Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Choices

*WARNING* I am about to get VERY opinionated.  This is my blog, and I have that right.  If you are easily offended, then I would advise moving on.

I am a parent.  Hod and I have made a lot of choices about hot topics.  I would like to explain why.

1.  We are PRO vaccination.  I am not going to dispute that there is a small percentage of children that have adverse affects to vaccines. (affect or effect?  That always confuses me.)  The idea of vaccinations has so much to do with the "herd" mentality.  If you are in the small percentage that has a child that had problems, then that is difficult.  Right after Hod and I got married, I had a religious leader who had a special needs daughter.  He felt that it was caused because of a bad MMR that she had been given.  I cannot dispute that.  However, I do feel that she was not given her trials because her parents tried to do what they felt was best.  This leader told us once that his daughter being as she was had helped at least one of his children stay in the Gospel.  I believe that even without an MMR she would have somehow had these same problems.  She has been a great tool that the Lord has been able to use to teach people kindness, love, and charity.  She is one of the most amazing people I know.

Because of the "herd" immunizations, there are some diseases that have been eradicated.  For example, Polio. I personally know someone who had polio as a child.  She is still going through problems related to that.  There is also a religious leader in the LDS Church who had polio as a kid and now has to sit down for his talks during General Conference.  But as a whole, we don't know people that were hurt by the diseases that we now immunize for.  I feel that is because, often, they are now dead.

I have done a lot of research.  I have talked to pro and anti vaccination people.  I have been told that if I am vaccinating I am choosing to live in fear, and they are choosing to live in Faith.  I disagree.  They are choosing to have faith that if their child gets one of these diseases that it won't be very bad.  I am choosing to have faith in the vaccines (that aren't 100%) that they will protect my family.  We each have faith in something different.  To me, this is the big difference, me choosing to vaccinate will not hurt your children.  You choosing not to vaccinate could hurt mine.

I've heard that "those diseases don't exist anymore anyway."  They may not in your small town, but they do still exist.  People travel, and they will come.  I've heard that "if everyone else vaccinates then my kids will be safe anyway."  This makes me feel that you are putting the responsibility for keeping your children safe on me.  That's not very responsible.

I can not guarantee that by vaccinating #1 that no one in my family will ever get sick.  But I feel that I must do my best to protect my daughter from diseases that do much more harm than good.

This is the one topic that, try as I might, I just can't really see the other side.  Please forgive me for that.  I have really tried.

2.  We choose to take advantage of modern medicine.  This includes delivering our children in hospitals whenever possible.  It has often be said to me, "women have been giving birth for thousands of years.  They are naturally built to do it.  You don't need a Dr messing that up."  This is often true.  But there can be exceptions.  Just because you have successfully given birth before doesn't mean you may not have an emergency later.  (And just because you needed a Dr before doesn't mean you have to have it every time.)  For example, my sweet mom had 8 children.  The first 6 were all very normal textbook deliveries (well, some were faster than normal).  Then comes L7.  My mom went into labor at around 32 weeks.  L7 was not ready to be born.  She was too small, she was underdeveloped.  It ended up being an emergency c-section.  It saved L7's life.  From an outside perspective my mom was the perfect candidate for a home birth.  I am so grateful that she decided to deliver in a hospital, as I quite like my sister.  I have another sister who's body cannot deliver.  She doesn't dilate.  Ever.  She now has planned c-sections.

Not everyone is like that.  My labor experience was hard.  Maybe that is because of the medical interventions that I chose to have.  But I do not know how my body will react to each delivery.  As a result, Hod and I have chosen to take every precaution possible to ensure the best for our child.  This means we have to have a Dr who is open to our ideas.  That can be hard to find, but this means a lot to us.

I am related to multiple ladies who have successfully given birth at home.  That is GREAT for them.  What I appreciate, though, is they are supportive of the choice that I have made.  They understand that everyone is different and what works for them doesn't have to work for me.

We also believe in medication.  Now, I was not raised in a family that went to the Dr a lot.  From the ages of 10-19 I can count on one hand how many times I went to the Dr.  I do believe that many people are over medicated.  I also believe that God has given people knowledge.  I choose to take advantage of that.  (Yes, some people use their knowledge for bad, but many use it for good.)  Just as I choose to use electricity, the internet, and my cell phone, I choose to use medications appropriately.  AND as a wife of an amazing man who struggles with Bi-Polar disorder, I can't even tell you how grateful I am for medication.  Also, as I am apparently part of the 10% of women who get crazy depressed DURING pregnancy, I am grateful for the medication that made me feel safe when I was around sharp objects.  This leads me to...

