i’m surprisingly opinionated about vaccines

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some friends added me to a few different facebook communities for crunchy hippie attachment-style parents in lawrence. i do a lot of crunchy mama/AP-ish stuff, like cloth diapering, feeding breast milk exclusively, babywearing, etc. but a big difference between me & a lot of these parents is that 1) i don’t think food has some kind of magical, mystical properties that will either make you die tomorrow or live forever, depending on what you eat, & 2), i vaccinate.

before i had a kid, i was pretty neutral on the vaccination issue. i didn’t really have an opinion. i thought of it as a “live & let live” kind of deal & didn’t really understand why people would get so hot under the collar when they disagreed about it. i figured that i would probably vaccinate my own child when i had one, & i definitely thought that people who believed that vaccinations cause autism were just blibbering idiots but other than that…whatever. i didn’t really think that people who chose not to vaccinate were necessarily hurting anybody.

i have since changed my mind. maybe it was having a baby in the NICU that did it for me. especially having a baby in the NICU during cold & flu season. i would get so angry hearing people say things like, “oh, i don’t need a whooping cough vaccine. no one gets whooping cough anymore.” yes, people do get whooping cough! i got it myself in 2006. i was a reasonably healthy adult with no outstanding respiratory problems, & i was sick for FOUR MONTHS. like, sick in bed with a fever for four months. sick enough that i would cry & just hope to die in my sleep. but there are assholes out there who don’t think whooping cough is that big a deal, or they don’t think people get it, so they don’t get vaccinated & they don’t vaccinate their kids. & then people who CAN’T be vaccinated, because they are too young or they have compromised immune systems–people who are particularly at risk for contagious diseases–are exposed. all because some dumbass parent out bought into all the anti-vaccine hysteria.

i wish there was a way to bond with parents over the hippie stuff i do without ever having to discuss vaccinations. i don’t even want to hear that old canard about how “the recommended vaccine schedule is so hard on their little bodies”. you know what? they’ll get over it. the recommended schedule isn’t nearly as hard on their bodies as, say, POLIO would be. it’s especially obnoxious to hear these privileged western parents talking about this stuff in between feeding their babies homemade strained pears or whatever, knowing that there are parents in pakistan that are walking miles through al quaeda-controlled war zones trying to get their kids vaccinated. i guess they’re too busy trying to avoid drone strikes to catch the latest jenny mccarthy-approved austism rumors, huh?

i keep hearing people say things like, “of course there’s pressure to vaccinate your children. just follow the money.” like it’s all some big conspiracy by “big pharma” to get kids vaccinated against tetanus or whatever. like it somehow makes better economic sense to have to treat kids for preventable childhood diseases, some of which can be deadly or permanently disabling? it seriously reminds me of people who think the aurora movie theater shooting were a hoax staged by the government to create a reason to scrap the second amendment. i even read recently about people being angry about a proposed law that would require day care workers to be immunized. listen, my baby isn’t in day care, but if she was, HELL YES, i would want the people taking care of her to be immunized! jesus christ on a cracker!

jared & i were talking about it this morning & i joked that i’d never be able to have a play date because i would show up with a big BPA-laden bowl full of polio vaccines & gluten & i would be shunned forever. being a parent is so weird sometimes.

this reminds me of how there’s this local conference coming up, all about crunchypants hippie parenting. it’s a one-day conference…& it costs $45 to attend. what the hell! that’s a lot of money! plus, while “infants in arms” are welcome, there conference will not be providing any child care. people with older kids will have to secure their own babysitters…in order to attend a crunchy parenting conference. how does that make sense? i hate to be all “when i used to organize the boston skillshare” again, but…seriously. when i used to organize the boston skillshare, it was free & we offered child care. it was free because we did everything we could to solicit donations for workshop supplies, food, space, etc. & we offered child care through volunteers & by letting parents know whick workshops would be okay–or even welcoming–to kids. it’s simply not that difficult!

i miss the skillshare. i also miss running a zine distro. i miss the east coast, living in a big city, having the energy & time for projects, & having friends that i could hash this stuff out with so i don’t have to complain to my boyfriend or my blog. i miss not being so bitter.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Melissa says:

    Amen to all of this. I find it hard to not be bitter x10 now that I’m a parent, now it’s not enough that I have to be bitter about things that relate to me but I also have to be bitter about stuff that relates to my kid & have all the bitterness he can’t take on himself because he’s too young to be bitter! Which gets kind of self-defeatist for me. It’s tiring. Since G is three, I’m thankfully past most of the real action on the vaccination debate (we did all of them, all on schedule); my big thing is why no one would rather spend their energy on stuff like mandatory maternity & paternity leave. Things that could maybe really help parents in this country rather than skipping your kid’s DTaP at 6 months, which might actually cause harm somewhere down the line.

    In other news, Ramona is still adorable.

    1. ciara says:

      that’s an excellent point–that it seems like a weird waste of energy to argue about vaccines instead of something that could make a lot more of a material difference in people’s lives.

      ramona is pretty damn cute! too bad she has now been inoculated with deadly vaccines. we had a good run.

