I write this as I watch Peanut at her preschool through the one-way glass. Yes, I should probably be doing homework instead of staring at my child, but I just don’t want to. You see, she’s pretty frickin’ awesome.
First off, I’d like to say that I still believe that it’s every parent’s right to choose how they parent. This post isn’t meant to tell anyone that they’re wrong or a bad parent because they don’t believe with me 100%. Of course this is the case with all my posts, but I feel the need to state it right in the beginning of this one because I know this is such a touchy subject. People have very strong opinions on either side of the argument and that leads to some very heated discussions. I’m not saying these things to turn into an argument, but rather to show other parents that we can change our minds. We can admit when we’re wrong and go another direction and in this case, I am admitting that I was wrong. Here’s another article that my husband recently shared with me that has a similar theme.
My vaccine journey, of course, started when Peanut was very young. I knew a little about vaccines, but not much, when she was born. I knew I wanted to wait on the Hepatitis B vaccine, though she ended up getting it at 2 weeks because of a miscommunication between myself and my husband. After researching and reading The Vaccine Book (still a great read that I would recommend), I decided that she would still get all of her infant vaccines, but she would go in every month to get them and do 3 at a time instead of every other month and 6 at a time. It just made sense to me to still get this protection, but have less of an overload on her system at once.
Then as she got older, I started to question some of the live inactive vaccines they are supposed to get at one year. I was initially planning on getting the MMR in three separate vaccines, but it was take off the market as separate vaccines before she was old enough to get it. I also questioned chicken pox, as many parents who are my age or older do, because I had the illness as a child and it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I also decided not to do Hepatitis A because of the minute risk of seizure for children under 2. So she didn’t get any vaccines at one year. She did get her boosters for the other vaccines we had already started for 15 months.
This is about the time when I really started to get “crunchy.” Of course, I don’t consider being crunchy a bad thing whatsoever. I still completely believe in questioning the system, avoiding chemicals, and so many other parts of living a more natural life. Anyway, I started talking to these moms I now surrounded myself with and found that many of them did not vaccinate at all. This made me question vaccines myself. I became even more questioning when I read some obscure article stating there could be a link between peanut allergies and vaccines. By the time that Twig was born, I was completely anti-vaccine.
Now we fast forward to a few months ago. As many of you may know, I’m a biology teaching major. Last semester I took microbiology. This course was something I was not excited to take and therefore I put it off until almost the very end of my degree. Turns out I love it. Microbiology is fascinating to me and has actually solidified many of my crunchy ideals (e.g. fermentation and the health of gut microflora), but the one thing it directly clashed with is vaccines. We had a whole lecture series on vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases. Initially I felt like I was the person sitting bright cheeked in the second row (embarrassment), but that quickly turned into bright cheeked in the second row from anger. How dare my professor (and a guest professor) tell me I was wrong about vaccines? Then what they were saying started to make sense.
I’ll be the first to admit that they were both very passionately pro-vaccine. That’s not what got me though, it was the facts. So many of the things that they said made so much sense to me scientifically. For the longest time I had been simply ignoring the arguments from the crunchy folks that didn’t mesh with what I know about science, but all of this brought it to light in one foul swoop.
Many say that vaccines weren’t what brought down illness, but sanitation. My professors presented multiple charts to me showing that simply wasn’t the case. Many argued that vaccines just don’t work. Well here’ the mechanism that shows that they do work and it makes absolute sense from everything I know about biology and human physiology (which I’d venture to say it quite a bit at this point). Many say that they simply are too unsafe for the small risk that these relatively harmless diseases present or incredibly rare diseases present. Yes, there have been 5 cases of diphtheria in the US in the last 10 years, but do you know what that disease does? It basically chokes you to death. And it’s all one radical terrorist with the wrong connections away from running rampant in our country again.
So this all got me thinking. I understand the science behind vaccines, I understand the logic of getting them. From here, we decided to have a talk with our doctor. I had always planned on vaccinating Twig at some point, but I had no idea when. All I knew is that I didn’t want to bring so many foreign things into her body (especially anything that could risk her having a peanut allergy like big sis) at such a young age. Well all this thinking made me realize that now was the time and I wanted to discuss with our trusted pediatrician (Seriously, we have the best pediatrician in the whole world and I wish she could be my doctor. When we brought Peanut in with eczema, do you know what she told us to put on it? Coconut oil!) to decide which ones were important for her to get. During our discussion, she told me point blank that the whole peanut oil in vaccines thing was completely off base. I knew it probably was just some crackpot theory, but this solidified it. So we discussed which vaccines were the most important for her to get and I went home to plan out a schedule.
I decided she would for sure get polio (my husband has a co-worker who is from India and this series made me realize how close polio really is), HiB, and PC. I was unsure on DTaP because I’m fairly sure she’s already been exposed (my husband and Peanut both had it June before last) and received enough protection from my breast milk to avoid getting sick while producing her own antibodies. We would wait on all of the others and probably not get the flu vaccine at all.
