Freedom to Think

A young mother sits in the pediatrician’s waiting room.  She looks around at other young parents.  Are they as nervous as she is? Are they going through a list of questions for the doctor?  Do they even know they should be asking some questions?  Her child’s name is called and she strolls back to the small exam room ready for his check up.  She’s ready to listen, but is also armed with confidence. 

The nurse checks the baby’s height, weight and head circumference.  A quick review of any changes in his development and recent illnesses is documented.  The young mother prepares herself for the pointed statement that comes next, “And, he’s due for his four-month shots.  Here’s something to read while you wait for the doctor.”  Without even glancing at the Vaccine Information Sheet colored papers, the young parent looks into the steely eyes of the nurse and says, “Oh, no thank you.  We’re not doing those.”  Stunned, the nurse tightens the grip around her pen and doesn’t respond.  A few seconds go by. The nurse replies, “Well, the chart says you skipped shots at the last check up, so we’re going to catch him up today.   Read the papers, okay?  The doctor will be in shortly.”   

A chill goes up the mother’s spine.  She temporarily wavers from confident to petrified.  Her child is, for the most part, vaccine-free.  She foolishly let the hospital staff give her hours-old newborn the hepatitis B vaccine.  In retrospect she realizes how ludicrous it was to allow that vaccine –- hepatitis B is a sexually-transmitted disease that neither she nor her husband have issues with.

The likelihood of her brand-new baby being exposed to it, and requiring a vaccine that has been linked with autism, was nearly impossible.  But, not being fully prepared for what many hospitals employ as standard operating procedure (to vaccinate babies soon after birth for sexually transmitted diseases) tripped up this new mother.  It wasn’t until later, when she was preparing for her son’s follow-up pediatrician’s appointment that she really looked at what was going to be done to her child.  And, also what was going to be asked of her –- to blindly trust and consent to whatever the medical professionals told her was going to happen.  She’d allowed that at the two-week appointment.  And again at the one-month appointment.

 

 Not this time.  

 

For the next scheduled appointment the young mother decided it was her turn to call the shots.  She started to read.  She started to ask questions.  She started to analyze what was considered routine and why.   She looked up the names of the diseases routine vaccines were supposed to ward against.  Then she looked up what was in those vaccines.  She looked up their efficacy and what studies had been done, and those studies that hadn’t been done either. 

 

Then she decided it was too many, too soon for her child.  

 

But, what she’d decided went against what her pediatrician and his staff were promoting.  At the previous appointment she asked to delay the shots until the next visit.  She promised to make that appointment after they told her she was endangering the life of her child.  They said she was not educated enough to make such important decisions.  They threatened to fire her from the practice.  The young mother thanked the doctor for his concern, said she’d read enough to know that her baby’s body wasn’t ready for that many injectible chemicals and toxins just yet.  She reminded him of her own autoimmune disease issues, and asked why her medical history was never considered in deciding which vaccines would be given.  Which ones could be contraindicated.  Which one would be least effective.  Which ones could maybe be more effective.  Which ones he could handle now, or which ones he should wait to receive until he was older and his immune system more developed.   Why did they claim whatever was listed on the schedule had to be given all at once?  She listened to their responses and added them to a pros and cons list she was making.  The side that said to scoop up her baby and run far away grew.  But, she’d promised to come back.  She needed to — to prove that either she was right in thinking all those vaccines was too many, or to give the doctor one more chance to prove his case that vaccines were necessary. 

Now at that next appointment, the young mother offered that she appreciated the chance for her son’s development to be tracked and to go over what milestones she should be looking for next.  She then added that the ‘preventative’ treatments were not going to be necessary.  The nurse rolled her eyes as the doctor raised his eyebrows.  Both were ready to read the young mother the riot act, but were flabbergasted at what to say next.  The nurse left the room.  The doctor began the physical exam –- heart rate, checking reflexes, palpating the liver, taking measurements and making no eye contact and minimal conversation. 

