Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Just Want My Kids to Be Safe

Intriguing comments on Facebook and in person inspire me to continue this lively conversation about vaccinations.

When I think others in society are jeopardizing my safety, I tend to react passionately. Have you noticed this too? Living in society feels vulnerable, and I instinctively fear what my neighbor might do to my family.

I grab hold of a promise of safety.

It doesn't take a conspiring government for society to stomp on any suspicion that vaccines might not work. Why? Because it has to do with keeping my kids safe. It's understandable, but oddly this approach (of squelching suspicion) wears a scientist's lab coat.

One can make a rational argument for vaccine effectiveness to some extent (perhaps immunity for a few years or for certain strains of a disease). But then what happens? Rational argument turns to hysteria - "Vaccinate all children or we face epidemics."

It feels like one of Grug's stories from the Croods: "And died!" I feel like Guy: "Whoa! Twist ending. I did not see that coming!"

One rational argument I heard this week was from the public health site, "Formaldehyde is produced at higher rates by our own metabolic systems." If true, that's a helpful point. (Can someone give me a non-government source on this?) Then on the same page: "But if too many people don’t vaccinate themselves or their children, they contribute to a collective danger, opening up opportunities for viruses and bacteria to establish themselves and spread." Ahem. Do you hear the hysteria?

Careful research is lumped together with sweeping assumptions in a finale conclusion that vaccines are perfectly safe and effective. Open and shut case. Anyone who still has her hand raised should shut up and get those kids to the doctor.

I suspect that this so quickly becomes a passionate lecture as vaccines touch on that hot button of safety.

Hysteria can be a two way street. I emphasis the frenzy of the 100% safe and effective view because of what it guarantees. Safety. My kids won't ever get this nasty disease. And then the suspicious perspective promises the age-old human struggle with disease.

Understandably, "100% safe and effective" is much more popular. I think we want so badly for it to be true that we dismiss facts that cast suspicion on our feeling of security (example: artificial immunity wears off after maybe five years and adults aren't getting booster shots).

I'm curious. Like me, do you get excited by this discussion? It's hard to keep my thinking cap on coming from any perspective - I just want to know my kids are safe. And that's good. I'm a mom after all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Vaccinations: Did You Know?

Five years of books and footnoted articles, of vaccinating and not vaccinating have taught me one thing for sure: Vaccines are complex.

When I say "vaccine," am I talking about the shot's effectiveness. Or am I referring to the toxicity of the vaccine's components. Maybe I'm thinking of how it interacts with the immune system.

Complex? Extremely.

Did you know that a major sanitation reform movement swept Europe and America during the late 1800s and early 1900s? Vaccinations against whooping cough, diphtheria, measles, and polio arrived as each epidemic faded. Even the eradication of smallpox isn't clearly thanks to the World Health Organization. Did you know the disease increased with the advent of mandatory vaccination?

When I see a study, I recognize that it was done by people with assumptions, even biases. So I ask who did the study, what was its goal. I keep in mind that correlation is not causation. Even if someone can produce a study where the disease declined with the vaccine, have other factors such as sanitation been taken into account?

Additionally, it's not scientific to ignore anecdotal evidence. How is it helpful to dismiss a mom's report that one day her baby was fine and then the day after vaccines, the baby was not fine? Is it possible that all little bodies don't respond exactly the same to the recommended dosage? Why aren't we asking questions like this? What are we most afraid of?

Did you know that vaccines are composed with mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde? Wouldn't it be fair to parents if the nurse said, "With your consent, I will be injecting your newborn with mercury, but I think the benefit is worth it"? Instead what do parents hear, if anything? "There is no risk. Your baby might be a little fussy and have a slight fever."

So when I discover that I have put harsh toxins in my baby, my question is, why didn't the nurse or doctor tell me? The Informed Consent Doctrine requires practitioners to explain benefits and risks before administering anything. I understand putting something toxic into my child when I weigh that its help is worth the cost. What I don't appreciate is not being told what I'm risking for my child.

Did you know that vaccines alter the immune system? The immune system includes antibodies and white blood cells. Often what we refer to as "sickness" such as a fever is the body's healthy response to the real bad guys. The way vaccines mess with the system has implications, such as leaving "garbage" in the body that a natural response cleans out. Another implication is that the white blood cell arm of the system is not exercised, leaving children weak in facing future illness. Would it make sense then that a kiddo who gets the shot for pneumonia is more likely to have asthma?

Did you know that vaccine "herd immunity" is mostly myth? The finger of blame for outbreaks that occur including in children who have been fully vaccinated is pointed at unvaccinated children as causing these outbreaks. But think about it, we have all lived for at least thirty years with 50 percent or less of the population having vaccine protection because the immunity only lasts five to ten years (that's the medical community guessing). Natural immunity typically lasts a lifetime.

Does it begin to make sense why parents are hesitant to agree to something highly toxic that cripples the immune system for the possible benefit of five to ten years of immunity? Maybe vaccinations give us a feeling of safety. But maybe life is not that easy. There is no risk-free option here.

I am grateful for our family doctor who respects our responsibility as parents to care for our boys, even as he believes firmly in the effectiveness of vaccines without risk.

Let's not rely on simplistic accusations and assumptions. These tend to be fear-based, rather than researched-based. I champion mamas making thoughtful decisions for the well-being of their babies.

