Today I came across this image.
I’ve read some of the back and forth between vaxxers & anti-vaxxers, so I understand, to a degree, some of the arguments. But this really made me pause. I want to point ou that this isn’t about people who Can’t vaccinate their kids, but rather it is about the people who Won’t.
The fact is, that for me, this is so completely not the issue. I don’t have a moment’s pause for my vaccinated kids. They can totally play with unvaccinated kids all day long an it doesn’t bother me one iota, because I am so sure the vaccines work (within the bounds of effectiveness, of course).
One of the commenters on this image said something to the effect of “why should I care about your kids? It’s my job to care about my own.” I feel this is a pretty valid argument, for some things. However, we also live in a society and part of being in a society is caring for those around you. More accurately, this is the job and responsibility of those living in a community. I posit that almost none of us live in real communities anymore, which is why this attitude exists. However, that is not the issue I wanted to address so we’ll leave the community discussion for another day (if you want an interesting insight for it, read the 2nd to last chapter of “Dumbing Us Down” by Gato. It’s about the public school system, but I felt that chapter had a lot of Truth and Insight into what communities really are, and realized that for the most part, I’ve never lived in one outside of my extended family).
Lets talk about pregnancy, birth and babies for a minute. I don’t know about you, and what your experiences have been. I only know mine, and a small portion of other people’s. For me though, pregnancies are hard. My pregnancies aren’t “Difficult Pregnancies,” but they are hard. The first couple weeks are fine, and because I chart I know I’m pregnant about a week after conception. But then I start getting sick. Not the lovely puke-once-and-be-chipper-the-rest-of-the-day sick. I wake up nauseous, I dry heave for minutes on end because my stomach is empty, I can’t eat much of anything without throwing it up and dry heaving more and throwing up/dry heaving is painful. It’s utter wringing of my stomach, twisted and stomped on, over and over and over. And should I actually bring something up (usually I dry heave until whatever stomach acid is in my stomach comes up) it burns. And I am nauseous All. The. Time. Yes, I took medicine to help, but it was just a case of orders of magnitude. I wasn’t as nauseous, didn’t dry heave as much, didn’t wish myself into non-existence as much. There was also much pondering on the wisdom of continuing on in such misery. Plus very serious weight loss. And this for weeks. 9 weeks, actually. That seems like a short time. Just two months. Just nine weeks. Just 63 days. Just 189 meals. Just 1,512 hours. Just 11,340 minutes. Until it is constant, unrelenting and continuous. Then it is an agonizing amount of time.
Moreover, it’s an awful lot of effort. On top of having to take care of the house, and the other kids, and the spouse, and the job, and the pets, and the cooking, and the shopping, and the everything else. When it takes everything you’ve got to get up because life is so much worse when your vertical.
But, at least there is an end in view, with a bundle of happiness waiting, so you push through and eventually it’s behind you.
Then things are hunky dory for a bit as you start to get larger and larger. And you have to pee all the time. And you don’t quite fit into anything anymore (doors, cars, chairs etc). And you can’t sleep comfortably, and then you can’t sleep at all.
For 9 months you’ve been giving up yourself. For 38 weeks you have been sacrificing your body. For 266 days you have slowly been sacrificing your self, what you once were, heading imminently toward something new and utterly life altering. For 6,384 hours you have worked. And then Labor begins and you work some more.
Labor and Birth. Compared to the time that pregnancy lasts, the time that life encompasses, it is a mere blip. But what a blip.
Now, I am a big fan of epidurals. Absolutely, every time for me (I’m also a big fan of every woman choosing the method that is right for her). My first child was induced, so aside from some discomfort of very early labor before my epidural there wasn’t much to that one as far as work went. Easy peasy. My second child began labor spontaneously. It took about a half hour from the time my water broke to get everything together and get to the hospital. Now, I have very quick labors, so I was having contractions less than 5 minutes apart by the time we got into the car. I thought those were pretty bad, but after several minutes of what I thought was horrible, horrible pain over and over, I finally got my epidural and everything was great. …except it wasn’t. My son was 3 days early and his lungs weren’t developed quite enough and he was swiftly whisked off to the NICU. And for the first time I felt real Fear.
I felt the all-too-real Fear that my child, my little baby, would die. I had only had him for minutes, for a couple hours, but I loved him so deeply. I had sacrificed for him and was not yet done with my sacrifice to bring him into this world, to provide him with a body, to give him a chance at Life. And I had Fear.
Fortunately, after a week in the NICU accompanied by a spinal headache and gallstones throughout, I was able to bring my precious child home. But now I knew Fear, and Fear did not leave me for weeks.
My third birth was different. The pregnancy was much the same, 2 months of abject misery followed by 7 months of increasing discomfort, change and sacrifice, etc. But now I was acquainted with Fear, real Fear. And Fear returned to me, bit by bit, as Birth approached. Fear that we’d again be too early, that we’d again be in the NICU, that we would again be facing Death. And Fear grew as I started having preterm contractions on and off. The last week before we hit ‘term’ was agonizing, immobilizing with Fear. But we made it. Barely. At 2AM of the first day of week 37, I went into real labor.
