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We’re Immune

on April 11, 2012

My children get immunized.  They get their shots according to the schedule that their pediatrician sets.  In my opinion, based off of my own research, this is what is best for my family.  But that’s not to say it is the best for ALL families, and I would never ever never tell another parent that they should get this shot or that shot for their kids.  And so I expect the same respect from those parents who choose not to immunize their kids.  Don’t go all immunization-scare-politics on me and tell me that immunizations are horrid, that the Chicken-Pox disease is a Rite of Passage, that Rubella is part of a conspiracy and doesn’t really exist.  Because this sort of anti-immunization warfare has happened to me.  Twice.  And both times I was topless, lying face down on a table.

Long gone are the days when my mom would get a phone call and after a few mumbled words of sympathy followed by muffled excitement, hang up the phone, grab her purse and announce: “Jennifer and her little sister BOTH came down with Chicken Pox yesterday!  We’re going over to their house for lunch.”  Because what was worse than getting Chicken Pox in the 3rd grade?  NOT getting Chicken Pox, that’s what.  (Because Chicken Pox as an adult could potentially be even worse?  But what about the fact that if you have Chicken Pox as a child you also have the opportunity to get Shingles as an adult?  And from what I hear, that sucker SUCKS.)  So off we’d go to our friend’s house to gather up some germs.  And sure enough, my siblings and I caught the Pox and we missed 2 weeks of school.  And it was an itchy horrible yucky thing.  And if by Rite of Passage they mean having the pleasure of saying things like, “Oh this?  It’s a Chicken Pox scar.  Yeah, totally cool huh.” then I guess I’ve made my passage.

Would it be the absolute worse thing in the world if my kids came down with Chicken Pox?  No, not really, but they have a shot for that now, so why put them through it?  But again, this is MY opinion, based on MY research, yada yada schmada.

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I made appointments to meet with pediatricians.  We wanted to “interview” them in the hopes of picking the perfect doctor for our child.  We only met with two because I am a procrastinator and by week 36 of my pregnancy my OB was threatening to pick one for me, so I figured we’d meet her two favorites.  So I was in my office at work, preparing my Pulitzer Prize winning list of questions for the doctors (What are your hours?  Where did you go to college?  Were you in a sorority?  Can I email you more questions later after I’ve come up with better ones?) when my boss came in and asked what I was doing.  She suggested I ask the doctors what their view was on immunizations.  What?  It didn’t dawn on me that I had a choice in the matter.  I added that to my list, but somehow I never got around to asking.  I might have been a bit intimidated by the degrees on the wall, but I was confident that the doctor we picked knew what she was doing.

At the end of my pregnancy I came down with Sciatica which is super fun pain that shot down my leg all day.  (Sign me up for that immunization when they come up with it.)  My OB set me up with a Chiropractor that specialized in Pregnant Women, so I sashayed with my Sciatica down to her office for a consult.  I was guided to a room and instructed to undress and put on the patient robe thing.  The Chiropractor came in and she was super bubbly and promised that my sciatica would go away after 20 adjustments, so I got up on a table that had a large opening for my preggo belly and laid down.  As my face became accustomed to being smushed into the little face pillow, she placed warm towels on my back that put me, almost, right to sleep.  I was in heaven.  And then she began to adjust me.  And then these words: “Do you know about the side effects of immunizations on babies?  You’re not going to get your child immunized, right?  It is not good for babies.  If you MUST get your child immunized, then I will agree that Polio is a good one to go with, but that’s all you need to worry about.”  I couldn’t talk.  My face was smushed in a pillow.  I was held hostage.  But my back felt soooo good.  And the pain was disappearing.  And I found myself listening to her because, well, she was a professional, she was a mom, she had obviously done her research, and she was making my pain go away.  And when the session was over, I sat up and nodded as she continued her little lesson on shot-free living.  But when I got to my car and buckled in, I started to get angry.  I certainly hadn’t asked her about immunizations, and she didn’t ask if I wanted to know.  She already had my attention and she knew I couldn’t go anywhere.  Yet I still went back as often as I could stand it (she healed the pain!), and each time she had another bit of anti-immunization speech for me.

After our son was born and was a few months old, we took a much needed trip to a hotel with spa amenities.  I signed up for a massage right away and was looking forward to my quiet time alone on the massage table.  I didn’t get the quiet and I didn’t get the alone.  The masseuse was a very nice woman who also asked me to disrobe and get on the table, face down.  My face again smushed in the pillow, as I started to fall asleep, I was jolted awake by another prepared anti-immunization speech.  “Again?” I thought.  I tried to block her out, but by the time the massage was over, I was exhausted from pretending to listen.  I was way too nice because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and I was afraid if I attempted to voice my own opinion on the whole immunization thing, that she would stop the massage, which, really, besides the incessant talking at me, was very soothing.  At the end she gave me what I thought was her business card.  It was a piece of paper with the name of an author and their book about how horrible immunizations are.

While I didn’t even say the word “immunize” to either of these professionals, I certainly got an earful. I heard what they said (I didn’t really have a choice, now did I) and I followed up with my own research and I came to my own conclusions.  And I am appreciative of my own mom, who had to deal with 3 kids with the Chicken Pox.  I bet there’s a story there!


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