Rethinking Flu Vaccines

I spent a lot of time researching vaccines. I developed a detailed schedule specifically for Peanut after doing this research. I feel like I thoroughly prepared myself to make the decisions I have regarding Peanut’s vaccines. The problem is there’s only so much you can decide from reading a paper.

We have the flu.

It started for me on Friday. Friday night I woke twice as often as Peanut (who was waking more often than normal too). I hardly remember Saturday besides feeling like I was hit by a truck and I also slept awful that night. Sunday continued to feel like death and sadly, so did Peanut too. Actually, she was grumpy and obviously sick, but didn’t really ever seem to feel like she was dying like I did. I’ll go ahead and contribute a bit of that to mama’s milk (another post for another day).

We wouldn’t have even gone to the doctor, but Peanut had a fever of 102, so I called the nurse. She said we should get her in immediately because it sounded like the flu and you can only give anti-viral medication for a short period of time. The only real benefit for that visit is that we got antibiotics for her ear infection, but that’s even kind of pushing it because I probably wouldn’t have given her antibiotics for a minor ear infection if I was in my right mind. They gave us a prescription for anti-virals and in my delirious state, I was ready to give them to her. Luckily my husband was not-so-delirious and said to me “We’ve avoiding giving her medication as much as possible for this long, do we really need to give her this with all of these possible side effects?” So we didn’t give it to her. She did test positive for influenza a while we were there.

After her visit we went to the doctor for me. I was having trouble breathing because of my asthma. I got chest x-rays and I have a small case of pneumonia. I’ve been slowly feeling better, but I still don’t feel great at all. The doctor said that with the pneumonia I’ll be coughing for 2-3 weeks. Exactly what I need at school.

The biggest part is the lack of going into society. The internet says that adults should stay inside for a week after they started getting sick, but the after hours doctor we went to on Sunday said 3-5 days depending on how you feel. For Peanut though, her doctor said 7-10 days because kids are contagious longer. This means that we will miss over a full week of appointments. That’s rescheduling picking up our half a cow, music class, my school for a week (the second week of the semester, which makes me look great to my teachers), my doctor appointment, our dog training (can’t reschedule that), Daddy’s basketball game, Toddler LLL, and possibly messing up Squeed’s mom’s first day of her class that we’re supposed to watch Squeed for depending on whether or not she wants to risk getting sick by letting us watch her Thursday. Considering I don’t even work and only go to school part-time, a week off still screws up life.

So this all makes me re-think our decision to not vaccinate against the flu. People on Twitter are telling me I would have probably gotten sick anyway because it doesn’t entirely protect you and doesn’t always protect against the right flu. This was the original conclusion I came to also, but I almost wonder if it would be better to just decrease it or have a chance of not getting it. I don’t know. I’ve also always thought of myself as a healthy adult that’s in a low-risk category, but my asthma obviously makes that not so. So am I willing to get pneumonia again? I’m certainly not excited to cough like this for the next 3 weeks.

So has anyone out there actually gotten the flu and still decided not to vaccinate against it? Or possibly getting the flu did change your mind about vaccinating?

Why We’re Not Doing the MMR Vaccine

Peanut walked out of her one year doctors appointment last month with zero pricks on her thighs. This is a rare circumstance because of our decision to space out Peanut’s vaccinations. So why did she not get a vaccination this time? Peanut did not get the MMR vaccine.

No, I do not think the MMR vaccine causes autism.

No, I am not under- nor mis-informed.

No, I am not stupid.

I’ve read some articles in the newspaper lately about how doctors are concerned that parents are choosing to not vaccinate their children. They all say that the parents are misinformed. Parents think that vaccines—not actually saying MMR, but implying it because that’s the one that has been linked with it—cause autism. The articles say that parents don’t understand the seriousness of these diseases because they have not seen them first-hand. These articles say that because of these parents, there will be outbreaks and these diseases will become common place again.

I did my research—when I say I, I do not mean to imply that my husband was not involved in the decision making process, rather he trusts me to do the research and give him a detailed explanation of each side. I made a logical decision that the risks of the MMR vaccine outweighed the benefits.

Let’s go over the diseases first.

Mumps. Whenever I think of this disease I think of the Family Guy where Meg catches it because her parents forgot to vaccinate her. Yeah, it was pretty funny. I had to remind myself that it’s just a joke and they’re not implying we’re bad parents for not vaccinating Peanut, but that’s another story. On Wikipedia, the first thing they say about the prognosis of mumps is “Death is very unusual.” Mumps is one of those diseases that has a severity level of a cold in children, but is somewhat more serious in teens and adults.

Measles. Pretty much the same symptoms of the common cold with a rash thrown in for fun. This disease has a fairly high fatality rate (The Vaccine Book says 1 in 1000) which was a big deal when a million people caught it a year (in the US) before the vaccine was invented. Now there are less than 100 cases reported a year.

