Breaking the mold

Here is what you will see if you are following behind my green crapovan:

It took me a long time to decide on a bumper sticker. I knew that I only wanted ONE, and I wanted it to be GOOD. So many things I believe in, so many stances to take, so many witty little thoughts to convey. For a long while, I debated this one, but was afraid that I might get gunned down or something by a bitter and hostile mama.

To be fair, I would rather the sticker said “homebirthing'” instead of “babywearing'” since I now only wear Animal when the terrain is too rough for stroller pushing. It also could say “non vaccinating”, but then people would probably avoid my van like it was the plague or something. Actually, that might be a great anti-theft device.

Last week I took Animal to a pediatrician. He had his last checkup when he was 6 months old. Because we’re not vaccinating, I wasn’t seeing much of a reason for his checkups. He’s always been the picture of health. However, since we’ve relocated, I thought that it was best to get him hooked up with a doctor here. I found out the hard way that when you actually NEED to see a doctor, it’s damn near impossible unless you’re already an established patient. I checked around with some of the La Leche league moms to get a recommendation for a doctor who wouldn’t harass me about my decision to refuse vaccinations. I had several mamas refer me to the same pediatrician. I figured that was a pretty good sign. However, when we went to see him, he asked me why I had chosen not to vaccinate. He said that since it was our first visit, he wanted to know my reasons so that he could make sure I was making an informed decision, and then he wouldn’t bring it up again. He went on to ask me about 15 questions. Things like, “Do you know how many children experiece a side effect from the DtaP vaccine?” Now, not only am I a non-confrontational sort, I don’t retain information well and I certainly don’t memorize statistics to use in debates with my doctor. Perhaps I should. I had no clue what any of the answers were, and still am really suspicious about the accuracy of his responses. He went on to tell me that I can’t listen to anecdotes, stories from parents whose children have died from vaccines. He talked about how the media blows up ONE bad case to instill fear and paranoia. He told me that I couldn’t trust anything that I read on the internet, and that if I wanted “to go looking for info against vaccines, I’d find it.” (Insinuating that I was only looking at one sided sources.) He filled up the entire tissue paper used to cover the exam table with graphs and statistics. He told me that the chance of death from a pertussis vaccine was 1 in 1 trillion, but that he had personally treated a 7 year old boy for whooping cough and the child had ended up mentally retarded. He said that for the money that had been spent to treat this one child, they could have paid to vaccinate every child in the state of California. It just went on and on and on. It was terrible. Truly terrible. I knew that arguing or even asking questions would make the visit even longer, and the last thing I wanted to do was continue to trap myself in this stuffy exam room with Dr. Save The Country From My Unvaccinated Child.

I’ve been replaying the entire situation in my mind for days. I spent close to a year researching this issue. I pored over some of the most mind numbing medical literature out there. It was nothing but sheer torture. There was a time when I was confident. But now, I’m just tired of fighting. I know that rationally, I cannot dwell on the horror stories. And yet I cannot stop thinking about the healthy 7 year old whose life was completely ruined by a disease that could have possibly been prevented by a vaccine. I’ve talked with B about it. He’s never been very supportive of my choice, but has been draggged along with it. We’re considering shelling out the money to see the naturopath, and possibly creating a delayed vaccination schedule.

Today, I went on my favorite discussion boards to get some support and encouragement from the natural moms. I explained the above situation, the pediatrician, my fears, etc. The replies came pouring in, and every single one felt judgmental. “I can’t believe you would give in to vaccination just to get a pediatrician off your back. What are you AFRAID of?”

I also posted another topic about leaving Animal for a week while I go to Florida. I wanted to see if anyone had any experience with leaving a nursing toddler for an extended period of time. Again, the responses were negative. “I would never leave my nursing child–our breastfeeding relationship means more to me than that.”

The comments just made me so flippin’ angry. I feel that I am labeled no matter what. I had a homebirth. I breastfeed. I am breastfeeding a toddler. I cloth diaper. I wear my baby. I practice gentle discipline and attachment parenting. At times, I co-sleep. I am training to become a doula. I don’t vaccinate. I strive to eat organic. It feels like I’m being pushed into a mold, and if I decide against something that doesn’t perfectly fit the mold, I get cast out from the group and discarded. I no longer fit into the elitist, yuppie, neo-hippie revolution. It makes me want to go all teenage-rebellious, rip that sticker off my car, buy a pack of Huggies and enjoy a little Walmart spending spree.

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4 Responses to “Breaking the mold”


  1. 1 O December 19, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Hey,

    My aunt has convinced us not to vaccinate, she’s positive that her son, my cousin is autistic because of the 18th month shot. POSITIVE. Karl and I are researching it, and we’re probably not going to vaccinate until ‘TyRay’ is about 4. I will probably use store bought diapers from time to time and I’ll probably pop into Walmart, gasp, but that doesn’t make me awful or less of a hippy-granola mom. It makes of conscience of ourselves and normal. NORMAL. Do whatโ€™s right for you.

    Power to the M.

    O

  2. 2 ladyareto December 20, 2006 at 6:18 am

    Hmmm. Well, being yr fellow teenage fucken rebellion girlfriend, I feel I have to put my two cents in and say that just like we knew in high school;) our opinion is the most important one, and no matter where you go, what revolution you spout or what new-age hippie granola culture you join, the laws of human relationships still apply. And the fact is, human beings can be judgemental, cliquey, holier-than-thou, and downright fucken annoying. So, that being said, we love people, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But maybe ask around w/ naturopaths and such about vaccination stuff. I don’t know that much about it, but I’ve got a great naturopath instructor, and she didn’t vaccinate her kids. She’s told stories about feeling the same way. Anyway, good luck, and hope everyone feels better soon!

  3. 3 Jewel December 20, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    I feel bad for you. It is hard because we want to make the right choice. But either way something could go wrong. I mean this is a chance that we take and a choice that is ours. I think that you and Animal have such a bond that there is no reason you would not be able to leave him for a week. You dont need to impress and one that is not a true friend. You can tell that there are those couple of people that will support you when you make a choice, those are the people that you need to worry about. We love you and your kids no matter what. You can vaccinate or not and I will still love animal.

  4. 4 thordora December 20, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    But are you a dirt eating tree hugging druid? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think we both know where I stand on vaccination-I’m very leery of people not doing it because I’m not a fan of things like polio or whooping cough or measles becoming killers again. Mine have their shots because I believe it’s irresponsible to chance those diseases, both for my kids and other kids. I’m scared of those diseases, because they ARE scarier.

    Doing all the other things you do will likely go farther to prevent things like autism than not vaccinating, but I believe that environmental factors are more to blame for increased incidence of certain disorders, as well as better reporting and a broader diagnostic spectrum.

    I don’t agree, but I don’t hate you. ๐Ÿ™‚ At the end of the day, we all have to make these decsions, and hope we’re making the right one. And one of us might be wrong, or it might not make a difference. It’s a crapshoot sometimes, and that’s the part I hate the most.

    We all find a box to sit in somewhere. You need to make it comfortable though.


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