Pentacel Vaccine

Elliot had a well visit last week where I learned that in the last couple of years they’ve combined the DTaP, HIB, and Polio (IPV) vaccinations and created a vaccine called Pentacel. Basically, they’ve combined five vaccinations together, which is great! Now, babies need three shots instead of nine.

I am very pro-vaccination. This isn’t about deciding if I’m going to vaccinate Elliot. The question is whether or not I’ll give him HIB, IPV and DTaP separately as I had with Emory. And, yes, it does seem a bit excessive now that there’s this combination. I mean, why wouldn’t someone opt for three shots instead of 9?

All that said, to all you fine folks who have children less than 2 years of age: did your little ones receive the Pentacel vaccine? Did the injection site ache? Any fevers to report? Did you even know they changed things? Did you just go with it? (Which is what friends of mine have said.)

Again: I am NOT not going to give him his vaccinations. I’m about as pro-vaccine as they come. But I do want to know a bit more about this relatively new combined vaccination, so please share whatever stories you may have.

Vaccination Schedule and Some Personal Thoughts

I have received several emails requesting information about vaccinations and how we spaced them out for Emory. Today I’m (finally) putting together a post about it. I’m also going to talk about what I’d change should we ever go about this again.

Let me just begin by stating that I’m pro-vaccination, but I haven’t always felt that way. In fact, right after Em was born, I considered refusing vaccinations all together. I, like many first-time mothers, was concerned about causing undo bodily harm to this perfect little person. I was also worried about injecting him with all sorts of potentially nasty viruses. I’m one of “those” mothers—the type of mother who only feeds her son organic fruits, vegetables and milk. And I worried myself silly over BPA.

I work hard to keep my son toxin-free. And while being vaccinated always made sense to me in the past, it became an entirely different story when it came to my child.

So, what did I do? I researched the bloody hell out of it. I turned myself into a pediatrician’s worst nightmare. (Not because they like ignorant parents, but because uppity parents with an internet connection can prove to be VERY annoying. I won’t deny this.)

By researching vaccinations I began to feel a whole lot better about them. As an A+ worrier, I recommend that you do the same. Don’t take my word for anything. Read up on stuff, ask questions, and most importantly look back at your own vaccination records (ask your folks, siblings, whatever) and find out if you or any member of your family has ever had a negative reaction associated with a vaccine.

If you find that your pediatrician isn’t willing to space them out for you, then you have the option of finding a new pediatrician. While I was met with a worried look from my own, as soon as she realized that I wasn’t refusing anything we worked together very well.

However, before you run off thinking your pediatrician is forcing you to do something against your will, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. They’re doctors! They have seen diseases once considered a distant memory rear their heads all over again solely because parents are refusing to vaccinate their children. 

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a pediatrician right now. I reckon it’d be like forcing me to design something in QuarkXpress on OS 9.

Anyway, enough about that. Here is a snapshot of what the CDC recommends for any child under 6.

To this day, we still haven’t started him on the HepB vaccine, not because we’re worried about it, but because Emory was in the NICU at the time he was scheduled to have the shot. (Babies receive HepB now before they even leave the hospital.)

(Side note: I once went to an orientation at a pediatrician’s office where I heard two couples express concern over giving their (sons) a shot so early—Won’t it hurt!? Those same parents planned on having their boys circumcised. I can’t imagine a shot is going to hurt any more than a circumcision. Although, I admittedly have no penis and therefore haven’t ever been circumcised.)

We plan on starting him on HepB the moment we’re caught up with everything else. You see, that’s the thing about spacing out vaccines, you fall behind. The schedule is set up for a reason. That’s not to say you can’t space them out, but come preschool or kindergarten, you may find yourself playing catch up.

We also opted out of the influenza vaccine. I entered the winter season dead against giving Emory the flu shot mainly because it still features a preservative known as thimerosal. (CDC Web site) And while I don’t think said preservative leads to autism, it still makes me nervous. I did get one for myself, however, but it was the pregnancy version—the version made without the preservative. (No, I’m not pregnant.)

I am still not sure what we will do next winter when it comes to the flu vaccine.

(I am only just now realizing, based on that graphic above, that there’s also a Hepatitis A vaccine. This is news to me!)

