Monday, March 29, 2010

Vaccination Rumination

Two posts. That's all I've managed this month.

Before this baby came and completely altered my universe, if you'd told me about someone who had a baby and was home on maternity leave and couldn't find ten minutes to sit down and blog about it, I'd have taken pity on her. Poor girl, I'd have said. So disorganized and overwhelmed. It can't be that hard.

I don't know what I expected, exactly, but the reality of new parenthood in my experience so far is that it is both better and harder than I ever could have imagined. When you're pregnant and friends, family and strangers tell you your life will change (and you feel condescended to), there is no way that you can know how right they are, and how wide-ranging their accuracy will be. Because this motherhood thing? Consumes you. When you're not running to get organized to feed your baby and worrying that you're scarring him for life by taking too long while he screams, you're reading up on the great vaccine debate and wondering what to do about your baby's upcoming shots.

Which leads me to today's topic, ladies and, well, ladies (do any men read this other than my husband?). Because you know how I love something to hang-wring over. And the topic of vaccinations is absolutely ripe for it.

Intellectually, I understand that I should probably just go in with the baby on Friday and let the doctor and nurses do what they normally do. I've talked to friends whose opinions I value and read the mainstream literature on it, and all are reassuring. But are concerns over someone you love deeply ever intellectual? The fear out there is palpable and not so easily ignored. I'm afraid of making a bad decision for my son that could affect him for the rest of his life. It feels like an awesome responsibility to get this right – so yes, I will be obsessing about it until the appointment comes and goes.

I've skimmed through Dr. Sears' book and looked at his alternative schedule. And our pediatrician is willing to follow that schedule for us, though he clearly doesn't have a whole lot of respect for or faith in it. He says there's no evidence that it has any benefit – and, in fact, since no studies have been conducted on it, we don't know if it could even be harmful somehow to spread them out. But he'll do it for us if we would feel more comfortable.

I don't want to be a fanatic and I don't want to inadvertently cause harm to my baby because my anxiety makes me choose something contrary to the mainstream. But the voices against that mainstream are loud ones. And the alternative schedule seems unlikely to actually cause harm, though I recognize it may not prevent it, either.

So, fellow moms – both veteran and new – and soon-to-be moms: What is your point of view on this issue? What did you do (or will you do) for your kids? Please, play nice in the comment box. This is a controversial issue but I'm not looking for a debate for its own sake – I'm looking for genuine input.

Got to go for now – my little universe alterer is calling.


Amanda said...

I'm there with you and have been trying to etch out some time to research it also. I truly believe that widespread vaccination is essential to provide the herd immunity necessary to keep those that can't be vaccinated and poor responders safe. But I have heard about this alternative schedule and think it's probably harmless and maybe helpful, and I'm worried about the pain already, so we will probably ask for it too (appt is friday).

Amanda said...

Oh, that tub is called a wash pod ( You can get the water level much higher, so it's nice for him cause he's warmer. And it's supposed to be more "womb like". But it's very hard to get into some of the nooks and crannies, but he spends more time in the tub so the contact time with water is good and we clean most of those nooks and crannies pretty well at every diaper change, so I don't worry about it that much. Putting him in the tub is a 2 person task b/c someone has to put him in and the other person makes sure his head doesn't flop forward and bump the tub. And it's only rated to 0-6 months, and he's so big I think he'll outgrow it in another month or so, so that's a problem too. But I do like the tub and he enjoys it a lot.

anofferingoflove said...

this is such a hard decision. we went back and forth on it forever (my partner read the whole dr. sears book too). after talking it over with our pediatrician, we went with the recommended schedule for a couple of reasons. first, there didnt seem to be any concrete evidence that spreading them out helps & the amount of vaccine they recieve (even when grouped together) is tiny compared to what it was when we were kids. second, there are already *so* many appointments the first year, adding additional ones just seemed like a lot.

in the end, i dont know if we made the right choice or not. last week when my babe was fussy and feverish after her 4 month shots, i went into a bit of a panic/tailspin worrying about it. so...i dont know. i think you just have to do what feels right to you -- or what you can live with -- and hope/pray all goes well.

good luck in making your decision.

and i totally hear you on the lack of blogging time! :D

missing_one said...

