Tag Archives: Health

Identity in flux – again

What a moment

The internet has been a powerful tool for me in my journey into motherhood. It has given me the possibility to be in touch with (mostly) women who inspire and inform me on topics that I am passionate about. It has also triggered me to reconsider who I am and what my values are. Many of the choices I have made as a parent and a person are considered to be way outside the realm of what is acceptable.

It has been hurtful to read some of the scathing and bitingly rude opinions that exist on topics that I am passionate about. It has also been humbling to find very solid and sound support.

I am still somewhat naive and somehow hope for a reality where people are tolerant of differences in opinion and do not feel the need to attack with quite so much viciousness. I think I need to let go of that ideal. There are people who will wish me ill, question my intelligence, question my reasoning/judgement, question my decision making ability. Essentially my choices will intimidate some and there is nothing I can do about that.

Through this process I have learnt that I too have been judgemental.

There is no right or wrong. Although it pains me to write that. I desperately want there to be a right and wrong. It makes life so much easier.

However, there just is not a categorical right or wrong that can be applied in every situation when it comes to being a parent. Short of parents being true to their abilities and doing the best they can in any given situation.

Why all this contemplating my belly button?

I feel the need to check myself and the more unorthodox choices I have made. Have I just been brain washed by forums on the internet? Am I loosing my ability to think for myself and subscribing to ‘group think’?

On the issue of vaccinations, I wrote about a year ago on my suspicions for not using vaccinations as my preferred choice of preventative medicine. Today I am still not 100% confident in my choice not to vaccinate my son.

My choice lies mostly in my concern with the lack of long term safety known on the practice of artificially stimulating the immune system, as well as the missing data (and curiosity) on the safety of injecting common vaccine ingredients. I also am concerned about the efficacy attributed to vaccines. I do not think enough is known about how vaccines work in the body for there to be a clear enough understanding on what the side effects could be.

I also do not think vaccines are ‘causing’ anything, from diabetes to autism. I believe they can be a trigger for some babies/children/adults in some cases. The individual make up of the person: their genes, their nutritional status, their overall health. These things make a difference with regards to how people respond to vaccines. And unfortunately this seems to be little appreciated by some people who like to shroud themselves in science and say that they are 100% certain vaccines are safe and effective for pretty much every baby, child and adult – bar the odd very unusual case.

I don’t know if I am making the right choice or not. At the moment my choice is based on a hunch that the medical scientific community are not necessarily telling the whole truth when it comes to vaccines and diseases. They put all the benefit on the vaccine and all the risk on the disease. It is a very biased and overly simplified approach.

Being told I was too stupid to make the choice for myself, that my baby would die without the vaccines and to stop reading on the internet only piqued my anger and curiosity. It did not make me trust the people who were insulting me, and it did not make me think I should do as they say. It made me think that I need to understand just why they are so scared that they are prepared to bully me.

So, today I am in a situation where my 21 month old son has yet to be vaccinated. I check myself constantly. And for now I have yet to find a compelling reason to go ahead and vaccinate my son. I might find that reason. I am open to a sincere discussion. I might need to ask many more questions before I have a firm enough handle of the issues.

It is not easy to make choices that are ridiculed. It is horrible to have people mock and insult you, like what I have seen on the internet. And yet, as in the playground, that is not a good enough reason to just do what other people are doing, just to get the bully off my back

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Update

020716

DS at my SIL's wedding

I have been having a rough time with sleep, as I wrote about earlier. It’s getting much better. Last night we went through the steps of supper (table clear of clutter and a candle for a more serene mood), bath, pajama’s, bed time story in bed, DS switching the light off and snuggling down to breastfeed and in 15 minutes he was fast asleep. I was extatic.

