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Vaccines Save, Bro

By Caitlin Couthen Permalink

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. I had just found out I was expecting my first baby, and was inundating myself with tons of information. I read articles and websites and books that covered every topic from swaddling, breastfeeding, cosleeping, and that scary one: vaccines. Within weeks, I knew exactly how I was going to raise my baby. We would be exclusively breastfeeding, obviously. This baby (a girl, because duh) would be born into a pool of water in a silent room, drug free obviously, wake every two hours, and like a good little mommy, I would pull down my shirt and it would be beautiful sleep deprived bliss. No pacifiers. No formula. And absolutely no vaccines.

See, the research I did about breastfeeding told me that it was a magical elixir. An elixir that when fed to a tiny human, could catapult them in Iron Man status. There was proof. I mean, not superhero level proof, but people said it was best and I believed them. I was told (and subsequently believed) that a pacifier would ruin breastfeeding, that not cosleeping would mean your baby wouldn’t know who you are and therefore, there would be no bond, I learned about the 5 S’s (if you want to have the happiest baby on the block, you gotta learn about the 5 S’s), and I learned vaccines were bad bad bad. Also, they were totally unnecessary because all of the people that were vaccinated before killed all the bad diseases anyway. My baby would be the crunchiest, hippiest, happiest, most-unvaccinated baby EVER. I was 25 and I knew everything. I had this motherhood thing down SO HARD and the baby hadn’t even formed his penis yet.

Oh, that’s right. It was a boy, not a girl. Breastfeeding was a complete nightmare from the day he was born. So much so, that I pumped for 10 months straight until finally giving in and giving him *gasp!* the devil’s juice that is formula. It is not fun at all actually, to wake every two hours and I was not a “good little mommy” because I was so exhausted I could barely function. I remember falling asleep at my pump and waking up so disoriented with drool running down my face onto my chest, into the pump. Having a newborn is a nightmare quite frankly.

But I digress.  Back to the day. I was interviewing pediatricians, and I went to an office that was in the same building as my OB-GYN. I walked in, already feeling smarter than the doctor, and waited to be called back. Back in the room, I met with a doctor named Dr. Sideridis. I immediately liked him. He was kind, warm, obviously so in love with his job, and definitely smarter than me (shocking, I know).  I got through all of my questions and I knew I wanted him to be my baby’s doctor. Until the last question. “How do you feel about patients that do not vaccinate?” And in a gentle and kind manner, but very firm, he told me that he would not see patients who choose not to vaccinate. He asked that I reconsider and do my research. That is was incredibly dangerous for an unvaccinated child to be part of such a large practice. He gave me some information. We talked a bit more. I left feeling utterly confused and dejected.

Do my research? But, that was what people said when they told you not to vaccinate. How could science back up both positions? I didn’t know what to think. But I already loved this doctor. I had to give vaccines a chance because something was telling me that I needed this man to take care of my baby. So, I did my research. I watched documentaries. I read scientific studies. I learned a lot about the measles, the mumps, polio, and more. I learned about herd immunity. I also learned about children that can’t be vaccinated and how completely terrifying that is for their parents. And how foolish and selfish it is to disregard scientific fact in lieu of being trendy. See, after 7 months of researching vaccines, I see no reason why you would choose not to vaccinate other than the inability to. The anti-vaccine movement is another way to be trendy, but diseases are not a hat. We cannot disregard scientific fact to support our image. That’s the thing about science: it’s true whether you believe in it or not.

And so I vaccinated. I still vaccinate. Fully. On time. I chose a doctor that I trusted had my son’s best interests at heart. And let me tell you, that man stayed late many times to see my son when I couldn’t get him to stop crying. He met me at a target pharmacy when the pharmacist was refusing to fill a prescription because the computer was down. He called to check on me when my son was admitted to the hospital with RSV. He was my main source of support when my son was a newborn. I was away from my family, my husband was gone all the time, and I had few friends in my new area. Any time I needed something for my baby, he showed up. And not because he was being paid by the pharmaceutical companies for shooting my baby up with a bunch of poison, it was because he cared about his job and his patients. Now that my son is five, I doubt he remembers us. But I will never forget him.

And it’s all because he had the nerve and the compassion to stand up to a 25 year old know-it-all and tell me to change my plans. And quite frankly, it’s a good thing he did. Because that baby came into the world in a hospital bed, with as much epidural as I was allowed, bottle-fed from the start, and a pacifier until he was almost four. Things don’t go your way a lot of times, and in parenting, they rarely—RARELY—go your way. You can’t control what kind of baby you get: their sex, their gender, their temperament. They’re all so different. But you can control few things. And vaccines are a scientifically proven effective way to control diseases. And for me, that’s enough.


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