Rubella. This one is so mild that it often goes unnoticed. The main issue is when a pregnant woman gets it. If a woman catches it during the first trimester (or possibly the second) her baby can have some pretty major birth defects.

Now the vaccine.

The toddler will pretty much always have flu-like symptoms after the vaccine. So, for comparison sake, you’re basically guaranteeing that your child will have at least the most mild and most common side effects of the viruses.

There is also the risk that your child will contract any (or all) of the three diseases. This is pretty rare, but sometimes they don’t weaken the viruses enough. With most vaccines they don’t give you a live-active virus so that’s why there’s no chance of catching pneumococcal disease from the PC vaccine. My major problem with the vaccine is that you’re giving them three weakened viruses at once. I know, I know, they’re weakened, but you’re giving them Three. Viruses. At. Once. If the vaccines were still offered separately this would be a completely different post.

Then of course there’s a whole list of other possible side effects which include diabetes, allergic reactions, deafness, seizures, and even death. Really, all vaccines have a whole list of possible side effects because they have to report anything that happens to any of the test subjects. Of course these are scary risks, but you’re taking these risks with any vaccines. The main problem for this vaccine in particular is that there is a much, much longer list of possible side effects for this one than others which leads me to believe that side effects in general are more common with this vaccine.

Other general reasons why we’re not getting this vaccine.

Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your kids makes them less likely to catch diseases. I really feel like I’m preaching to the choir here. You give them antibodies in your milk and that makes them less likely to get sick in general. Case in point: over this past week Peanut has had her very first cough and she is 13 months old. We go out a ton and I’m not a nit-picky mother when it comes to her eating food off the ground and the like, so if I weren’t breastfeeding I’m sure she wouldn’t have made it this long.

No daycare. It’s just a fact that daycare makes your kids more likely to get sick. They’re constantly around other kids and even with rules in place about not letting sick kids come to daycare, they’ll still expose everyone before they even know their sick. I know I take Peanut around other kids all the time with Music Together, La Leche League, etc., but an hour a day is a lot different than eight, especially when Mama is standing right there making sure you don’t stick the other kid’s booger in your mouth.

Now you’re saying:

“What if you decide to leave the country?”

We can always reassess. If we decide to go to Africa, we can always get her vaccinated then. If we decide to put her in daycare when she’s older, we can always vaccinate her then.

“What if she’s exposed to rubella when she’s older and pregnant and you’ve doomed your grandchildren?”

We may decide to give her the MMR vaccine when she enters school. If we don’t do that for whatever reason, we’ll have her tested for all three diseases (yes, you can test to see if you have immunity) when she’s 11 or so and if she doesn’t have immunity, we’ll probably vaccinate her then. There is even the possibility that she’ll be exposed to enough of the disease to cause immunity, but not enough to get her sick. Either way, her 11-year old body will be much more able to handle the vaccine than her one-year old body.

What’s your opinion on vaccinations and what did you do for your kids? If you still think I’m wrong, tell me why. I love hearing other’s perspectives because I can’t possibly think of every scenario myself.

Peanut’s Vaccine Schedule

I’ve been “writing” Peanut’s vaccine schedule in my head for a long time now and I finally got it down on paper. I’ve talked before about how we want to do a modified schedule and I’ve read The Vaccine Book over and over. Finally it is done. I feel like a huge weight has been taken off of me.

So, obviously we’ve made some of our decisions already since Peanut is 7.5 months old. We’ve mostly decided to spread the vaccines out rather than entirely forgoing them. It feels like the vaccines that are for the scariest and most common diseases are the ones that have the scariest ingredients/reactions.

Here’s a copy of the 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics Recommended Immunization Schedule

2 Weeks: Hepatitis B

We purposefully didn’t get the Hepatitis B shot in the hospital and the only reason we got it at 2 weeks was there was some confusion at the pediatrician’s office. I felt confused and bombarded. I went to the library and checked out The Vaccine Book right after the appointment. Next time around, we wont be getting this one so soon.

2 Months: Rotavirus, DTaP, and HIB

We talked with our pediatrician and he said that we can’t request specific vaccines, so I asked the names of the ones they carry. We worked with those vaccines to create a list that: 1. Didn’t have too many vaccines at once so that her body could deal with only a few at a time. They expected me to give Peanut 6 vaccines at once and that just feels wrong. 2. We wanted to do the “most important” vaccines first. The ones that would be the most devastating if she got the disease before getting vaccine immunity. 3. We wanted to limit the amount of aluminum she got at one time. This round has 330 micrograms of aluminum.

