Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Do Your Research"

Ah, the vaccines vs autism argument. I wish I could leave it alone, but I can't. Some people will continue to believe what they want to believe, no matter what evidence they are shown to the contrary.

Today, I overheard as a first-time dad was told by a stranger that he needed to "watch out for that MMR vaccine" with his newborn. I looked over at the guy and said nonchalantly, "Nah, you're ok. Get the vaccine." Apparently the antivaxxer didn't like that much. She proceeded to tell him that he needed to do his "research" (because she's obviously done hers) and that it affects about one in fifty. "Actually," I informed her, "Studies have shown that autism may be linked to other factors (such as gut bacteria). There's no real evidence to prove that the MMR vaccine or any other vaccines cause autism." She went back and forth with me a bit, as I countered each of her points calmly and with a smile, then turned to the new dad and warned him once again to do his own research, to which he responded, "I'm pretty sure my wife has done all of the research she can." I can only hope that by that he meant, So we're going to guard our kid against these fatal diseases, thank you very much. 

A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, "Even if I didn't know better, I'd rather take my chances with vaccines causing autism than to have my kid die of polio. Autism I can handle. A dead child, not so much." So many parents fail to realize how terrible these diseases of the not-so-distant past really were. With the rise of misinformation and scare tactics, we're starting to see once eradicated diseases making a comeback in the U.S. Measles, mumps, and rubella are nothing to laugh at. They are serious diseases with serious consequences. As are polio, diphtheria, and the like. It's true that some of these illnesses are treatable, but the chances for serious complication or death is too great and the victims suffer through awful symptoms. Why anyone would risk contracting any of these is beyond me. I certainly couldn't fathom watching my child suffer through them.

We need to continue to vaccinate our children for sake of herd immunity. Infants, chemotherapy patients, and others with weak immune systems need the safety of herd immunity since their bodies cannot fight illness as easily as ours can.

If you are reading this and you still aren't convinced, please, do your own research. Read results from reliable sources and then determine your stance on this issue. In fact, here are a few to get you started:

Autism Speaks
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Autism Science Foundation

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It Gets Better

I used to be that mom. The one in denial. The mom that looked at other moms with contempt and whispered, "Do you see her? Seriously, what is she thinking?" I couldn't see that she was me. I didn't want to believe that her struggles were the same as mine. The truth is, we've all been "there" at one point or another as parents. I say "parents" because moms aren't the only ones who have a hard time. Dads don't often get the credit they deserve for putting up with the amount of crap they do.

My kids are older now. Old enough to know better. Old enough to not throw tantrums anymore. Old enough to pour their own cereal and tie their own shoes. My kids are not perfect, oh no. Not by any means. But they are no longer the toddlers they once were.

I saw myself the other day in the checkout line. T-shirt and dirty jeans. Hair in a messy half-up, half-fallen down pony. Exhausted but still smiling. She had one child riding in the cart and the other "helping" her push the cart. The older one was whining, "Pleeeeease, Mommy! Can I have...?" The toddler in the basket was crying, blankie in hand, sippy cup on the floor. And I thought, Hang in there, Momma. It gets better.
Then I heard it: the not-so-quiet whisper.

-"Someone can't control her kids."
-"Mmhmm. Wonder where their daddy is?"
-"I dunno, but those kids need a firm hand, that's for sure."



I can't tell you how many times I've heard the same lines over and over. Older generations, younger generations. Everyone does it. Everyone knows the "best" way to care for a child, discipline a child, soothe a child. What we fail to recognize is how different each child can be. What works for yours might not work for mine and vice versa. If you have children, you know how exhausting life can be when you're at wit's end and down to your last package of diapers. Does anyone want to go shopping with a young child in tow? Lord, no. But it becomes a necessary evil in those moments. So, we drag ourselves away from the piles of laundry and hunt down our car keys, then rush to the store, thinking, We'll only be a few minutes. I just need to pick up some x, y, z. And we almost always end up at home afterwards, collapsing onto the couch after carefully setting down the sleeping baby in the car seat, and remember, Crap. We're nearly out of baby wipes. 

So I walked over to the mom in the checkout line, handed her the dropped sippy cup, smiled and said, "What beautiful kids! You're doing a great job. Keep it up." She mouthed a thank-you, and smiled back as if my non-judgment meant the world to her. 

It's Been Awhile

It's been a few years since my last blog post. So many things have changed, yet so many things have stayed the same. It's been a wild and bumpy ride to where we are, but I'm loving my life and finally feel like writing again.  In the past few years, we've moved, changed our views on lots of things, and grown physically and psychologically. I'm working for the first time since we've been married, Hubbs is working less, and our kids are both in school. I'm so much more alive now than I was before. I am happier and more outgoing. I am less worried about things and more "let's see what happens!" So...? Let's see what happens!