Friday, February 27, 2015

Vaccinations: The Thoughts of a Soon-to-Be Mommy and Doctor's Wife

While this post has the potential to insight some controversy (since I know there are a handful of people on my Facebook friend list who will completely disagree with me on this), I am feeling rather "soapbox-y" this evening.  I've been wanting to write this post for a while!  If you've ever been around me when this topic arises, you've heard all these things before.  I've had these opinions since long before I was pregnant, but now that I've got a baby on the way I've become somewhat "mama bear" about this issue.  Sooooo...without further ado, here are my 2 cents about vaccinations:

First, let me start by saying that yes, without a doubt, I believe the argument AGAINST vaccinations no longer holds water.  I could list all the reasons why, but the bottom line is that research does NOT support the main arguments that are presented.  Let me squash a few:

These outbreaks of diseases like measles are not being spread just by people who are exercising their right to not vaccinate their kids.

For decades there have been people refusing vaccinations either for religious reasons or because their children were in a medical situation that put them at a high risk for complications arising from the administration of vaccines.  Yet somehow, in the last 6 months, those diseases have reached a fever pitch in our country.  So what the heck has changed??  I would venture to guess that the children who are unable to get vaccinated for health reasons and the children whose religious backgrounds dictate that they cannot get vaccinated has not changed much if at all.  What HAS changed is the number of people who have "jumped ship" on vaccinations for their children because of this asinine "anti-vaxxer" movement.  THAT number has increased in the past few years.  Seems to me that the evidence is clear where the problem is.  No, these unvaccinated kids aren't "carrying around diseases".  But there are people coming in and out of this country who ARE and when there is no longer a herd immunity because all these parents are "exercising their right not to vaccinate", that's when these diseases start getting spread.  Brought in from places that have little to no access to vaccines (or no expectations therein), spread to the "exercisers", who then spread it to others who cannot be vaccinated.  Seems logical to me...

Vaccinations are all about the big drug companies making money.  Fight the man!  Just no.  Have you ever worked in a medical clinic?  How about a free medical clinic?  My husband has.  Just before school started every year there was a line out the door for weeks at a time all day long with people bringing their children to get vaccinated.  FOR FREE!  Have you ever seen a ledger from a general practice clinic outlining the cost of vaccinations?  I have.  And neither the government, the drug companies, nor the clinic are making much of anything off these vaccinations.  That is most certainly true about regular clinics too...not just free clinics.  And you're "exercising your right not to vaccinate" is not really doing much to "stick it to the man".  Especially since you're STILL paying for healthcare FROM THE GOVERNMENT anyway.  Let me ALSO say that deciding that doctors don't know enough really pisses me off.  These people have to go to 4 years of medical school, at least 3 years of a residency, usually several years of a fellowship after that, etc. etc. in order to credibly put M.D. behind their name.  They are EXPERTS.  Imagine if you had been trained in your profession that long and working in your field for even longer and someone who was completely untrained tried to accuse you of not knowing what you're talking about.  So why do we disrespect doctors in this way??  I agree with being informed.  I DISAGREE with being informed and still refusing to take the learned advice of a professional because you've decided the "have it out for you"...

Vaccines put children at risk.  

Yes.  This argument is *slightly* true.  There are certain genetic make ups that can interact with vaccinations and cause brain damage and loss of motor control.  Is this a reason NOT to vaccinate your children?  Absolutely and positively NO.  Here's a thought.  If you're that concerned that your child might be at risk, use that government issued healthcare, go to a geneticist, get some blood drawn, and see for yourself whether your child is truly at risk.  If they're not, get them vaccinated.  Because if you're so concerned with putting them at risk, seems to me that your odds of picking up a communicable disease are much, MUCH higher than they are that your child has a rare genetic make up that makes getting a vaccination deadly.  And that's true whether you get genetic testing or not.

The healthcare industry and the government use scare tactics about communicable diseases to freak people out.  People got those illnesses for years without vaccinations and they survived.  These diseases are not as bad as they're made out to be.

Again...this is ignorant.  Ask someone who had measles, or someone who had mumps.  Heck...I had chicken pox and I know there have been people whose children have died or been severely disabled from a bad case of them.  These diseases are no joke!  Do you know what tetanus does to your body when you contract it?  It makes you convulse and seize to the point that your muscles snap your bones and they tear through your skin.  Personally...just the thought of my Greysen having even the slightest tinge of something like that, even if it wasn't to the full extent, terrifies me.  Not because someone "used a scare tactic", but because MEDICAL RESEARCH shows these things to be true.  It's not fair for me to put him at risk like that.  Why would I??  If there is a way to prevent a disease, no matter what that disease is, you better believe I will be making the choice to give my child his best fighting chance.  There are certainly plenty of other crappy things in this world that I don't have control over how they effect my child.

I have the right to make decisions about my child's health.

Yes.  Yes you do.  And so do I.  I have the right to decide whether my son will be circumcised or not. I have the right to decide whether my child is well enough to go to school on any given day.  I have the right to decide what medicines I will and will not be giving my son.  Etc., etc., etc.  You are correct that as a parent, the decisions about your child's health fall into your hands alone until he/she is able to make those decisions soundly for themselves.  However (this is a big however), you exercising your right not to vaccinate your child does not give you the right to put my child at risk.  If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you choose to give up other rights.  Or you should.  Your child shouldn't be allowed to go to public school with my child, you should give up the right to take your child who presents with measles (or any other disease that can be passed to other children) to the doctors you refused to listen to, you should give up the right to go to places like Disneyland where there are thousands of children who are put at risk but your child's lack of immunity.  I HAVE THE RIGHT to deliver my baby boy in a hospital in a few weeks and NOT be terrified that his tiny little infant body could contract one of these diseases in the hospital before he is old enough to be vaccinated.  Explain to me how that is at all right??

