Monday, November 8, 2010


There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was the docile, trusting patient that (most) doctors seem to love.

I need an antibiotic? Sure. What I eat doesn't really matter? O.k. It's normal to have that many illnesses in a year? Alrighty, if you say so.

Even after I became a parent, I still stayed fairly close to the party line. Jo was dutifully weighed, measured, vaccinated, and examined per the schedule recommended circa the late 90s. I truly never thought a thing of it. I can remember, in fact, being excited to reach those milestone appointments, to check the boxes, and to show off just how big and brilliant my offspring was.

I probably would have stayed that path were it not for two major chinks that became apparent in the armor of modern medicine. First, we had the sticky wicket of Jo's chronic ear infections. Second--and most importantly--we experienced the horror seeing Logan become a statistic when he reacted to a DTaP vaccine at 2 months of age.

In both cases, the medical community came up woefully short. 

Jo was given round after round of increasingly strong antibiotics before we were finally told that we should relent and have tubes put in her ears. Something in all of this didn't quite ring true, and Mr. Blandings and I held firm. It didn't quite seem coincidental that she had been weaned just two months prior to the onset of her first infection. And, we reasoned, winter was soon to give way to spring. Perhaps the warmer temperatures, increased activities, change to a veggie-centered diet, etc., would do her some good? Score one for Parental Intuition. Jo was cured of her 9 month long ear infection as soon as the warm, dry temps took hold.

Then there were Logan's seizures. No doctor could tell us for certain that it was the DTaP that our infant had reacted to; when you inject a baby who weighs less than 15 pounds with six different substances during one visit, it's really a game of hit or miss when it comes to figuring out what went wrong. Instead, we were given odds--odds as to what it was that had caused the issue, odds as to whether or not the seizing would stop, odds as to whether or not permanent damage was being done to his brain or neurological system, odds as to which course of treatment might help and which might hurt. Again, Mr. Blandings and I found ourselves being pitted against the community of people who claimed to know what was best for our child. Again we took the road less traveled. And, again, we were right.

After my eyes were fully opened, I set about educating myself. I've come out on the other side a wiser and, I think, more enlightened consumer of medical goods and services. I am not anti-modern medicine. Neither am I anti-alternative medicine. I am simply aware that everyone is trying to sell something ... and it's up to me as the consumer to decide what I need/want, and what I don't.

To that end, Mr. Blandings and I have decided to take our own approach to vaccinating Seven. Again, I am not against the concept of prophylactic health care. Members of my family travel to areas of the world where polio, Hepatitis B, and other scourges routinely afflict the population. Before exposing my child to a part of the world where it's likely that they may come into contact with such pestilence, I'd prefer that they be covered with whatever protection can be mustered, be it in the form of a vaccine or a pill. However, I just don't see chicken pox as something to fear. And pardon me for thinking this one through, but I really don't see the use in slamming my baby's immune system with challenges when her life is measured in weeks.

I knew that this would be a fairly unpopular tack to take. While I adore our pediatrician, I'm fully aware that she is employed by a huge medical conglomerate whose bread and butter is vested in towing the party line. Prior to Seven's birth, I outlined what Mr. Blandings and I have come to call our Delayed and Selective Vaccination Plan. Our pediatrician gave us the standard and expected warnings. "You really want that MMR as soon as possible, because if she catches it and is around pregnant women ..." "That first Hep B at birth is for the baby's safety ..." etc., etc. And then she left us alone.

Which was all well and good. Until Friday, that is.

On Friday, I called to make Seven's two month check up. Now, the only reason I was really interested at all in taking her in was to see how much she weighs. I don't own a scale. I guess I could get one, but frankly, it's just never something I think of picking up. Anyhow, I know that my baby girl is healthy and growing as she should. I'm just curious as to how much growing she's actually doing. So I figured I'd take her in and see what the scale said, and find out how she ranked in terms of her older biological siblings at this age.

For some reason, my call had to be shuttled to the doctor's medical assistant, an eager, chatty woman who tends to grate on me a bit.

"Mary Grace, I've got a note here that says I need to talk to you about Seven's shots."

Fine, I figured. The pediatrician made a note that I wouldn't be okaying any at this visit. No biggie.

"The clinic is changing the policy regarding kids and vaccinations. Unless they're up to date according to the schedule, we won't be seeing them as patients."

Honestly, I was wondering when it would come to this. With health care reform looming, and insurance companies pulling ever more weight, and the drug companies lobbying, and the doctors freaking everyone out ... I was finally being told that I could take the product wholesale, or find another provider altogether.

Thankfully, I've put in the hours researching and informing myself. This is no fly-by-night, knee-jerk reaction on my behalf. I've thought, I've prayed, and I'm comfortable with where I stand. I can't be bullied or frightened into relenting just to comply with a new policy. Once again, I'm being told that someone else knows what's best for my child. The school system, the government, the doctors. 

I call youknowwhat on that.

I'm the Momma. I'm the one God trusted this child to. And I'm the one not buying what the powers that be are selling.


Michelle said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!!! Keep educating yourself and NEVER GIVE UP! (as I know you won't!)

Four Little Penguins said...