I have also been reading up far too much about vaccines and the immune system. It is not making me happy. I know that vaccines are not going to be part of our preventative health options in our family. I however doubt that every problem in modern societies can be atrributed to vaccines.Ā  And I am getting tired of investing so much time and energy in seeing just how wrong most of the scientific community are when it comes to vaccines. I know enough to know that I want to support our innate immune system as best I can, and not freak out when DS gets sick. I know enough to keep our commensal bacteria happy through diet and lifestyle and avoiding drugs, heavy metals, chemical cleaners, etc. I also know enough to make sure my next birth is at home and that it stays at home.

Anyway, I have also been feeling the need to grow my mind a bit. I have stagnated and it does not feel good. I need to have something going on in my head other than health and childcare. So, I found free courses available through MIT – no certificate or registration, but at least I can expand my mind somewhat – and register should the bug bite.

On the issue of what to study, I have been thinking of getting into something like TCM. Through my reading up on health, I find this approach and understanding of health and disease far more comprehensive than what my ped/GP has to offer. However, I have also thought of doing my masters in OT with a Senosry Integration spin. I think my challenge is to find something that I can study and then apply to real life. I love gathering knowledge, but then get cold feet about applying it – all sorts of self esteem issues there. I seem to really believe that I can’t apply what I am learning, unless it is being a mother. I seem to be applying all that I learn there without any conflict or insecurity…. well kind of. I know I need a strong rhythm in our home, based on mealtimes and rest times, play times etc. And it eludes me. I just kind of whoosh from one thing to another – other than the sleep, it’s all approximate.

I am thinking of trying to use the anthroposphical idea of a grain a day/colour a day. I have not read enough about it to know if I agree or not about all that goes with planetary influences, etc. I do hope it will give me the frameowork I need to have more of a varied diet – ensuring I don’t get stuck on oat porridge, pita with eggs and salad as our staples. The more I read about diet and food, the more I think have a varied whole foods diet is the key…… anyway, I got lazy and ordered the Little Acorn Leaning winter childcare menu…. I’ll see if it helps me get myself more organised.

As I write it is pouring rain outside. Winter has arrived, and with it the need for rubber boots, indoor shoes and warm drinks. I always love the change of season.

Oh, and the pic is just ‘cos I love it. šŸ™‚

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Plastic

I intuitively do not like plastic, not in food production/storage and not as a material to makes childrens toys. I have faced considerable resistance from my MIL, who loves it. It’s cheap – and I think that is about all that is has going for it.

I have now finally got my ducks in a row so to speak, and feel much more confident in my need to minimise plastic in our home environment. PVC, BPA and phthalates are materials I will be attempting to minimise as much as possible.

How to avoid phthalates

Bisphenol-A, in Clear English

Babies, Bottles, and Bisphenol A: The Story of a Scientist-Mother

So, without completely freaking out about poisoning my child, I am taking an approach of choosing the healthier option when we need to replace materials/goods in our home. For instance, I got a glass shower door put on our bath instead of a shower curtain for my birthday and I got some glass drinking bottles for water when we are out and about (with latex sleeve to protect from breaking) and I am slowly replacing all food containers to be glass.

Our cosmetics are already herbal, natural, organic paraben, aluminium, fleuride etc free.

My cleaning products are already plant based, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar.

Our matress is a cotton futon. Our clothing is cotton, our bedding is cotton or wool.

I take cloth bags with me when I go shopping.

  • We do still have plastic in our home. Our cupboards in the bedroom and kitchen are some sort of plastic.
  • DS has a hard plastic paddling pool
  • DS has plastic beach toys for his sandpit and when we go to the beach
  • DS has plastic toys at his grandmothers house
  • Our electircal appliances are obviously made from plastic (including dearly beloved computer)
  • Cutting boards
  • Car seats
  • the list of products that contain materials that concern me goes on and on.

I am sure that even with the accomodations I have made and am making, our home environment is still polluted.It worries me, but also motivates me to find ways to keep my family healthy, and that includes our nutrition. As I write, I have water kefir, milk kefir, kimchi and preserved red peppers all doing their magic on my windowsill.

