Our Vaccination Story

In 2008 I joined an online group for women expecting babies in December of that year. I needed to talk to other women going through the ups and downs of pregnancy, who could commiserate over our achy body parts we didn’t know we had, celebrate all of the little moments that you only “get” if you are expecting, and help me navigate the onslaught of information on parenting- how to choose a car seat, how to choose a pediatrician, natural birth or epidural, etc.

I went into this pregnancy with pretty high ideals- I was going to be a natural mom. A crunchy mom. A cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, baby-wearing goddess.

That didn’t actually work out as planned, at least not the first time around.

One of the biggest things I needed to consider as a parent, was whether or not to vaccinate my babies. And if I was going to vaccinate them…when, and how was I going to do it?

It was 2008, so I obviously read The Vaccine Book like it was the Bible. And I listened to every impassioned plea to not “overload” my new babies system with multiple shots at once. That was dangerous, y’all! Blood Brain Barrier! Scary shit.

And then some people were always talking about autism, but I didn’t know what autism was, and anyways I was plenty convinced by the “overloading the system” rhetoric- my boys would be following the Alternative Schedule set forth by Dr. Sears. The CDC was not going to dictate this one. I’m the mom. I knew best. I obviously knew better than our pediatrician.

So in November I had twins. We moved forward with the “alternative” schedule, and our pediatrician, who actually sited “vaccines” as one of his key interests, didn’t question our decision. We ended up going in like every other month or so to keep them on the schedule. This was after we had to drag them in every few days to get bilirubin checks, and every week for weight checks- what’s an extra appointment here and there?

Around 15 months we noticed that both boys had pretty much tapered off their language to nothing. We brought it up at appointments, but we were blown off. They were boys, they were twin boys they were identical twin boys, they were premature identical twin boys…you get the drill. Nothing to see here folks! Your babies are fine.

Except they weren’t. Something was different. They had a speech delay. I just knew it in my bones.

In the meantime we had another baby, and after almost 2 years of constant visits to the pediatrician for vaccinations, we decided that there was no reason to not follow the CDC schedule. Neither of the twins had a reaction to any of their shots, and it was seriously starting to get difficult to stay on top of visits. So boy #3 was vaccinated on schedule from day 1.

When the twins were 25 months old, after 10 months of questions and being told to “wait and see”, we had them evaluated for speech by early intervention. Halfway through, the person doing the parent interview asked me what I knew about autism.

Seriously.

How did we miss this?

Anyway, fast forward a few months, we have many evaluations, get a medical diagnosis of autism for both boys. Our pediatrician still didn’t believe it (“they are too young to know”), but he suggests we hold off on the MMR until they are 3 years old. He never said why, but I believe he didn’t ever want us to think that the MMR had something to do with their autism, and I’m grateful for him not muddying the waters.

Shortly after our boys had their first speech eval, they started school, and there was a small measles outbreak in Minneapolis. Some of the kids attended Minneapolis Public Schools. Some of those kids may have had contact with people who worked with the boys. You can bet I was a bit frantic as we sat there, no MMR, and now what? Do we get it NOW? Do we wait it out? In the end we just waited it out, and they were vaccinated at 3.5 years old.

Every time I take the twins in for a well-visit, I am met with my copy of the vaccination schedule we set up for them, stapled to their chart. It’s embarrassing to me that I was sucked in to making this choice for my kids. That I potentially put their lives, and the lives of others at risk, because I thought of it as just one more thing in the checklist of things crunchy moms did. It’s humbling to know that I was naive enough to be swayed by junk science, and anecdotes.

They didn’t get on track until last year, when they were 6.5 years old. After we got a letter from the school listing everything they were missing. Meanwhile, our younger boys (we now have 4 boys) have been vaccinated fully, and on-time, since day 1.

Since the boys’ diagnosis, I have learned so much about the fear-mongering that goes along with vaccinating your children. What I’ve learned is that this isn’t really something that is up for discussion for the vast majority of people. It’s not a choice. It is not the same as choosing to have an epidural, or to extended rear-face your carseat. Unless you belong to a very small group of people who absolutely cannot be vaccinated, you need to be vaccinated. On schedule. No questions. Vaccines do not cause autism.