The nurse returned with a clipboard and thrust it at the young mother with a combative air.  The young mother was confused.  It was her baby, her decision, her insurance covering the appointment, not the nurse’s decision!  The young mother thought things out.  She put time and effort into this choice to vaccinate or not.  It was a decision she’d never truly thought out until having that baby. He was making her think about things that were more important and scarier than she’d ever had to make before.  But they were up to her — decisions she had to make and to also have respected.   

The young mother reached for the clipboard and scanned the document the nurse wanted her to read.

 It was from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and targeted parents who want to opt out of vaccines.  Instantly the young mother thought that the title alone turns a young thinking parent into a careless or negligent shell of a human.  After reading the form the young mother pulled a paper out of the diaper bag and said, “I understand you want me to sign this paper saying I’m refusing vaccines, but I’m not going to sign that.  You see, the vaccines you want to give my child today are only recommended, suggested.  You haven’t said anything directly to me about them yet.  You didn’t even go over them.  You didn’t talk to be about why you think my child needs them.  Handing me the Vaccine Information Sheet is a general info sheet—it doesn’t cover my son’s family issues or how he will handle them.”  The doctor finally looked at the young mother.  He also looked like he’d been hit with a ton of bricks.  

 Attempting to speak, the young mother continued, “I can’t sign that “refusal” form because you can’t insist I get those shots for my son.”

“Ma’am,” the doctor stuttered, “Vaccines… it’s part of the baby’s appointment today.  It’s what we do.  It’s what you need to do, too… the shots help kids get immunity.”  Looking to the nurse he asked, “Which ones again did we say we were giving?” The nurse was frozen in place.  Never before had she witnessed a young mother so brazen before.  

 

Not brazen.  Just a Thinker.  

 

Stumbling for the shot record, the nurse started, “DTaP, Polio, Hib…”

 

Interrupting the nurse whose voice was trailing off before saying each vaccine she was eager to plunge into the young mother’s child, “Well, doc, really, if you think you can insist I get these vaccines today, then I’d like you to read this form for my own peace of mind.   

If you’re going to actually counsel me on what’s in those vaccines and why my child needs the seven you’re suggesting he get, and you can guarantee no ill effect from them now or in the future, I might reconsider vaccinating him today.”  

The doctor reached for the form.  It’s simple yet straightforward.  The young mother didn’t want to go into how both the nurse and doctor probably put more time into reading labels at the supermarket than educating parents on every single ingredient in every single vaccines.  She herself was more concerned with which hair care product would be best for her thick, curly, highlighted hair last year than what vaccines were on the market.  It wasn’t until she was faced with being responsible for another human being’s life and health that she realized how much more she needed to know in order to make decisions.  Surely asking the doctor to stand by the medicine he was pushing backed by his credentials wasn’t too much to ask, was it? 

 

Apparently, it was.

 

The doctor left the exam room and asked the nurse to join him.  He’d taken the form the young mother asked him to review and said they’d be back in a few minutes.  For the twenty agonizing minutes they were gone, the young mother thought about the conversation.  She went over everything in her head, ‘As the parent I’m responsible for the care of my child.  As the parent I can choose who treats my child.  As the parent I can accept that treatment or ask for an alternative according to my child’s needs.  As the parent I should be offered as much information as possible to process every option.  And, as the paying consumer I am free to choose who I want to see as well.’  

 

Right? 

 

The young mother was nervous.  Every medical appointment she’d been to was usually rushed because of the sheer volume of patients intentionally stacked on the schedule.  This appointment was taking twice as long, and she was afraid it was not going to end well.  She started to pack up the baby’s things.  Just as she put his sweater back on the nurse returned to the exam room.   

