Copyright 2012 Jennifer Saleem at Hybrid Rasta Mama
"I have a confession. My husband and I were not planning on having biological children. Ooops…got a little careless one night and we are now VERY proud and loving parents to an amazing 2 year old.
When I found out I was pregnant it was a bit of a shock. I immediately went into “preparing for motherhood” overdrive and started voraciously researching just about everything. I was raised in the spirit of natural parenting and knew that this was the path that we would take as parents. Cloth diapers, breastfeeding, bed sharing…no problem! It was when I delved into the vaccination debate that I realized I was in some murky waters that I clearly did not know much about. After all, I was fully vaccinated and have not had any issues.
My husband and I spent countless hours dissecting Dr. Sears Vaccine Book, trying to figure out the best course of action. We knew that we did not want our baby getting anything at all immediately after birth. The harm that could come from that was obvious. We were also pretty clear on which vaccines had the potential to do the most damage and which ones were rather unnecessary due to there being little risk of exposure to that particular disease for our daughter. I was planning on staying home with her for 2-3 years and after that, my mom would watch her. So, no exposure at daycare. And I would breastfeed exclusively. We kind of got lost though when it came to the Dtap, HIB, Pertussis, and Rotavirus vaccines.
I found a pediatrician who was supposedly supportive of no-vax and delayed vax decisions. When we went to our first appointment it turned out that I was VERY misinformed. The pediatrician got pretty combative with us when we told her what we were not vaccinating for and what we still had questions about. Unfortunately, we were stuck with her due to limitations with our insurance. I was already feeling like a failure as a mother. My husband and I left both thinking now what?
For the next few days, my husband and I gave careful consideration to our “final 4” list and regretfully decided to give our daughter the series for DTAP, HIB, Pertussis, and Rotavirus. We decided to only do 2 at a time and figured that by breaking them up more, we would avoid any complications. We also had concluded that our daughter was at a greater risk of dying or serious, permanent damage from the diseases themselves than the effects of the vaccines.
I now have HUGE vaccine guilt. HUGE. More than huge. The guilt hangs over me daily.
It all started with that darn DTAP injection. My daughter’s leg swelled up to twice its size, was bright red, and scorching hot to the touch. This did not seem like a normal reaction but when I called the doctor she said that it was ok. Hmmm…interesting. Her advice was to ice the leg. Well, 2 weeks later, my daughter’s leg returned to normal. I was concerned but apparently not enough to stop the series at that point.
Pertussis and Rotavirus went ok. No reactions that I could see. I breathed a little easier and didn’t feel like I was making a huge mistake. Until…
HIB – oh HIB how deeply I loathe you. I detest you. I curse the day you were invented. Why?
Because not only did my daughter’s leg have the same reaction as it did to the DTAP vaccine but for 4 loooooonng days, my daughter wasn’t “there.” Her spirit was gone. Her eyes were vacant. I thought that maybe she was just lethargic from the vaccine. But no, my mommy gut was telling me something bad was happening. Stupidly, I didn’t listen to my gut. No, I listened to my mom, my husband, and the pediatrician who all said to finish out the series. And so we did.
My daughter received the complete DTAP, HIB, Pertussis, and Rotavirus series. She had more severe reactions each and every time. Her energy level kept dropping, her appetite diminished, she had circles under her eyes constantly, and her spirit was deflated. Every so often there would be a little spark but my little girl just couldn’t muster the energy to be a normal one year old.
At one year of age, my daughter began to show signs of health issues that I would spend the next year trying to A) find a cause for; B) find a correct diagnosis of; and C) find treatment for. Whether or not these issues were caused by or worsened by the vaccines remains a mystery, but regardless, everything was fine until we started her on the few vaccines we selected.
What exactly are her problems? At one year of age, her digestive system stopped working properly. No medical explanation. It just does not work right. She also developed some chronic sleep issues that seemed to get worse after each vaccination. But it gets worse.
We had a lot of blood work done in an effort to rule out certain concerns. During these screenings, we learned that my daughter’s white blood cell count was really low. It continued to drop with each blood test. At 18 months of age, she was diagnosed with severe neutropenia (dangerously low white blood cell count). She had no problems with her white blood cell count until after we started the vaccine series.
The thing about getting any vaccines that makes me feel so guilty and remorseful is that they could have actually killed my daughter. Her system did not have what it needed to handle a live virus. In addition, she could have gotten a life threatening infection simply from having the needle or oral vaccine enter her body.
Even her pediatrician said that getting vaccines when you have a moderately low white blood cell count is like playing Russian roulette. We were soooooo very lucky. But her body HAD been trying to tell us something. That blazing hot, swollen leg. Oh yes – it was my baby’s way of communicating. I was too stupid to listen.
I am not at all suggesting that vaccines were 100% to blame for any or all of my daughter’s health problems. I understand that they could be completely unrelated. (Of course, whether or not her health condition was caused by vaccines, those vaccines still could have very well killed her without notice). But my mommy gut, that same gut I SHOULD HAVE listened to, it is screaming something totally different. It reminds me daily that giving my daughter any vaccines was the worst parenting decision I have ever made. It nags me and brings on some serious vaccination guilt. It makes me cringe at “what could have been.”
My husband and I thank God daily that we did not pump our daughter full of any other vaccines. We both know in our heads, hearts, and guts that we are doing the right thing by avoiding all other vaccinations like the plague. We are now seeing a pediatrician who uses complimentary medicine and he has been able to help my daughter with all of her health issues. Although he cannot say for certain, he does feel that her health issues are in some way related to one or more of the vaccines we chose to allow into her precious body.
Have I mentioned that I have guilt? Our new pediatrician gave us some amazing information about nosodes and I really wish I had known about these prior to our vaccine misadventure. I probably would have rested a lot easier had I known that there was something out there that offered immediate, safer protection in the event of an epidemic. For more information on nosodes, click here.
Although I am personally against vaccinations for our daughter (for more reasons than just her health issues), I would never criticize another parent for choosing vaccinations for their children. Every family must do what is within their comfort level. What I will do is provide them with links to some amazing, easy to understand resources about the dangers of vaccinations and hopefully allow them to become better informed. In addition, I remind parents constantly that you can always get the vaccine but you can never get rid of one already given. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way.
Good luck on your vaccination journey. Jennifer"
Jennifer is the author of the blog Hybrid Rasta Mama, and a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter brought earthside in early 2009. Passionate about breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed sharing, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, a Waldorf approach to education and parenting, playful parenting, getting children outside, as well as cooking and eating Traditional Foods.