 

 

 


The List 2016

Update, and Additions:

1. Travel in China (cliche I know but I’d like to)
2. Travel in Russia (can’t justify my major without it)
3. Live on the East Coast (retire to Annapolis, see 4)
4. Learn how to sail (actually, have a nice boat, sail to boat shows)
5. Spend Christmas in Virginia (John, Debby- don’t move!)
6. Make Christmas Eve tamales from scratch (I cheat and buy from restaurants) (2014)
7. Tailgate at Homecoming (10 hours is not a long drive)
8. Live on the water (lake, ocean, river, doesn’t matter)
9. Learn how to sew (relearn, I’ve got the machine…) (2014- badly!)
10. Own a big old house with nice woodwork, claw foot tubs and radiators (I love me some radiant heat)

11. Have another baby (that would be 4 kids) (2014)
12. Have a VBAC (not because I feel cheated, but because there is no reason not to)*
13. Learn how to can something (Pepper jelly? Pickled Cabbage? The possibilities!)
14. Do something official with Breastfeeding (IBCLC? Aim high!)*
15. Belong to a CSA (2013-2016)
16. Work out regularly (at least 3 days a week)
17. Learn how to do my hair (properly)
18. Own a bonafide CUTE purse
19. Learn how to frost a cake (well)
20. Travel to northern Europe and see where my ancestors came from (Sweden, Norway)

21. Join a Church
22. Get the boys baptized (2013)
23. Enter something in the State Fair (2014)
24. Win a State Fair Ribbon
25. Walk the lake 3 times a week (Harriet, Calhoun…)*
26. Stop biting my nails (a new habit of mine)
27. Take a weekend getaway with my husband (2015- Sturgeon Bay)
28. Get to the library every week
29. Learn how to plant a vegetable garden (2015)
30. Get involved with Autism advocacy in some way (2015)

31. Be active in the school (2014)
32. Learn to crochet
33. Join a book club (2014)
34. Master composting
35. Start a Lego Club
36. Refinish the wood floors
37. Refinish the basement
38. Have a signature dish
39. Read a book a week
40. Adopt a second hand pet (2015)

*I’m taking these items off the list.  For one, I live nowhere near the lakes to make it possible to walk them like I could when we lived on the other side of town; and as for breastfeeding, I’ve given up like 3 solid years of my life to it.  I think that is enough.


Bring It

freeze-pops

Two years ago today, we got the keys to our house.

As I sit outside on a breezy May evening, I hear kids running through the yards, laughing, playing hide and seek.  I hear dogs barking.  I see people walking, running.  I see people puttering about in their gardens, moving bags of mulch around on the sidewalk to let people pass, or moving gallon sized plants from space to space like a game of chess, before finally putting it into the ground.

Our neighborhood is bustling with activity.  It is both quiet and alive.

I love it here.

One thing we haven’t really done, is get into a groove with the neighborhood kids.  I can’t just let L & W roam the alley with the other kids their age, and no one seems too keen on just hanging out in our yard, at least not so far.  We are going to try and change that this summer.  Today J invited a neighbor boy his age over to play.  They were in and out of the house, up and down the sidewalk on their scooters, and hanging in the backyard with L & W, for three solid hours.  It felt really good.  It felt like the thing that was missing.

I might have chocolate smeared on every wall of my house, and my kitchen floor might need to be swept for the 5th time today, and my laundry might never be folded, but I will welcome any kids who want to run through my yard, and tromp through my living room, and sit at my kitchen table and play LEGO with my boys.  It’s going to be a very long summer if I don’t.

The Welcome mat is out.  I’m stocking up on freeze-pops.

 


What I’m Reading

iloveI’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’ve been reading blogs for even longer.  Over the past few years, I’ve lost the hours where I could leisurely click from page to page, catching up, peeking into other people’s lives.  Now my reading usually happens during a nursing session, and more often than not, I end up killing that time with games of Two Dots, or taking the Buzzfeed quizzes that clutter my feed.  I’m not reading nearly as many blogs as I did in the past, and I kind of miss it!

I’m starting to get back to reading, and I thought I would share some of my favorite bloggers (old and new), and some of the posts that made me fall in love.  I’ve also started listening to podcasts- pretty much anything MPR puts out or that is history related.  Why waste those precious hours spent washing dishes when I could be learning something, right?

 

Brittany, Herself
This was the first post that hooked me.
This inspired me to buy boots.
This inspired me to, well…

The Bloggess
The post that still makes me laugh just thinking about it.
A Diary of a Mom
The post that made me think about how I talk about the boys and autism.

Serious Eats
The post that became a staple of our meal plan.

The Candy Perfume Boy
As fragrance reviewers go, he’s at the top.

Podcasts:
The History Chicks
Grammar Girl
Backstory
Russian Rulers History Podcast (I totally nerd out to this one. No apologies.)
Librivox Not a podcast, but free domain audio books- pretty much any classic you can think of.

