Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cross Post: Introducing...

John Andrew Wesley Showalter

Sunday, October 17, 2010

6:53pm

7 pounds 10 ounces
18.5 inches



We call him John Andrew or Andrew.



He is a fantastic baby, and we are all doing well:) I was able to have a natural labor and am feeling pretty good, all things considered! Not quite up to blogging much, especially since my computer is not working properly. More pictures coming soon (or as soon as my computer starts working!)




Introducing...

John Andrew Wesley Showalter
Sunday, October 17, 2010
6:53pm
7 pounds 10 ounces
18.5 inches

We call him John Andrew or Andrew.

He is a fantastic baby, and we are all doing well:) I was able to have a natural labor and am feeling pretty good, all things considered! Not quite up to blogging much, especially since my computer is not working properly. More pictures coming soon (or as soon as my computer starts working!)



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Temporary Change in Contact Info!

It looks like I will be having a baby soon:) Rebecca has graciously agreed to take over the FBI responsibilities during this time of transition for our family. Please contact her directly with updates/additions to the FBI.

Please use this email: etlover10@gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

38 Week Bumpdate

I am still pregnant.


Still.

At my OB visit on Thursday, I had lost about a pound. At least I am not gaining, right? The baby was measuring perfectly, with a heart rate in the 150s, so there are no concerns. If I haven't had the baby by next week (39 weeks) they will do an internal exam to see if things are progressing yet. Hmmmm.

I had the girls with me at the OB. They said they had questions for the doctor... Abigail asked when the baby will finally come out (don't we wish we knew?) and Anna asked why the baby is giving me heartburn. I'm not sure if this was because I have been complaining of heartburn a lot, or if it was somehow related to Abigail talking about the fetal Doppler (the machine to measure the heart rate) and the "heart rate" which Anna took to mean "heart burn." At any rate, the doctors didn't answer either question with any conviction:)

I am feeling good- except for the whole waddling, swollen feet thing. Actually, my left foot is very tender, and John is wondering if I possibly broke some toes. I decided to just grin and bear it, because really, what is the treatment for broken toes? Um, an x-ray to diagnose the problem (which I am not going to get right now, anyway) and at most a non-weight-bearing boot (which I am not going to wear in labor anyway) so what's the point? So, other than my toes, I am feeling good.

The kitchen saga is mostly done... but not all the way. We are still missing a cabinet that is on indefinite back order. So yesterday they came out and installed everything else and a temporary "filler" cabinet so that I could at least get things put away and clear off the kitchen table. I am working on that today, and as soon as John moves the borrowed microwave out to my car, I will be able to finish clearing off the kitchen table. Tomorrow we can sit at the table for meals. This will definitely be a step in the right direction. Then a few more boxes moved to the basement, and I think we will be in pretty good shape.... except that my Shark has stopped working and I really need to get down and scrub my floors (which is sooooo not happening!)

I have my last few shifts scheduled for work next week... a total of 12 hours (three 4-hour shifts.) John has finished his mid-terms/final and is working tonight and tomorrow night, followed by a full day of work on Monday (with just a few hours of nap on Monday morning) and his birthday dinner Monday evening. Then he plans to recover from his sleepless weekend on Monday night and catch up on some work on Tuesday, and we will also get our first delivery of cloth diapers... so really, Wednesday is the idea time for me to have the baby (10/20/10). Maybe it will happen, right?

Vaccinations (Another Can of Worms)

So, you all know that John considers me to be a bit of a "hippie" when it comes to parenting. Natural childbirth, cloth diapers, breast feeding, EC, a minimalist approach to "stuff" (although, of course, not AP)... I will admit that I tend to be the one who brings these subjects up, and I tend to have a stronger opinion about these things than John does. I am guessing it is because I am the one who spends more hands-on time with our children and I definitely spend more hands-on time with other people's children than he does, so I tend to observe more parenting choices and techniques than he does. And form opinions about them.

But vaccinations are an issue where John has tended to lead the discussion and have stronger opinions. This is partially because he has worked in vaccine development (he worked on the HPV vaccine), partially because he had a severe reaction to a vaccine as a child, and partially because his brain is much more attuned to statistics, facts, figures, research and all the "science" behind vaccines. He truly has a brilliant mind and I admire and appreciate his abilities to comprehend and translate complex medical/science gibberish.