3 Months: PCV, Polio, Hep B

I felt kind of guilty making Peanut go through pain twice as often as recommended, but I quickly decided that I’d rather have her be in a little more pain than possibly have bad reactions or long term side effects. To reduce the amount of pain she has to go through, I nurse her while she’s getting the shots. At first, the nurses were quite baffled, but now they don’t even notice. I would recommend you wait until your milk lets down until they start getting poked–though not too long after let down. You want it to still be on that big rush of milk so that they’ll notice that milk is coming out and start sucking and calm down. This round has 375 micrograms of aluminum.

4 Months: Rotavirus, DTaP, HIB

5 Months: PCV, Polio

It was too early to do Hep B. If I could change things, she wouldn’t be getting Hep B at 2 weeks and she would be getting it at 5 months.

6 Months: Rotavirus, DTaP, HIB

7 Months: PCV, Hep B

We could do Polio here, but since we don’t have anything to do at 9 months and she will be going in for a well check, I figured we might as well space them out.

9 Months: Polio

12 Months: MMR

I’m feeling the most conflicted about this one. No, it’s not about autism–it’s the fact that they’re live viruses. When The Vaccine Book was written, you could get M, M, and R as three separate vaccines. Since then, they’ve decided to stop making the separate ones for some reason. Though after the recent outbreak of measles, I’m afraid of not getting the vaccine. So, for right now, I’ve planned MMR at 12 months. I may or may not change my mind and I’m really hoping that they just start making them separate again. If we do get the MMR at 12 months, we plan on making sure Peanut is really, really healthy. If she’s had any illnesses for a few weeks before, we’re going to delay. Also, we’re going to give Peanut vitamin A and D before and after the shot.

15 Months: PCV, HIB

Only 125 micrograms of aluminum in this round.

18 Months: DTaP

4 Years: Dtap

They recommend Polio, MMR, DTaP, and Chickenpox (we’ll get to that one in a minute) at 5 years. Since you can give them any time between 4 and 6 years, we’re spreading them out.

5 Years: MMR

6 Years: Polio

11 Years: Test for Chickenpox and Hepatitis A

Both of these diseases aren’t serious to children, but can be pretty bad for teens and adults. You can get a test to see if you’ve been exposed to them enough to get immunity, so that’s our plan. If she doesn’t have immunity, we’ll give her the vaccines.

12 Years: HPV (3 doses), Meningococcal

There is some controversy with the HPV vaccine, but as a cervical cancer survivor, I would like my daughter to get the vaccine. Meningitis is scary enough that I feel the Meningococcal vaccine is required.

14 Years: Tdap (and every 10 years after)

It’s important to get a tentenus shot every 10 years, but if you’re already doing that you might as well get immunization to pertussis (whooping cough). Pertussis isn’t serious to adults, but adults who get it expose babies to it and that can be very serious.

We still haven’t made a decision regarding the Flu or H1N1 vaccines. Keep an eye out for a post about that decision soon. If we do decide to get them, we won’t be doing them at the same time as the other vaccines. Spacing is good.

I’d like to stress here that every parent makes the choice that is right for their family and my choice is not necessarily the right one for you. I would also like to stress the point that being educated is part of making that decision. Good luck with your vaccination journey.

Oh You Dreadful Muffin Top

Think you’ve gotten past your postpartum weepies? Try clothes shopping!

I set out in my day with two simple goals: shirts that allow easy bewbie access and do not in any way resemble The Dreaded Pregnancy Shirts and to find a pair of jeans that I don’t have to use a safety pin to close (yes, I was doing that). I walked into Targéa optimistic and walked out with the 1 out of 20+ items I tried on that I didn’t absolutely, entirely hate. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Targéa, but large stores that also carry food are probably not the best place to do my first post-pregnancy shopping–thanks MOM.

I ventured out again a few days later, this time to the mall with my husband. Oh, the joys of making a boy go to the mall. I felt oh so lucky that after the day of horrid OH MY HECK I DON’T EVEN FIT INTO SIZE 12?!?!? that the first store we tried was doing this new boy-sized girl-jeans thing. I found pants that I was entirely happy with–though I’m now thinking my fear of The Muffin Top causes me to buy one size too large. I also found 6 glorious shirt and 2 inappropriate-for-the-season-but-oh-so-cheap sweaters.

In other news, Peanut had her 4 month appointment. She weighs 11 lbs 7 oz, is 22 inches long, and her head is 15.5 inches around. What a fat-head. She got HIB, Rotavirus, and DTaP. She’ll get Hep B, Polio, and PC next month during a “nurse-only visit.” Doctor-man was impressed that she’s already rolling over. Also okay-ed the pool. I’m es-tight-ed.

