Monday, 16 April 2012

Captivity


(Insert male Geordie voiceover aka Big Brother Announcer) 

Day 386 of my captivity.

Not content with holding me hostage without ransom and force feeding me on gruel like substances, the woman has recently ordered the man to install prison bars throughout the building in order to contain me.  

I used to have the freedom to roam the lower floor of the building but it would appear the woman has tired of tugging my hands free of various interesting substances such as the tree, the DVD player, the gas fireplace, and the drawers.  Last week I attempted to climb the stairs to the second floor, seeking an escape hatch.  Sadly, after only two stairs my attempt failed as I crashed to the floor.  

Now, I have been reduced to the state of utter imprisonment and spend my days behind bars.  There is a set at the top of the stairs, the bottom of the stairs and even one holding me in my main pen, the room typically called "the lounge".  
I vainly attempt to climb over the bars with only minimal success.  All attempts to shout at the woman and tell her EXACTLY what I think of this new development are proving unsuccessful.  She simply comes over, strokes my head and either leaves again or comes into the pen to sit behind the bars with me.  I fail to see the point of this exercise and in disgust, attempt to climb over her to resume my escape efforts.

To make matters worse, the woman has now added sleep deprivation to her list of available tortures.  The mere fact that I have decided to wake up every hour, on the hour throughout the night is of course entirely irrelevant - as is the fact that I have also decided 4:30am is now the perfect time to greet the day with a screech...or two.  I am in fact simply appreciating the beauty of the new day and getting a jump on things to make sure I waste no time appreciating my life.  

However, after a mere three weeks of this entertaining activity, it would appear the woman has tired of having a nocturnal baby and has decided to withhold daytime sleep.  You see, normally I retire for my morning rest shortly after breakfast and sleep for between 1-2 hours.  I then arise, play for a time, enjoy my lunch and retire for a further rest of 1-2 hours.  This period of beauty sleep is of course entirely essential to my health and wellbeing and I refuse to compromise on this.  It is entirely unreasonable for the woman to this morning force me to remain awake.  

I agreed to play for quite a lengthy time but by 10:45am the situation was getting critical and I was voicing my complaints rather loudly.  Finally by 11am the woman got the point and allowed me to rest in her arms.  By 11:03am my eyes were closed but to my utter indignation, at 11:05am the doorbell rang.  Finally by 11:08am the woman had sat down again and by 11:10am my eyes were once again closed.  I fully expected a reasonable length rest considering quite how flexible I had been towards the woman's expectations however I was utterly furious when the demands of my stomach woke me up at 11:58am.  I ROARED my displeasure and when the woman attempted to change my pants, I threw SUCH a tantrum that only my heels and shoulders were actually touching the changing mat.  Well.  There's no point making things easy for my captors. The woman was surprisingly patient and only had words with me once but I confess I didn't hear them as my roars were slightly elevated in volume.


Thankfully, my pants freshly changed, the woman agreed to see to the demands of my stomach with a bowl of noontime rations.  At least my daily gruel now has some lumps in it and I am occasionally allowed juice instead of the monotonous diet of milk and water.  Twice, as a treat, I was offered some of the most gorgeous brown sweet stuff, but I am convinced this was purely an effort to soften me up for the latest tortures.  

If only I knew what the woman wanted of me!  Perhaps then I could bribe her for my freedom...Would that someone would rescue me from this evil place.  

Monday, 9 April 2012

I Think Women Are Amazing

I think women are amazing and yet too often, we don't recognize this.  Specifically, I think mothers are amazing.  We downplay our strengths, our achievements and our iron determination saying it's just what anyone would do, or its really not that big of a deal or, when we're struggling through a particularly difficult time and we want to shout, scream or cry, we use that absolute kicker and say, "it's just hormones..."