Let me start by saying that both of our children are fully up-to-date on their vaccines. John and I are up-to-date on our vaccines (a necessity in the field of health care if you want to have a job!), and Abigail and I have both received additional vaccines for travel outside the US (John has, too, but I am not sure which ones since he traveled to different places than Africa.) My girls got their flu vaccines earlier this week, and John and I were supposed to get ours on Monday, but the vaccine clinic was cancelled.

We are not anti-vaccine by any stretch of the imagination.

In terms of the actual vaccines, John and I feel that these have been well-researched and are as safe as any other medication you may give  your child (unless you have certain risk factors that would increase your likelihood of a reaction to a vaccine, of course.) I know several people who feel that vaccines are "unsafe" or "under-researched," and I am not sure where these thoughts come from in the modern day of vaccinations. Sure, vaccines used to be a lot less safe than they are now, but the whole of medicine used to be a lot less safe than it is now. Technology has improved and so have our testing methods and ability to ensure safety and efficacy with medications and immunizations. I mean, we used to have only ONE antibiotic available, and it was a drug that had a high rate of patients with an allergy to it! We've come a long way.

We also recognize the importance of immunizing against "outdated" or "old-fashioned" diseases. For instance, we have not had "naturally occurring" polio in this country in my lifetime (although we have had "imported" polio, and prior to the change-over to inactivated polio vaccines, there were rare vaccine-associated cases). Does that mean that we should not continue to vaccinate against polio in this country? John and I feel that would be foolishness, for 2 reasons. First, we can look at the UK and see that when you stop vaccinating against polio, it will be less than 10 years before you have a polio outbreak (and that is in a country with a much smaller population and lower risk of "imported" polio than the US... it would probably take much less time to experience an outbreak in US.)  Secondly, we recognize that our children will probably travel to places where there is active polio, and their risk of exposure will be higher-than-average. Why would we not want to protect our children, especially in an increasingly "global" world?

I will speak to the multiple "side effects" of vaccines, because I have heard some people state that they feel the vaccine is not "worth the risk" of all the reported side effects. The first thing to know is that when testing a drug or vaccine of any kind, anything that the patient experiences within a given time frame of receiving the drug/vaccine must be reported as a potential side effect. So, let's say you get your flu vaccine, and 2 days later your develop a migraine. You have a history of migraines, so you may have developed that migraine even if you didn't get your flu shot. But, because it is within the "reportable" time frame, migraine now becomes a "potential side effect" of the flu shot. The phrase "side effects may include" means that someone, sometime experienced that side effect after receiving a drug/immunization, but it does not mean that the drug/immunization necessarily caused the side effect. In fact, in most cases, the rate of occurrence of these potential side effects is no higher in the post-medicated population than it would be in the non-medicated population. That's why there is a difference between "common side effects" and "other side effects." And when you look at the "common side effects" of most vaccines, you end up with things like redness, itching, or soreness at injection site (duh) or general malaise (as is likely to occur when you rev up your body's immune system, which is what a vaccine is doing.)

We do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the idea that any individual vaccine causes autism or any of the other stories you hear in the news. Again, there are certain vaccines that are known to have higher rates of certain side effects, but we still feel the vaccines themselves are generally safe.

There are certainly situations where your personal health history makes the risk of side effects higher, and in some cases, will prevent you from receiving a vaccine. John had a severe reaction to the pertussis vaccine when he was a child, and given the familial propensity for allergies, we are concerned about this vaccine. However, the vaccine has been changed since John was a child, so we are willing to try the vaccine, knowing that we will be on "high alert" for potential reactions. It should go without saying that we believe your individual and family health history must always be considered when making choices about your health.

However, there is a huge difference between personal health and public health choices. For instance, John generally feels like crap for a few days after receiving his flu shot. In fact, in years past, he has decided to skip the flu shot (it is not mandatory for health care workers.) However, he also realizes that he is in a position of caring for people who are at high risk for the worst possible outcomes of the flu (the elderly, and now an infant at home.) So he feels it is in the interest of the public's health that he be vaccinated. Even if I didn't have a baby or children to think about, I would still receive my flu shot because I not only want to protect myself so that I can take care of my family, but I also want to protect the patients/families that I take care of at work. I know both John and I will have higher-than-normal rates of exposure to the flu (it's the nature of being a bedside health care worker) and we feel that we have an obligation to the public to do what we can to protect them. This also includes things like being vigilant in hand-washing, isolating ourselves if we think we may have been exposed/are sick, and enforcing visitation rules that limit the number of visitors that sick people receive. It's not for our benefit (although we will benefit)... it's for the benefit of public health.