Thrusting the form at her the nurse said, “We aren’t signing this.  It’s not legit and has nothing to do with what the officials tell us to say.” The young mother gently took the form, folded it and slid it into the outside pocket of her diaper bag.  Feeling as if she could easily burst into tears she picked up her son, turned to face the nurse and said, “I understand you’re running a business here, and that all those vaccines help make you money.  I realize that some good might have come from the vaccine program at one time, but to ask me to inject those vaccines into my baby is ridiculous.  You have no idea how they interact with each other or how he’ll handle them. His little body… it’s so little, still developing.   I can walk away knowing that I had found enough information to support my decision to say no thank you today.  It’s a shame you and the doctor couldn’t do the same –- to take time to listen to me or attempt to educate me.  Please don’t call us for any follow-up appointments.  We’ll be going elsewhere.”   

The nurse rolled her eyes and barely moved aside so the young mother could leave the room.  Smiling to the receptionist without saying a word the young mother held her son tightly, gave him a small kiss atop his forehead and left.  She buckled her son into his car seat and started the car.   

Leaving the parking lot, watching the pediatrician’s office building get smaller in her rear view mirror as she drove away she felt a tear roll down her cheek.  It was a tear of sadness and disappointment.  A tear of pain and loss.  It was a tear of despair but also of outrage.   

Vowing to remember this moment the young mother promised her bundle in the back seat that she would never let another person dictate what they thought was acceptable for her son’s health or his well being.  Never.  

The freedom to think includes the freedom to do. The young mother promised to not just think about what needed to be done for her child but to also do it; and to do it well.  Standing up for herself and for her son that morning was liberating.  It was also painful. Another tear was shed as she recalled how the nurse attempted to belittle her. It was a reminder of how much courage it took to do the right thing. It was going to take more strength and knowledge to make bigger decisions for her son’s future. Going against the grain wasn’t what she’d planned. That part wasn’t going to be easy. But she knew it was the right thing to do. In a very short amount of time she’d evolved from not knowing anything to knowing more than enough. The young mother would forever be a Thinker.   

 

Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but having the right to do what we ought. ~Pope John Paul II

 

~Mamacita

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24 Responses to Freedom to Think

  1. Natasha Hall says:

    You have brilliantly put into words what I have been battling for the past 5 years. I refused my daughters shots as a young 1st time mother and decided I would wait till I did more research. The more I researched for myself the more I didn’t want to do them. I now have a 2.5 year old son that has never had a vaccination.. and am pregnant with baby #3 that will never either. It has been one struggle after another with the Dr. offices and we have changed frequently because of this. I just enrolled my daughter in kindergarten and had my waiver from my ped in hand and so far no problems. Now what I am facing is scrutiny from long time friends that are threatening to keep their kids away from me and mine because we are endangering their lives. For the last 5 years I have walked away from Dr offices in tears but its just such a different hurt when it comes from long time friends. I know in my heart that this is just another test of my strength as a mother protecting my children…. it’s just so much harder right now….

  2. Caleb's Mommy says:

    This is a great post! I was shocked when the nurses started pressuring me to allow the first vaccination for my newborn while we were still in the hospital!! Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for that at all! I hadn’t even thought about this yet since this was my first baby. I put them off several times, but they kept coming back and finally caught me at a weak, exhausted moment in the middle of the night, and I let them give it to him. After that, I felt SO guilty. This was even BEFORE I started doing my research and made all of my horrifying discoveries. My son has his 2-month appointment in 2 weeks from now, and I’m worried how it will go when I refuse the vaccines. I guess it will just reveal what kind of pediatrician I have and whether we need to find someone else or not. Im so glad I did my research though, but I feel bad for those who don’t.

    • Mamacita says:

      So many Moms say their “mommy gut” lead them to where they/their child needed to be. That instinct will let you know if your pediatrician is the one for you, or if you’ll have to find someone new.

      Stay strong, mama!

      ~Mamacita

      • Larenzo's Mom says:

        Find a good family chiropractor as I’ve done and you’ll have little or no need of a pediatrician. Basically all a pediatrician does is prescribe medications and vaccines. They seem to know very little about how to actually keep children healthy or how to boost their immune systems.