More info: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, MD. The Weston A. Price Foundation has researched information about vaccinations

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fear and My Natural Birth (Teresa's Story)

I believe Fear is a companion at every birth. The question perhaps is how will I answer her? I could try to ignore the rising panic or maybe be overwhelmed (done both!). But Fear is sure to show up. Even the helpful Birth Without Fear site is really about making choices in the midst of anxious thoughts. Teresa found that Fear caged her even after their baby girl nestled in her arms.

Early one chilly January morning I woke up pretty sure that I had the stomach flu. I texted my doula just in case this was labor and let my husband (who was still suffering from the flu) sleep. After about an hour I realized this wasn’t the flu, I was in labor. And even though I was twelve days over my technical due date I was still surprised at how fast things were going. I had planned for and prepared myself as best I could for a natural, un-medicated labor, but after an hour and a half I wanted relief in any form and despite our doctor telling us to wait, we headed to the hospital.

After a 10 minute drive in which I found myself frustrated by my husband obeying normal traffic laws, we arrived in triage to a nurse who very routinely asked why we were there. At this point I thought that was obvious, but a confirmation that I was fully dilated brought this whirlwind of a morning into a delivery room. And just like that, two hours after arriving at the hospital and only four and a half hours after I realized I was in active labor, our little girl was here.

On paper the birth of my daughter looked perfect, natural, un-medicated. Everyone I told marveled at how fast and seemingly easy it was. But I knew the real story. Later that night as I tried to get some sleep I found myself kept awake, shivering in a cold sweat, reliving that traumatic morning. Weren’t the feelings of unease surrounding childbirth supposed to disappear as quickly as my previously enormous belly? Why could I not shake the feeling I had earlier of being a caged animal, frantic to escape the pain and path before me?

I began to realize that the unease, stress, even trauma of birth does lessen and eventually dissipate. But as with my previously full baby belly, it takes time.

As I learn to put order to the fear that surrounded me I am reminded, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

I thank God for His care over me and my daughter. I thank God for His provision of a loving husband without whose hand holding mine I would have been lost. I thank God for His protection through my wonderful doula who wrapped me in her loving arms. I thank God for His skill through the hands of my doctors who gently encouraged, guided, and gave peace to me as my daughter was born. I thank God for his mercy in bringing my daughter through the waters of birth into this life and through the waters of baptism into the next.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Dancing Baby (seven months pregnant)

Wow. I feel you growing. There is a pull on my body for those nutrients you need.

I also feel you moving. Lots. I get to lay on my side in the dark and feel you dance.

Your brain is growing rapidly, head expanding to make room for lots of smartness - and with plumping arms and legs, you're about two and half pounds and fifteen inches.

And the One who touched the blind touches your eyes with color and movement.

You're developing into quite a wonderful little personality. And apparently, you like to dance.

More info: Learn about Baby's Growth and Mom's Changes

Monday, May 9, 2016

Grateful for Modern Medicine

Snowflakes amaze me. Each one beautifully unique. Flakes alighting with whisper on everything dressed in silent white. Adrienne welcomed her sweet snowflake on such a night.

My birth story is a little different than the others on this blog, but I wanted to share mine.  I knew as early as my teen years that I would use an epidural for childbirth. You see, I have a tendency to be over dramatic.  Since the option was available to me, I knew that this choice would lead to the most peaceful labor experience for me and my husband.

However, I also am very in tune with my body.  For any labor and delivery experience, it is more important to understand what your body is telling you regardless of what kind of birthing experience you have.  There could not be a better example of this than my 2nd delivery February 2014.

When I was in my 37th week, I had a headache for a solid week.  On the 7th day of this headache, I felt myself start to wilt for lack of a better word.  That evening, I was having trouble understanding what my 4 year old was saying and constructing a response back, so I swallowed my pride and called the hospital.  I felt ridiculous on the one hand for calling due to a simple headache, but something did not feel right.  The baby felt great but my body did not.

There was a snow storm due to arrive in the middle of the night so the hospital said come on over and let’s check you out.  I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 pm and went straight to the triage area.  I made sure to laugh and tell every nurse and doctor I saw "I know I know I'm here for a headache..."  Sure enough the urine sample came back positive for protein and they told me I had pre-eclampsia, "sneaky pre-eclampsia" at that since my ONLY symptom was a headache.

I was induced around midnight, got the epidural around 5 am, and we watched the snow come down out my window.  Around 1:45 pm I felt pressure down there and knew my body was telling me "get ready it's almost time to push!"  There were FOUR babies delivered at this hospital from 2 pm - 2:20 pm and we were the 4th.  I kept calling my sweet nurse saying "I want to push I'm ready!" When they arrived to our room and checked me they exclaimed "wow you are ready to push! let's do this!" I pushed twice and he was born!  And I'm so tickled because even with the epidural I was able to feel how hard or little I needed to push and I did not tear.  It also helped that I was 37 weeks and our son was only 6 pounds!

Because of the pre-eclampsia, I had to stay in my delivery room for about 24 hours after delivery while I was on magnesium.  In some ways, I am a little jealous of those who have babies at birthing centers or at home, but I am so grateful for modern medicine as I don’t think I would be here to share my story without it.