3.  We chose to bottle feed #1.  Our original plan was to breastfeed.  After all, "breast is best!"  Well, we found that wasn't always the case.  The medication that I was on during my pregnancy with #1 was a very low dose.  It shouldn't have bothered #1.  But it did.  I was told that I had 3 options once we found this.  I could just stop taking my pill, possibly making me suicidal again and probably a lousy mom.  I could change medications, that would probably take about a month, and could result in the same problem.  For that month, #1 would be on formula and I would be "pumping and dumping".  Or, we could just put #1 on formula and I would work on stopping my milk.  Hod and I talked about it and decided that more than breast milk, #1 needed a healthy mom.  Since we made that decision, #1 has been very healthy, grown well, and I have been able to be a good mom.  I have also been judged a lot.  I have been called selfish for choosing my medication over breastfeeding.  I have been told that it was all in my head and I just needed to get a grip.  I have been told that if I really loved my baby I would have done anything to make sure she got the very best.  Actually, because I love my baby we made this choice.  I hope that next time I will be able to choose to breast feed.  I feel that anyone who takes care of their baby and feeds them can be a good parent.  I am glad you were able to breast feed.  Please be understanding of people who have different circumstances.

4.  I am actually a little bit of an "Attachment Parent".  Most of this happened by accident.  For example, we have been Co-Sleepers in our family.  Now, at 8 months, #1 spends most of her night in her crib by herself, but it didn't used to be like that.  When we first got home from the hospital, we put #1 in our room with us.  This is because I am paranoid and I wanted to make sure she was fine.  I hadn't been able to have her with me as much as I wanted because she was in the NICU.  She was also still on oxygen so I wanted her close.  In our room, we didn't have a chair.  This resulted in me sitting on the bed for nighttime feedings.  After a week or so, I found that I was falling asleep while feeding her.  I could just see myself dropping her.  No matter how hard I tried, I just kept falling asleep.  I made the choice to lay down instead of sit up.  I needed #1 to be on the bed so I couldn't drop her.  Then I would fall asleep, and often not wake until #1 was ready to eat again.  She spent many nights in our bed.  Even now, she spends about an hour in our bed each night.  I didn't even know that Attachment Parenting was a thing, but as I have learned more about it, I have found that many of the ideas there are things that Hod and I had already talked about and agreed on.  It's not for everyone, but it works for us.

This is my opinion: When it comes to parenting, there is very little that is right for everyone.  I feel that as long as the child is fed, cleaned, loved, and developing properly then the parents can't be all wrong.  What works for me, may not work for you.  What works with #1 may not work with any future kids.

There has been a big push to get back to the way it used to be.  There are a lot of self proclaimed "Hippie" or "Granola" moms.  That is just fine.  I just have one problem with it though.  I am not going to claim that they have never been judged.  And on behalf of everyone else out there let me apologize for that.  However, I have found that the most vocal people in judging me are those all natural "hippie/granola" friends.  Maybe that is because we have the least in common, so they have the most to say.  I don't know.  This is what I want to say to them.

Dear Hippie/Granola friends,

I think it is great that you have found a way of living that works for you.  I am glad that you children are healthy, happy, and learning to be good members of society.  So are mine.  Our methods may be different, but the outcome can be the same.  Thank you for being wiling to talk to me about your methods, as I find them utterly fascinating.  It's fine that you don't care about my methods.  Please remember that what works for one, is not always what will work for others.  Agency is a divine, eternal principle.  I would appreciate it if we could all exercise it in peace.  Again, I am sorry for anyone who may have judged you.



I love differences.  The more I learn about parenting, the more I learn that nothing beyond the need to feed, love, clean, and teach good principles, is going to be the same for everyone.  There are exceptions for every other rule.  Making statements that include "never" and "always" shows ignorance and intolerance.  We can show respect and caring while having different opinions.

So, yeah... there is my spheel.  Did you actually read through the whole thing?  Quite impressive.  I hope, even if you disagree with me, that we can still be friends.