 


The Blogger Returns

Return to blogging

So, it’s been awhile.

Almost 2 years.  Do you know what happens in two years?  LIFE happens in two years.

A few posts back I acknowledged my 35th birthday by revisiting The List.  Let’s just look at the list and see where we are:

The List

1. Travel in China (cliche I know but I’d like to)
2. Travel in Russia (can’t justify my major without it)
3. Live on the East Coast (retire to Annapolis, see 4)
4. Learn how to sail (actually, have a nice boat, sail to boat shows)
5. Spend Christmas in Virginia (John, Debby- don’t move!)
6. Make Christmas Eve tamales from scratch (I cheat and buy from restaurants) (2014)
7. Tailgate at Homecoming (10 hours is not a long drive)
8. Live on the water (lake, ocean, river, doesn’t matter)
9. Learn how to sew (relearn, I’ve got the machine…) (2014- badly!)
10. Own a big old house with nice woodwork, claw foot tubs and radiators (I love me some radiant heat)

11. Have another baby (that would be 4 kids) (2014)
12. Have a VBAC (not because I feel cheated, but because there is no reason not to)*N/A
13. Learn how to can something (Pepper jelly? Pickled Cabbage?  The possibilities!)
14. Do something official with Breastfeeding (IBCLC? Aim high!)
15. Belong to a CSA (2013-2015)
16. Work out regularly (at least 3 days a week)
17. Learn how to do my hair (properly)
18. Own a bonafide CUTE purse
19. Learn how to frost a cake (well)
20. Travel to northern Europe and see where my ancestors came from (Sweden, Norway)

21. Join a Church
22. Get the boys baptized (2013)
23. Enter something in the State Fair (2014)
24. Win a State Fair Ribbon
25. Walk the lake 3 times a week (Harriet, Calhoun…)
26. Stop biting my nails (a new habit of mine)
27. Take a weekend getaway with my husband
28. Get to the library every week
29. Learn how to plant a vegetable garden
30. Get involved with Autism advocacy in some way

Seven things are off the list:

– I made Tamales this Christmas, and they were amazing.  I can’t believe it took me this long.
– I started sewing on my new machine, and it’s actually a million times easier than on my old machine.  I’m still pretty bad at it, but I’m getting better, and I now have it out and ready to go at all times, so it’s not a big deal to sit down and sew.
– Shortly after we moved into our house, I kind of panicked a bit, and we made the decision to have another baby.  S will be 1 in March.

IMG_0910
– We joined a CSA the spring before we moved, and we’ve really loved it.  We just signed up for our 3rd year, AND, we added the cheese share. Who doesn’t like fancy cheese?
– I made the decision to stop fighting my gray streak, and I have been slowly getting all of my highlights crown out and cut off.  In the meantime, I figured out that I like my hair shorter, and it’s actually pretty easy to maintain if I actually put some product in it right after showering.  It took me almost 37 years to get here.
– The boys were baptized at our church in 2013, and it was pretty great.  I was really nervous about the whole thing, but they just made us feel so welcomed and at ease about the whole thing.  I love our church, even if getting there isn’t something that happens very often.
– I entered my candied jalapenos in the state fair, and was pretty bummed when I didn’t win, considering there were only 8 entries in my category.  When we visited the exhibit I immediately knew that I had been disqualified- I used a half pint jar instead of a pint jar.  Next year I will be sure to use the correct jar size!

On top of those things,  we bought our first house; survived another hyperemesis plagued pregnancy; I had a freak accident while pulling up carpet that necessitated hand surgery, we graduated the twins from day treatment; started them in kindergarten; took a family trip to Wisconsin with my in-laws (and survived!); and started the long slog of figuring out what makes Tonka tick.

It has been a very full, very overwhelming, and very exciting two years at our house.  I’m kind of ready for things to slow down a bit.

I’m also excited to get back to this space now that things are starting to calm down in the baby department.  He’s almost walking, still nursing, cutting teeth like crazy, and I’m trying to soak up every minute of it.  He is the absolute last baby, unless there is an act of God. I didn’t realize I loved this stage so much, but it’s pretty awesome and I’m going to miss it.

Our house is finally getting put together.  Word to the wise: do not get pregnant immediately after moving if you have terrible pregnancies, everything will get put on hold until the baby is like 6 months old.  I finally got things up on our walls when I was decorating for Christmas- 18 months after we moved in.  Overall we have a long way to go until it’s where I want it to be, but we are actually starting to do things and work towards the vision.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.  It’s a good life.

 

 


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