Pregnancy seems to be viewed as this glorious time when we're creating life.  It's all about having a beautiful (small and perfectly formed) bump, decorating the nursery and hanging out in a happy haze as we wait for the birth of our children.  I did a quick Google image search for pregnancy and out of a selection of very similar images, these are the ones that really stood out to me:


Ahhh relaxing with a large flower - just what we all do!

And of course the beautiful blonde first child kissing our fabulous belly

Or better still - it's perfectly safe to exercise in pregnancy!
Honestly, I couldn't get into that position at any time, never mind while pregnant.
Funnily enough, out of the few hundred images I skimmed through, I didn't see any of a woman bent over the toilet vomiting her guts up.  I didn't see any of a woman in such agonizing pain from SPD that she was using walking sticks or a wheelchair to get around.  I didn't see any of a woman enduring a miscarriage, a premature birth, an ill baby, a disabled baby or anything other than glowing reports of how wonderful this experience is.  You are creating life!  You WILL enjoy it!


Yah.  Right.


Ok, it is amazing to see that little blue line on the stick, it is amazing to see the scans (when our baby is healthy), it is amazing to feel the baby move and it's certainly amazing to hold our baby for the first time...well so long as we're conscious and not recovering from a haemorrhage of course.


You know what?  Let's explode this myth that pregnancy is a faaaaaabulous time full of wonder, joy and peaceful times hanging out with flowers.  And let's start celebrating the incredible strength of women who go through absolute hell during pregnancy and all the challenges that can come with it and yet still manage to get out of bed in the morning, still manage to take care of other children who don't stop and won't wait because Mummy is pregnant and feels horrible.  Let's celebrate women who still manage to take care of households or spouses; let's celebrate single mothers who cope without the help of a spouse or partner.  Let's celebrate women who still manage to go to work and paste a smile on their face because they have a job to do even though they'd much rather be in bed.  


And let's STOP saying that pregnancy is a wonderful time.  Let's stop saying that we (even women who have been pregnant) know exactly what they are going through - because every woman's experience is different.  Let's stop saying, "oh it's just hormones" when she bursts into tears or needs to have a shout.  Instead, let's pass the tissues, the decaf coffee, stop and take time to listen without judgement, without comparisons and without telling that because we all go through it, that her experience is normal.  Let's pass the fuzzy slippers, the loose and comfortable t-shirt (and give her permission to get out of that silly maternity business suit!) and let's be kind to women who are going through hell to create life and will then continue to go through hell to raise their children while absolutely adoring them so much they would sacrifice their own lives to keep them safe.


Because I know some amazing, incredible, powerful, brave and determined women.


I know a woman who endured the miscarriage and stillbirth of four children before being able to hold one in her arms.


I know a woman who endured hyperemesis gravidarium - which means she dealt with horrific nausea and vomiting for all nine months - through all three of her pregnancies and ended up in hospital a number of times as she grew weaker and weaker.


I know a woman who is enduring both hyperemesis gravidarium and SPD so that in addition to dealing with constant nausea is also in incredible pain and yet she is still working.


I know a woman who had a healthy child, then a child who died of a GBS infection, before having a third child whom she protected with antibiotics and who now campaigns for other women to know about GBS before it's too late.


I know a woman who gave birth to a premature baby and then endured more than ten weeks sitting by her baby's incubator in neonatal intensive care while that baby was ventilated, fed intravenously and monitored by an entire team of medical staff who tried to encourage that baby to grow strong.


I know a woman who gave birth to her second healthy child only to watch that beautiful child become infected with Krabbe Leukodystrophy and who cared for that child with passionate commitment, joy and tears as she went blind, lost her motor functions and eventually was released from this life shortly after the age of two.  She now does everything she can to help other mothers dealing with similar situations.


I know women who are strong, incredibly brave, devoted and yet somehow cannot see how amazing they are.  I know women who dismiss pregnancy and motherhood as normal events without seeing that every single pregnancy and every single child is a miracle brought to life by an incredibly strong and determined woman who often forgets that it's ok to say they feel weak...who forgets that it's ok to say they need help...who forgets that it's ok to say THIS SUCKS.  This is NOT bliss!  This is incredibly hard work and I don't know if I can make it.


