The Day I Risked My Daughter’s Life To Save Others

Just thinking about that day makes my stomach turn and my hands go sweaty.

It was an otherwise normal day. The morning was a blur of frenzy as I tried to get ready for work while entertaining a 1-year-old in a plastic, jumpy play thingy. I’ve never liked mornings, and this one was no exception. Two cups of coffee and I knew things would look better.

Baby Hands

Image Credit: Sias van Schalkwyk

As I buckled my daughter into her car seat, a small thought began to nag at me. Voices of friends, family, and internet strangers started to swirl in my head as I made the 10 minute drive to the building that held my daughter’s fate. By the time we checked in I was frantic, although you would have never known from the outside.  When our name was called, I scooped her up and took her into the room that would make her cry and wail. I knew my heart would break.

When it was over, I watched her carefully. She seemed the same. Over the next few months, I looked for signs of sickness. In the end, we came out the other side unscathed.

That was six years ago, less than a year after Jenny McCarthy became a vocal anti-vaccine spokesperson.

While the rational side of me KNEW that the MMR vaccine did not cause autism, I couldn’t help but be bombarded by her face telling me that I was wrong. The rational side of me did the research to the best of my non-scientific ability and I had concluded that vaccinating my children  was the right decision, but the loud roar of the anti-vaccination movement could not be avoided.

The day that I took my first born to get her MMR vaccination, I was scared. Six years later, I am mad.

I shouldn’t have been scared by a beautiful, eloquent spokesperson that refuted science and held up her beautiful son as evidence. Her son that, according to her, became autistic after receiving vaccines. The son that, according to her, recovered from autism through chelation therapy. The son with autism that, according to her, caused her divorce.  I know all of this because she was EVERYWHERE – on the news, on talk shows, online. I couldn’t escape from her if I tried.

Six years later, a report surfaced that McCarthy admitted her son was misdiagnosed with autism and suffered instead from  Landau–Kleffner syndrome, a common misdiagnosis. A week later she slammed that report refuting it’s truth, and all links to the original reports have been disabled (good job, lawyers). Regardless, it’s too late for me. Personally, I don’t believe her son had autism and was cured by an obscure therapy any more than I believe her claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism.

I do, however, blame her for my fear of vaccines. I also blame the media that gave her airtime.

A few weeks after my son was born in 2010, a newborn died of whooping cough at my hospital during a horrific outbreak in our state. The outbreaks were concentrated in areas that had low vaccination rates. Once again, I was scared. Not of Jenny McCarthy’s dire warnings, but of the thousands of children that were not vaccinated because their parents were afraid; a fear that may have been triggered by Jenny McCarthy.

This fear continues to be propagated by the anti-vaccination community that will sell you thousands of dollars in supplements and call the government and Big Pharma evil money-mongers despite contributing $32 billion of revenue to the US economy in 2012 alone.

That day, six years ago, I was told that I was risking my daughter’s life by vaccinating her but I chose to do it anyway because the evidence told me that these vaccines were more likely to save other children than hurt my own.

Please share this so other parents know that they are not alone in their fear. I applaud the families that vaccinate and thank them from the bottom of my heart for saving the lives of others with their decision.

If you are concerned about vaccinating your children, here are just a few excellent resources to consider. 

**A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccinations & Autism** please read this if nothing else

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Vaccine Education Center

The History of Vaccines

About Blurb My Enthusiasm
40-something-yrs-old and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. My resume reads like a food court menu: educator, dog walker, product manager, executive director, managing editor - and that's just the notable titles. I entertain all offers and consider myself up for the job until someone tells me I'm not. I've never been fired. What I lack in direction, I make up for in enthusiasm.

19 Responses to The Day I Risked My Daughter’s Life To Save Others

  1. hvanmil says:

    Love this!! I have tears reading this as I was in the exact same place, with those exact same fears.

    • I’m so sorry that you had the same experience. Sadly I think we are in the company of millions. I hope we see an end to the fear before our children have to make this choice.

      Thank you for reading & sharing your thoughts 🙂

  2. I had a coworker that was very anti vaccine as well as his daughter had autism seemingly caused by vaccines. At least, that is what he believed. I don’t know if he was right or not, but I do know it freaked me out when it came time to give my children their shots.

    • It’s scary, isn’t it? I think that’s why I got SO MAD when I read the article about McCarthy changing her story.

      Thanks for reading, and I wish for the best for your family and your coworkers.

      • Yes, it is scary. I know the coworker meant well but ultimately, it scared me.
        I am no longer in touch with him but hope that his daughter is better.
        Happy new year to you as well.

  3. hvanmil says:

    Oops, hit enter too soon. I was afraid even though my oldest was severely immunocompromised for much of her early days having been born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery. I was still afraid. It still lingers in the back of my mind as I go through vaccinations with my second daughter. But I too am angry. That could have been my baby dead from a preventable outbreak when she was hospitalized several times. I with people would realize the damage that their choices can do to others. Am reposting this!!

  4. letstalkaboutfamily says:

    Thank you for this post. Vaccination is an important public health measure that all parents should do to protect their children. There are more ways to prevent illness now than there were when my children were born. Now we can prevent chicken pox (and shingles that comes later in life due to having had chicken pox). We can prevent measles, mumps and many other infectious diseases. Trust your child’s doctor and follow the immunization schedule. It is hard for individuals to decide what to believe of all the media hype. You have to trust those who have the education and knowledge from yefars of medical school and experience.

    • letstalkaboutfamily says:

      Correction– ” years of medical school” not yefars. Key pad runs off n its own smetimes. 😌

      • Thanks for adding to the discussion, and I couldn’t agree more. Why we have been conditioned to distrust our doctors is extremely frustrating – and sad.

        And key pads DO have a mind of their own – I swear! 🙂

  5. hvanmil says:

    Reblogged this on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play and commented:
    Love this bloggers point of view – a great read! Let me know what you think.

  6. I just came across your blog through a reblog on facebook. This is such a great post and very well said. As a parent, this is something that I’ve had to think about twice now and I’m so glad to find other parents with the same outlook as mine. Parents need to take responsibility for their own kids instead of assuming “Well, everyone else will get their kids vaccinated, so mine won’t really get sick”. It’s just selfish. Thanks for bringing attention to it.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s really hard to be a parent these days, and even harder when we are asked to conduct research on our children’s behalf. I know how scared I was making my decision, and I am now finding out I was far from alone.

      On another note: I think your blog title is BRILLIANT 🙂 Glad we connected.

  7. Pingback: The Day I Risked My Daugher's Life To Save Others - Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play

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