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Another Herd Immunity question

When a population has a level of lifelong immunity to a certain disease such that an epidemic of that disease cannot occur, the population is said to have herd immunity.

I am still very new at this, so I might be missing something glaringly obvious from people more experienced with epidemiology.

What stood out for me from the part that I inserted into my post is the life long immunity that is required for herd immunity to work. Each disease has a different herd immunity threshold. Measles is a disease that is often spokeמ about. So, the herd immunity threshold for measles is 83 – 94% immunity. I am interpreting this to mean that 83 – 94 percent of the population (from birth through to old age) is recquired to be immune – not just 83 – 94% of children are required to be vaccinated.

Why? In this article, I found it interesting that in the absense of circulating disease, immunity only last for 25 years. By having the disease circulating within the population, the population is exposed to regular ‘boosters’. Remove the disease, and the whole population is left at risk, unless they are kept up to date with vaccines.

What is potentially dangerous with this effect of waning immunity in adults is that adults can have much more serious complications from diseases like measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Essentially a large part of the population could potentially be at risk if they are relying on vaccine induced immunity for their immunity, and not up to date with boosters.

Another piece of the puzzle is that mothers pass on passive immunity to their infants through the placenta (I have read conflicting articles about whether breastmilk also confers passive immunity or not). And babies are protected from the disease of measles with this passive immunity. Again, from what I am understanding, passive immunity is not conferred when the mother relies on vaccine immunity, only if she herself contracted measles is the immunity passed to her infant. Which, theoretically could leave infants more at risk with most new mothers today not having had wild measles.

It is all theoretical. I have not heard of infants or adults coming down with measles.

I just am really struggling to get my head around these issues. I do not know if the scientists are factoring in waning immunity when they calculate the threshold herd immunity, but I am guessing they are not. I am guessing that it is assumed that the vaccine is fulfilling it’s potential to rid the human population of measles.

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Preventative Medicine

This has been on my mind somewhat and I am hoping to make a bit of sense now as I think things through.

I am very much at the beginning of my path into understanding how to create and protect the health of my family, with a lot of focus on DS. So far I have had a very strong sense that vaccinations are not the simple preventative medicine that they are presented as being. The more I look into it, the more I am learning that it is definitely not as simple as getting the vaccine and now I can rest assured my child will be free of disease and essentially healthy. There are a myriad of issues surrounding this complex issue.

While I have so far chosen not to vaccinate DS, I have not decided that I will never vaccinate him. I am looking into this carefully and have asked my DH to give me time as I try and unravel what role I want vaccination to play in our lives. It is such a personal decision.

Largely what got me thinking again about all of this was offering information to a friend who was trying to decide whether to offer her 1 month old the HepB vaccination after having declined at the birth. I ended up giving her information I had read about and she based her decision on my information. I do not feel comfortable with that. I fact checked myself and found my information to be true, but not up to date and the up to date information to have many problems with it’s validity. Anyway, the moral of the story is that each family has to choose for themselves. While I am sad that so many babies are being vaccinated without a second thought – it really is none of my business.

Back to vaccinations and the issues that I am trying to get my head around.

My attention was caught when I found out that there have never been any double blind placebo controlled studies done on the safety of vaccinations. No one actually knows what the long term affects are and from what I am understanding, trials are measuring one vaccine against the other – not against a placebo. Now, there are very good reasons for this. It is not ethical to give a child a placebo instead of a vaccine and possibly risk that child contracting a preventable disease for the sake a science. So, the scientists have their hands tied so to speak. Except that there is a growing population who choose not to vaccinate or to partially vaccinate or to delay vaccinating. But then it is not double blind….. It’s a bit of a mess. However, I am concerned enough to not rush into vaccinating my DS with a list of extra materials found in the vaccines such as aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, bovine serum, gelatin, etc etc the list is quite scary. Of course the question arises as to what is a safe dose of these materials. Can it be determined what is a safe dose of aluminum for a newborn (who I understand metabolize aluminum differently from adults and older children – although I am still looking into this)? for a 2, 4 and 6 month old?