The final vaccine we have not yet begun is the Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine. I’m still on the fence when it comes to this vaccine because of its newness. I have no other reason to avoid it. And recently I started to think about it a bit more and I’m wondering if we made the right decision to wait. It’s conceivable that since more and more families are opting for the vaccine, he might not get the virus during his elementary school years as seen in previous generations. And I seem to remember someone saying the older you get, the harder the virus hits you.

So, maybe it’s wise we have him vaccinated for Chickenpox. But it still makes me a little nervous. I need to read more.

All that said, here’s the schedule we went with.

  • 2 Months: PCV (pneumococcal)
  • 3 Months: HIB (bacterial meningitis) and IPV (polio)
  • 4 Months: PCV
  • 5 Months: HIB
  • 7 Months: DTaP
  • 9 Months: HIB and PCV
  • 10 Months: DTaP
  • 13 Months DTaP
  • 14 Months: IPV
  • 16 Months: MMR
  • 17 Months: IPV and PCV

We were nervous in the beginning, which is why he was given only one shot at a time with the exception of his 3-month visit. We paired up the HIB and IPV at three months because common side effects associated with the HIB vaccine are harmless, and the not so common side effects are so rare it’s questionable they’re even linked to the vaccine.

I wasn’t at all worried about IPV (polio) because it’s been around for so long and has an excellent safety record. 

DTaP has more common and serious side effects but after receiving so many doses of it, I’m now longer worried about it. Emory didn’t get so much as a fever from the DTaP.

All that said, Emory has had two side effects after receiving vaccinations. The first one took place on November 13th. About three hours after he was given the polio vaccine and the HIB vaccine he woke up screaming. Nothing Toby or I did consoled him. We called the on-call doctor who informed us that for whatever reason some babies do this the first (in our case second) time they get vaccinated and never do it again. She was right. He never screamed like that again.

We’ve since been told that he most likely had a sore leg. So, from that point forward, we gave him a small dose of Tylenol or Motrin to alleviate any aches and pains.

The only other time he had a reaction from a vaccine was with the MMR (yes, the dreaded MMR). Many of us (myself included) got wrapped up in the frenzy over whether or not it’s linked to autism. I do not believe that to be the case at all anymore. Recently studies have shown that Andrew Wakefield fixed his data. Everything he claimed has basically been tossed out. But the ramifications of his carelessness could be devastating.

Taken from the article linked to above:

“Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.”

In the end, the MMR was nothing. Emory got the usual low-grade fever (101) and a slight rash on his torso a week after he was given the MMR. (Normal.) It was gone in a day.

If I had to do it all again, I would definitely double up more often, because now we’re playing catch up. But I do wish that the CDC would come up with a slightly less aggressive schedule even if that means more trips to the doctor.

Now I make NO apologies for being very pro-vaccine. I think the right thing to do is vaccinate our children. I think it’s in the best interest for the greater good as well as the individual. No, I don’t think that the US government should make anything mandatory—I rather like living in a country where we’re given the freedom of choice. But I do hope that each person gathers the information they need to make informed choices instead of being driven by fear. And while that’s not the case for everyone refusing vaccinations, I was definitely in that camp, which leads me to believe that I was/am not alone.

I welcome you to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinations here. I also welcome you to disagree with me (constructively).

The Truth About The MMR

Emory received his MMR immunization last Monday. We were told that any side effects associated with this vaccine would kick in after 7 to 10 days. We hit day seven and nothing happened and we thought, “Awesome! We’re in the clear!”

We were wrong.

Yesterday I noticed a few red spots on his face—just four—and lifted his shirt to check for more. Sure enough, there were a few more spots on his torso. At that point I took his temperature—a solid 100 degrees.

He was cranky all day, but it wasn’t any worse than whenever he cut his molars. We gave him some Tylenol and he was fine by morning. He’s back to his usual, insane, toddling self.

But we did notice something regarding the MMR and its apparent side-effects. They won’t tell you about this. So I am going to take the opportunity to do so. I hope you’re prepared. You may even want to sit down.

The MMR makes babies speak. It’s true! I watched it happen.

Prior to having been vaccinated, Em said a few words such as Mama, Dada, (a warped version of) Kitty Cat (that sounded like “Keecah”), Night Night (that sounded like this: “Nighnah”) and Hi. That’s pretty much it.