  3. Larenzo's Mom says:

    My now one-year old son received all the recommended vaccines through to his two-month check-up, when my mom instincts kicked into overdrive and I started researching like a maniac. I am a Research Specialist by profession, so investigating this subject was no small task for me. I am quite adept at uncovering facts, and I read peer-reviewed journal articles and firsthand accounts of vaccine damage until there was no doubt in my mind about what my next steps would be. At my son’s four-month check-up I so strongly knew that I didn’t want him to receive any more shots that I thought I was going to be physically ill. My husband was not yet on board with my decision, and he accompanied us to the doctor’s office. It was a harrowing experience for me, and my gut was shaking badly because I knew it was up to me to protect my son’s health. Fortunately, our pediatrician agreed to disagree with my decision not to vaccinate further. (And my husband soon came around.) We were not bullied. If so, we would never have returned to that doctor’s office. You see, I am a Thinking Mom. — This post was amazing. Thank you.

    • Mamacita says:

      One parent at a time…first you, then your husband. Yay for being a Thinking Mom and having a Thinking Dad to work right along next to you!

      ~Mamacita

  4. Happy says:

    Do they teach bullying in Med school? It just seems so many of us have had the same or similar experience!

  5. Blaze says:

    The other day I got a FB PM from an old high school friend. His wife was at the pediatrician with his 4 year old and they were poised and ready to give him the Kindergarten boosters. This Dad had seen my posts, knew my son’s story and was hesitant. I told him just to have his wife get the list of what they wanted to give that day, bring it home and I would sit with them and review every shot, every disease, and determine what they really thought was important. He ran to the doc’s office, since his wife messaged him that she couldn’t stand up to the guy. I didn’t hear back for hours, so I messaged, how did it go? What did they want to give him? Dad messaged me back and said something to the effect that the doc made him feel fine. Period. I guess they gave them all. I hope that kid is OK. So many are not. I cannot count the elementary school teachers that are telling me that this year’s Kindergarteners are the worst they’ve seen yet.

  6. Diana Gonzales says:

    I too was led on blindly trusting, even told that I needed the flu vaccine when I was pregnant in 2004, but not when I was pregnant the year before! The regret will always be there because my intuition was. We can only move on, because the past is paralyzing. I will, however, share this with EVERYONE!!! I don’t care how many deaf ears it may fall on because I know there are more young thinking mamas out there who desperately need to know someone’s in their corner, backing their decisions and intuition.

  7. Tara says:

    I thank you for this. how many of us have felt exactly in your shoes? so proud of you for sticking up for yourself. can i ask what form you handed the dr to sign? i would love to get something like that. your take that the dr. spends more time reading labels at a grocery store was a very good statement. they probably read everything before going into their children’s bodies, and may have not even vaccinated their own children, but it is about money. you and your child are a number and because you left, they are one number less. I love this. thank you so much.