If you know a woman like this, whether it's your spouse, your sister, your friend, your coworker or even one who you might just have walked by not realizing just how strong she is, stop and take the time to listen to her.  Don't tell her that you know exactly what she's going through; just listen.  Don't tell her that her tears are just hormones because she's entitled to cry.  Don't tell her that her anger is also just hormones because she's entitled to shout.  Take the time to love her, to tell her how special, how amazing and how brave she is.  Listen to her story and be amazed.


Then remember that whatever the Google images tell you, motherhood is a bit more like this:



Friday, 6 April 2012

What I Have Learned About The MMR

I am delighted to say that Adam is absolutely fine after his vaccinations yesterday.   It was hard for me to take him and I spent a lot of time praying for him yesterday, still hoping I was making the right decision and still knowing that it was the only decision I felt I could make as I try to protect him the best way I know from more illness.  Exactly as she promised, Wendy sat with me in the waiting room to give me time to talk and also came with me when Adam was called in to see the vaccination nurse.  We talked a little bit about how I was doing but in all honesty, all I could really say to her on that topic was, "I'm here, just don't expect me to be fine as well!"  Fortunately Wendy knows me very well and could see through my smile that even though I was smiling, I was still scared.

The vaccinations themselves were of course horrible - but I'd expected that.  Adam had been cheerfully chattering and smiling, only for me to take his trousers off and hold him gently but firmly while the nurse gave him two injections in one leg and a third in the other.  Of course, from the first injection he was absolutely screaming and crying such tears.  I was more than a bit choked up myself and I just wanted to run away with him to keep him safe from what was hurting him...but I knew that what was hurting him at that moment was precisely designed to keep him safe in the future and so I held him and tried not to cry myself.  Both Wendy and the nurse were reassuring me saying I was doing very well and even though it sounds a bit silly to write that, it's exactly what I needed to hear.  Once the injections were over and the plasters put over the little marks on Adam's legs, I was able to give him a big cuddle and he slowly started to calm down.  Then Wendy had a bit of a cuddle and just about succeeded in raising a watery smile before Adam made it quite clear that in fact, he wanted Mummy now, please and thank you.  :-)  

The nurse warned me that in a few weeks time, he might have a small rash around the site of the injection that looks like measles but that it won't be the actual illness, though of course I need to keep an eye on it and give him Calpol if he has any fever or ring the doctors if I have any concerns.  Then, Wendy and I returned to the waiting room to wait the allotted ten minutes to make sure Adam didn't develop any form of reaction to the injections.  While we sat waiting, we talked about vaccinations, about the fears of links between autism and MMR, and the realities of what Measles can do - and is currently doing to those people in England who are caught in the current outbreak.

Wendy has told me these things before, when we first talked about my fears over accepting vaccinations for Adam, but she reminded me of them as we talked yesterday.  It helped to calm my fears a great deal and for that reason, I think it's important to share them here, particularly as I've received so many comments of both opinions on my first post about vaccinations.  First of all though, please remember that I'm not a doctor, I have no medical training and this post is only intended to (hopefully) help other parents thinking their way through this decision; it is not in any way intended to be medical advice.  If anyone reading this does have questions or concerns, please do find a well informed doctor, nurse or Health Visitor who won't dismiss your fears but who will talk through this decision with you.  One thing I've realized on this journey, is that there are so many websites filled with people's opinions and their version of facts (which I'm certain they genuinely believe to be true) but I've learned it's so important to question those opinions and "facts" on either side of the argument rather than just accepting them.  So with those caveats, here are some of the things I've learned about the MMR, from talking with Wendy and also researching it myself.