Then the unthinkable happened to a friend–her baby died of the flu. I was so convinced that this just didn’t happen based on what I had read in The Vaccine Book and elsewhere. The flu isn’t that bad! We all make a big fuss about nothing! It’s mostly the elderly that die and even then, it’s reported the same way as pneumonia so we can’t really say a specific number! But it does happen and I saw it with my own eyes. I’m ashamed that it took seeing an innocent life taken for me to understand the true importance of herd immunity. Herd immunity may not be perfect, but it’s real. And if someone wouldn’t have exposed that poor baby to the flu because that (likely) healthy adult had good immunity, she would be alive today. I’m not saying this just for fear mongering, but because we need to know that these illnesses that can be prevented with vaccines really do kill. And if we all vaccinate we can help protect those who can not.
So here I am. I’m not completely sure where we’re going from here, but I know we’re going to vaccinate. I’m not sure when and if all, but I’m leaning towards all of them. And this goes for myself too. I can’t believe I’ve been saying no to the flu vaccine every year when I’m asthmatic and highly susceptible to pneumonia. I’m a scientist at heart and it just makes sense to me from that perspective. I feel like so much of the anti-vaccine arguments aren’t based in science. Anyway, this has been kind of a mash of all of the things going on in my head, so I’m sorry if it doesn’t make sense. For anyone out there who is crunchy and contemplating doing vaccines, know you’re not alone. There’s a whole horde of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, babywearing, gentle disciplining moms who also choose to vaccinate their children.
I was not paid in any way, shape, or form for this post. I was not given product for this post. This is all of my own accord and for your information.
In this semester, I’m in a lab twice a week. The problem with this (besides long days) is that I have to pick up Peanut before 1:30 (or pay another $200 to up her hours for hours I technically don’t need). Since my in-laws are awesome they offered to pick her up on those days. They were going to buy a booster seat to take her home in so it would be easy to take in and out of the car.
Problem is that I didn’t really want her in a booster seat yet. She was currently in a harness and I didn’t want to rush moving to a seatbelt before we needed to. Here are some reasons for extended harnessing. My biggest concern was that I didn’t think she was mature enough to understand that she can’t wiggle all over (something that I feel is confirmed now that she has a bit more freedom).
So I started looking for other options for seats that could be easier to get in and out of the car. Sadly, there aren’t many. I was about to admit defeat (or offer to install the seat every time myself) and when I stumbled upon the RideSafer Vehicle Safety Vest. I was initially cautious. Could this possibly be safe? Yes. Is it legal? In my state at least. Will this really work for us?
Well that last one I couldn’t answer without buying it. It just sounded too good to pass up, even at it’s relatively high price point (we paid $115 on Amazon for ours). This could be her safety device for all cars for quite some time (there is a bigger size that she’ll need later on, but we figure that Twig can use it by that point). And it’s so light and easy. So we bought it.
Well, it’s been a month now. And how are we liking it? We love it! It’s super easy to put on (just make sure to tug it down after so the bottom belt is positioned right). Peanut loves it (she feels like such a big girl!) and she says it’s comfortable. I always feel like she’s in right and I know she’s just as protected (if not more so because of the lower center of gravity) as a harness seat.
There are a couple of “downsides” though I think that’s too harsh of a term. More like things we have to get used to. Biggest one is that she doesn’t have sides! So when she falls asleep in the car (which isn’t super frequent, but does happen) we need to put a blanket next to her head to keep her upright. Otherwise she ends up falling kind of sideways. Second, she does have a bit more freedom than in a harness seat. Since the seatbelt is still moveable, she can lean forward a bit. I’ve had to tell her about how she can’t do that because it’s not safe. Just makes me even more sure that, while she did meet the requirements for going into a booster physically, she wasn’t there mentally.
Some upsides? First off, it’s so light! I could literally stick this in her backpack next year if someone else is picking her up at school. It wouldn’t even take all the room! And it’s easy enough to get right that I never feel concerned that other people won’t understand (once I’ve made them read the manual). Second, it really came in handy when she was sick and wanted me to sit next to her in the back. I was able to put my arm around her and comfort her. Which brings me to benefit three, we can fit three in the back! It was kind of possible with her other seat, but it was difficult. If you’re looking to fit three across in a smaller car, I’d definitely consider this seat.
So, this is Peanut’s new car seat. It’s working great and I’m really happy we got it. I’m happy this option is available now. This company is brilliant for coming up with it! If you’re looking for an option for car pool or even just your older kid who needs a seat, definitely check them out.
For those of you with an eagle eye, you may have noticed that the last photo in Twig’s birthday post was the girls in their very own bed. I’ll go ahead and post it here too because it’s just ridiculously cute.
