Friday, April 30, 2010

The 'Vaccine Massacre'?

So I have another blog, one I started before the whole getting knocked up thing happened. My other, neglected, blog is Dealing with Dillholes and is all about the really annoying things people do. Alas, the joy of pregnancy has rendered me...zen. I have a little more patience these days and I find that while I still get irritated, I tend to forget it much quicker ('Baby Brain' as a feature not a problem? hmm). Even the obnoxious things people do and say when encountering a pregnant woman, don't seem to bug me quite as much. That being said, I think its fair to say that the following is the opinion of a fairly unbiased, anti-shit stirring, rational woman.

I watched the PBS Frontline: Vaccine Wars episode and it sort of made me want to beat my head against the wall. Coincidentally, Micha and I had just discussed his concern over vaccinations. I told him that I had heard of parents opting for an alternative vaccination schedule and I would be happy to look into it. Needless to say I was enthused about the timing of this particular episode but when I sat down to actually watch it, I was instantly disappointed. The opening scene of the video is a cesarean birth. What does that have to do with vaccinations? Nothing except that the infant would be cut from his mothers womb only to wisked off to be injected with a vaccination for Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B? How does an infant only hours old contract Hep B, if the mother hasn't tested positive? And what else is in that vaccination? Maybe a little mercury? The very reason that I, as a pregnant woman, am told to avoid my beloved sushi? Am I taking crazy pills does anyone else think this is ridiculous?

Throughout the entire program they interviewed medical experts on how miraculous and wonderful vaccinations are. We don't see polio any more. Hurray! Babies are protected from Measles. Yipee! And who was interviewed from the opposing view? Jenny McCarthy (who they pointed out, is a former Playboy Playmate). I like Jenny. I think she has been a terrific spokesperson and she seems like a wonderful parent, but she isn't exactly a medical expert. Surely the program will show interviews with Dr. Sears, Dr. Cave, Dr. Bock or Dr. Miller. Not a single one. They were however; quick to point out that every opposing view they were presenting was that of a person not related in any way to the medical profession.

Another point of irritation is the notion that all parents who choose not to vaccinate their children or decide on an alternate vax schedule, are getting their information from YouTube. Admittedly, there is a ton of misinformation on the web about everything. Do we, as educated, intelligent, rational parents, make decisions about the health and well-being of our children so lightly as to base our decisions on a video posted on YouTube? To suggest such a thing is an insult. No, I did not go to Harvard Medical School for 8 years or intern at Johns Hopkins but it doesn't take a degree in medicine to take a proactive part in the health of our kids. Why is it irrational to wonder whether or not it is safe to inject our infants with mercury and aluminum? If parents are reporting changes in their children, who are later diagnosed with autism after having received a vaccination, why shouldn't we question the safety of the ingredients, timing and number of vaccines that our children receive? I try not to watch a great deal of television but I am sure to see at least one commercial regarding a class action lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company during the course of a day. Is it any wonder we have started to question conventional western medicine? And why can't I have an open discourse with my practitioner rather than an 30 second "Hi. Take this. See you in two weeks."? Is it really that crazy to believe that our bodies need to build up immunities to some diseases naturally in order to have a strong and healthy immune system? Or to believe that something natural is less risky and better for our bodies than something synthetic? That prevention is far better 'medicine' than waiting for a prescription?

I do not believe that it is 'good medicine' to discount years of Naturopathic and Eastern medicine for more profit generating Western medical practices. It just makes sense, to me, that changing my lifestyle or incorporating remedies from nature are safer than chemicals that my body does not recognize. For example, I am particularly sensitive to codeine, found commonly in prescription cold and pain medicines. It makes me vomit, a lot. If I have a cold, I take thyme, an herb which we use to cook with all the time. Most doctors would roll their eyes at this but it works, its safe and I have no adverse side affects or reactions. I also do not believe that East and West are mutually exclusive of one another. Clearly, there are times when standard western practices are more effective. Vaccines are good. They do protect our children from terrible life threatening illnesses; however the questions that the Vaccine Wars failed to address are: Are we giving children too many vaccinations, too early in life and why do vaccines contain things like mercury and aluminum? Those of us who watched hoping to gain more insight are simply left with more questions.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Week 15

I am not a gushy, romantic person. I have a lot of gushy romantic ideas, I just don't spew them all over people like a freshman frat pledge at his first party of the year. That being said, I am totally in love with my Spousal Equivalent! He really is my best friend and my soulmate. He's smart and funny, he cooks and puts up with my cats and he knows how to fix stuff. Plus, he is so freakin' adorable! He rubs Tummy Butter on my belly every night and he lets me be all weird and emotional and ridiculous. He asks questions about the baby and last night he was flipping through one of my nursing books, even though I told him there weren't any pictures of boobies! I could not have asked for a more supportive partner. Micha even got out of bed, half asleep, at 11:30 at night to make me a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich with potato chips on it and thought it was funny! Plus, as my Grandma says, he is a hottie!