Alicia Yvonne said...

Oh Paily, I am right there with you! I try not to judge others when I hear their parenting techniques that I do not understand, and I hope that they can show me the same courtesy! That being said it is very rare that I completely do not agree with the way fellow mother raise their children... Maybe that's because I try to just stay away from stick topics..... Politics, and child rearing!

Oh and FYI it's effect :)

Caryn Allen said...

If this post was inspired by our discussion on facebook, I'm truly sorry. While I consider myself a hippie wanna be, I'm not really that extreme. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hippies out there who are that extreme and make people feel horrible for their own parenting choices, and they give the rest of us a bad name. I am not that person. Do I believe that birth is beautiful and natural? Yes. Do I believe that the natural birth experience empowers women? Yes. Do I believe that breastfeeding is the best for a baby? Yes. Do I judge people or tell them that they're stupid or awful for not doing those things? Absolutely not. Never EVER would I do that to anyone, and if you felt that I came across that way, I am seriously so so SO sorry.

In the church we learn that we are live what we believe, and I think that applies to everything, not just gospel principles. We are encouraged to share our beliefs with others and while there are extreme members (of any religion, really) who go over the top and tell people they're going to hell for their choices, I'm not that way. Not about religion, not about parenting, not about anything. All I do is share my beliefs with absolute confidence, because I believe in them. I know them. They are a part of who I am.

So again, if this post is inspired by me, I really am sorry. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I think it's important to raise awareness about things, especially things I am so passionate about. Does that make sense?

Miss Nelson said...

You go!! I think you are great parents trying to do what is best for your beautiful baby - and that's just the way it should be!

Laree said...

You know I'm WAY too opinionated to NOT comment on this!

#1: amen.

#2: First thought: yup women have been giving birth for thousands of years. And for THOUSANDS of years, it was the #1 killer of women. Now it's not, all because of modern medicine. (and I actually do dilate, just not past a 2!)

#3: this was SO hard for me with my first baby. I had SOOO much guilt because nursing just plain and simple didn't work. Everything you read, Everyone you talk to says convinced me I was just doing something wrong. I tried. And tried. and TRIED, but my body just plain and simple doesn't produce much milk. While I do believe that breast milk is the healthiest option, I do not in fact believe it is best. Best is whatever the heck actually works for you!

#4:Freaks me out. I would have found a chair instead for my room. But if it works for you . . . just please be careful!

I will never understand why as moms we choose to be so judgmental to other people. I know I'm trying to do my best, and what I think is best for my children. Every mother deserves the same benefit of doubt that they are doing the same (and I love you sis!) The biggest thing that we have to remember is best changes from person to person.

One thing I thought about towards the end of your post was about teaching children to sleep through the night. Personally, we used the ferber method with awesome results. I remember hearing people talk about how it was such an awful cruel method, and it just didn't work for my child. Well, it's not cruel if you actually take the time to read the book and understand what to do, and I think that it works great on every single child. HOWEVER, I think there are a ton of PARENTS who it doesn't work for, and that's just fine. Again, you have to go with what works for you!

Sadie Freeman said...

Thank you for this! This was such a great read, and I have to say, I whole heartedly agree with you. I have had people look down on me and judge me here in Rexburg just because we decide to do things differently with our children than what is accepted to be the most natural and best way to do things. I feel so empowered knowing that we're not alone!

Grandma Nelson said...

I just loved being a mom and having the greatest children in the world. (no prejudice here) I still love to watch young parents trying to improve their parenting skills. I love to see them playing together, diciplining with love. and teaching correct principles. Life is good, and agency is a divine gift.

Happy Mom said...

Yup, read it all and it made me happy!

I'm completely with you, about Dr's and medicine, about breast feeding, about co-sleeping. We're all just trying to do our best in the overwhelming and amazing ride of parenting. When people are fanatical and so can't see any merit in other methods its just makes me so tired!

Amanda said...

I agree with you vaccination comment. As a special education teacher I am around A LOT of parents. And they want me to cure their child - like it is a disease. A disability is not a disease and is often just the way the child turns out. The vaccinations have NO affect on any child. That has been proven by science, but people still grasp on that straw in order to find something to blame. Unfortunately, autism, and other disabilities like that are mostly caused by genetics.