Well, I think that the debate was more intense when my first son was born 5 years ago. Now the research is out and the fact is that many more parents are choosing NOT to vaccinate at all and Autism is STILL on the rise, so to me, that confirms that vaccines do not cause autism.
However, being a good biologist and knowing about the immune system, it makes sense to me to space them out more. Why risk overwhelming the system anyways? So with my first son, we did no more than 2 vaccines at a time and we didn't do any of the Hep B or A because we are saving those for when he is older since his risk of getting them is low right now since he is not having sex.
We had a doctor that was 'old school' and spaced them out anyways (so it's not a new thing) he also did not do 'unneccessary vaccines'- meaning the ones kids don't die from or get from sex.
Our new doctor also likes to space them out a little. So we went in for the DTaP at 2 month and then will get another one in a couple of weeks. She doesn't like the overwhelm the immune system. She likes to do them (pro vac) but likes to space them out, so it's a good fit for me.
I say, do what you are comfortable with. Do you research (there is tons on the web) and come to a conclusion that you feel right about.
*hugs* I think the decisions we make as a mother for our little life are so hard, even when some consider them small decisions.

missing_one said...

Okay, I just looked up what we did with my 1st and it seems that's what we're doing this time around. It's the conservative approach (the one that has been around since the 80s) w/o the unneccessary ones
2 months: HIB/DTaP
3 months Polio/PCV7
4 months HIB/DTaP
12 months MMR
and I'll have to look the others up as apparently I stopped putting them in the baby book :(
Infants don't die of Rotavirus or chicken pox and they aren't having sex/blood transfer for Hep B and HPV anyways that's what we did
The non essential ones you can always do later. I'm going to the my older one in for chicken pox soon

Catherine said...

Whatever you decide to do, I believe he'll be getting at least some shots, so please know in my experience the actual shots are worse for the mom than the baby. K cried when the shot went in but stopped very soon after it was done (thanks to the pacifyer and hugs from me probably) and she was chipper and fine when we left the pedi. She did have low grade fever by late afternoon after the first shots but one dose of Tylenol took care of it. After the 2nd round of shots we had to give 2 doses of Tylenol for low grade fever, but that was it. Whatever you decide I think he'll be just fine, and a few months from now I bet you won't even remember all the rumination!

Heather said...

I do strongly believe in vaccination, but I did worry with the boys we have now, and not when we had our girl 9 years ago. It wasn't a big concern back then, but then the questions of autism with boys is stronger than with girls, so I did question. But I did finally decide to go with the regular schedule as well as RSV shots (since they were premie) and H1N1 and seasonal flu, so they've had lots of shots and so far so good.

Whatever decision you make will be good for your family.

Anonymous said...

Egg- I don't know if your concerns are autism-related, but they have had to retract the "studies" that claimed to find a link. Both my sister and my good friend are biologists, and both are FERVENT advocates of vaccination. Herd immunity is the way to go.

I can't comment on the schedule, but I'd be inclined to trust your doctor.


Queenie. . . said...

I've been obsessing over this, too. Ultimately, I walked into the 2 month appointment unsure of what to do, and talked to my dr. about some of my own medical history (which included an unexplained seizure as a child). My ped ended up recommending we split the schedule, so we did HIB and rotovirus and one other this month (it's late/early and my brain is mush), and will do DTap and polio in a month. We're going to see how she does (these ones went fine-no fever or any noticeable side effects), and reassess at 4 months whether to keep breaking them up (which I will probably want to continue doing)

There are so many new vaccines that simply didn't exist 10-15 years ago. The problem is that no one knows what is causing the rise in autism and autoimmune diseases and childhood allergies to common things like peanut butter. It's hard to make decisions when no one has a good explantion of the causes and therefore the risks. It makes it impossible to do a cost-benefit analysis. For us, one of the deciding factors to do all vaccinations except hep B was that we'll be living abroad, with limited access to medical care at times.

Good luck with your decision.

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