Shark tank

Among some of my other idiosyncrasies, I am a research junkie. It's a product of my age, having a job where I have an inordinate amount of free time and access to a computer. I love looking stuff up, so when I found out I was pregnant with my second, naturally I started reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy, parenting, breastfeeding and birthing. The sea of information could swallow a person whole and leave them washed up on some foreign shore, beaten and battered. For every parenting philosophy there seems to exist an army of 'extremists', for whom any deviation from a prescribed parenting method is heinous and evidence of abuse or at the very least neglect. Does one dare to pose even the most educated alternative view? To do so would be like slicing yourself open and jumping into shark infested waters. Seriously. I've witnessed an incredible amount of time and energy being spent tearing Mothers down for our different parenting choices when all we are really trying to do is the best we can for our babies. Why are women so hell bent on making each other feel inferior?

Talk to anyone who works with kids and they will tell you boys can be mean but girls can be down right cruel. From the time that we are in grade school, through high school, into our adult lives we sabotage our own progress by cutting each other down at the knees every chance we get. I understand people's passions get the best of them and some times we use our words as weapons rather than as tools to teach, but when that happens are we really helping our cause or alienating another Mother. I believe there exists a huge difference between 'in your face' information (i.e. videos of circumcision) and going on the attack. One is very good at grabbing some one's attention; the latter is only good for putting people on the defensive. Typically, this shuts down any possibility that the message, no matter how well intentioned or well researched, will not be heard. So many of the issues we face are like our sagging boobs, they could do with some good support. I'm being metaphorical but of course, but aren't our decisions as parents as personal a thing as our tatas? And doesn't the information we have now about raising our children change as we, as society changes? Aren't we all constantly learning and growing from our experiences as parents? And isn't every Mother and family and baby unique and deserving of unique care?

We already face a world of criticism and judgment. We get it from our mothers, mother-in-laws, Doctors, teachers and people we've never met before in our lives! I'll try to be 'crunchy' but from time-to-time, I'll probably get soggy in milk. Rather than trying to fit into someone else's idea of how I should be, I'll be IP, an Informed Parent. That way when some well intentioned Mom comes baring down on me with teeth gnashing, I can defend myself with information rather than condemnation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've had an epiphany!

So, as I've already noted, I'm want to have a natural child birth with Mr. E, but I'm slightly terrified. I've been concentrating in my yoga class on my breathing as a relaxation technique and thinking about what music to put on the Birthday playlist. I've been listening to the various types of music on my iPhone and making mental note of which songs are soothing and relaxing. Last night, I was leaving yoga at my local gym (which means walking through the main part of the gym) and what was playing on the overhead speakers? 'Push It' by Salt-N-Pepper. If you don't know this song, you possibly grew up in the wrong decade. I immediately went home to tell Micha. 'Honey,' I said 'I've had an epiphany!' I told him that I wanted 'Push It' by Salt-N-Pepper to be the first song on my playlist for the big day. I told him it would be motivational. I think it might have been the first conversation we've had about the Birthday that he didn't look like he might be ill or about to have a nervous breakdown. He actually laughed! We both have such inappropriate senses of humor and why should we change just because we're in a hospital?!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

14 Weeks

The baby is the size of a navel orange this week, according to the book I'm reading (also an iPhone app. I <3 my phone!) and apparently has aversion to Italian food. Perhaps it was the one episode of Jersey Shore I watched when I had a weak moment and let my curiousity get the better of me. The baby does however love dairy products, particularly cheese. This week has been far less exciting than last week, thank God. I'm trying to get my Spring cleaning done. It's so funny because absolutely everyone attributes it to 'nesting'. Um, no. This has nothing to do with pregnancy or 'nesting'. This is simply because I'm neurotic. Micha can vouch for that. I Spring clean every year. As soon as the weather is nice enough, I like to throw the windows open (after a good wash) and clean top to bottom. Let everything air out and go though everything, get rid of the junk I don't need. Admittedly this year, I have a little extra motivation. The people who lived in the house before us were disgusting. The tub drains were clogged with pet hair, a twig and dental floss. The carpet was filthy. Even the walls have all kinds of 'stuff' on them. Obviously, I don't want to be bringing a newborn home to a funky house nor do I want to be 8 mo. pregnant and trying to scrub-a-dub in the hottest part of the summer. So, there you have it. It's not hormonal, it's logical. And when I'm done, I'm planning to treat myself to a much needed pedicure.