But since receiving the MMR words have been flying out. He’s like a little tape recorder! He now says Cracker, Blue, Blueberries, Mama (clear as day), Kitty Cat, Daddy, Hi, Elmo, Baby, Finished (not very well, however), Bubble and One, Two, Three.

I have deduced that the MMR vaccine makes babies speak. It may sound absurd, but then again, so does suggesting it causes autism.

Speaking of the MMR, there is a fantastic This American Life episode about a family who refused the MMR for their child. At age seven, he traveled overseas and brought the measles virus back home with him. The episode is about how he and his family brought an entire town to a screeching halt.

While all of that may sound really serious, it’s actually very funny. It’s well worth the listen.

(I know! Can you believe how much I’ve changed when it comes to immunizations? I am shocked by my transformation!)

Eat The Pain Away.

Em had his one-year checkup yesterday. We’re a month late. I know. But I wanted to give him time to celebrate having turned one. (If you believe that one, there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you.) I’m not going to lie. It was tough. It was tough because my kid is freakishly strong. I know parents say things like that all the time about their young, but ya gotta believe me. He’s strong.

We got there fifteen minutes early so they could apply some numbing cream to both wrists as well as on the inside of his right elbow. It was then covered in clear plastic which he immediately began trying to rip off. We set him free to play with the plethora of toys they have in the waiting room.

About a half hour later, the doctor called us in. Em was weighed, measured and examined. All was well. We asked our questions. We asked about our giving him milk right before bedtime and we were told to stop that immediately. Milk can rot their teeth in just 3 short months. I hate that we didn’t know that. We gave him a bottle of water yesterday for each nap and at bedtime and it seemed to work out just fine. (Thank goodness.)

Don’t make the same mistake we have.

We also discussed his immunization schedule and the MMR. It’s supposed to begin at one year but can be postponed until 15 months, which we have opted for.

At one point in time, we had discussed separating the vaccine and paying for each one individually and out of pocket if need be. But yesterday our doctor informed us that separating each one is no longer an option. Merck (the only manufacturer of Mumpsvax) has halted production and supplies are running out, which means parents are left with no other choice but to administer the MMR. We’re OK with this. I mentioned a few weeks ago, that we’ve become a lot more relaxed about immunizations. (Research! Research! Research!)

Pediatricians must have a very difficult job right now, convincing parents that the right thing to do is immunize their child. Because before we assured her that we were onboard with everything (more or less, we are still following a modified schedule) she came off as slightly defensive. I imagine they are met with parental roadblocks where vaccines are concerned.

We gave Em his final DTaP yesterday. He’s doing just fine today.

But the blood drawing fiasco? Oh holy hell was it ever brutal. We were given a lollipop, which he’s never had before, and were told to give him it to him whenever she inserted the needle. Well, that didn’t really work out. He did not like being pinned down. We expected that. But this was incredible. It took four of us to hold him down and draw the blood. I know. That sounds absurd. No baby is that strong. And he’s not. One adult could overpower him. The problem is that these little suckers are still fragile, strong or not. So you can’t really put all your force into it. They’re little bones could snap in two. Holding a baby down requires finding that very delicate middle ground, and we were having a great deal of trouble finding that yesterday.

It took her several tries to get the vein. She kept saying, “I can’t believe how strong he is. He’s the strongest baby I think I’ve ever worked with.”

In the meantime, he screamed from the pain. It was the first time I really saw actual hurt in his eyes. I have no idea how the families of truly sick children live through something like that. It must be horrible watching a child experience pain, simply horrible. (Parents with sick children, you are my heroes. I don’t know where you get your strength.)

I did manage to crack up when the doctor went in for a third time and TJ put the lollipop in his mouth said, “Use food to cope.” and “Eat the pain away”

It was a nervous laugh, but a laugh nonetheless and given the circumstances of the situation, we had to lighten it up somehow.

We should find out how much we’ve screwed up his perfect little body in a few days.

Vaccinations Revisited.

Amanda Peet gave an interview to Cookie Magazine recently. She discussed motherhood, toys and vaccinations. She’s imploring people to vaccinate and isn’t candy-coating her message at all. She tells Cookie Mag, “Frankly, I feel that parents who don’t vaccinate their children are parasites.”