I'm so with you!
What gets me, though, is that EVERY SINGLE TIME a doctor talks to me about vaccinating, they wildly exaggerate if not outright lie to me. If they are right, and I am wrong and vaccines are the only way to save my child, why not just tell me the truth? Lying to me does not make me trust you. Period.
My kids will receive some vaccines. Certain vaccines that I have researched and will choose to give them based on facts and what is best for them. I won't raise my kids out of fear.

Talitha said...

Woo hoo! I love hearing from other parents who actually do their own research instead of blindly following the herd. I've also chosen a select few vaccinations for my daughter, but I do one at a time and always, ALWAYS request the batch number and expiration date be recorded on MY documentation. I also waited until she was a couple years old before she got her first one.

I can't even tell you how many deep sighs and rolled eyes I've gotten as I held the line on choosing my own route for my daughter's health care, but it's always been worth it. Keep it up! It really is our responsibility, and we cannot allow ourselves to be bullied.

Briana said...

What a nice stance for a doctor's office to take. Shame on them. Good job for sticking with what you know is best for your children!

Erin said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I drive an hour one way just to see a pediatrician who is completely 100% fine with us choosing not to vaccinate. Its a haul, but so worth medical treatment from someone who trusts me as a parent.

Would you mind sharing your selective vax schedule? We originally planned on delaying/selectively vax'ing, but haven't figured out which ones we want and when... so for now we're just non-vax'ers, because its so overwhelming.

Sabrina said...

I have been reading your blog for years now. Just today, I took my daughter in for her 18 month check-up, and was informed that the insurance company rejected her Synagis vaccine, the one I really believe she needs to get through the winter as a preemie. I was so angry thinking how I had such a fight about my stance on the "normal" vaccines, but they get to deny her the one I would choose against all others. It is a power game, and I am not playing. Thank you for speaking your mind. I admire you greatly.

Jennifer Jo said...

So what are you going to do about a family doctor?

We didn't do much vaccinatin' for the younger two, and when we exposed the kids to chicken pox, it was the one who had been vaccinated who came down with them. Go figure.

Kudos to you!

midwest mama said...

Speaking as someone whose eyes were opened by my own child particular medical needs, I applaud your steadfastness. What always bugs me is doctors' tendency to be dismissive of my concerns, as if I'm ignorant or superstitious or somehow incapable of discussing the topic intelligently. Kudos to you!

EllaJac said...

Like Erin, we're 'non-vax' just because we can't really decide what/when with SO MANY un-(or poorly) answered questions surrounding the issue.

We're also fairly 'non-doc' too, save for a few minor urgent-care needs lately. Unless you count the ND. :) There is a doc here, who seems fairly pro-vac, but more pro-parent. He has told me he would write single-vacc prescriptions for whatever we decide for, that we can get filled at the health department. Again, we haven't taken him up on it, but perhaps you can find a similar 'alternative-friendly' doc in your area? We found him through our midwife.

I echo the kudos though; it's hard to stick to a decision when docs are throwing around phrases like, "guaranteed death sentence" and such. :]

Lori said...

Well said! I remember being driven to tears by my son's first pediatrician when I asked about vaccine safety at his newborn visit. I felt like the worst mother in the world for even contemplating delaying his vaccines.

Eight years, one more child and one new pediatrician later, I now have the "I'm the momma" confidence to ask whatever questions I darn well please. My children were entrusted to my husband and I by the One who knit them together. He gets the final say. Period.

JP said...

I applaud you! Great job. We are vax delayed/selective also and have been criticized for it. One main reason we forego MMR and Chickenpox is that they are made with human diploid cells (fetal cells from two embryonic cell lines resulting from two abortions in the seventies). After letting my pediatrician know why we were not selecting these particular vaccines, I was assured that my information was incorrect. Later that night, I actually got a call back with an apology because the doctor had never heard about the way they are manufactured. We have since moved, and have had to go through the whole process again. I have found out since then that many vaccinated children and adults who are for some reason later tested for antibodies to these "prevented" illnesses do not actually have them anyway. Ignorance is bliss??? :)

Traci said...

I am shocked that this is a stance the office is taking. Wow! I'm with you on this one MG. With my ds he could only get two shots at a time because I could only hold two icebags on his little legs after a subQ injection. I was read the riot act for allowing my 6 month old to get CP (ummm hello she wasn't even old enough for the Vax) by a pediatrician other than my own.
I honestly can't remember the last time my kids graced the doors of the peds. Pretty sure we are behind on shots and amazingly have been the healthiest in our lives.

Jodi said...

Out of 5 kiddos the one that I waited a full year for any shots on was by far the most healthy of them all. Oh yea...I got chewed on a while by our Dr. Oh well...
Good job!

The Beaver Bunch said...

We are doing a modified vax schedule as well and omitting some that are just plain unnecessary.

EACH TIME we go in for Ella's check ups I have to remind them that they are not giving her all the vaxs that are standards. Once, I had to send the nurse out THREE TIMES so she could get it straight.

Each time she came in, she just assumed I'd think she was correct & looked at me sideways when I asked her to verify which shots she was about to give. TWICE they were the wrong ones. TWICE.

I'm so over going w/ the flow just b/c the Drs say it's "required."

I'd love to hear your modified/alternate schedule as well.