A few weeks ago, we bought a full sized mattress and put both girls in it to sleep at night and it’s been wonderful! We had a hunch that Peanut would sleep much better if Twig was in the bed with her. My husband has been sleeping in Peanut’s room most nights because she would wake up and come downstairs to him (he’s a night owl, so he’s up quite late) and he’d come to lay down with her and fall asleep. We were slowly working on her sleeping on her own (mostly because his back hurt from being squished on a twin mattress with her), but it wasn’t making much progress. So we decided to take a different route. Twig had recently night weaned (following Dr. Jay Gordon’s method again and it was quick and successful) so we decided to try it out.
First off, if you have a second child you know how much they love doing things just like their big brother/sister. So when we asked Twig if she wanted to sleep in Peanut’s bed, she was ecstatic. They were actually both so excited that we let them sleep in the twin mattress for a night or two because we hadn’t bought the full mattress yet. The first couple of nights Twig woke up after a few hours and came back into the bed with me, but I expected that. Peanut did that for a long time the first time she moved into her own bed.
Over the course of a couple of weeks though, she slowly stopped coming into our bed! For the last week she’s been sleeping completely through the night in the bed with big sister. We often put them to bed separately and then I move Twig into their bed because she gets distracted and takes a long time falling to sleep with Peanut, but I don’t mind. They also have been waking up at 6am (sometimes earlier!) which we need to work on, but have just been putting them down earlier to account for it. All in all, it’s been a smooth transition! And my husband is in the bed with me again! Yay co-sleeping!
Still catching up on newsletters and this month was Halloween! Peanut chose the costumes and Twig was happy to go along (probably the last year for that!), so you two were Jack Skellington and Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was still able to make your costumes even in the rush of the semester and I’m really happy with how they turned out. This is the first year in a while that mom and dad didn’t dress up though because I couldn’t fit those costumes into my schedule. I did wear my Arwen from Lord of the Rings backup costume from a few years ago to take you trick or treating though! As we went from house to house and you both said “Thank you” for the treats, everyone thought that Twig was blowing kisses (the sign for “Thank you” is touching your chin and then bringing your hand down, which does look a lot like blowing a kiss from a toddler). So what did Twig do? She started blowing kisses at everyone as we left their houses! It was darling and hilarious. What a great Halloween.
Twig, you also started to potty train in October! You’re still not perfect (though you should and could be, but we had a couple hiccups along the way on Mama’s end), but you’re doing awesome. You were so happy to start going pee and poop in the potty like big sister. Really, you want to do just about anything big sister does. I was worried about Halloween given that you only had one costume and could likely have an accident in it then be costumeless, but you did awesome.
You also exploded in your speech development. It went from me having a relatively accurate list of word you could say to you literally showing me that you could say a new one every day. And you haven’t stopped since! You have a pretty amazing vocabulary at this point. I wish I could even come close to telling you the words that you know, but I’ve honestly lost track at this point. You know “eye” to tell me that the sun is in your eyes. All sorts of other body parts. You say most people’s names-Andy (an-ee), Mema (though you also use this for Oma), Pop Pop (pa-pa), etc. It’s pretty awesome.
You also are in love with babies. This month you started carrying your baby doll around the house all the time. You love to hold them upright against your shoulder and pat them like you’re burping them. In the Treehouse Museum your absolute favorite section is the babies. You even say “bee-bee!”
Peanut, you and I had some fun this month telling the story of The Hobbit. Daddy and I both love The Lord of the Rings and one day when we were on our way to preschool, you said that you were scared to be there during quiet time. They have everyone lay on their cots and relax for an hour and it’s right before I pick you up. Definitely not your favorite time, but I do think it helps you even though you don’t sleep. Since I knew that I couldn’t pick you up before quiet time that particular day, I asked if I could tell you a story that you could think of while you rested. You agreed and I started telling you the story of The Hobbit. Over the next 3-4 days as we drove to school I kept telling it to you and you loved it. I stuck as closely to the real storyline as possible and you didn’t even get scared. Bilbo became one of your favorite “people” for a while. You told everyone about how you love Bilbo. Doing this made me realize that maybe you were old enough to appreciate a real audiobook on the way to school. We ended up getting Princess Academy from the library and you loved it. I’m excited to listen to more audiobooks on our way to school this semester. Maybe even listen to The Hobbit for real (it’s written for kids).
You also started showing your true fashion sense, which is interesting to say the least! Every day you not only insist on picking your own outfit, but you pick combinations that I would never have thought of. You also have to have very specific shoes, accessories, coat, etc. It’s gotten even more extravagant over the last couple months. Necklaces, hair accessories, leggings versus tights. It’s awesome. I hope that you never lose the way to dress how you want without caring what others will think (though I know it’s inevitable).