I'm totally amazed that at only 14 weeks and just the size of an orange, the baby already has all its parts and pieces. Imagine that, all your parts squeezed down to the size of an orange. Think how tiny something like a finger nail would have to be for everything to fit! It also amazes me that all the parts are starting to work and the baby is making faces and waving and peeing (which was a difficult concept for Micha 'So the baby's just hanging out in there peeing on himself? lol) I can't wait until I can feel Mr. E moving!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why my daughter really is my Angel.

When I was 18, I was an idiot. 'Didn't know shit from shinola', as my Dad puts it. At one point, I was at risk of not graduating high school. I would've probably been voted 'Most likely to grow up to be a loser.' I was strung out on whatever drugs I could get my hands on without the least bit of direction or purpose to my life. I managed to just barely start getting my life on track when I found out I was 4 1/2 months pregnant. Everyone simultaniously wondered the same thing: How could I possibly raise a child when I barely had my own life under control? I made a decision and a promise. I was comfortable fucking up my own life but I couldn't be responsible for fucking up someone else's. I focused on her and how to raise her and nothing else for the remaining 4 1/2 months. She litterally brought me out of a depression that was so deep, I didn't know I was in it. August 25th, the love of my life arrived. I went to school full-time and worked two part-time jobs. My Grandpa said I had moxy. Maybe. I knew the only way to provide a good life for Mumbles was to get a college degree. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up so I tried my hand at everything. They say the average college student changes majors seven times. I had seven majors and five different colleges, my favorite being my alama mater, Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. How did I wind up in Kansas from Montana? That is how my daughter saved my life the second time.

I grew up in Kansas but in order to pull my head out of my ass, we (my family and I) thought it might be a good idea to live with my Dad in Montana for a little while. Mumbles and I lived there for about 3 years when my Grandfather, the corner stone of my Mother's family, passed away. I missed my family more than anything and after a failed relationship, I decided it was time to return home. I was still going to school, so I enrolled at community college for a semester while I tried to figure out my next move. While I was there I met, the 'Cowboy'. I haven't the faintest idea what originally attracted me to him. Whatever it was, has long since faded. The three of us moved in together and thus began the worst 2 1/2 years of our lives.

My Dad says that some cowboys wear white hats and some cowboys wear black hats. My cowboy, as it turned out, wore a black hat. Drinking problem would be an understatement. I remember one night having to call one of the Cowboys friend's to come and get him. When the friend arrived the Cowboy was in the front yard, completely naked except for his boots. Another night we arrived at his mother's and I was covered in blood and had peed my pants, he'd gotten mad at me because I'd been driving, hit a bump and he spilled beer on himself. A bruise on my shin from where he bit me and another the size of grape fruit on my hip because I refused to have sex with him. Most people who know me can't believe that I would ever stay 2 minutes, let alone 2 years with a person who did this to me. I was a different person then. I rationalized the abuse in my own mind because if I fought back it wasn't really abuse, right?

Toward the end of the two years I'd had enough and he knew it. I had a plan to get out. The abuse escaladed. One night, he came home from the bar and was so drunk I couldn't understand him. He was saying words but they formed neither sentences nor complete thoughts. He got angry with me and pinned me down on the sofa with his knee in my chest. He must have changed his mind about what he was about to do because the next thing I knew, he was in the kitchen yelling that I hadn't cooked dinner. I left Mumbles who was 5, asleep in her bed, and walked two blocks to the gas station to call the police. I waited on the porch for a couple minutes for them to arrive. When I took them upstairs, the Cowboy was in Mumbles room and she had been crying. Then I saw why. She had marks from her ears down her neck and to the tops of her arms. He'd grabbed her by her hair, drug her down the stairs and back up again. He'd held her neck and banged her head against the door. And then he'd put her back in bed, covered her up and told her not to cry. He was arrested and taken to jail.

Mumbles and I moved to Pittsburg and I made another promise. I was a fool to think that the Cowboy wouldn't hurt her but I wouldn't make that mistake again. Mumbles is almost 12 now. I still carry a great deal of guilt that she suffered even a second because of my poor choices. I was also a fool to think that I couldn't call on my family for support. They each one helped us out, in different ways and I am grateful to them, but it was Mumbles who rescued me. Twice. She's truely my Angel.

I'm scared....