Andrew Wakefield is the former British surgeon and researcher who first released the 1998 study in which he believed there were links between the MMR vaccine and autism; it was originally published in the medical journal, The Lancet.  He caused a huge storm of controversy, sparked many fears and has left a long-term, if not permanent, mark on the issue of vaccinations as a result.  The massive decline in acceptance of vaccinations both in England and also America has been linked to this study, as has the consequent rise of Measles outbreaks in both countries.  After four years, other researchers were still unable to reproduce his results and questions about his research were starting to grow.  By 2004, a reporter from the Sunday Times had discovered that Wakefield had "financial conflicts of interest" in his study - in other words, he was sponsored in his research by the people who make the single vaccines and are in direct competition with the manufacturers of triple vaccine, the MMR.  

As soon as I learned this first fact, that he was actually sponsored by people who very much wanted to increase the use of their product and therefore decrease the use of the MMR, that sounded warning bells to me and I think it should to others who fear the MMR as well.  As an aside, this reminds me of the news round about a year ago, that a study was being released saying it wasn't actually necessary to breastfeed an infant to six months but that four months was adequate before weaning.  This was in direct contradiction to World Health Organization recommendations and despite being widely publicized in the media, it was very rapidly learned that the study had been sponsored by manufacturers of formula milk.  As a result, the study died a very quick death indeed!  The Wakefield study didn't die quite so quickly, even though most of the co-authors of the study withdrew their support for it when this conflict of interest was discovered.  The Lancet also retracted their support for its publication.

The General Medical Council (GMC) which is the English regulatory body for doctors and health professionals, conducted an investigation into Wakefield's study and by 2010 they returned three dozen charges against Wakefield which included four counts of dishonesty and twelve counts of abuse of developmentally challenged children.  The panel ruled that Wakefield had "failed in his duties as a responsible consultant", had acted against the interests of his patients, was also dishonest and irresponsible in his published research and that parts of it had been falsified.  He was struck off the register which means he is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the UK.  Despite this, he still maintains that his research is true and accurate and stands by it saying there was no fraud, hoax or motive for profit.  

Apparently, there were quite a number of flaws in Wakefield's study, and these are just a few:

One of the things he said was that toxins from vaccines linger in the bowels of autistic children and so cause bowel problems.  But he *only* studied autistic children - he didn't have what's known as a "control group" of healthy children to compare his results.  Apparently, most if not all autistic children have bowel problems, it's a side effect of the condition, so without this control group, there's no way of knowing if the bowel problems were affected by the vaccines or not...but considering that autism comes with bowel problems, it's unlikely.  In the course of his study, Wakefield apparently also subjected developmentally challenged children to unnecessary medical procedures, including colonoscopy's and lumbar punctures and didn't seek the appropriate permission from the ethical boards to do so - this has therefore been ruled as abuse.

The MMR vaccine is given at around the age of one and unfortunately, if a child is going to develop autism, then the developmental time for symptoms to start showing themselves is also the age of one.  So while it's very easy to make a link between a post-vaccination reaction and symptoms of autism, there's no guarantee that the autism wasn't already present and wouldn't have shown itself anyway even without the vaccine.  It's just as much a case of unfortunate timing for the vaccination as it is of any link between the two.

I've also learned that Wakefield's own children were autistic and, as he struggled to come to terms with this diagnosis, he was determined to find the answer to the question of "Why?"  Presumably, why them?  Why us?  This prompted his research and influenced the results.  As a parent facing the disability of a child, he wasn't able to simply accept that sometimes bad things happen for which we have no explanation, he needed to *find* a reason - by any means necessary.  I think any parent who has faced illness, disability or even the death of a child can understand the desire and need for answers, but of course this does not condone finding those answers by fraudulent and abusive means and then publishing them.  

I can't now remember if it's linked to Wakefield or not, but I know one of the other controversies is over Thimersol, a preservative in vaccines, that many believe is dangerous.  I have been told that first of all, this ingredient isn't used in UK vaccines anyway but even where it is used in America, that a small misspelling has caused confusion over what ingredient is actually used - the one that is used is apparently safe but the dangerous one, alleged to be used, in fact isn't.  I won't say more on that now because I can't remember the details so it wouldn't be right to do so, but suffice to say that this controversy has also been brought into question as to whether or not it is legitimate.  