Zing! Snap! Zing! (She later apologized for the harsh delivery but stands behind the idea.)

During a television interview on Good Morning America last week, she said, “I’m not a doctor, which brings me to another point. It seems like the media is often giving celebrities and actors more authority on this issue than they’re giving the experts and that’s a sad fact. And I know that’s a paradox – that’s part of why I wanted to become a spokesperson, so I could say, ‘Please don’t listen to me, don’t listen to the actors, go to the experts.”

I have my own thoughts about vaccinations. I did hours and hours worth of research when Em was brand new. I worried myself silly over them. In the beginning, I actually contemplated not vaccinating Em, an idea I find completely crazy now. I’m not sure if I was merely getting caught up in the wave of hysteria so prevalent these days or if I was just worried about the actual needle-sticking part. But I worried myself sick.

And then he had his first vaccine (we did stagger them) and everything went well. After that, I began to loosen up a bit.

We chose to spread them out not because we thought a vaccine might cause neurological damage, we spread them out because I felt that his body should have enough time to cope with each one. This meant more co-pays, more visits to the doctor, and (unfortunately for everyone) more needle pricks.

We’re waiting on a few and skipping some as well. For example, we opted to wait on Hepatitis B until he is a little bit older. And I decided against the flu vaccine. We’re also waiting a bit to start the MMR—not too long, but a little bit.

We did couple some of them. I made my decisions based on the statistics on the CDC Web site. Basically, the higher incidences of side-effects, the more likely I’d give him that vaccine on its own. The more “easy going” vaccine (for example, Polio) the more likely I’d couple it with another. (If for some reason you are interested in seeing how we spaced them, feel free to email me.)

It’s my opinion that yes, parents should be given a choice as to whether they vaccinate or not. No one should ever be forced to do something to their child because the government says so. However, I think information needs to be made readily available to every American no matter who they are (rich, poor, black, white, purple, old or young). I think insurance companies should cover the cost of classes for parents-to-be. I think this may help correct misconceptions behind vaccines and teach parents why vaccinating your child is important. I was offered (and took) a breastfeeding class and a parenting class. Why can’t hospitals or pediatricians offer a class or two about immunizations? Because I firmly believe that if a parent does the research, if they can ask questions, they will feel better about vaccinating their child.

I think vaccinating our children is the right thing to do and the benefits far outweigh the side-effects. Remember this post? How about this one? It took a hell of a lot of research for me to get to this point. I no longer think that the government is some kind of boogeyman trying to poison our children. And I realize that for some this change of mind may come as a surprise. Believe me, there is still nothing more horrible than taking a newborn to the doctor and watching said doctor insert a needle into his or her leg. All the research in the world won’t make the actual event any less awful. But after a year worth of research, I’m (more or less) onboard with Amanda Peet.

But don’t listen to me either. Do the research yourself. It’s the only way you’ll ever feel better about it.

Waging War Against Bisphenol A

A couple of months ago we declared war against bisphenol A, an organic compound that mimics estrogen and can mess with a person’s hormones and development. This is especially alarming for babies who rely so much on what they ingest in order to develop.

My understanding is this: bisphenol A was created as a estrogen replacement and/or supplement. At some point, diethylstilbestrol turned out to be more powerful. Bisphenol A was shelved. Later, chemists discovered that it could be polymerized to form polycarbonate plastic. But the bond is not stable so BPA leaches into whatever it’s protecting. The government has tested many of these plastics individually and the amount that leaches out is very little. But as far as I know there haven’t been tests run on the overall usage of BPA leaching components. Basically, the sum is much greater than its parts.

As with anything, the more you know the better off (or worse depending on who you ask) you are. But with bisphenol A the more I find the worse I feel. I started this post a dozen times before now and each time I get so overwhelmed, I give up. There is just too much to find and discover!

Truth be told, bisphenol A has become a bit of a monster here at our house. It lurks everywhere and in an industrialized country like the United States, it’s downright impossible to avoid. It’s something we’re trying very hard to rid our lives of. And believe me, that’s a lot harder than one may think.

I’m not going to mention all the side-effects associated with bisphenol A. And instead of trying to work them into a perfectly packaged paragraph (I am not nearly that good of a writer), I’m going to list a few of them below.