I feel that we can no longer count on "herd immunity" in our country. There are enough people who have chosen not to receive vaccines or give them to their children, who have immigrated and did not receive vaccines, who have not been able to afford or have access to vaccines, or who have not been able to complete the vaccines according to the recommended schedule/booster schedule (and therefore do not likely have immunity) to count on "herd immunity" to offer protection to the individual or the public.

When it comes to vaccines and the vaccine schedule, I feel that the protection of public health is the general guideline in the development of the vaccine schedule, with the protection of the individuals health being the deciding factor in timing. What do I mean by that? Well, why do we vaccinate children against rubella? Is it because the kids are likely to experience a severe or fatal illness if they contract rubella? No- rubella itself is usually a mild, flu-like illness in children. However, the risk to an unborn baby whose mother contracts rubella before the 20th week of pregnancy are severe and can be fatal. And who is likely to be carrying these unborn babies? Probably the mothers and caregivers of the 2 year olds who have (hopefully) been vaccinated against rubella! This is is placing public health ahead of individual health, in a way.

Similarly, I believe we need to weigh the cost of vaccinations against the cost of illness. Rotavirus is a good example. The rotavirus vaccine is a relatively inexpensive oral vaccine that has been shown to prevent 85-98% of severe rotavirus illnesses. A severe rotavirus illness (Abigail had a moderate case) can lead to hospitalization (usually for dehydration) and can even be fatal (in fact, globally, rotavirus causes more than half a million deaths in children annually.) The cost of treating rotavirus is high, especially if it is a moderate to severe infection. Is it better for my child to receive the inexpensive oral vaccine than to have to be hospitalized for a severe rotavirus infection? Is it a better use of health care dollars/insurance reimbursement and health care resources to vaccinate my baby than to take up a hospital bed for a rotavirus infection... to take away a hospital bed from a child who has another severe illness? In my opinion, yes, it is better. It is part of being responsible with the limited health care resources we have in the US. So that is part of the public health vs. individual health equation, too.

The second point I want to make is that we have not read Dr. Sears' vaccine book. This is primarily because the excerpts I have read seem to be full of a lot of opinion, not full of a lot of fact, and written in a way that is purposely inflammatory. I have a doctor for a husband, and I would wager that John is actually smarter than Dr. Sears (John is smarter than most anyone, if I do say so), and I would rather listen to his opinions than Dr. Sears' opinions. Also, with his background in biomedical engineering and his extensive research work, John's understanding and ability to evaluate the authority and significance of research surrounding vaccines is probably significantly more developed than that of any of the Dr. Searses, based on their credentials. Meaning, I trust John more. Plus, I know he is not making any statements or giving any opinions for the purpose of selling books and making money. He is doing it because it is what he feels is best for our baby.

Now, I've told you that we feel the vaccines are safe, we feel they are important for personal and public health, and we are not basing our concerns on the work of others. So, what are our concerns? Why are we concerned at all?

Our greatest concerns regarding childhood immunizations is the immunization schedule. By this, I do not mean the guidelines that say "give the first dose now, give the second dose in 6-8 weeks, and the third dose in 12 weeks" or what I would call the "administration guidelines." I mean the standard schedule of giving several multi-organism vaccinations at one well-child visit. Let's be honest: the reason we developed multi-organism vaccines (where we vaccinate against multiple diseases with just one shot) was to increase compliance with vaccinations by decreasing the number of shots (and the subsequent discomfort to babies/parents). I mean, you can currently vaccinate against something like 9 illnesses with just 3 shots! That is certainly more palatable to parents than needing 9 shots to vaccinate against 9 illnesses. Similarly, the reason we give 2 or 3 or 4 shots at one well-child visit has a lot to do with increasing compliance with vaccinations. The parents and baby are already there, they don't have to come back at a different time to get the shots, and they will be coming back to receive the follow-up doses with their next well-child visits, so it seems like the perfect solution, right? Basically, the timing of immunizations has been molded to the timing of well-child visits (or is it the other way around?) And this is done to make it easier for parents- go get all the immunizations in, at the right administration guidelines, with minimal effort on the parents' part. As a busy mom, I can appreciate that... but our question is not whether this is easier, our question is if this is best for our baby.