I'm fairly sure there were other flaws in Wakefield's study but those are all the ones I can remember for now, and I think it's enough to make my point.  The fear over vaccines, particularly the MMR, was sparked by false, inaccurate research that could not be reproduced - and this isn't just something I'm saying with no medical training whatsoever, it's been confirmed by the GMC.  The author of the study has been discredited by those who are charged with verifying studies like these, those who protect us from rogue or criminal practitioners and make sure that doctors, "first do no harm".  Wakefield is only one person, I know he is only one of many who have and who continue to study vaccinations.  I also know that those who disagree with vaccinations would back up their beliefs with extensive information from other sources which they believe supports their anti-vaccination stance.  

Equally, I know there are many medical professionals - particularly in America where the anti-vaccination lobby is strong - who stand by their belief that vaccinations are dangerous.  It would not be true to suggest that these people are fraudulent as Wakefield was proven to be, they believe research supports their anti-vaccination stance and are willing to stake their medical reputations and careers on this belief.  But if, as some believe, the controversy was originally sparked by Wakefield in England who then exported his beliefs to America, then the foundation of the anti-vaccination stance has little to no merit.  But of course, the response to this would be that if those who are pro-vaccine spent half as much time studying the safety of vaccines as they do trying to discredit the studies calling them into question, then maybe they would see that vaccines are in fact dangerous!  So the two camps remain entirely polarized and cannot find agreement anywhere and parents remain caught in the middle trying to decide what is safe and what will protect their children.

There is however one other thing I've learned.  Vaccinations work best when around 95% of the population are immunized because it creates something referred to as "herd immunity".  Currently, the rate of vaccinations in England is around 83% partially because of those who refuse vaccinations and also because of immigration from countries where vaccination programs are not as strong.  The people who refuse vaccinations truly believe they are protecting their children in the best way they know how; but the problem is that their decision doesn't just affect their own children, it affects other children including mine.  Because if enough of "the herd" (to use the attractive phrase!) is not immune to the disease then an outbreak can happen and those who are vaccinated become more vulnerable despite their vaccinations.  As a parent who, after much soul-searching and agonizing, decided to accept that vaccines are safe, this fact is chilling.  What if my attempt to protect my child is made less effective by the decisions of another parent?

Ultimately as you will know, I have decided to vaccinate Adam and thankfully he has not shown any form of reaction to them, despite my fears.  This is a personal decision and in all honesty, despite what I said above, the concept of "herd immunity" didn't actually factor in my decision one way or the other.  I decided to vaccinate him because I ultimately decided the information in favour of vaccination was stronger than that against it.  I truly hope the fact that he is now vaccinated - and will be again at the age of three - will protect him from Measles and all of the other conditions the jabs are designed to prevent.  Whatever decision you come to, for or against, I truly hope it's not one you come to regret because enduring the illness or disability of a child is a very hard road to walk.

So what do you think?  Did you know about the reasons why Wakefield and the original MMR study was discredited?  Do you believe that's enough or do the other professionals who are against vaccinations sway your opinion?  When it comes to making your decision, would you consider how it may affect other children or not?  

*Note, this is my second post on vaccinations, if you wish to see the first please click here:  Why I Am Choosing to Vaccinate Adam

Monday, 2 April 2012

Why I Am Choosing To Vaccinate Adam

Vaccinations are controversial.  There are many who believe they are entirely safe, that they prevent serious diseases which cause illness, disability and death and that every child should be vaccinated.  There are others who believe just as passionately that vaccinations are dangerous, that at best they have little to no effect on preventing disease and at worst, they cause serious reactions which can result in illness, disability and death and that no child should be vaccinated.  Faced with this entirely polarized opinion, how does a parent - any parent - decide what to do?  