  • Low sperm count and infertile sperm
  • bisphenol A during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors to breast cancer
  • neurotoxicity
  • linked to obesity. (triggering fat-cell activity)
  • developmental toxicity
  • damage to eggs and chromosomes
  • hyperactivity
  • early puberty

As with many scientific studies conducted today, these are concluded after large amounts are injected into our fuzzy friends. (Thanks for taking a million and one for the team, Mickey and Minnie.) Many supporters of bisphenol A think the results are skewed. Opponents feel the findings are alarming and that the compound should be scrutinized by the FDA to find out if it’s safe for our children.

In a perfect world, a baby would drink only breastmilk straight from the breast for (at the very least) the first year of his or her life. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible for many women. In the states, women are granted 3 months maternity leave, forcing them to hit the pump. Some woman have trouble breastfeeding and turn to the pump and/or formula. Either way, the majority of women in the U.S. are going to give their baby a bottle during the first year of his or her life. Unfortunately, most of the plastic bottles on the market today are lined with bisphenol A.

Before Emory was born I had determined very early on that we would use (glass) bottles. A friend from San Francisco purchased some EvenFlo bottles from our registry. I was so out of it, exhausted and depressed for the first two months postpartum, I used Dr. Brown’s bottles instead, which worked really well with easing gas pains. Unfortunately, they are made with BPA. So, for the first two months of Emory’s life, he was being served pumped breastmilk from a bisphenol A-lined plastic bottle. What’s more, the more you heat them up, the more the chemical leaches from the plastic and into the milk. (I use our electric kettle to heat water. I then dip the bottle into a mug for a few minutes.) Eventually, we remembered all the plans we had and ditched the plastic bottles for the glass ones.

Along with retiring the Dr. Brown’s bottles, we’ve gotten rid of our Brita filter, our plastic french press (replacing it with a glass one). We’ve stopped drinking anything out of plastic that includes all store bought bottled water. I figured the tap water here in Brooklyn will do us just fine. (We do drink it every time we go out to eat and I haven’t ever once used the Brita to filter our ice.) We’ve been drinking tap water for 2 months now and neither one of us has had any unwanted leakage or strange bellyaches.

We now avoid all cans lined with the BPA. (Canned tomatoes are a big culprit.) Thankfully, we never purchased baby formula lined with it, but it is out there. I have read conflicting reports as to whether Medela’s bottles are BPA-free. (I do not think they are entirely BPA-free but I’m hoping someone reading this might be privy to that information.) Medela bottles are entirely BPA-free. Thanks to a commenter for clearing that up.

When you start looking for it, you’ll find that BPA is everywhere. It’s in everything with a recycle number 7 on it. It’s in cellophane, tupperware; It’s even found in pacifiers.

The good news is, many people seem to be catching on. It seems more and more organizations are coming out with alternatives. Born Free makes plastic bottles that are bisphenol A free. (We purchased a few of these bottles just last month.) Natursutten, came out with a BPA-free pacifier. Brita hasn’t caught on yet, which is frustrating. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how America got off on such a filtered-water tangent to begin with. I remember when it happened but I’m not sure how or why. It seemed that all of a sudden, people decided the tap water was no longer safe to drink. Perhaps the bottled water corporations such as Pepsi and Coke had a lot to do with it? Either way, drinking bottled water and water pushed through a filter first seems silly and excessive to me, unnecessary even. And wouldn’t it be ironic if we finally discover that the plastic we’re using is more detrimental to one’s health than the water being pumped through our pipes?

By now, I’m certain that many of you have rolled your eyes at least once during this post. And I’m OK with that. I know I annoyed the crap out of some folks after we ordered an organic mattress. But I invite you to take a minute and answer one question:

If we are able to cut down on the amount of chemicals we unnecessarily pump into our children, don’t you think that we should?

It took months worth of research for me to get behind vaccinations. The more research I did, the better I felt about immunizing my little guy. The opposite can be said for BPA. The more I read, the more wary I become of its role in our everyday lives.

I don’t expect everyone to get on the anti-plastic bandwagon. But I might suggest doing the research on your own and then deciding for yourself. After all, the government doesn’t always have the best interest of the individual in mind.

If there is one thing I have learned in the past year that I can state with absolution, it’s that this parenting thing takes constant research.