...of spiders and being on a ladder and of giving birth naturally. When I was pregnant with Mumbles, I was focused on how I was going to raise her, rather than the how of her actually getting here. I took a one day crash course in labor and delivery and when the big day came, I did what I was told and I didn't ask any questions. They broke my water, gave me pitocin, gave me an epi, a little more pitocin, two pushes and viola, I had a baby. I also had a headache for days after delivery. I didn't know until recently that the headache was most likely caused by the epi. I thought it was the Tylenol 3 they gave me, so I stopped taking it. I also had no idea that I could've easily been on the snowballs path to an 'unnecesarean', which I absolutely don't ever want, ever. When I told my Mom Mumbles' birth story, she said she hadn't had an epi with any of us. Really? Not even with my sister and I who were both breach? Nope, and I could tell by the look on her face and the way she said it that I had missed something. I don't regret it. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I needed the hospital staff to take charge and tell me what to do. I don't know that I would've made different choices had I known what I know now. Mumbles was 'sunnyside up' and I was having trouble relaxing between my contractions. Still, I wonder what might have been different about her birth story had I gone au naturale.
I have decided this time, knowing what I know now, that I want to try and have as natural a childbirth as I can. I'm still going to deliver in a hospital because I think that is where Micha and I will feel most comfortable. I am, however, terrified that its going to hurt like hell. Micha is scared too. I know lots of women who aren't much different than me have done it. I know they were all probably scared at some point too. Still I worry that if my labor is long, or if it hurts too much, I won't be able to push and things will go bad. I'm not unsually one who is so full of self-doubt, I mean I bet if I had to and I didn't think about for too long, I could jump out of a plane (not that I want to, I'm just saying), but this shit is scary!

More of Week 13

This has been such a roller coast ride of a week. Sunday with my family was absolutely perfect. Monday with Micha's family was great, but then Tuesday rolled around and the shit hath hiteth the fan-eth.

Monday, I told my boss that I was expecting. Tuesday he shares with me that he's concerned about the company and doesn't know how much longer we can hold out like this. What?!? Are you fucking serious? For months now, he's been saying that this is the nature of the business. At times we sit around on our hands and then, boom, business picks up and we are all so busy we don't know whether to scratch our watches or wind our asses. Could this guy have possibly picked a worse time to tell me, I am aboard a sinking ship?! Seriously.

Wednesday, despite concerns about how much longer I will be employed, was great. I felt good. I found pants that didn't look ridiculous or hideous. (Why are all maternity clothes covered in huge stupid floral patterns or black?) And then I went home. The kitchen was an absolute mess. Dirty dishes were filling the sink and spilling onto the counter, the dishwasher was full but hadn't been ran. And ants. Don't get me wrong, bugs are fine, some are even interesting- when they are outside. They do not belong in my kitchen crawling on my dishes. I literally went from zero to bitch in seconds. The bright spot was that Wednesday is yoga night. Yoga is how I maintain my sanity. Unfortunately, I was off, really off and I knew why.

When I say we told my family on Easter Sunday, that is only a half truth. My parents divorced when I was 5 so telling my family anything is a two-part ordeal. I knew that my Mom would be thrilled and excited, she loves being a Grandma. Dad is a different story alltogether. Dad and I don't have a typical 'Father/Daughter' relationship. Don't get me wrong, I love him. He's my Dad. We had some really great summers together when I was a kid. Then when I was 12 he just dropped of the face of the planet. He stopped calling or writing. We didn't visit him during the summer. Nothing. To this day, I have no idea why. Seven years went by without any contact between us. But at 18, he came through for me when I really needed someone to. I moved in with him and stayed until after Mumbles was born and I got my own apartment. I chose to forgive him and not to judge him. He'd been battling his demons for a number of years. I hadn't seen it when I was younger but as an adult it became glaringly obvious.
That was 10 years ago and my life is vastly different now. I have toppled mountains. I graduated from college, the first on my Mom's side to do so. I'm raising my daughter and I don't think I've screwed her up too bad. I work, I have a wonderful partner and we've purchased a home together. Through all of this, I don't remember my Dad being happy for me. I can only remember one time when he even had anything positive to say about everything I've been able to accomplish. I don't feel like he's disappointed with me, except for in my choice of living arrangements, but I also don't think he can just be happy for me. I am happy and feel that I have a wonderful life. Isn't that what parents are supposed to want for their children? Maybe I didn't emphasis how excited Micha and I are about having a baby? No, he just launched into a diatribe about good parenting and how he can't speak from a place of authority even though when he signed the liscense he meant it. Then he went on about his childhood buddy's dog. No 'Congratulations!'. Didn't ask when the baby was due. Nothing. Sadly, I knew the conversation would go this way. You can't expect a duck to bark like a dog. Yet, I was still in tears. Why the fuck do I even talk to him? Because if I don't I feel guilty. Because when he dies, I don't want to regret that I didn't. Because I know he is lonely and miserable and I feel sorry for him. I feel better being a bright spot in his day, even though he can be such a dark spot in mine. I'm tougher than him. I can survive him making me feel shitty for a few minutes once a month because I know I have so much more to look forward to. And because despite everything, I love him. I love him for the person I know he was meant to be, but just couldn't.
Micha held me while I had a good cry about it, I ate a bunch of candy and passed out. While I was asleep, Micha cleaned the house...the whole house. Floors, windows (jealous yet?) everything and even made bread. See? So much more to look forward to!