Some parents take the route of least resistance: they don't do any research, dismiss those who have concerns and take their children for vaccinations because the health system tells them to do so. Others research the situation, decide the risks are greater than the benefits and choose not to vaccinate their children, accepting that they may face controversy and have to sign forms (particularly for schools) on a regular basis to confirm that their children are unvaccinated by reasoned choice.  Still other parents do their research and decide that despite the fact that there is controversy over the safety of vaccines, despite the fact that there are no easy answers, that they would prefer to vaccinate their children in an effort to prevent serious illnesses rather than take the risk their children may become infected or disabled as a result of the illness rather than because of the vaccine.

Prior to Adam's birth, I did a lot of research.  I read websites, books, leaflets, engaged with parents of both opinions in discussion groups online and I had serious concerns about the safety of vaccines.  I talked with my husband about it to express these concerns and we didn't see eye-to-eye.  He falls into the first group of parents who dismiss the concerns deciding that if the health system says vaccines are safe and beneficial then they are.  He also, in agreement with his first wife, vaccinated my stepson George who has not had any form of adverse reaction and also has not contracted any of the illnesses the vaccines are intended to prevent.  I asked him to research the situation himself to ensure that whatever decision we jointly came to in relation to our then unborn baby, that it would be an informed one.  He chose not to do this research and we argued about this.  Right up until the point of Adam's birth, I still did not know whether I would agree to vaccinate him or not but I had made the decision to withhold the routine Vitamin K injection given to all newborn babies in England.  I believed that if a baby's body does not include Vitamin K at birth nor for the first eight days of life, that as God is a pretty smart bloke, He had a reason for this.  I believed that if Adam was slightly jaundiced that this wasn't a life threatening condition and that it would resolve itself without injections.  I also believed that since Vitamin K injections are linked to childhood leukaemia in certain instances, that it was not worth the risk.  I know many people may disagree with me on this decision, but my point is that I thought about it, I researched it and I made what I believed was the best decision for my baby at the time.

But then, Adam happened and my whole world was turned upside down.  I very quickly realized that everything I thought I knew wasn't necessarily the whole truth and that I still had many things to learn - things the health system can teach me.  After Adam was born and became critically ill as a result of a GBS with Meningitis infection; he was taken to Neonatal Intensive Care.  My husband later told me that on admission to The Unit he was immediately given a Vitamin K injection because this is required in neonatal.  I could have taken issue with the fact that I had withheld consent for this injection and signed the NHS form declaring this.  I could have taken issue with the fact that an injection was given to my baby without consulting me.  But at that point, I was far more concerned with the fact that the doctors and nurses were battling to save Adam's life - he wasn't even breathing on his own, an injection was the least of my concerns.

While Adam was in hospital and I started learning about GBS, I realized how easily this infection can be prevented - with a simple swab test during pregnancy and antibiotics during labour.  I was shocked and horrified that even though many countries in the world (including Canada, the country of my birth) have introduced routine GBS testing as part of anti-natal care, that England and the NHS have chosen not to do so.  I was horrified that the NHS have adopted the "risk-based approach" of assuming that, as most children are immune to GBS, it doesn't matter than up to 2/3's of women carry the bacteria and that it is safer to under-medicate than to over-medicate.  I also learned that research is ongoing into the development of a vaccine to protect against GBS infections.  

And I realized something very important.  During those dark days when Adam lay in an incubator in a medically induced coma as his body and the doctors fought his GBS infection, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that if I had then been offered a vaccination to protect against GBS, I would have jumped at it.  I would have rolled up my sleeve instantly, without any hesitation whatsoever and without even asking whether or not it was safe, if there had been any hope of healing Adam and stopping the trauma we were going through.   

