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Vaccination Obligation

This morning Harvey had his first shots. It's been a hard thing for me, the vaccinations. On a gut level I hate doctors and mistrust their poo-pooing of the risks, so I feel like I should be fighting to keep them and their needles away from my child. But on a scientific level, I don't feel like I have justification to act like a crazy person. Maybe the vaccinations are harmful, or maybe they're lifesaving. Or maybe both. But there's no good study proving the former, even though every vaccine reaction should be reported to the CDC. Barring a major government cover-up, shouldn't we know if vaccines were harmful at a statistically significant level? Like we do for, say, giving birth in the hospital?

I have a co-worker who's vaccinating her child on an alternate schedule, and it's like a part-time job for her. When you take a stand like that, every doctors visit is a battle. You have to stand up to all sorts of manipulative techniques: power ("I'm the baby's doctor..."), intellectual ("No studies have been done that show the link between vaccines and autism"), and emotional ("You're turning your baby into a pincushion!") I couldn't do all that work based solely on anecdotal evidence.

Anecdotal evidence, after all, is not data. And I have yet to meet a mathematician who choose not to vaccinate their child. And I read Jenny McCarthy's first book, and she's not all that bright.

I would like to say that it was based on lack of convincing evidence from the hippy team that we decided to vaccinate Harvey. But really? It's because I'm a lazy parent. I'm so so tired of fighting with the medical establishment this year. My home birth cost me three grand out of pocket, and the fear of being denied care should I need something like antibiotics. I went to batt for all my home birth decisions because the stats were there to back me up. And in the end, I don't care if I need sustain a few patronizing lectures from un-scientifically trained doctors; I don't need routine care. On the other hand, Harvey has to go to the doctor every month practically. And I can't make battery a part of my regular routine. Every month another pained explanation on our non-standard reasoning... I can't handle that right now. Is that understandable? Does that make me a bad mother?

All week leading up to this visit I've been praying like I was in trouble. So much so that when he got the shot and didn't immediately fall down dead, I sort of like collapsed spiritually from all the exertion. Then he came home and got a fever, and ever since I haven't been very useful for anyone in this house. I can't figure out whether I should wake him up to bathe him, or let him sleep it off, and I'm convinced that either way his extra suffering is all my fault. Also? I feel like an terrible ass-hole for even thinking about going to my regular thursday night gym class while my child is sick, and I feel like a fat-ass for staying home. OMG, I'm going nuts. I suck at the parenthood.

comments

Leah,

I really enjoyed reading this post. I admire parents who try their best to be educated consumers and question the medical industry before subjecting their children to it. I always try a natural alternative before shoving pills down my throat, as I know that you and Dan do as well; however, when it comes to their children, even ďnaturalistsĒ donít stop for a moment to question the vaccinations before they schedule their infant to be poked and prodded.

I recently read an ethnographical account in one of my Sociology courses from a woman who chose not to give her son any vaccines. She too felt pressured from her son's doctors at every visit; the doctors seemed offended that she would question their Ďexpertí opinions, which struck a chord in her. She felt that these doctors had nerve to tell a mother what she should do with her infant sonís body. At the same time, she felt like she too had nerve for asking a doctor/hospital to stand by in the event of an emergency, but to completely back off in all other instances. (If I can find this article, Iíll send you the link or mail you a copy).

You are not a terrible mother at all for feeling like youíve Ďgiven in,í and that certainly doesnít mean that youíre a lazy parent, either. The fact that youíve written about the topic of vaccinations in such a focused manner tells a far different story, one about a devoted mother who has exhausted all of her energy to make her sonís every moment in life as comfortable and safe as possible. Baby Harvey is lucky to have such loving parents!


Another point of view on the situation is that Harvey would need these vaccinations in order to attend a public school anyway; perhaps preventing him from the possible outcome of Autism or some other terrible diagnosis might only be put-off until heís 4 and ready to start Pre-K. Should parents who donít wish to have their children vaccinated be forced to pay for a private education as well? (Would a Catholic school even accept a child who hasnít been vaccinated?)

A mother needs some personal time as well, and feeling disappointed that youíve missed your gym class is in my way a sin! You did the best thing you could do for you son and you stayed by his side. Feel proud of that decision, because that simple gesture only serves to prove that you absolutely do NOT suck at parenthood!

I can't wait to meet Harvey and see you both soon. Hang in there! You're doing an amazing job!!

XOXO
Angela

You're so sweet Angela!

It was a hard evening for me with his first fever, but I'm feeling more like a rational human now that he's better. Well, a rational exhausted human, however rational that is!

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