Anyway, the safety of vaccines is something that is by no means established – as far as I have found so far.

Another issue that I have been looking into is the efficacy of the vaccines. No vaccine has 100% efficacy. But some are more effective than others. And not all vaccines contribute to herd immunity for the disease they are vaccinating against.

Another issue is the diseases themselves. Are they the killer diseases that we are told they are? Perhaps the doctor who saw DS days after he was born and the other doctor who saw him 2 months after he was born really do beleive that my DS was sure to die without the vaccines. This is what they told me in very clear and scary terms. I have to assume this is what they beleive if this is what they told me so passionately. From the very little that I have managed to read, I am not convinced that the diseases that are vaccinated against are all the death sentence that they are made out to be. Nasty and sometimes very dangerous. But not a death threat or necessarily the threat of permanent disability that I was led to beleive. And something that I am only starting to look into… but what are the circumstances around children developing complications with childhood diseases? I cannot beleive that it is a matter of purely luck as to whether one child develops a serious complication and the other does not…. as yet I do not have any answers that fully satisfy my curiosity – for now I breastfeed DS, keep to an organic diet most of the time, use environmentally safe cleaning products, avoid white flour and processed sugar. These guidelines seem to cover my bases and the more I read, the more these guidelines are justified.

A case in point. Almost 6 months ago I had a meeting with the Developmental doctor who asked me if I was giving DS his vit D and iron – to which I honestly replied no. I was then told that I have to give iron as if DS becomes anemic, it has a long term irreversableĀ  impact on his overall development. Scary, right? What kind of an awful mother would I be to wish to permanently impair my child by not doing what the doctor told me to do?

Anyway, I read a bit and found out that babies at risk for anemia in the first year are premature babies, babies under 3kg birth weight and formula fed babies (from what I can remember). DS does not fall into any of those catergories. I read some more and I found out that supplementing iron actually impairs the absorbtion of the iron in the breastmilk, and makes iron available to bugs in the intestines – while breast milk chelates the iron in such a way that it is only bio available to the infant and not to any bugs. Brillaint!

Back to the good doctor. She obviously had no clue what she as talking about, and yet for the last 6 months I have been fearful that perhaps DS is anemic and I caused it if he is. Well, he is not. His Hb is 11.9 and he is doing just fine without any of the precribed iron supplements. Her preventative medicine was not what my DS needed in our circumstnaces.

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Thoughts about motherhood

This is so exciting. I have been wanting to get a blog up and running for some months now. The US elections and my boy have been keeping me very busy (well, I had to keep up to date on all developments with the election as I thought positive thoughts of Obama winning)…. so, Obama is President Elect and I now have some time on my hands when my boy is sleeping.

The whole idea of motherhood is absolutely fascinating for me. I think about this a lot as I try to understand why I am staying at home with my boy. My gut is telling me that this is a good thing to be doing for me, my son and our home….. my fantasies are running wild with opportunity… and me being me, I like to go with my instinct and get the facts/reasons later.

So, this is my journey into motherhood. My exploration of all the issues that join in with the broad experience of motherhood:

Infant and Child Development

Nutrition

Relationships

Love

Household management

Health Promotion

I am sure I will find more topics that I am exploring – these are off the top of my head. Being a mother has so much to do with the details of life, the moments that can be taken for granted. Yes, it’s not all sweet and romantic (like when DS wakes up for the 5th time in a night or when he won’t let me put him down when he is teething), but at the same time I hold precious these moments, even as they flame my frustration. My boy will be a babe but once in his life, and we are both learning together.

So, I will be sharing and exploring what I am discovering…. for now I need to go to bed and look after my sleep needs.

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