Unfortunately, that offer was never made because a vaccination against GBS does not currently exist; and of course by the time Adam had contracted the infection, a vaccination would have been pointless anyway.  But here's the thing:  I cannot and never will argue with those parents who have experienced horrific reactions to vaccinations and have watched "the lights go out" as their children descend into autism or even die.  I cannot explain this and I will not even attempt to try because there are incredibly strong and emotive opinions on both sides of the argument.  But I also cannot argue with those parents (one of whom I watched on the evening news just a couple of months ago) who chose to withhold the MMR vaccination, only for their children to contract measles and nearly die.  I do not ultimately know who is right. 

But there is one thing I do know.  I have been through the trauma of helplessly watching my baby fight a horrific infection.  I have sat beside his incubator and not known whether he would live or die.  I already live each day with the knowledge that he is categorized as disabled as a direct result of his fight for life.  I already live with the knowledge that he may be disabled in other ways that will only present themselves with time.  And I also know that if there is anything at all I can do to try to prevent Adam from contracting another killer infection then I will do this because ultimately doing something - anything - is better than sitting helplessly in a hospital second-guessing yourself and wondering:  What would have happened if I had known about GBS?  What would have happened if, while doing all that research into vaccinations and options surrounding natural childbirth, I had stumbled across the website of Group B Strep Support and learned that private tests are easily and affordably available?  What if Chris and I had decided to settle in Canada after our marriage, instead of England, where GBS testing is a routine part of pre-natal care for pregnant women?  All of these questions form part of the great "what if" game that is ultimately pointless because I didn't know about GBS so I wasn't tested for it, we do live happily in England and nothing will change what has already happened to us.  

There is something else I know.  Currently, there is a huge measles outbreak in England.  It was believed this disease had been eradicated because of the vaccination programme.  Measles, Mumps and Rubella used to be common sights, a common part of childhood.  Many thousands of parents endured the trauma of watching their children fight - or die from - these infections.  Yet today, they are not commonly seen and while I know not everyone will agree with me, I choose to believe this is in general because of the widespread effort to vaccinate generations of children against these diseases.  Now, when outbreaks such as the current one are being seen, many people are surprised because the diseases are no longer a common part of childhood.  I am told the reason this outbreak is spreading so rapidly is because we no longer have natural immunity because the disease had nearly been eradicated.  I also know that Measles can cause Meningitis and can kill children.  And I know that one bought of Meningitis and near death in our family has been more than enough.  

So for these reasons, I am choosing to vaccinate Adam.  I am not doing so lightly and I will freely confess that each time he has a vaccination appointment, I am terrified.  Each time, I spend the evening before the appointment in tears, expressing my fears over the safety of vaccinations to Chris.  Last week, I received the appointment slip in the post for Adam's third set of vaccinations and this one includes his first MMR injection.  When I read that piece of paper, my heart sank and I was scared.  I have spent more than one evening talking to Chris about my fears and I have also spoken to my Health Visitor, Wendy, about those fears.  I even begged her to promise me the jab was safe and that Adam would not have a reaction to it.  She very wisely told me she cannot make this promise.  She has given me all of the information in her possession and she believes that vaccinations are both safe and essential protection against life-threatening illness, but she cannot promise he will not have a reaction.  She has however promised to come with me to Adam's appointment on Thursday, to hold my hand and even, if I ask her to do so, to hold Adam while he has his injection.  I'm certain she will be mopping up my tears at the same time.

I hope and pray that Adam will not have a reaction.  He has not had a reaction to any of the vaccinations he has already received.  I hope and pray he will be safe.  I understand I am taking a risk in vaccinating him and I pray it is not a risk I come to regret.  But I also know that I would be taking an equally big risk to withhold his vaccinations and I know I am not prepared to do this.  We have been through too much already to live with the uncertainty of wondering if he will contract another killer disease and so, I choose to vaccinate my son.  Please pray for me on Thursday, that no matter whether or not you agree or disagree with my decision, that Adam will be safe.

So what do you think?  If you have children, would you (or have you) chosen to vaccinate them?  Why or why not?  Can you accept the decisions of other parents even if you disagree with them or do you believe there is genuinely a right answer to this question?  Please feel free to comment below.