Our concerns lie mainly in the fact that there is basically no research that shows that it is safe to "rev up" a baby's immune system to such heights (making antibodies for 9 illnesses all at the same time, not to mention whatever else baby has been exposed to during the course of the last few days/weeks). There is no research that shows it is unsafe, but there is no research that says it is safe. With the growing number of autoimmune and neurological diseases that are observed and diagnosed at higher-than-ever rates amongst American children, we have an obligation to ask where that change has come from, and if our best efforts to protect our children could actually be harmful in some way. In areas where there are fewer vaccines available to children, are we seeing similar increases in autoimmune and neurological disorders? The NHS standard immunization schedule (used in the UK) includes a "5-in-1" vaccine, but has fewer overall vaccines than our schedule... what are the ramifications of that? Australia's vaccine schedule is almost identical to our own... do they show identical increases in autoimmune and neurological disorders? India vaccinates against far fewer diseases... what are we seeing there? Does the age at which vaccinations start have long-term implications? Did you know that Germany's vaccine schedule is almost the same as ours, but vaccinations are not compulsory, so only about 66% of children get the 2 doses of MMR (which led to an outbreak of measles), but they have half the rate of asthma as the US? We are not saying we think the vaccination schedule is unsafe... but we are saying that we just don't know the full ramifications of the schedule. It needs to be studied. (Canada's schedule, a comparison of EU countries various TDaP schedules, scroll all the way down...)

John and I have decided to approach immunizing our baby with the goal of following the "administration guidelines" without following the standard schedule our pediatrician uses. In order to do this, we have decided to break up some combination shots into individual vaccines and to make multiple visits to the office for the vaccines. Our goal is to introduce no more than 3 antigens at a time. Why 3? No reason other than this seemed logical and allowed us to consistently meet the administration schedule without visiting the doctor weekly. We are splitting out the DTaP from the Pediatrix (which includes IPV and Hep B) in an attempt to monitor for a reaction to the pertussis component (we wanted to split it out more, and give the Acellular Pertussis alone, but that is not available.) We are going in 2 weeks after a round of immunizations to get additional immunizations. We are prioritizing the vaccines our child will receive (giving the pneumococcal vaccine in earlier months and the IPV in later infancy) to meet the guidelines while limiting the number of antigens we introduce at one time and to get our child the protection that is most important given the fact that the Nugget will be attending day care and has 2 older school/pre-school aged siblings. Most importantly, we are using our best judgement and working with our pediatrician to make the best decisions for our family.

This is what we are doing.

Again, this is what is right for our family based on our research and our goals for our kids. We are not suggesting that this is what you should do. But I hope that as you consider vaccinating your children, you not be swayed by the media or popular authors, but by facts, logic, and research.

Vaccinations (Yes, Another Can of Worms)

So, you all know that John consideres me to be a bit of a "hippie" when it comes to parenting. Natural childbirth, cloth diapers, breast feeding, EC, a minimalist approach to "stuff" (although, of course, not AP)... I will admit that I tend to be the one who brings these subjects up, and I tend to have a stronger opinion about these things than John does. I am guessing it is because I am the one who spends more hands-on time with our children and I definitly spend more hands-on time with other people's children than he does, so I tend to observe more parenting choices and techniques than he does. And form opinions about them.

But vaccinations are an issue where John has tended to lead the discussion and have stronger opinions. This is partially because he has worked in vaccine development (he worked on the HPV vaccine), partially because he had a severe reaction to a vaccine as a child, and partially because his brain is much more attuned to statistics, facts, figures, research and all the "science" behind vaccines. He truly has a brilliant mind and I admire and appreciate his abilities to comprehend and translate complex medical/science gibberish.

Let me start by saying that both of our children are fully up-to-date on their vaccines. John and I are up-to-date on our vaccines (a necessity in the field of health care if you want to have a job!), and Abigail and I have both received additional vaccines for travel outside the US (John has, too, but I am not sure which ones since he traveled to different places that Africa.) My girls got their flu vaccines earlier this week, and John and I were supposed to get ours on Monday, but the vaccine clinic was cancelled.

We are not anti-vaccine by any stretch of the imagination.

In terms of the actual vaccines, John and I feel that these have been well-researched and are as safe as any other medication you may give  your child (unless you have certain risk factors that would increase your liklihood of a reaction to a vaccine, of course.) I know several people who feel that vaccines are "unsafe" or "under-researched," and I am not sure where these thoughts come from in the modern day of vaccinations. Sure, vaccines used to be a lot less safe than they are now, but the whole of medicine used to be a lot less safe than it is now. Technology has improved and so have our testing methods and ability to ensure safety and efficacy with medications and immunizations. I mean, we used to have only ONE antibiotic available, and it was a drug that had a high rate of patients with an allergy to it!