I could probably go on for hours and hours about this, but I won't.  The bottom line is that vaccinations are not a scare tactic, they are not as risky as "anti-vaxxers" would have you believe, and doctors are not just a bunch of moron lemmings.  Yes, please inform yourself of BOTH sides of the fence.  Hit up and double check on all those "anti-vaccination" articles you see floating around Facebook.  For that matter, hit it up about the articles you see about those unvaccinated children who have died from contracting preventable diseases.  Be sure to prepare yourself though.  The truth about both of those sides of the fence might shock you.  Please be informed, but PLEASE listen to sound logic from trained professionals.  And trust me when I tell you that doctors have no vested interest in "duping" you.  Frankly, what they gain from encouraging you to vaccinate your children is that they don't have to try desperately to save YOUR child from the crippling effects of these diseases.  They want to go home to their families without the black cloud of the death of YOUR child on their hearts and minds.  So from the wife of a soon-to-be doctor, vaccinate your children.  If not for all the logical reasons, then for the emotional reason of keeping my husband from having to experience a failed attempt at saving a child or an adult from a disease that could have easily been prevented...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The World Needs You Right Now, My Love...

Off I head to baby showers!!  I still can’t believe it’s already that time.  I am writing this blog while I sit on the last airplane ride I’ll be taking before my son arrives.  Lesson learned, though.  I brought one of those flip top water bottles with me this trip (trying to stay hydrated and stave off the nausea that usually happens on plane rides during this pregnancy) and once we had reached our cruising altitude I flipped open the top and my water came spraying out like Old Faithful.  ALL OVER ME!  The window was dripping, I was dripping.  Ugh!  I had put a pair of PJ pants in my carry on at the last minute and thank goodness for them.  They served as the perfect mop.  Sadly, though, I am now covered in water and my top and pants are soaked.  From now on, I’ll know to relieve the pressure in the bottle before I open it…sheesh!

On a different note, I was inspired to write this post today by a comment a friend of mine made on a Facebook status of mine.  Just yesterday one my “IVF sisters” gave birth to her sweet baby girl!  What a miracle and what a sweet reminder of God’s intentions to complete what He starts in us.  She named her Rachel Elizabeth…which is my given name too!  She did not name her after me, but it was an incredible coincidence that Rachel Elizabeth was the name she and her husband had picked out years ago.  Long before she met me, long before she began her road of infertility.  How incredible is it that God sent her that name??  The name of two women in the Bible who struggled with infertility and whom God VERY graciously blessed with babies who were pivotal in His ultimate plan.  And then along I came and our friendship grew quickly into one of encouragement and faith.  Her journey was my inspiration to keep pushing through my own IVF journey and her constant encouraging words were like literal pillars of strength for me at times.  Yesterday her dream became a reality, and I am blessed to share her sweet daughter’s name.  God is just so incredible…isn’t He??

My status yesterday said this:

Over the moon excited for my sweet friend who will be welcoming her sweet baby into the world today!!  Seems like yesterday that the two of us were spurring each other on in faith with hopes that one day we would be celebrating together the arrival of both a Blankenship baby and a Womack baby.  God is SO good!!

Her response was:
It is so special and God is so good!  The world needs Rachel Blankenship and Greysen Womack at this very time…

And this is one of those moments when I realize how small I am in comparison to God’s ultimate purpose for His world and His people.  How humbled I am when I consider the fact that He has entrusted ME with carrying and raising one of His people who will be a part of His purpose.  For how many years did I cry because I just didn’t get it?  I didn’t understand why the heck He wouldn’t allow me to get pregnant.  I thought He didn’t think I would be a good enough mother.  I had decided He just didn’t want Jonathan and I to be parents.  When all along, He saw the whole picture.  He knew my Greysen had a purpose in His plan.  If his arrival had been sooner than now, it just would not have been right.  He needs Greysen now.  Right now.  It’s exciting and daunting to consider what it is that God has in store for my sweet baby.  It’s gotta be something big though.  The best things in life are worth waiting for, and when God makes you wait for something…you just have to believe it’s for an incredible purpose.  That purpose, however, is bigger than me.  I get the fringe benefits of the miracle of pregnancy.  I get the perks of getting to carry a baby in my womb.  But more importantly I get to sit back and marvel at what God has in store for Greysen’s life.  I get to be a spectator in the marvelous plan God has for him and I get to be a part of his journey. 

When I really let it sink in that God has incredible plans for Greysen, I get goose bumps.  I am a part of God’s ultimate plan for Greysen.  God is trusting me to carry him in my womb and create the perfect environment for him to grow and develop.  He is trusting me to make the right parenting decisions that will ultimately lead Greysen to a saving knowledge of who God is.  I have been given a big task in God’s master plan.  Whose lives will Greysen touch?  Who will know Jesus Christ because of my sweet boy?  What marvelous things will this world experience because my handsome Greysen trusts God enough to follow His plan?  The prospects are deliriously exciting…

So yes…the world needs Rachel Blankenship and Greysen Womack right now.  God has a plan, a purpose, a goal in mind that is so much bigger than just one of us.  The road I have walked to get here has been a tough one, yes, but it has not been in vain.  It has been for ultimately a Heavenly purpose, and I can’t help but praise my God for deeming me worthy enough to have this much of a part in His plan.  God is good ALL the time…even when we have no idea why He is doing what He is doing…