Vaccines: Thumbs Up or Down?

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I gave birth to my daughter at home.  I made an educated decision to bring her in to this world with out the interventions I would encounter at the hospital. I took the “risk” to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean because I believe that birth is natural, beautiful, and safe. I did this because I believe the benefits of birthing at home out weigh the risks in a normal, healthy pregnancy.

I did a lot of research before I came to the decision to birth at home.  I weighed the pros and cons. The pregnancy felt long, but when the day finally came to bring my baby in to the world I knew I made the right choice.

As I said, I did a lot of research during this pregnancy. I learned more about pregnancy, birth, and parenting than I learned through out my four previous pregnancies. I am amazed at how narrow my focus was before my fifth pregnancy. I never really questioned what the doctors told me. Now, with my new wider view I am seeing clearly. Unfortunately, just because you can see clearly doesn’t mean you understand everything you are looking at.

I never researched vaccines. I knew that the number of people claiming that vaccines had harmed their children was on the rise. I was aware of the vax/antivax debate. But, I was never a part of that. I knew, with out a doubt, that my child was going to receive all of her immunizations. No, I am not “that mom” I am not going to put my child’s life on the line by exposing her to the dangers of measles, mumps, whooping cough, or chicken pox. Okay, I had chicken pox and it wasn’t so bad, but they say it can be deadly. I am not going against they. From what I hear they know what they are talking about. So, off to the doctor we went to get my baby her shots.

I dutifully held my baby down and allow them to jab her with a needle and inject….inject….wait! What the hell are they injecting. My mind began racing as she screamed her little lungs out. When her face turned some alarming shade of red I stroked her hair and reassured her that I would never hurt her, and this was actually being nice to her. I doubt she believed me. However, she won’t remember it and, thanks to those quick jabs she will stay healthy.  So, we left. I still felt like crap. It was awful watching her sleep thinking that at any moment she could succumb to one of the reactions I remember hearing about.

Two months later, it is time for her four month well-baby visit. She was so cute that day. She smiled and cooed for every one in the waiting room. I think her cuteness distracted the other parents from my three year old who was taking full advantage of the fact that the floor was so easy to scoot around on while laying on his stomach.  Maybe not, but she was pretty darn cute. The wait was horribly long that day. As we sat there in the in the office I was having flash backs from the previous appointment. I wanted to run. I imagined myself grabbing my son, and, like lighting, exploding through the exit with a such a flash those other parents would be blinded and confused. More accurately though, my chronic clumsiness would have probably caused me to trip over my boy while nearly dropping my daughter and diaper bag as I tried to escape. So, with fleeing not a viable option I started thinking I would just decline the shots.

HA! That’s what I would do! Just decline. How hard can it be to say no when they put the syringes on the table.

Hard. I ended up allowing them to inject my daughter with vials of unknown ingredients yet again. All of my other children survived, and so would she. Right?

The second we got home I started researching vaccines.  It was exhausting.  I was consumed by the information available on the internet. Then came the time to schedule her six month appointment. Unfortunatly, I was really busy and couldn’t schedule it right away. That is cool though, the delay allowed me to read more about vaccines and really get a handle on my decision.

Weeks passed and I still had not found the time to take her to the doctor. Every time I thought about scheduling it I suddenly became very busy.  My understanding of the great vaccine debate was not getting any clearer. The weeks turned into months, and now my baby is approaching nine months of age, and has not seen the doctor since she was four months old.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I know that her pediatrician is mainstream, and the group does not look at vaccines as a parent’s choice.  They also do not agree with homebirth. I have contracted switching to a new pediatrician, but I don’t know of any offices where I am likely to get anything but the same treatment, so I have simply avoided the whose situation.

Thankfully, my breastfed baby has never had an illness.  I have had no real reason to seek out medical care for my baby. However, I would love to have measurements to tell my family how much she has grown.

So, here is where I am with the vaccine debate.  First, I know that many pharmaceutical companies are motivated by profit; therefore, the health and well-being of my baby does not concern them. Second, I know that many pediatrician are also motivated by profit. So, while they may have concern for my child, they certainly won’t speak out against a product that keeps the patients rolling in every other month for the first year of life.  Third, the only person my child has to protect her is me, and my decision in whether or not to vaccination could have deadly consequences.

Let’s say, for a moment, that I decide against vaccination her any further. Now let’s say an outbreak of some vaccine-preventable illness happens, and while ky fascinated children don’t catch it they bring it home from school. If she caught said disease and died I aid take full responsibility.

On the other hand, let’s say I do vaccination her, and she has some terrible reaction and ends up with seizures, permanent disabilities, or dead! Again, I will take full responsibility for not choosing the correct path.

I have no doubt that vaccines have saved lives.  I have seen pictures of children in iron lungs because of polio. I am aware that the risk of vaccine reaction is said to be low. However, no one can tell me of my child will be part of that small percentage off children that will react negatively.  I gave birth vaginal.after a cesarean based on my knowledge that the risks were small. Yes, only a small percentage of women, will have complications during a vbac. But, I also knew that avoiding the unnecessary interventions made my chances of a healthy birth great! So, why can’t I just accept that the risk is small and get her damn shots?

I was thinking, since breastmilk is designed to protect infants from illness, I would simply delay her vaccines until she weans, and then we would start slowly with single dose vaccines.  I don’t know how practical that is, but I do believe that my milk will keep her well for now, and by delaying her vaccines I can allow her immune system to mature.

I am not looking for a great debate here. I am looking for insight. Why did you choose to vaccination or not? Did you feel an altered or delayed schedule was safer? Why or why not?  Please, keep this civil. I will not allow any posts that I feel are attacking other posters for his or her beliefs on this matter. All parents should have the right to decide what is best for his or her child.