More on Vaccinations: Hib recall.

I have written about this before. I’ll probably never stop. This is why we can’t blindly trust our government or major pharmaceutical companies.

“Dougherty could not immediately say whether the contamination seen at the factory involves a virus or bacteria. She said if someone were vaccinated with a contaminated shot, “There is a risk they could develop an infection.” But she did not provide more details”

Thanks for the reassurance there, Dougherty. Thanks for clearing that up. The vagueness can mean one of two things, and both are troubling. Either they don’t know what the “infection” is or they think we’re too stupid to handle the truth. I want to know everything they know. Let me then make an informed decision. We’re not children, but these are our children they’re talking about.

I’m not against vaccines but I’m troubled by the fact that there aren’t perfect measures in place to make sure there are no contaminations, or weird additives. And I find it appalling that any state would make vaccinations mandatory especially if they don’t offer textbook explanations for any problems or side-effects that do arise. It’s no wonder why so many parents are wary of injecting their children with up to 23 shots by age two. Safety is something that needs to be worked out before suggesting it be mandatory.

NowBlowPoMe: Vaccinations, Take 3.

I woke up early yesterday and trekked into the city to have my stitches removed. I got dressed up in order to do so. That’s a sign of the frequency with which I leave the house.

I learned that my skin had grown over two of the four stitches during my week of healing. I also discovered that I’m allergic to the Bacitracin I was prescribed. My doctor told me to stop using it immediately. The site was red and blotchy and slightly raised because of the reaction I had. It hadn’t healed quite as well as she would have liked, so I may need some laser treatment when this is all said and done. I’m to see her again in four weeks. In the meantime, she gave me a steroidal ointment called Cutivate (which I just found out I should not use since I’m supplying breast milk for Emory) and a topical ointment called Biafine to help with the redness after the wound heals.

To be completely honest, I couldn’t have cared less about my face or the scarring because Emory was scheduled to have his second round of vaccinations yesterday. This fact weighed on my head, so much so, I was unable to eat. (A perfect solution to losing weight: schedule vaccinations for your new baby.)

We are having Emory vaccinated. We’re skipping a few, such as Hepatitis B (he can get that later), and the flu shot. I think we’re also going to skip the chicken pox vaccination. And there are others I haven’t even researched yet that may be added to that list. I’m taking it day by day. I do know one thing: we’re only allowing for two shots per visit. The CDC requests that you do more. If a person were to go along with the schedule recommended by the CDC, a child could have up to 6 shots in one visit. And I know what I’m about to write may not go over too well with the Internet, but I think that’s too many. I might change my mind as he gets older but right now I think that 6 injections is far too many. And so we’re giving him less and visiting more often (if need be).

Emory had two more vaccinations yesterday. He was given IPV (polio) and HIB (haemophilus influenzae type b). Both shots are associated with few-to-no side effects. Technically, he was also supposed to receive DTaP already but it tends to cause problems and will thus be given alone. DTaP scares me a bit. By giving it solo, if anything should happen, I will know exactly what vaccine to blame.

Of course Emory screamed when he received the shots. We were ready for that. And I stood outside the whole time. I joked with the nurse and pediatrician and told them I planned on visiting the bar across the street to get a couple of shots myself. Had I not been driving, I may have done so. Next time, however I may take the Xanax I was prescribed for flying. I really do not handle these shots very well.

So, he screamed and TJ did his best to calm him. We waited at the doctor’s office until he was soothed. A bottle helped.

We left. He was still fine. He smiled a lot and even laughed a couple of times. When we got him home, we sang to him and played with him. I gave him a tiny bath and then wrapped him up for a nap. He passed out at around 5 PM.

TobyJoe and I made dinner. I showered. Emory was still sleeping. Emory never sleeps for more than two hours during the day but I knew that his immune system was busy so I let him rest. At around 8 PM, Emory began to stir. And then all hell broke lose. He just started screaming.

Back up. I have said this before about my son but I really must reiterate it. Emory DOES NOT cry. He just doesn’t cry. He fusses, but he saves crying for whenever he’s in pain. He has cried now about four times in his life. So when he woke up screaming and red-faced I became worried. This was not the way my baby normally acts.

