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 http://www.seepsteen.co.za

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

HealthyChildren.org

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Well done, TIME magazine.

I was just thinking to myself, “There just isn’t enough controversy surrounding being a mom.”  I have been anxiously awaiting a new fight to erupt, pitting moms across the world against one another.  Let’s face it, the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom controversy just isn’t exciting anymore.  The camps are established, colors are flown, and there is enough evidence to support both sides to keep things in a rather boring even keel.

Even the excitement of red-shirting your kid has gotten blasé. For those of you not in the know, it’s the practice of holding your kid back a year starting in kindergarten so that they have every advantage academically, and more importantly, physically, than all the other kids at school by being anywhere from a year to a year and half older than their classmates.

Imagine my excitement when I saw the cover of TIME this week, showing me a bold, sexy mama breastfeeding her humungous three-year-old standing on a chair.  I’m 5’2”, so logistically I can’t even compete, but it still beckons me to pull out my gloves, demanding me to pick a side and fight.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – the Mommy Mafia exists.  Old Italian men with bushy eyebrows have nothing on us.  Moms will backstab and costume slash with the best of them, utilizing subtle techniques of exclusion and gossip to bring opposing families to their knees.  Moms can be secretive and subversive in their dealings, making you wonder, “Is she a Tiger Mom, or a Ferberizer? I just can’t tell! She refuses to let pacifiers in the house, but uses the 5 S’s with reckless abandon.  Is she one of us, or one of THEM?”

Just when I thought the balance of mom and let mom was beginning to overtake us, TIME brought us a new fight.  I have a new choice in Familia, or rather a new oath of allegiance I am required to make.  Do I lay on my sword for the boob or the bottle?  I must choose wisely, for surely the lives of all innocent children are at stake.

The REAL Hunger Games Review

It was a big weekend for the Hunger Games.  Many of you wondering, how was it??

The story opens with me gorging on pizza Friday night, washed down with a glass of wine. OK – it was two glasses. (Why did I have to post that witty comment on Facebook about the second glass? Grr.)  It fell just short of the drama and excitement I had anticipated, but I recognize now that it was just setting the stage.

I awoke Saturday morning to the blissful silence of an empty house. The two characters, Crazy Pants and Diabolical had successfully outwitted the generous and kind Pops, and were happily traveling the aisles of Target.  They had promised him all sorts of laughter and delight, but Pops soon realized he was entering the Chamber of Doom strapped to a shopping cart.

Delighted with the turn of events that morning, I resolved to make good on my promise to Master Thigh that I would no longer lavish her with gifts of decadence.  Unfortunately, her trusted advisor and resident evil conniver, Sir Stomach, had his plans for me.

Innocently stirring my coffee – with low-fat milk and Splenda – Sir Stomach slowly sidled up inside me and casually mentions that we have breakfast burritos in the freezer. “There’s only one left,” he pleaded. Of course there is only one left, I ate the other one not two days ago. It was then I had the sudden and shocking realization.

The Hunger Games had already started.

How had I missed the signs? The pizza gorging Opening Ceremony, the quiet of the morning…

I quickly jumped into strategy mode, wolfing down the last burrito. (I wouldn’t want that temptation around now that the games have started!). I looked ahead at the coming afternoon and made the snap decision to get as far away from the Baiting Ice Box, and bringing Crazy Pants and Diabolical along for safety.

Once I secured my wards and arrived at the zoo, I breathed a sigh of relief. This would be a safe haven for a short while, allowing me to continue my training (stroller pushing and chasing) that would help later in the round.  My security was short lived as I heard the small, whining voice erupt in my left ear.

“Mom, I am hungry.”

Ach! Sir Stomach had turned Crazy Pants, and she was now working against me. I took a deep breath, kept my cool. I didn’t want to let on that I was on to her. We strolled to the nearest “Café” and I stoically ordered a kids meal. Just one. Crazy Pants and Diabolical could share. They would not defeat me!

As we left the café, I congratulated myself on only eating half the quesadilla, all the fries, and SKIPPING the soda.  In hindsight, I can see the games were wearing on me.

The biggest challenge was yet to come, and I was ready.  The Street Food Fair loomed in the darkness that evening.  In preparation, I had foregone all food and drink, and was readying my responses to vendor cat calls.

I found my fellow competitors turned revelers; Skinny Pants, Gorger, and Just One, and we began the challenge.  First stop, single glass of wine. Second stop, pass on the cupcake (yes! Thankfully it had coconut on it, gross). Third stop, free wine? Just One said it was OK.  With only one more stop to go, I thought I had this competition in the bag.

Two bottles of wine, 4 appetizers, 1 entrée, and a promise to join a sky-diving trip later, I went home. I felt defeated, but optimistic. (I did have a lot wine, everything looked good.)

I was abruptly awoken on Sunday morning by Diabolical’s screams. Sir Stomach had gotten to him too. I knew the screams would awake Crazy Pants and I had little time. I was losing my allies faster than I was gaining weight.  But what they didn’t know was that I had a secret defense this time, the Hungover Medallion.

The Medallion protected me for some time, but it was not to last.  It wore off during the vulnerable time of the rains, and I found myself stuck. I was in the home zone, with limited supplies.  I panicked, looking for help, and turned to Pops for support. Previously, Pops had proven to be a very good cook with limited supplies and a strong contender for Healthiest Player in the Games.  He was my best defense.

“Let’s order pizza and wings, delivery,” he offered. The dreadful Sir Stomach had taken another.  My defenses severely weakened, I let go. The Games had won. I was done.

As if sensing a disturbance in the Universe, Princess Pilates sent a text message out:

“Would you like to come in early tomorrow?”

Yes. Yes I would.

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