We also recognize the importance of immunizing against "outdated" or "old-fashioned" diseases. For instance, we have not had "naturally occuring" polio in this country in my lifetime (although we have had "imported" polio, and prior to the change-over to inactivated polio vaccines, there were rare vaccine-associated cases). Does that mean that we should not continue to vaccinate against polio in this country? John and I feel that would be foolishness, for 2 reasons. First, we can look at the UK and see that when you stop vaccinating against polio, it will be less than 10 years before you have a polio outbreak (and that is in a country with a much smaller population and lower risk of "imported" polio than the US... it would probably take much less time to experience an outbreak in US.)  Secondly, we recognize that our children will probably travel to places where there is active polio, and their risk of exposure will be higher-than-average. Why would we not want to protect our children, especially in an increasingly "global" world?

I will speak to the multiple "side effects" of vaccines, because I have heard some people state that they feel the vaccine is not "worth the risk" of all the reported side effects. The first thing to know is that when testing a drug or vaccine of any kind, anything that the patient experiences within a given time frame of receiving the drug/vaccine must be reported as a potential side effect. So, let's say you get your flu vaccine, and 2 days later your develop a migraine. You have a history of migraines, so you may have developed that migraine even if you didn't get your flu shot. But, because it is within the "reportable" time frame, migraine now becomes a "potential side effect" of the flu shot. The phrase "side effects may include" means that someone, sometime experienced that side effect after receiving a drug/immunization, but it does not mean that the drug/immunization necessarily caused the side effect. In fact, in most cases, the rate of occurence of these potential side effects is no higher in the post-medicated population than it would be in the non-medicated population. That's why there is a difference between "common side effects" and "other side effects." And when you look at the "common side effects" of most vaccines, you end up with things like redness, itching, or soreness at injection site (duh) or general malaise (as is likely to occur when you rev up your body's immune system, which is what a vaccine is doing.)

We do not belive that there is sufficient evidence to support the idea that any individual vaccine causes autism or any of the other stories you hear in the news. Again, there are certain vaccines that are known to have higher rates of certain side effects, but we still feel the vaccines themselves are generally safe.

There are certainly situations where your personal health history makes the risk of side effects higher, and in some cases, will prevent you from receiving a vaccine. John had a severe reaction to the pertussis vaccine when he was a child, and given the familial propensity for allergies, we are concerned about this vaccine. However, the vaccine has been changed since John was a child, so we are willing to try the vaccine, knowing that we will be on "high alert" for potential reactions. It should go without saying that we believe your individual and family health history must always be considered when making choices about your health.

However, there is a huge difference between personal health and public health choices. For instance, John generally feels like crap for a few days after receiving his flu shot. In fact, in years past, he has decided to skip the flu shot (it is not mandatory for health care workers.) However, he also realizes that he is in a position of caring for people who are at high risk for the worst possible outcomes of the flu (the elderly, and now an infant at home.) So he feels it is in the interest of the public's health that he be vaccinated. Even if I didn't have a baby or children to think about, I would still receive my flu shot because I not only want to protect myself so that I can take care of my family, but I also want to protect the patients/families that I take care of at work. I know both John and I will have higher-than-normal rates of exposure to the flu (it's the nature of being a bedside health care worker) and we feel that we have an obligation to the public to do what we can to protect them. This also includes things like being vigilant in hand-washing, isolating ourselves if we think we may have been exposed/are sick, and enforcing visitation rules that limit the number of visitors that sick people receive. It's not for our benefit (although we will benefit)... it's for the benefit of public health.

I feel that we can no longer count on "herd immunity" in our country. There are enough people who have chosen not to receive vaccines or give them to their children, who have immigrated and did not receive vaccines, who have not been able to afford or have access to vaccines, or who have not been able to complete the vaccines according to the recommended schedule/booster schedule (and therefore do not likely have immunity) to count on "herd immunity" to offer protection to the individual or the public.