TobyJoe dropped everything he was doing and scooped him up. He tried his best to comfort him. And Emory screamed. Every time he opened his eyes, he screamed. With them shut, he screamed. When we tried to feed him, he screamed. Whenever we rocked him, he screamed. Pacification? Screamed. He just screamed and screamed and screamed and his mother nearly shit her pants.

Almost ALL of the literature about side-effects associated with vaccinations says to call a doctor or visit an ER if there’s a change in your baby’s behavior. And there was. It was clear to me that something was different. I called the doctor and left a desperate message.

I have no idea how much time went by (10, 15, 30 minutes?) before TobyJoe was able to get Emory to fall asleep again. And then it was worry time. What would happen whenever he awoke again? Would we have to endure more of this? Was he OK?

The doctor called me back when he was sleeping. I told her everything.

She gave me advice and then let me know that for reasons they are still very unsure of, some babies will wake up screaming and they scream no matter what you do. She said that often enough, once they fall back to sleep and wake up for a second time, they will never scream again. She said that doctors have no idea why they scream. She told me that if he wakes up again and continues to scream that I should undress him and look for anything out of the ordinary. If I don’t see anything, and he doesn’t calm down, then I can bring him to the ER. She also told me what dosage of Tylenol to give him. She tried to reassure me that the two vaccines he had were “mild”, which didn’t really reassure me because if my child was having this type of reaction to a mild vaccine, what was going to happen with the response to the DTaP?

We waited. We listened to his breathing, made sure that he wasn’t having an allergic reaction. TobyJoe tried to wake him a few times. Finally, we decided to be a little more insistent so we could give him some Tylenol.

The following second was reminiscent of something I’ve seen in movies during on of those bomb-disabling scenes. You know, the one where the guy is standing over two different color wires as the clock tics down to mere seconds and at the very last second he cuts the yellow wire. It was the second right after the cut. The one where you’re all waiting to see if the bomb goes off. That’s what the second between sleep and awake was like. Would he scream?

Silence. Grumble. Silence. Grumble. Silence. And then the feed me hands. No screaming. Just feed me hands.

I have no idea what made him scream like that. The experience was reminiscent of the time Homer Simpson remembered having found Smither’s Dad’s dead body and continually screamed no matter what anyone said or did.

And we were able to laugh about that today, nervously so. For I know that in just 30 more days, we’ll have to go through this all over again. But right now he’s happy and smiling and awesome.

How much do I hate this? So much. So very much. But I do know that getting him vaccinated is far better an option than letting him get sick. But it doesn’t make the experience any less horrible.

Notes for me: 25 Inches long and 14 pounds. Smiling. Giggling. Follows people around the room. Makes direct eye contact. Sleeps 4-hour stretches at night. Holds head up but at an angle – toward right shoulder. Blue eyes. Can hold feet.

Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where one writes every day for the month of November, which is easier said than done.

Two Months Old

Emory turned 9 weeks old today (or two months old on Monday).

He has his two month doctor’s visit today as well. He’s scheduled to have (at least) two vaccinations. But I think we’re going to spread them out. That said, he’ll probably only receive the Pneumococcal today. I think I need to spend a little more time reading about the DTaP. We’re going to give him DTaP, but I need the doctor to answer a few things first. For example, the sanofi pasteur version may contain trace amounts of mercury whereas GlaxoSmithKline does not. I want to make sure our pediatrician has the latter. If they do not, I will order it and pay out of pocket if I need to. We’re armed with questions.

I was looking back at my baby book today to see what vaccines I was given as a baby and when. I received DTaP, polio, and the MMR. That’s it. Three different shots for 7 different illnesses. Now? There are so many more now. Most of them I hadn’t ever heard of before having Emory. (Pneumococcal, for example. Which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with pneumonia [WRONG it does. It protects an infant from getting it] and instead protects an infant from a bunch of different strands of bacteria.)

As I see it one of two things could have happened. (I am admittedly about to tread into an area I know little about but I’m a mother so allow me the speculation.)

1). The added vaccines were created for illnesses/diseases that always existed in which case parents should be given a choice.

