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.