When you’re a parent, suddenly everything becomes a question.
What should I feed my baby? When should I start? What car seat should I buy, and am I installing it correctly? What stroller or baby carrier do I need, and how do I use it? What about toys — are some more educational than others? What do I do about all this…!
It can be kind of overwhelming, honestly, at times.
But it’s human nature. We need to ask questions. We need to make sure that we’re doing the best we possibly can for our babies, and children. They’re everything to us.
The One Question We Can’t Ask
I know that every time I’ve had a baby (I’ve had 5), new questions were on my radar.
With my oldest, I obsessively read every book I could on pregnancy, so that I would know what to expect week by week. Was what I was feeling, normal?
I read about each decision I would have to make — routine testing and such (I accepted most of it). I looked into cloth diapers. Honestly, I trusted what I was told a whole lot, by mainstream doctors and mainstream books, because I simply hadn’t thought to ask too many questions…yet. I still did a fair amount of reading about natural birth, breastfeeding, and things I anticipated would be a bit harder.
With my second baby, I started asking even more questions. I looked for a more naturally-minded care provider, starting out with hospital-based midwives. I asked them tons of questions when I first met them (I literally typed up and printed out a list). Later I switched to home birth, but only after asking tons more questions of friends who’d already had home births, then home birth midwives.
I figured out that everyone is a little bit different, and has different needs, and that parenting is no exception. I realized that no one was looking out for my exact best interests, except for me. There were people along the way who provided me information, who supported me, who advocated for me. But only by partnering with them and communicating, could I make sure to get the best care.
That’s reasonable, you know? Professionals are busy, and they need you to be informed and speak up if you have a need. They’re not mind readers.
The More I Learned, the More I Asked
I asked more and more questions…. I started questioning what I thought I knew about car seats, and traded up to better ones. I bought better baby carriers and learned how to use them. I learned more about cloth diapering and found ones that worked for me (I actually sewed my own). I looked into what I was feeding my babies, and started offering healthier options.
Every single thing mattered.
In my fifth pregnancy, I even cared about things like optimal supplement routines, body alignment and motion, and tiny little details that might just make things a little bit healthier.
A lot of mamas can relate. They’d do anything to have the healthiest baby possible. Right?
Even later in life, the questions don’t stop. Where should my child go to school…and when? Should he go to school at all? What method is right? What about discipline? Moral teachings? It never ends.
That’s why it kind of weird that there’s one topic where a lot of people just don’t ask questions. Where they get upset if someone even hints that they might start asking questions. It’s this deep, gut reaction of fear. We can’t question that. We can’t, or the mere questions could lead to hurting our babies, or even our entire society!
That sounds ridiculous. Well, it kind of is. But it happens.
Do You Question This?
Some of you immediately said, “No, no, no. We can’t question those. Only ‘anti-vaxxers’ question those. Safe and effective, saved the world, greatest public health breakthrough; end of story!”
But is it?
If that is how you feel…why? Where did you learn that?
Most people have simply heard it over and over. The media trumpets it constantly. Many high-profile doctors do as well. There has been a very clever picture painted of how great vaccines are. It denies that there could be anything at all going on other than perfection, and anyone who dares to whisper so much as “Maybe that one vaccine isn’t working as it was intended…” is branded an anti-vaxxer and a crazy person. (You now think I’m a conspiracy theorist for even daring to say this.)
Here’s the truth, though, everyone: vaccines are a medical product. They’re not perfect. They aren’t for everyone. They can hurt some people.
We accept easily that some people are seriously allergic to peanuts, even though most people can eat them without issue. Some people even have peanut “sensitivities,” meaning that they don’t have an anaphylactic reaction, but they might get an upset stomach or a rash from them. Peanuts don’t work for everyone, and that’s okay.
Vaccines are the same way.
If you truly, whole-heartedly believe that only an “anti-vaxxer” would dare to say any of this or question vaccines…why? Shouldn’t we be looking at new evidence as it comes out? Shouldn’t we evaluate vaccines one by one? Shouldn’t we decide on a case-by-case basis (per kid, and per vaccine) what we should do? We do this on every other topic.
Let’s look at water.
Water is absolutely required for life. Without water; you will die in a matter of days. No one is questioning that need.
Yet, we actually do question water all the time. When can my baby have some? How much? In what type of container? How much should I, as an adult, be drinking for optimal health? Is my water clean enough? Should I filter my water — and if so, how?
We question water. Something that is the most basic human necessity.
Yet, we can’t question vaccines. Vaccines are not a human necessity. They are not on par with water. Humans can and do live without them.
Now, you may still believe that vaccines are a good thing, and want to get them. That’s okay. But at least ask some questions first. Why does my child need this one? Is now the best time to receive it? What are the potential negative reactions? What is in this vaccine?
It’s not too much to ask. You don’t feed your baby a new food without making sure it is healthy and age-appropriate. You may even read several books and talk to multiple doctors about when and what to feed your baby, to prevent allergies and keep him or her growing well. Why not ask these same questions about vaccines?
It’s time to stop burying our heads in the sand and acting like vaccines are a magical, perfect product that we simply cannot question. We need to be able to have honest discourse. We need to have informed consent.
Can we do at least that? Can it be okay to just ask questions?
We’re not going to do anything else. We’re not going to take away vaccines. We’re just going to ask questions, and make sure that if you want vaccines, you know that your child is getting them in the safest possible way. We’re going to remove the hysteria surrounding the topic. That’s all.
If you want to ask some more questions, check out our Vaccine Education section. We’re not telling you what to do, and we fully support your right to choose…just start asking questions.