To this point I had been acquainted with Sacrifice, Fear, Work, and some degree of Pain for my babies. But this one was different. Because I birth quickly, I had only 1 hour left by the time we reached the hospital. Because no one believed you’re really in labor until they’ve done a million tests and they think that ‘quick’ means several hours, and because I manage pain relatively well, we waited for nearly an hour before being actually admitted as my labor pains became more and more intense. I asked for an epidural several times, but due to unfortunate timing, the anesthesiologist had gone into a c-section about 10 minutes after I got there. So I got the unique experience that I’d never hoped to have of giving a natural birth (after the nurse finally checked my dilation and realized I was about to pop and literally rushed me to a room yelling at anyone she saw to come assist her because there was no time).
I’ve read women’s accounts before about how wonderful natural birth is. They make it seem like it’s all rainbows and unicorn farts. They are lucky. That is not how I experience birth. Without going into excessive detail on the experience, I will say that I thought gallstones were the worst pain in my life worse than labor and on-par with a spinal headache. Until I experienced true active labor. Until then, I would have described labor pains as how I imaging someone sticking a knife into my guts and squiggling it all over would feel. But now I don’t think that does justice to how I experience real labor. And that doesn’t even touch the experience of actually giving birth. My powers of description fail me when I try to quantify what that experience. All I know is that now my 1-10 pain scale has been seriously skewed.
I have felt Pain now, and am in awe, deeply in awe, of the millenniums of women before us who experienced that for each and every person who ever lived on this earth, and countless more who never drew breath but came through the same amazing feat. I was in labor for 2 hours, but am humbled to think that so many women throughout history, and probably many still today, who do that for hours on end, for days sometimes. And I understand now how a woman could so easily die from it. I am a fan of epidurals, but I don’t think one can truly appreciate what it is to give birth until she has done it naturally.
And then, after all that, I now had a beautiful, precious daughter. I Sacrificed my body for my babies, I became acquainted with Fear, saw Death fliting in the shadows, and experienced for the first time true Pain. And all that, only to start the life of my babies.
Once they are here, then comes the long sleepless nights. For the first 4 weeks or so I never get more than 90 minutes of sleep at at time. There are studies on sleep deprivation and how it really screws you up. New mothers get the joy of experiencing that. The next 4 weeks saw that number rise to 2-2.5 hours of sleep at a time, at least once a day, but often only once a day. But slowly, it increases.
And as you begin dealing with the mental changes that come with sleep deprivation you begin to loose yourself, your very identity begins to be subsumed by the child you now have, who is now the focus of everyone’s attention, along with the endless diapers and feedings and spitting up and laundry and mindless baby games. This is moderated to some degree by a good support system of course. But you also have several weeks of painful recovery, and a lot of work if you ever wish to reclaim some semblance of the body you knew before.
So you have all of this Price you have paid for this little baby, this little person, combined with the unquantifiable amount of Love you feel for her (when you’re rested enough to be in your right mind).
I have all of this versus the anti-vaxxers claim that she doesn’t give a damn about my child. She may not, but I do.
So, what threat is her unvaccinated child to my precious little 2-month old who has just begun to smile?
Say they go on a trip in an airplane and unvaxxed child gets exposed because airplanes are great places to spread disease. Or they visit a family member at a hospital. Who know how the child gets exposed and subsequently infected. The child is now unknowingly 1)infected and 2) contagious.
Shingles is contagous by contact with pus: shingles person touches rash then doorknob to the restroom. Child touches doorknow and now has chikenpox
Chickenpox is most contagious the week before symptoms appear.
Chickenpox isn’t too bad for newborns?
Lets talk measles. Measles can live in the air for up to two hours. Infected person sneezes, an hour later UV child walks by and now is infected. Incubation period is about 10 days or so. She begins to have a little sniffle, but no one realizes she”s sneezing out measles yet. Oh, and according to the WHO measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children.
Pertussis/whooping cough? Oftem fatal for infants. UV child contracts it from some other kid or person who doesn’t realize they’ve got more than a simple cough.
Polio can be asymptomatic, it also doesn’t start showing signs for a few weeks. Say UV child has that and isn’t so great at washing hands after using the toilet. Or just decided to scratch his/her butt. Polio can be life threatening, and assuming my infant survives, might leave her with paralysis and/or nerve damage.
Pneumococcal Meningitis? Not contagious from UV kids, but still both deadly and preventable (one can say the same thing about car accidents and using the proper child safety equipment).
So, I have my beautiful smiling 2 month old who is still too young for most of these vaccines. My older child has UV child over to play. I don’t know the child is unvaccinated, the child doesn’t know s/he is infected and contagious. The kids play merrily, at one point picking up a toy from baby’s playmat, and then sneezing on it as they walk by, forgetting (as kids often do) to cover their nose.
I lay my beautiful, precious, perfect daughter on her playmat that she loves. My daughter who I have Sacrificed for, Worked for, gone through Pain for and Feared for, and whom I love more than all of this. And now, in this hypothetical but all too possible situation, my beautiful smiling daughter has become infected because anti-vaxxer parent only cares about her kids, not mine.
My precious daughter is screaming in unreleavable nerve pain and can’t understand why Mommy can’t make it better, because anti-vaxxer doesn’t care about my child, its not her problem.
My child id dying because Anti-vaxxer doesn’t care.
My beautiful infant is dead, and what else is there that matters?
Fortunately that has not yet happened, my daughter appears to be healthy, and smiling. But I know Fear. It is real, and it is valid.
No, your unvaccinated kids are not a threat to my vaccinated kids. That is not the issue.