  8. Guilded Thinker says:

    Mamacita, this is a work of art.
    I remember refusing vaccines at my son’s 2 month and 4 month visits. At the 2 month visit, it was pretty easy. I got an annoyed look and an admonishment that “the internet is full of misinformation” and that the “only reliable sources for information on vaccines were the FDA and CDC sites”. It was that 4 month visit that was the doozy. The nurse copped an attitude immediately when I told her she wouldn’t be using the syringes, already loaded, she had carried into the room. The pediatrician lectured me about how his 14 yr old daughter was fully vaccinated because HE understood how deadly these diseases are. I responded by asking how many shots had been added to the schedule since his daughter was a baby. I reminded him about my son’s severe allergies and chronic illness since receiving the neonate hep B dose. According to him, that didn’t matter.
    I shake, I mean really shake, when I’m nervous or scared. That day, I bucked authority. I was shaking, I was so scared.
    I was always the “good girl” in school. I obeyed authority. I did my homework, studied for tests, followed the rules. I went to a strict private school. I received only 2 detentions while there: one in the 3rd (yes 3rd) grade and one in the 6th grade. Both were for forgetting schoolbooks at home. In my late teens, I had gone through the rebellion most teens do.It is, I believe, part of becoming an adult. My dad was the one who always encouraged me to question authority. Thank God he did.
    That day in the pediatrician’s office, the doctor went from a supposedly caring health practitioner to a bully. His parting statement to me: “You can bring him back when he contracts one of the deadly illnesses you’re exposing him to by not vaccinating him, but until then, don’t bother”. I started shaking harder, but this time the shaking was from anger, not fear. I replied, “Really?! A month ago I was in here with a very sick baby. He was so congested he couldn’t breathe while lying down. I sat up all night with him for days because your office didn’t “have time” to see him. When they finally made an appointment for us, they were annoyed. Perhaps you remember. My husband was here with us. You didn’t examine my son. You didn’t even bother to listen to his chest. Instead, you lectured us for FORTY-FIVE MINUTES on how we were over-reacting, first-time parents, told us our son had nothing more than a common cold, and that I had better get used to sleepless nights because I was now a mother. You also offered to catch him up on the vaccines I had refused at his 2 month visit. We left your office that day with a very sick baby. He was diagnosed with double pneumonia 3 days later. So, assuming these illnesses you want to vaccinate my son against are as *deadly* as you claim, I won’t be bringing him to someone who misses something as serious as pneumonia in an infant.”
    Looking back, I knew very little about all the dangers of vaccines. I had only been researching for 4 months. Still, I *knew* my boy couldn’t handle those vaccines. When my son was 2 yrs old, we started seeing an integrative doctor for the injury he had received from that one dose of hep B. After reviewing the records from his birth and that pediatrician and seeing the damage done to him by a single vaccine, he told me we were “lucky”. He felt that had we allowed our son to receive the recommended vaccine schedule, he would not have survived.

    • Mamacita says:

      Wow. God bless you for knowing and believing in yourself to protect your son.

      ~Mamacita

    • Professor says:

      Guilded,

      I shake, too! I find it EXTREMELY annoying. I guess it’s part of the “good girl” thing. I was such a good girl growing up and my mother said she kept waiting for my rebellion phase. I think I’ve finally reached it.

      I am beyond impressed by your retort to the stupid doc, and at your intuition and wisdom dealing with your little boy.

  9. Thank you for using your voice… and letting all the other thinking moms out there..know that it is OK to THINK…and that we are not alone.
    Thank you

  10. Lindy C says:

    This is such an amazing piece! I, too, wish I was as smart as her 3 years ago when my daughter was born. We cannot, however, change the past, all we can do is forge ahead arming ourselves with knowledge and the confidence to never let anyone dictate what is safe for our children while we fight tooth and nail to regain our children’s health.

  11. Wow another powerful piece! Mamacita you captured the emotions, thought process, and anguish completely. I am an older autism mom and I trusted my Pediatrician. It is up to us who KNOW what is happening to speak out, which is what you did so eloquently. Thank you.

    • Mamacita says:

      Oh, I love that…to KNOW what is happening!

      To KNOW leads someone to THINK which will make them want to DO something about it. Thank you, Mary!

      ~Mamacita

      • Steve says:

        GI Joe’s moto was, “…now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” Bruce Lee took it one step further, “knowing is not enough, we must also apply what we know.”
        -esposo de Marcia

  12. Sugah says:

    I wish I were as smart as she was!

  13. Saint says:

    Mamacita – you take my breath away. I recall feeling bullied by doctors over vaccinations. Allowing them to do so before I wised up. That horrible feeling in my gut knowing I went against MY beliefs…knowing I let another human being dictate what I needed to do for MY daughter. I wish I knew you then. I hope and pray this blog reaches many new mothers and they really do start to THINK. Love you and can’t wait to kiss your face in two weeks!!!!!!!

    • Mamacita says:

      My hope is that we can all plant the seeds of truth for others so they can think, act and do quicker than we were able to.

      Love you too, Saint! Can’t wait to see you and the other Thinkers very soon!

      ~Mamacita

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