  2. kathrynnolfi says:

    I was so thrilled to get Natasha’s 2-month shots! I felt such relief. Of course she started nonstop screaming a couple hours later frim an oddly concurrent ear drum rupture.

    The staff at the NICU took her health very seriously but people I know didn’t and were offended that a 1-month old couldn’t yet be around their small children. They said, well maybe we shouldn’t be around your baby either because we were around our kids… Um, that’s not how it works.

    Soooo many people, non crunchy people, are anti-vaccine or they do a delayed schedule. It’s all anti-science bullshit like climate change deniers.
    And the waivers at public schools are up too so our kids will have to go to school with non vaccinated kids. Why can’t they just homeschool them as the stereotype dictates!

    1. ciara says:

      we had some friends visit when ramona was about a month old, & they were like, “oooh, can we hold the baby?” we asked if they’d been vaccinated against whooping cough & they were like, “um…no? no one gets whooping cough anymore.” perhaps needless to say, they did not hold the baby.

      i like your passion on this issue! i would have been too concerned about being incendiary (i know, so unlike me) to liken non-vaccinaters to climate change deniers, but i’m glad someone said it!

  3. Hope says:

    Our doctor asked about vaccinations, and I said “all of them, right on schedule.” She let out an audible sigh of relief. When you think about the millions (billions?) of dollars that all these foundations are spending to try and eradicate polio completely (less than 300 new cases last year!) and all of these stupid parents can’t bring their kids in for a few a shots?

    My sister-in-law is a pediatrician and she said that her office actually *lost* money on vaccinations. They broke even on the shots themselves, but they still needed to pay to have someone administer them. They do them because the kids need them. It was just part of doing business. I don’t think anyone makes big bucks on vaccinations.

    1. ciara says:

      maybe they mean follow the money back to the pharmaceutical companies? i don’t know. it doesn’t make any sense. it’s all crackpot ramblings as far as i’m concerned. i don’t always see eye-to-eye with a lot of the ladies in my due date club, but none of them is obnoxiously & vocally anti-vaccine, which is a big relief.

  4. Mandy says:

    First… Kudos to you for having yourself a little vacation! 10 years of friendship is something to celebrate!
    Second… Thanks for putting the vaccine thing out there. Makes me crazy the number of people who jam their anti-vaccine beliefs down other peoples throats. Maybe autism is on the rise. Maybe it is caused by vaccines (I doubt it but maybe it is, who knows). But you know whats on the decline, childhood deaths caused by preventable illnesses. Everyone would be up in arms if big pharmaceutical companies pulled their vaccines and children started dying of illnesses that “no one gets any more”. I was in a debate a little while ago when someone on my facebook posted a picture that talked about all the vaccines children are supposed to have before 6 and the list was so effing ridiculous with a list of like 50 vaccines that children are supposed to have before age 6. So during our debate about it a friend of hers posted that one of her best friends declined getting her child the meningitis vaccine, he contracted it and is now permanently disabled and will never speak/walk again as a result. I couldn’t imagine what that would feel like. I know as a parent you have to make a million and one decisions and there will be decisions you wish you could have a do-over on, but when it comes to their health why risk it??

    1. ciara says:

      i occupy this weird zone, where i am way crunchier & weirder than a lot of parents (cloth diapering, baby-wearing, not dressing ramona in gender-specific clothing, not letting her watch TV, not planning to enroll her in a bunch of classes, etc etc), but i am rather “traditional” about certain things, like vaccines. i don’t even like the alternative vaccination schedule because it muddies up the information stream that epidemiologists rely upon. but the anti-vax crowd can be truly bananas. i luckily have not yet had any major arguments with anyone about it, but i’m sure it will happen eventually. not looking forward to that.

  5. Late comment is late (from a lurker that rarely comments) but good on you for being opinionated about vaccines. It’s a life and death issue that makes complete sense to feel opinionated about. And good on you for caring enough about your baby’s health (and other people’s babies’ health!) by getting her vaccinated. Anti-vaxxers make me nuuuts. Also, I never thought I’d be reading a blog abut being a mom, but I was reading your blog already and then you got pregnant and had a baby and it’s neat reading about the experience from someone around my age that talks about it and thinks about it in ways that are familiar to me… I’m never having kids, but reading your thoughts and feelings on it … it’s really neat. Also, Ramona i s adorable.

    1. ciara says:

      thanks! i too think ramona is pretty cute. usually. maybe not when she’s screaming. it’s always a big compliment to hear that someone who doesn’t have or, perhaps more to the point, doesn’t want kids is still interested in my writing about having one.

      i am so relieved that i haven’t gotten any push-back from anti-vaxxers (yet). kind of shocking, because i totally thought i was part of a pretty intense anti-vax cohort…i know i have friends who vaccinate on an alternative schedule or say they won’t vaccinate their eventual children at all. (we’ll see if they change their tune when the time comes.) maybe they just don’t want to argue about it?

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