2). The added vaccines were created to keep up with illnesses/diseases that changed or grew out of cultural change, population growth, etc., or already existing (morphing) diseases. I mentioned before that I received my MMR (along with a number of boosters) and ended up with the measles two years ago. Does that mean the viruses are changing and the vaccines we once received can no longer combat them? Does that mean adults should continue getting vaccinated as well? And, if that’s the case (which it obviously is as I was vaccinated and it’s no longer valid) don’t we put our children at risk as much as the kid at school whose parents refused the vaccine? How many of you have any idea of your MMR is still valid? The only reason I know is I had a serious amount of blood work run when I wanted to get pregnant. Who’s to say that your elementary school janitor or your babysitter still has a “working” MMR vaccine? Who’s to say your daughter’s vaccine still “works”? Does anyone know what I’m saying? Am I making sense at all? Testing 123 is this thing on?

It’s scary out there, people. And you haven’t heard the end of it from me. I don’t care how many nasty email or comments I receive. YOU WILL NOT SILENCE ME, INTERNET!

The Vaccination Situation.

Edited to add: I wrote this back in 2007. I have since come a long way regarding vaccinations. Therefore, I feel it’s my duty to link to this update. I am now militantly pro-vaccine. I find Jenny McCarthy to be dangerous and awful for what she has done. I went on to have three children, ALL of whom have been vaccinated. If I had my way, I’d make it mandatory. There you have it.


Jenny McCarthy has been popping up everywhere lately. I have seen her on several talk shows and then this week she was on Larry King Live promoting her new book Louder Than Words. The book is about her son’s autism and how she basically put it into remission.

I know what some people are going to think after reading this post. Some folks are going to think, “Oh great, Michele has gone off the deep end. She’s become a full blown freak, willing to put her son’s health at risk over a bunch of speculation.” I say, why stop now? I love getting hate mail! No, seriously, I’m not making irrational decisions or doing anything over-the-top at all. I’m merely thinking about my options at this point because the whole vaccination situation has me concerned. For example, right now, I’m very wary of injecting my son with any vaccination containing thermisol or any other potentially damaging preservative commonly found in vaccinations. Hell, I’m even frightened to inject him with a virus as minute as it may be. I worked my ass off during my entire pregnancy to make sure he didn’t come in contact with anything that could potentially harm him. And I don’t intend to throw that all away now. Perhaps, had I given birth to a daughter, I wouldn’t be as concerned. (Males are three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism. Folks who believe vaccinations are the culprit think that’s because estrogen protects a child better than testosterone.)

(From CDC Web site).

“Currently, CDC recommends vaccination against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases. Because some of these vaccines have to be administered more than once, a child may receive up to 23 shots by the time he or she is 2 years of age. Depending on the timing, a child might receive up to six shots during one visit to the doctor.”

That’s a lot of vaccinations/boosters to administer to our most vulnerable.

I am left with a hundred questions. Is a 2-year-old’s immune system able to handle that many vaccinations? And when they combine them, can that bring out unforeseen side effects? Who’s to say what happens to a child’s immune system when confronted with a combined vaccination or a single one for that matter? Can we safely say that each vaccination is going to affect every child the same way? Because until they can absolutely guarantee that, I will question the governments requests.

Statistics show that most vaccinations are perfectly safe for most children. And I realize that vaccinations are there to protect our children from life-threatening illnesses. I’m not saying that we won’t vaccinate Emory. But I want to ask my pediatrician the right questions when and if that time comes for us. I don’t want to walk blindly into this, agree to everything just because our government says I should. (A week ago, that’s exactly what I would have done.) Also, just because it’s statistically safe for most children doesn’t mean that it’s going to be safe for mine.

Tobyjoe and I aren’t stupid. We won’t deprive Emory from what he needs. But the United States vaccination process has me concerned. We just want what’s best for our child. We want to make the correct decisions for him. And, if for some reason they do eventually link autism (or any other neurological deficit) to vaccinations, I will never, ever be able to forgive myself.

And so it begins. Tobyjoe and I have exactly one year to research the living hell out of the vaccination situation. And I can only hope that before our time comes things will feel safer. And people like Jenny McCarthy are helping this along. Perhaps by the time we have to face the inevitable, they’ll have figured out why autism is so prevalent in our culture today. (Currently, 1 in every 150 children have autism in the United States. That sounds like an epidemic to me.)

And who knows, maybe by then they’ll have a vaccination for autism.