Doctors Appointments And Other Such Things

On Friday, I thought we had thrush again. I called and talked to a nurse on the phone figuring she’d say “oh yeah, that’s thrush, go ahead and treat her” or “no, not thrush,” but I definitely didn’t think she’d say “I don’t know we should probably see her asap.” So she made her an appointment for 7:30 that evening in the Layton office. I don’t know if I was being overly paranoid, but I started freaking out about taking her in to the big office with all the kids when all of these diseases are going around right now. I was able to come back from the almost-panic-attack and decide to re-schedule the appointment for Monday.

So we went in to see our pediatrician on Monday in the nice, little Syracuse office. At 6 weeks and 3 days, she weighed 9 lbs 15 oz (which is great) and had no thrush. Guess it’s a good thing I didn’t treat her. He didn’t really give an explanation for why she’s pulling off my breast and I didn’t press him for one because I think it might be more of a La Leche League thing. Beyond that, her balding is normal, we could try eliminating things from my diet to see if it helps with the spit up though it’s really only an aesthetic problem so I probably won’t, the coughing is probably just choking on spit up, and we talked about vaccines for the next visit.

Oh, the dreaded vaccines. Quite honestly, I thought he got on the defensive a little even though Curtis doesn’t agree. I asked him if he’s okay with a modified schedule of still doing all the vaccines, just spreading them out a bit (coming in on off months for “shot only” visits) and he started off saying that the vaccines are tested in the normal schedule… kind of implying that they might not be as effective if we didn’t do them “correctly.” After a bit of prodding, he said that there is really no health risk for doing them spread out, just the risk that we’ll miss one. Then I asked if we can request specific vaccines–that one was a big N-O. He explained it as they have contracts with the companies and yadda-yadda-yadda. They don’t have anything at all from GlaxoSmithKline (I think that’s correct), which doesn’t bother me at all since none of my preferred list is from them. He said that I can call and see which vaccines they have available. I’m going to do that probably tomorrow.

I’m feeling really conflicted about the vaccines. I mean, I realize most kids go through the regular schedule and do just fine, but I’m kind of just trying to be on the safe side. I mean, I’m not going to miss a vaccine. I’m just too anal retentive to do that. And I guess it’s not the end of the world if we don’t get the specific best shots, I mean, we can work around it. I would just hate it if something happened that seemed linked to the vaccine and I felt like only if I’d done it differently.

Also, medicaid hasn’t sent us the May card yet. I really need to call them about it tomorrow.

Lastly, pants. I was so happy to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans so soon, but apparently they weren’t happy about it. They ripped today. I’m not sure if it’s an already worn about thing or if my thighs got huge. I don’t think my thighs got huge…

Night.

I’m ALONE?!?!

It’s a blessed moment. Everyone (this obviously can’t include Bunny, since she is in her cage) are asleep in the room. This means that not only am I on the computer for the first time in DAYS (all blog posts have been made via iPhone), but I’m not bouncing a baby on my lap whilst trying to type.

Yesterday was a bad day. She has been super fussy since getting her Hep B shot (we’re guessing she’s just feeling flu-ish) and yesterday was no exception. She was crying and crying and OMFG CRYING. After going to the midwife in the morning (where everything seems to be a-okay), my mom picked us up and took us to breakfast. Then we went and saved my Aunt because the car broke down. My mother was furious with my Aunt, but it turns out that maybe the place that rotated the tires and such the other day might have “put it back together wrong.” What the fuck? Anywho, after all this excitement, I voted to go home and nap instead of going grocery shopping. Of course, by the time that we got home, happy-napping-baby was no longer happy-napping. So with some frustration, I gave up and went and got my prescriptions. Then I went to my mom’s, handed over the baby, and went and soaked in the tub for an hour. That was pretty kick ass.

While I was in Salt Lake yesterday, I decided to go get my iPhone checked out. It has been weird with not sensing me touching it sometimes and I dropped it the other day and so it had a funny line going across the screen. Apple is fantastic and replaced it even though the diagnosis was inconclusive (yay buying an expensive warranty!), but the problem is I have to update my phone to my computer to get all my info back… my computer which is broken. So now I’m super ansey to get my hard drive info all back in it’s place.

I am officially not making sense any more. PICTURES!

This is my poopy face.
Dancing!

This is what we call the “drunk on bewb” face.

Nom nom nom!

I Feel Like A Cow…

… because I’m sitting here pumping my boob. Quite an odd feeling, but if I want to see Franz Ferdinand in a couple weeks and go to school this summer, it will be a necessary evil.

Dea has been really fussy today. Maybe she feels crappy from the Hep B shot.

I woke up 2 days after giving birth and could breathe through my nose. I haven’t felt round ligament pain since pregnancy. My stomach has shrunk to the “is she pregnant?” size. Even my face has cleared up some. Yet, the backne persists. I really want it to go away, but I have no idea what to do. I’ve never had acne before.

Bah, I’m going to take a nap.