When it comes to vaccines and the vaccine schedule, I feel that the protection of public health is the general guideline in the development of the vaccine schedule, with the protection of the individual's health being the deciding factor in timing. What do I mean by that? Well, why do we vaccinate children against rubella? Is it because the kids are likely to experince a severe or fatal illness if they contract rubella? No- rubella itself is usually a mild, flu-like illness in children. However, the risk to an unborn baby whose mother contracts rubella before the 20th week of pregnancy are severe and can be fatal. And who is likely to be carrying these unborn babies? Probably the mothers and caregivers of the 2 year olds who have (hopefully) been vaccinated against rubella! This is is placing public health ahead of individual health, in a way.

Similarly, I believe we need to weigh the cost of vaccinations against the cost of illness. Rotavirus is a good example. The rotavirus vaccine is a relatively inexpensive oral vaccine that has been shown to prevent 85-98% of severe rotavirus illnesses. A severe rotavirus illness (Abigail had a moderate case) can lead to hospitalization (usually for dehydration) and can even be fatal (in fact, globally, rotavirus causes more than half a million deaths in children annually.) The cost of treating rotavirus is high, especially if it is a moderate to severe infection. Is it better for my child to receive the inexpensive oral vaccine than to have to be hosptialized for a severe rotavirus infection? Is it a better use of health care dollars/insurance reimbursement and health care resources to vaccinate my baby than to take up a hosptial bed for a rotavirus infection... to take away a hosptial bed from a child who has another severe illness? In my opinion, yes, it is better. It is part of being responsible with the limited health care resources we have in the US. So that is part of the public health vs. individual health equation, too.

The second point I want to make is that we have not read Dr. Sears' vaccine book. This is primarily because the excerpts I have read seem to be full of a lot of opinion, not full of a lot of fact, and written in a way that is purposely inflamatory. I have a doctor for a husband, and I would wager that John is actually smarter than Dr. Sears (John is smarter than most anyone, if I do say so), and I would rather listen to his opinions than Dr. Sears' opinions. Also, with his background in biomedical engineering and his extensive research work, John's understanding and ability to evaluate the authority and significance of research surrounding vaccines is probably significantly more developed than that of any of the Dr. Searses, based on their credentials. Meaning, I trust John more. Plus, I know he is not making any statements or giving any opinions for the purpose of selling books and making money. He is doing it because it is what he feels is best for our baby.

Now, I've told you that we feel the vaccines are safe, we feel they are important for personal and public health, and we are not basing our concerns on the work of others. So, what are our concerns? Why are we concerned at all?

Our greatest concerns regarding childhood immunizations is the immunization schedule. By this, I do not mean the guidelines that say "give the first dose now, give the second dose in 6-8 weeks, and the third dose in 12 weeks" or what I would call the "administration guidelines." I mean the standard schedule of giving several multi-organism vaccinations at one well-child visit. Let's be honest: the reason we developed multi-organism vaccines (where we vaccinate against multiple diseases with just one shot) was to increase compliance with vaccinations by decreasing the number of shots (and the subsequent discomfort to babies/parents). I mean, you can currently vaccinate against something like 9 illnesses with just 3 shots! That is certainly more palatable to parents than needing 9 shots to vaccinate against 9 illnesses. Similarly, the reason we give 2 or 3 or 4 shots at one well-child visit has a lot to do with increasing compliance with vaccinations. The parents and baby are already there, they don't have to come back at a different time to get the shots, and they will be coming back to receive the follow-up doses with their next well-child visits, so it seems like the perfect solution, right? Basically, the timing of immunizations has been molded to the timing of well-child visits (or is it the other way around?) And this is done to make it easier for parents- go get all the immunizations in, at the right administration guidelines, with minimal effort on the parents' part. As a busy mom, I can appreciate that... but our question is not whether this is easier, our question is if this is best for our baby.

Our concerns lie mainly in the fact that there is basically no research that shows that it is safe to "rev up" a baby's immune system to such heights (making antibodies for 9 illnesses all at the same time, not to mention whatever else baby has been exposed to during the course of the last few days/weeks). There is no research that shows it is unsafe, but there is no research that says it is safe. With the growing number of autoimmune and neurologic diseases that are observed and diagnosed at higher-than-ever rates amongst American children, we have an obligation to ask where that change has come from, and if our best efforts to protect our children could actually be harmful in some way. In areas where there are fewer vaccines available to children, are we seeing similar increases in autoimmune and neurologic disorders? The NHS standard immunization schedule (used in the UK) includes a "5-in-1" vaccine, but has fewer overall vaccines than our schedule... what are the ramifications of that? Australia's vaccine schedule is almost identical to our own... do they show identical increases in autoimmune and neurologic disorders? India vaccinates against far fewer diseases... what are we seeing there? Does the age at which vaccinations start have long-term implications? Did you know that Germany's vaccine schedule is almost the same as ours, but vaccinations are not compulsary, so only about 66% of children get the 2 doses of MMR (which led to an outbreak of measles), but they have half the rate of asthma as the US? We are not saying we think the vaccination schedule is unsafe... but we are saying that we just don't know the full ramifications of the schedule. It needs to be studied. (Canada's schedule, a comparison of EU countries various TDaP schedules, scroll all the way down...)