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Why I breastfeed: From Unapologetic Formula Feeder to Educated Nurser and it Only Took 13 Years!

Let me start this post by explaining that while I wish I had been able to breastfeed each of my children for at least the first year, I was not always as educated about the advantages of breastfeeding. I am not blaming anyone for my decision.  Not even the nurses that tried to help me in the hospital with Queen Sas.  I honestly feel like breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, and if more women felt supported, educated, and assisted through the early stages of a nursing relationship there would be more breastfeeding mothers!

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 1 (1998)
I gave birth and planned to breastfeed my Queen Sas. I tried to get her to latch on when they gave her to me 2 hours after her birth. How kind of the hospital staff to take my new infant and scrub all of the vag germs off of her before I got to spend any real time with her. Latching wasn’t going well so a nurse tried to help me. This nurse was not educated about breastfeeding, but surely grabbing my breast in one hand and the baby’s head in the other and ramming the two together like you are squashing a pb&j will make the baby eat correctly, right? Wrong. As the hours passed the frustration for both Queen Sas and me. She was hungry and screaming. I was tired and crying. At a loss for a solution I demanded they bring me formula so I could soothe my starving infant. She ate and was content. I left the hospital the next morning with my new bundle of joy and a cart full of formula.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 2 (2001)
I started out strong with my Big Man. I was going to make sure my son got breast milk! I had even figured out how I would avoid the whole idea of any grabby nurses with cold hands ramming my boob in to the baby’s unwilling mouth. I was going to exclusively pump milk for him. I had a good pump and a plan nothing could stop me now. After a quick labor, which was a pitocin induced, scheduled induction, I was the proud mommy of a bouncing baby boy. This time was different though because I left the hospital with a breast pump, a baby, and the best of intentions. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave with any more information about feeding my baby breast milk than I had when I birthed my daughter. I quickly got a plugged duct or an infection who knows as I never knew who to ask, and stopped pumping for Big Man after only a few days. I thought you had to stop feeding the baby if you had an infection. How wrong I was!

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 3 (2003)
I gave up. I had decided that I was just not cut out for breastfeeding. Not once did I attempt to nurse my Princess. Princess was born in March. By the time she was 12 days old she was admitted to the hospital with RSV. She was losing weight due to poor feeding. She has a spinal tap and antibiotics. The next three years were filled with illness for Princess. The poor kid caught every single bug that went around. Her immune system was shot probably because of the early use of antibiotics. Now at 8 she is allergic to amoxicillin. I will always wonder if my colostrum could have protected her.

Why I did not breastfeed baby number 4 (2008)

I had a great start with Wee Man. I separated from the father of my first three children over a year before the pregnancy with Wee Man. I had a great support system at home. Big Daddy and I knew the importance of breast milk for the health of the baby. I think Princess’ early illnesses scared me straight! I was breastfeeding this kid if it killed me. Well, as it turned out after a stressful birth experience (read my birth story for more info) all it took to make me quit nursing him was hives at let down! I had never experienced hives. Wow! That is excruciating! At the time I thought I was having an allergic reaction to the hormones my body was releasing during milk ejection. I tried allergy meds but I am awful with medicine, and the kids were tired of mommy passing out on the couch in a Benadryl coma. Well, I think it was the fact that usually my boobs were hanging out and leaking all over the place because I was passing out while nursing the Wee Man. I was very sad when I decided the itching had won. Defeated and broken I gave my boy formula. I was glad that I had my tubes tied and would never have to revisit my failure to nurse a baby.

Why I breastfeed baby number 5 (2011)

I think my choice to have a homebirth had a lot to do with the success of my nursing relationship with Lady Bug.  First, when you are planning a homebirth with a midwife there is NEVER a question about how you will feed your baby.  The words; “are you planning to bottle feed or breastfeed?” were never spoken.  It is assumed that you will be breastfeeding.  Second the minute your baby is born he or she is placed on your chest!  There is no time lost with needless baths as in the hospital.  Your nursing relationship begins at the very moment of birth.

Since I LOVE lists I am going to break this down in to bulleted points that explain why I am breastfeeding my baby.

  • After 3 of my children having RSV and two of them being hospitalized with it, I wanted to give my baby’s immune system a fighting chance against respiratory infection.
  • I am broke.  Time, patience, and love I have in plentiful amounts. Money, not so much.  Breastfeeding is NOT free.  The things I mentioned before, my time and what not, are not worthless.  Breastfeeding is PRICELESS.  No one else can make the milk I am making for my baby. My budget does not have to suffer for my child te receive the perfect nutrition for her.
  • I really hate the smell of formula poop and spit up.  I also hate the stains. 
  • I am lazy!  I do not like washing and sterilizing bottles, nipples, and pacifiers.  I don’t feel like waking up in the middle of the night to mix formula or warm up my baby’s midnight snack.  I just roll over and pop a boob in her mouth and we are back in dreamland!
  • I CAN do this. 
  • I wanted to protect my daughter from questionable ingredients and potentially harmful additives.  I don’t trust what is being done to our foods these days.  My breast milk is organic and wonderful.  I guarantee there are no GMO’s in this stuff. 
  • I love myself enough to not accept my previous defeats as the end of the story.

I do wish I could have nursed all of my children.  I feel like education is the biggest ingredient I was lacking in my plan to feed them.  I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Breastfeeding my child has been the most rewarding experience of my life.  My chubby Lady Bug is a home-grown work of art.  Her skin is perfect.  Her poop doesn’t stink.  She is happy and secure.  I never have to worry about what she needs because I know that all she needs is me.  It is truly a beautiful thing!

I breastfeed because I can.  It is the right and normal thing to do.