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Viability, vaccines, and going off the game plan

November 11, 2011

Cletus would have a pretty good chance of surviving if he were born today. Hooray!

How are there only two weeks until Thanksgiving? Suddenly, the year is almost gone, and I have only one more trimester/fiscal quarter before there is a tiny human and a new family born. We were charting out schedules for some of our work projects yesterday, and it’s amazing how time disappears when you need one week here, two weeks there. Add in the holidays, and the end of the year is going to be frenzied. I am trying to imagine how this will all work once there is a baby in the picture. I don’t think it’s possible to foresee. I think it will be trial by fire, and until then, we’re just focusing on keeping our heads above water. But we’re in the weeds, baby.

Childbirth class has been interesting the past two weeks. The subject of vaccines came up because there is a new movie out called The Greater Good presenting the viewpoints of several families who believe that vaccines caused their children’s illnesses or death. Our teacher has not vaccinated her kids, and it seems like the other couples are fairly anti-vaccine, too. It has been another funny reminder of the range of people who choose natural childbirth. We all want what’s best for our babies, and this is where we landed, but just because we agree about birthing doesn’t mean we agree on anything else.

I hadn’t really given the matter much thought before two weeks ago because I have always considered vaccines safe and effective, particularly the ones that have been around for generations and have obliterated certain diseases from our consciousness. So, I was interested in learning more, but skeptical. I wasn’t really persuaded by any of the stories in the film, especially the family with the autistic son. It seems like family whose baby died has other medical issues affecting all the children, and I’m not sure those issues can be attributed to the vaccinations. The girl who got the Gardasil vaccine was the one that raised the most questions for me. That vaccine is very new and hasn’t been tested on enough people. Perhaps it isn’t safe enough. I don’t know. Thank goodness we won’t have to worry about that one for over a decade.

It seems very hard to prove a direct link between vaccines and any particular side effect. I feel for those families, but I just don’t think there’s enough evidence that vaccines are the cause. As someone who relies on many public services, gladly pays my taxes, and believes in generally working together as a society, I can’t see relying on herd immunity to protect my kids. If everyone did that, there would be no immunity to protect anyone. I think the strongest case I have read about this is the fact that there are children and adults who can’t be vaccinated because they are too sick. Not vaccinating puts them at risk for these diseases, and that is not their choice. But, everyone has the right to choose what they believe is the best for their family. For us, that means we will vaccinate.

It was intervention week two weeks ago. We talked about epidurals and played a very useful game that got to the core of what we felt were the absolute most important things we wanted for our births. We were handed a stack of cards, each with an intervention on one side and its opposite on the reverse. For instance, obstetrician/midwife; immediate cord clamping/delayed cord clamping; cesarean section/vaginal delivery. First, we picked which side we would prefer for all the cards. Next, we had to pick eight cards to “give up” and flip over because things didn’t go exactly as planned. Then, we had to pick eight more. Finally, we could only pick three to keep.

Of course no one thinks or expects anything to go wrong, but sometimes it does. This exercise reminded me of my wedding. I planned and planned, and then some things went “wrong.” But at the end of the day, I got married, and it wasn’t a big deal that the limo didn’t arrive, or the photographer was sick and sent a sub. Who cares? After all the preparation, all you can do is go with it and enjoy what goes right. As I surveyed the cards showing all the things I don’t want if I get my way, I found myself easily accepting that things might not go as planned, but as long as there is a healthy mom and healthy baby at the end of it, I can be at peace with that. Interestingly, the three things that I felt were most important if all hell breaks loose had nothing to do with me and whether or not I get cut or pumped full of drugs, but had everything to do with moving forward, healing, and bonding. I want skin-to-skin, exclusive breastfeeding, and rooming in. I don’t want to be apart from my baby. If I can’t be there because I’m getting sewed up, I want Darien to be. And then I want to get the heck out of there as soon as possible.

I had a dream last night that someone told me I had to give up my baby because my glucose test was too high. I know this is crazy, and no one is going to take my baby, but I guess there’s still a little piece of my brain that is irrationally afraid of that, so planning to stay home is keeping that part of me sane. My birth plan is to have a home birth. I don’t have every detail outlined because I don’t believe you can plan birth. I trust my midwife, and I know that if she suggests an intervention, it won’t be for nothing. It will be necessary, and thank god we have drugs and surgeons and technology when we need it. Birth is sort of a crash course in parenting, isn’t it? You have little control over when or how it will happen, and the kid has ideas of his own.

I can’t say I’m not looking forward to having my body back to myself. It’s just a waiting game now until we get to meet this little person. But, oh, how the time flies.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Julia Bates permalink
    November 11, 2011 12:12 pm

    I’ve never regretted vaccinations for the boys. Hepatitus A/B came in when they were grown. Darien hates shots and only got 1 of the 2 required. I always used immediate breast feeding for comfort right after shots when they were tiny. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not always a good association? I remember the polio vaccine coming out when I was a kid. Summers were scary before that because many kids fell ill with polio then. Those deep dream messages may come from some inner part of you that still needs reassurance! What wisdom you are growing into! Hugs

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