Lesson #1: Listen to Your Motherhood Instincts

When making medical decisions for my firstborn, I spent months while pregnant educating myself about infectious diseases. I looked at transmission (thank you, microbiology), at-risk populations, complications from contagious diseases, and carefully considered the indications for vaccination of an infant. I spent months following his birth looking into immunology and the developing immune system (thank you, physiology). I had already covered a lot in school, but an in-depth focus was invaluable.

I decided on a selective schedule. He was exclusively breastfed, and risk factors were low, as he wouldn’t be in daycare. I wanted to support his underdeveloped immune system in the best way I could reason. We decided to decline rotavirus, Prevnar, and Hib. We were unable to decline the rest due to them being in a combo vaccine. At my firstborn’s 3rd pediatrician visit for vaccines, he got the combo shot and that was it. I knew the following days would be of a sleepy, feverish baby. What I didn’t know is that by day 4, I would be in the worst panic of my life.

Day 4 rolled around and he was absent. He was more awake, but not responding like his usual 6-month self. He didn’t smile. He didn’t giggle. He didn’t react to anything I did. He didn’t want to nurse, but I continued to encourage it. I called our pediatrician and the nurse said his symptoms were “normal.” I called my husband and we agreed to take him in if he got worse. He didn’t get worse, but it took about a week before he started to come around again. What were they going to do, anyways? There wasn’t a reversal for vaccines.

From that day, I promised I would never vaccinate him again. The risks were too high and I didn’t want him to have an even worse reaction the next time. Each child has taught me something further and pushed me to be better and do better. My firstborn scared me into intense research and the controversial dialogue of childhood vaccinations.

Just remember two things going forward as this gets deeper. Cognitive dissonance is real (look it up). What is your life, if people don’t know your heart?

Shalom, light, and love.

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