John and I have decided to approach immunizing our baby with the goal of following the "administration guidelines" without following the standard schedule our pediatrician uses. In order to do this, we have decided to break up some combination shots into individual vaccines and to make multiple visits to the office for the vaccines. Our goal is to introduce no more than 3 antigens at a time. Why 3? No reason other than this seemed logical and allowed us to consistently meet the administration schedule without visiting the doctor weekly. We are splitting out the DTaP from the Pediatrix (which includes IPV and Hep B) in an attempt to monitor for a reaction to the pertussis component (we wanted to split it out more, and give the Acellular Pertussis alone, but that is not available.) We are going in 2 weeks after a round of immunizations to get additional immunizations. We are prioritizing the vaccines our child will receive (giving the pneumococcal vaccine in earlier months and the IPV in later infancy) to meet the guidelines while limiting the number of antigens we introduce at one time and to get our child the protection that is most important given the fact that the Nugget will be attending day care and has 2 older school/pre-school aged siblings. Most importantly, we are using our best judgement and working with our pediatrician to make the best decisions for our family.

This is what we are doing.

Again, this is what is right for our family based on our research and our goals for our kids. We are not suggesting that this is what you should do. But I hope that as you consider vaccinating your children, you not be swayed by the media or popular authors, but by facts, logic, and research.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Church

I asked a question on facebook, and was quite surprised at who didn't answer... but maybe it was the forum in which the question was asked? So I will ask it again, here...

What do you think the primary focus of the church should be?

(And by comparison, what do you think the primary focus of the church actually is?)

Delish

I just had a really yummy thought.

It involves brownies, Nutella, and ice cream.

Yummy, but not very healthy:)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mission trip to Ethiopia!

Did you know that there are some CRAZY people in blogland who are giving away a missions trip to Ethiopia? Fo sho!

And until 9pm tonight, you can enter to win the giveaway for FREE!

And even if you miss the cutoff tonight, you can still enter to win.

Go check it out!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

37 Week Bumpdate

Is it just me, or has my belly not changed that much in the past 2 weeks? I feel like I get bigger every day, but when I look at the pictures, this belly is not any bigger than my 35 or 36 week bump.

Guess how much weight I gained in the last week? Remember, I gained four pounds from week 35 to week 36....

So, just guess...

Okay, you are not going to guess right, so I will just tell you. I lost half a pound. (My friend says when you start losing weight, it means the baby will come soon...???)

Anyway, I celebrated that by eating half a box of mini Oreos and going out for dinner last night that included cheese fondue, 3 layer chocolate cake, and lots and lots of homemade rolls. So much for keeping up the no-gain/a little loss trend, eh?

Other than that, I have been feeling pretty well. Heartburn, of course, but even that has improved since I went to the chiropractor twice this week (I was so out of whack.) My feet are still swollen, although my compression socks do help. When I wear them. They also have been giving me a rash, so it's been a toss up between the swollen feet and the itchy legs. Sometimes you just can't win. I do have this funky toe pain in my left foot, middle 3 toes. John says he thinks it is from the swelling putting pressure on the joints. Go away, swelling!

I have made virtually no progress on my to-do list for the baby, although I have made a small amount of progress in just getting the house put back together/recovering from having the kitchen fixed (since the contractors still don't have my cabinets installed, we are not getting terribly far...) The bag is packed, though, so we are all good:) It's strange to think that this was the milestone that marked Abigail's entrance into the world... and yet, it could still be a few weeks before the Nugget arrives.

I've seen a few tiny babies recently (at stores, ballet class, etc), and I am feeling kind of overwhelmed about the fact that we will have a tiny baby home with us very soon. I know they don't stay tiny for long, and I am pretty sure that caring for a newborn is a lot like riding a bike- it just comes back to you- but I still am feeling a bit unprepared and... not scared, exactly... more like nervous.

