend your meanness in PERSON someday?

I knew going into motherhood that there would be many polarizing topics spawned from the moment of conception. Caffeine or de-caff during pregnancy? Natural or medicated birth? Hospital or home birth? Breastfed or bottle fed? Co-sleep or baby in the nursery? Cloth or disposable diapers? All of these issues can definitely incite strong opinions and nasty comments from those close to us and even from total strangers. Everyone is an expert on parenting in their own mind. Their way is the “right” way. I get it. I have an amazing daughter and although I am not perfect by any means, overall, I am pretty happy with the parenting choices that my husband and I have made. However, my one solid truth it that MY way isn’t necessarily the RIGHT way. It is the right way for my family, but I would NEVER say it is the best choice for someone else.

With that being said, the nastiest comments I have read regarding one of these hot button issues , both directed at me and at others, have been about vaccinating vs. not vaccinating. I have never been shy about the fact my family chooses not to vaccinate. I just thought that today, in light of some of the Internet bullying I have seen on BOTH sides of the subject lately, I would explain our story. You don’t have to agree with our choice, you don’t even have to like it, but you do have to be nice. Because, after all, how many minds were ever changed through hate and name-calling?

When Hfoe and I started dating, I was a pretty conventional lady on all accounts. When it came to food, I just bought what was convenient. I didn’t read labels. I didn’t know about gmo’s or MSG or artificial sweeteners. I was raised in the south, for crying out loud! If it wasn’t fried, then it was health food! I didn’t know cloth diapers even still existed. I didn’t think twice about what beauty products or cleaning products I used. And I sure as fire didn’t know ANYTHING about vaccines. I was mostly up to date on mine because I traveled frequently and it was just “what you did.”

Then, I met my future sister-in-law. She was the first person I ever met who actually questioned the way things were done. Talking to her about why her children weren’t vaccinated, I was still a skeptic. I mean, why would every physician I had ever seen “require” vaccines if they weren’t safe? I remember talking to my then boyfriend on the long drive home about his sister’s decision and I just didn’t understand. I hoped that she would choose to “protect” her kids from all the horrible illnesses someday in the future because I fell in love with them on the trip and I would have hated for them to die of polio!

But, the seed to RESEARCH and make my own decision was planted. Fast forward to a marriage and 3 years later and we find out we are pregnant! Finally! We tried for 7 hard (in my mind) months to get pregnant. The month before that perfect, beautiful pink line appeared on the First Response, I believe I had an early miscarriage. I never confirmed this with a physician, but due to the irregularity of my cycle that month, and in my heart, I know I was pregnant once before. So, when we knew this little bean was sticking around for longer than a week or two, Hfoe and I were ecstatic! I immediately stopped eating deli meat, or caffeine or sushi or any other number of things on the “questionable” list. That September there was a listeria strain found in some melons grown in southern Colorado. I don’t even eat melons with much frequency, but just to be safe, I avoided ALL melon, watermelon and cantaloupe just in case! How horrible would it be if something happened to my little peanut and I had eaten one of the “no-no’s?” Would I forever wonder if that was the cause? It wasn’t worth that momentary joy of yum! I was fanatic about making sure this baby was “sticky,” as the mamas in my birth group would say.

When I was 20 weeks pregnant I went in for a routine ultrasound and check up. I was weighed in and peed in the cup just like normal. My blood pressure was fine. Everything seemed fine. Until my doctor started listening for my sweet baby’s heart beat. It wasn’t there. He listened for 5 solid minutes, moving the ultrasound wand all over my belly. He tried the Doppler and he even shot little sound waves into my belly to “wake up” the baby or to get her to move. Nothing. I was so scared. Devastated. Sick to my stomach and, eventually, a crying, snotty mess. My OB said that because the baby had grown and I had felt kicks within the week, that he didn’t want to say our baby was gone. He scheduled me for a more in depth ultrasound the next week. So, we waited. That appointment could not come soon enough! At that appointment, the physician found baby girl’s heartbeat almost immediately! I burst into tears of relief. I know I must have shouted to him, “Why wasn’t it there last week?!” He said that sometimes that happens. Usually the baby has died, but sometimes, inexplicably, the baby is fine and the heartbeat is just undetectable. Looking back, I feel like this was a wake up call for me to realize that my precious baby’s life was fragile and also for me to know just how it felt to want to do ANYTHING to protect her. I didn’t know her name yet, or even that she was a “she” at that point, but she was the most important thing in my world from that moment on.

