Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Parenting Post: Valentines and Immunizations

Truth be told, the Valentines were not a huge success as a craft project for Absurdist Tot. But I had a great time, before and after I got the glue stick out of his mouth (cap on, but still). How fun that I'm going to get to go through all of this twice! When I was a kid, I remember so vividly being mad at my hands for not being able to do what I wanted them to do -- color within the lines, cut straight, be as exact and careful as I wanted. Wow, the frustration. As an adult I've collected some of the Dover coloring books because they are just so good -- and some colored pencils. No, not in preparation for having a child, but for me! Though I haven't colored in a long long time.

Anyway, I think that it's just fine that it didn't go particularly well with AT and the Valentines. It's all a process. And as a parent I'm getting used to the idea that the first time of doing anything isn't going to go well, like feeding him almost any food in his high chair. I'm thankful for all the things that do go well, like his not crying at all when we leave him at daycare (so far and knock on wood) and his eating jarred organic baby spinach (also so far). Lots of things get better over time, like, get this, his taking his medicine. Imagine a toddler coming up to you and opening his mouth for the dropper of pink stuff. I think this comes from how little sugar he gets -- except in his organic "o"s, the fabulous organic crackers we all love, and his yogurt. So that when it comes to the high fructose corn syrup they no doubt put in the pink stuff? He loves it. He also loves taking acetaminephin drops. Go figure.

Can I just take this small detour and say how difficult it is to get decent information as a parent? I went in for a meet and greet with a new doctor for me (who seems great actually, supportive of alternative medicine and into making yearly health goals), and we had the immunization conversation. It sounds so reasonable when someone talks about the dangers of globalization and having seen children suffering from polio and how children's immune systems handle vaccines better than adults do. But then there are all these people I trust who are very skeptical of immunizations from all sorts of different angles -- potential brain injury, the dangers of over-stimulating a child's immune system all at once, the old autism debate, lack of sufficient testing of the newer vaccines (and you should see what they say about the Swine flu vaccine!), that vaccines don't work very well. And then there's the report I heard that pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines give tons of money to the AMA -- and while I don't want to say that there's some conspiracy about stifling certain kinds of research, there really doesn't have to be. It's a well understood psychological phenomenon that people tend to find their friends more persuasive -- and then there's the whole issue that Western medicine is not good at understanding or testing for how different systems interact with one another. Not to mention that we live in the country where certain government agencies are so bought by corporate food and farming industries, it's not much of a leap to think that other powerful corporations and industries might have undue influence on certain kinds of policies, even with well-meaning and rigorous people. And what about healthy skeptical conservatism? When I check online to see if I can drink yerba mate or take oil of oregano (which AL swears by) as a nursing mother, the websites say there haven't be sufficient tests to show that they are safe and nonharmful to the nursing baby so don't do it, don't take that chance. But with immunizations we're supposed to go the other way and ask whether they've been proven to be dangerous and/or caused problems. Why is that?

I'm tempted to collect a whole bunch of information from different sources together and hand them to her and say: here's why a reasonable thinking person would question the value of giving immunizations to her child. (For example, our pediatrician said that while he supported immunizations, he would "respect our beliefs," as if it's not a faith-based decision rather than a thinking one. Weird for me to be on that side of things.)

Anyway, today I have to go to work and be a professional academic instead of a confused mom. Can I please get tenure from crochet projects? Please? I'm becoming a whiz at potholders! (Oh and I did look at an early draft of my conference paper yesterday, but who cares about that?)

Please cross your fingers for Absurdist Lover's job search efforts. We live in a terrible place to find a job, but I'm hopeful he'll find something. I just hope with all my heart that he finds something he likes and feels good and useful at, as much as any of us get to.


Anonymous said...

I had a friend who didn't initially immunize her boys. She was against immunization in general for many of the reasons you cite. She would characterize not immunizing as fitting with her beliefs and values--the same beliefs and values that meant her children were never allowed to watch television. Totally not about religion and yet the language was about religion.

Now that I've said that, they layered the objection that vaccines are made with tissue from aborted fetuses over the top of the rest of it as a kind of last straw. It was the key reason no one at their very conservative catholic church had their kids immunized.

I wouldn't say it was an unthinking decision but it was more convincing to the doctor if the reason were religious rather than simply a matter of the potential harm caused by vaccines.

It seems to me doctors have something invested in convincing people to vaccinate for the sake of public health. I've known church communities that didn't vaccinate and they just pass around 19th century diseases. It's not massive carnage or anything but there are sometimes deaths--usually in the very young or those who are weakened for some other reason--and there are definitely hospitalizations. I decided I would take my chances with the vaccines.

Anonymous said...

I am just talking about myself there....not trying to convince you of anything. I do consider the vaccine a risk. And I haven't done any swine flu or anything like that because they just invented it yesterday and I really don't trust it.

Sisyphus said...

potholders? crocheting? pictures!!!!

Ink said...

Crossing fingers for job searching!

Also thinking there should be a movement re: submitting pot holders and crocheted things as part of tenure apps. How cool that would be!

My kids love to get their grape motrin drops, too. And their chewy vitamins ("gummymins").

rented life said...

I'll cross my fingers for AL if you'll cross your fingers for me, ok?

My student did a project on teh swine flu shot. Get this: It's really only beneficial if you get the regular flu shot and that you do that every year. So it's really not great to only get the swine flu shot if you haven't gotten the flu shot. (This is from her kid's doctor and several other sources.)

As a non-parent, I have a lot of sympathy on the topic. I hear all the conflicting stories about immunizations-how can you not-and can't make heads or tails of it. There are things I'd immunize against--like the same shots I had as a child, but I don't know if you can just pick and choose like that. My mom, an RN, would tell you to do them all because you're supposed to, etc etc. She also expected me to get the flu and swine flu shots. I did not. I got the swine flu, lived, not a big deal.

There's a growing amount of research that suggests we shelter children from too many things--germs, illness, etc--creating weakened immune systems for the rest of the child's life. My student I mentioned is an example of this--she over does it and now has to get her daughter all kinds of meds and shots to keep her healthy, the kid always seems to get sick. It sure makes me give pause. At the very least, I'd hesitate about swine flu, esp if you didn't do the regular flu shot.

Maude said...

oooh la la! very pretty, springy layout!