Sunday, March 13, 2011

Facebook, Mom Fights, and Vaccines

For Lent, I decided to both give up and add things to my life. The giving up part, I thought, was going to be the hardest. It turns out adding things and making yourself do something extra takes a lot of motivation and discipline that suddenly I'm aware I don't have. Humbling, for sure. The giving up - well, it's turning out to be pretty easy. Here's what it is: I'm ridiculously addicted to facebook. I spend way too much time just poking around (not really poking...I only do that with my one friend), looking at people's stuff, waiting for someone to say something interesting. But there is no excuse to spend so much time on it...

So for Lent, I decided to give myself a limit: only go on facebook once a day. You might laugh, "I have friends who gave it up completely." Good for them. Now shut up. lol. Ash Wednesday was hard...I automatically clicked our bookmark several times that day without thinking. Oops! But then, even the next day, it wasn't a big deal. Maybe a lot of my friends gave up fb for Lent because it suddenly got very boring to me. 

I'm the kind of person that breaks their "fast" on the Sundays in Lent, so today my husband played his PS3 a lot, and I caught up on fb, visiting my favorite pages and reading some discussions I simply didn't have time for during the week. And that's when I encountered my first "Mommy War". My friend, Heather, wrote about this in her blog a little while ago, and I happily thought to myself, But I've never seen a mommy war. Well, ladies and gentlemen, let me give you an idea of one.

It started on a page meant for breastfeeding support (a great page, mind you) when a woman made a comment about vaccines. Ooh yes. And as you can imagine, the flood gates were opened. Parents commented back and forth forever about their decisions to vax or not-vax, and to be honest, I couldn't even read them all - there were so many. People got so passionate about the topic! There were links thrown back and forth with research and evidence backing up their decisions. There were rude comments, disrespectful name-calling, and sarcastic laughing at the points people were trying to make. The same people who were "bashing" others were the ones throwing up their hands complaining of being the ones "victimized." A few thoughts came to me as I was reading...

The first was: don't you have kids to take care of?

The second was: no, seriously, don't you have kids to take care of? Get off the freaking computer. Both sides of the argument were using examples of their 3, 4, 5 or more kids who were/weren't vaccinated and were perfectly healthy as examples of why everyone else should do what they did. If you have that many kids, or even if you only have 1, seriously, stop fighting with people you don't even know, with people whose minds you will never change, and go read your angel(s) a book. (For the record, my daughter is in bed, the house is tidy, dishes are washed, laundry is a-okay, dinner is in the crockpot...there. I think all my bases are covered. Phew. ::wipes brow::)

The third thought was: wow, these parents are extremely passionate - and it's because they love their kids (even if they're ignoring them at the moment... hehe). Which led me to some observations of both sides...and these are what I'd like to jot down. I know everyone will have different reasons, but here's just what I've seen recently. 

For the record - parents who decide to vaccinate or not vaccinate are not evil, crazy, or stupid. But they do it for very different reasons.

When I tell people I don't vaccinate, different people all say the same things, But aren't you afraid your child will catch something deadly? We can't fight off every illness that comes around. People die from these diseases. I don't want to take that risk with my child. I don't know anyone who had a bad reaction. Diseases were eliminated because of vaccines.

Their main reason for vaccinating is the diseases. Disease prevention. The fear of a disease. They want to do everything in their parenting power to protect their children from these diseases. They love their children. They trust their doctors. That's who they take their kids who when they're sick. The doctor makes them better. Modern medicine is advanced and useful. They are doing this because it is the best decision.

When I first gave birth, I was clueless about vaccines. I was worried and scared about making a wrong decision. The first thing I read was, The Vaccine Book, by Dr. Sears. I had heard rave reviews about it, but honestly I was disappointed in it. His main emphasis was on the diseases - and coming from a doctor, I'm not surprised or upset. He spent very little time on anything else. That's what led me to dig deeper into the learning the actual vaccine - the actual substance that would be injected into my child.

And that's when I was able to make up my mind. I can't speak for everyone, but I know a lot of us base our decisions around this topic. It's not that we think our kids are powerful and immune to all illnesses - or that we think the diseases are not a big deal. But we also know that it's counter-productive to try to prevent one disease by possibly (and I do mean possibly) causing another. What I mean by this is that there are carcinogenic and brain damaging ingredients in every single shot. Diseases are real, and they are scary. But in my opinion, vaccines are scary too! There are alternatives to the vaccines...shots are not the "be all, end all". We know people who have had very negative reactions and side-effects, and some of them have advised us to take a different approach. 

So I'd like to say a few things to the people who vaccinate:

First of all, I honestly respect your decision. The same reasons you do, are the same reasons I'm scared not to. I'm scared that my kid will get Polio someday (a rare chance as it looks right now, but still a possibility as it does exist in the world). I'm scared that my child will come down with one of the strains of meningitis that could have been prevented in the vaccine. I'm scared that my child will get sick from anything that a vaccine could have prevented. 

At the same time, I'd like you to respect my decision. I have made it with only the best interest of my child in mind. As her mother and father, it is our first responsibility to protect her. And from what we've read, watched, compared, and evaluated, this is the best decision right now. 

If it turns out that down the road, we discover differently, our kids will receive all their shots. Until then, please be open-minded about what we've chosen. And don't worry - don't be afraid that my un-vaccinated child is putting yours at risk. If yours received the shots that you want mine to get, then you already know they are effective, and that your child is safe.  


To parents who don't vaccinate:

Stop with the arrogant statements that you've done more research, are more educated, and that your kids are healthier. Seriously. Just stop. You might think (and don't we all?) that your kid is cuter, smarter, and healthier, but telling people that only makes them dislike you - not respect you. And besides, my child is the most advanced of the bunch...y'all got nothing on us!

The Exceptional Parent


Kiera said...

I seriously just wrote a way too long post then it got deleted. in a nutshell, great post, facebook fighters are embarrassing and of course, EP, your child is the most advanced.

LittleYogini said...

Because I'm so close to giving birth I've been reading some of these "discussions" on FB and I'm appalled!

As far as the vaccination stuff--this is a subject I've been avoiding because it's such a hard decision! Seriously, we have to decide between injecting our kids with toxic stuff or take the risk they'll contract a disease? Not an easy decision for anyone--and I agree, whatever is decided should be respected.

Mountain Mama said...

Great post! Made me laugh and think too. Now I better go stop ignoring my child! LOL ;)