I started researching EVERYTHING baby. I knew I wanted to breastfeed…because I am cheap and booby milk is FREE! I thought I would try cloth diapering, but I wasn’t married to the idea. After reading and researching the effects of hormones and gmo’s on growing little bodies, I decided I was going to make every effort to start buying organic when I could. And, I was absolutely NOT going to co-sleep…haha…the best laid plans, right?! Then, I started seeing threads on my birth group message board about “vax vs. non-vax.” I read the topics and did a little outside reading, but in my mind, there was still no question. I was vaccinated and I was fine, so my baby would be, too. But, there was a nagging feeling in my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I would see some link on facebook and I would follow it. And from there I would follow another link, and another. I started reading peer-reviewed journals with topics questioning the levels of aluminum used in the vaccines given to two-month old babies. Aluminum was going to be shot into my baby?! Well, I wasn’t sure I liked that. But, she would be protected from measles, mumps and rubella for life, though, right? Wrong! Hfoe and I talked about it some and I shared the things I was learning. All along, though, I still just assumed we would go the conventional route and vaccinate our baby.

Then, I did what I should have been doing from the beginning. I prayed about it. In prayer, I received a very clear message. Do not vaccinate YOUR baby. For those who don’t pray, you might call this a VERY strong, undeniable maternal instinct. Whatever you want to call it, the message was concrete. It was also clear that this was about MY baby…no one else’s. I was not meant to be some crazy zealot out to rid the world of vaccines. I was not meant to convince any other single human being that what was right for my child, was right for their child. See, here’s where the bullies on either side miss it….it’s not about YOUR kid. It’s about mine. Something that I have learned in subsequent research is that there is a strong link between genetics and the effects of aluminum and/or mercury on the brain. The levels of these heavy metals may be totally fine for one infant, but for one who is genetically pre-disposed, it may result in neurological damage. The problem is that you won’t know if your kid is predisposed until they get the dose. Except, I feel like I got a warning of caution. Would my baby girl have been one of the thousands of cases that end up in “Vaccine Court” due to vaccination injury every year? Maybe…maybe not. But, I whole-heartedly feel that she would have ended up with some sort of negative reaction if we had gone the conventional route. And after knowing what it felt like to lose her, even for that week, I wasn’t going to do anything against those instincts that I felt were working to protect her. Because that’s what all good parents do, right? We would go to the ends of the earth to make sure our babies are safe and happy and HEALTHY!

So, I guess here is my point…This is NOT an anti-vax post. This is simply our story. This is how we made one of about a billion parenting decisions we will make over the course of C’s life. This just happens to be a pretty important and controversial decision. YOU have to make the decision that is right for YOUR family.

Please go away from this with one message…BE NICE! In our disagreements and our differing opinions on any topic of much interest, you must consider that we can only go on our own personal experiences. You have not lived my life and I have not lived yours. I have faith that when it comes to parenting, though, you will make no decision to KNOWINGLY hurt your child and I hope that you will believe that about me. If that’s the case, then name calling and finger pointing serve no purpose but to be mean. And no one wants to be a mean mommy.

 

Comments

  1. It’s difficult to make those hard decisions in this day and age. I used to trust that immunizations were safe…..now, even after 27 years of being an RN, I confess that I do not trust the pharmaceutical companies nor the government agencies that regulate these laws. God Bless you Cara for your courageousness.

  2. Amen sister!!! It is all about YOUR child. It is such a personal decision for YOUR family. I am so glad you wrote this, because kindness does get lost in so much of mommyhood discussions.

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