It's interesting. A few weeks ago, someone was mentioning that I would soon be giving birth, and they asked me if I was scared (of labor.) I'm not. Nervous, anxious, and excited- yes. Scared? Not a bit. But at the same time, people always ask if I am excited about the baby. The baby seems to me to be a much more appropriate topic to ask if I am nervous about, not labor! Am I totally backwards? Labor just seems so straightforward. I mean, you have contractions, water breaks, you push, and it's over. Done. It's the whole baby thing that is totally unpredictable:)

Anywho... Do you want to play a game?

We have been keeping the baby's name secret. Want to try to guess it? I will give you a hint: both the girl name and boy name we have chosen start with an "A." Would love to hear your guesses:)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

My Own

From Sarah's Blog:

"As I drove 80-plus miles an hour because my baby was in pain and needed her Mama to fix her, I thought to myself, "If this isn't my child, then who does she belong to?" Seriously, if you ask me if I want "my own" kids that implies that the kids I have are not mine, and if they are not mine, can someone please tell me whose they are? If they aren't mine I am certainly going to a fair bit of inconvenience and enduring a fair bit of life disruption for children that belong to other people. They certainly appear to belong to me when one of them wakes me up screaming at 5 am or when one of them grabs both of my cheeks in her small little four year old hands, puts her nose to mine and and says "I love you, Mama" or when one of them calls for me from her darkened bedroom and says in her smallish two year old voice "Mommy, I want you. Sleep with me, Mama." From all I can tell practically speaking, they are mine. Two governments say they are mine and more importantly God says they are mine and will hold me accountable for what I am doing to raise them. So, dear friend, please don't ask me if my precious girls for whom I have rearranged my career, my social calendar, my sleeping schedule, my bathing rituals, my long-term financial plans and, generally speaking, the sum total of all my life goals are "mine". It should be obvious to you by now that they are and it breaks my heart when you ask that because these children are as "real" to me as yours are to you. They are my life as your birth children are to you and no child that comes from my body will ever have more status as "my own" than these daughters born of my heart."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Homosexual Adoption: A moral and political viewpoint

Yet another post to be prefaced with a disclaimer: What I am going to share here will almost certainly ruffle some feathers. I want to preface by saying that I am not trying to influence any one's thoughts, change their opinions, or prompt them to any actions. I simply intend to share my thoughts, struggles, and ponderances. Whew. Here goes.




So, like I mentioned in my previous post, Becca's "big, controversial post" about homosexual adoption really made me think and sparked a lot of discussion between John and I. I don't want to try to summarize her post for fear of misrepresenting what she wrote, so if you are going to continue reading this post, I would ask that you go back and read Becca's original post. Read the comments, too. I'll wait.

Really, I don't mind waiting. I have learned a lot about patience:)

No, I'm serious. This post will only make sense if you go back and read her original post. Even if you read it before, go refresh your memory. This post will still be here.

Did you read it? Okay, let's continue.

What I came away from Becca's post with is that there are 2 separate issues involved. First is the moral view of homosexuality and homosexual adoption. Second is the political/legal issues surrounding homosexual adoption. Becca is concerned that a certain moral view of homosexuality and homosexual adoption will lead to political/legal measures preventing homosexual adoption. I believe Becca's viewpoint is that it is better for a child to be placed in a homosexual home than to have them waiting indefinitely to be adopted.

Laws preventing adoption by homosexual individuals/couples exist. Not extensively in the US, but certainly around the world. For instance, the government of Ethiopia will not place a child for adoption with a homosexual or homosexual couple; many, many other countries, even "Westernized" countries like Italy and parts of Australia have similar laws. From the US government side of things, there is nothing preventing a child to be placed with a homosexual individual or couple, except in the state of Florida (this is currently being challenged in the Florida court system) and the restriction is on the adoption of a child, not on placement as a foster parent.

From a political/legal standpoint, I understand that laws regarding adoption exist to make an attempt to ensure that the best interest of the child is served. So, we have regulations that limit adoptions based on age, income, and ability to care for a child. In addition, a trained social worker must meet with the prospective adoptive parent(s) to conduct interviews and determine if they are fit to adopt. These laws and regulations are not in place to be discriminatory, but rather to ensure the best placement for a child. I do not believe that any laws should be put in place that limit the ability of a child to be placed with a prospective adoptive parent based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc as long as the prospective adoptive parent(s) is found to be suitable based on minimum income requirements, age, ability to provide sustained care, and interview with the social worker. I don't think it is the government's job to limit adoptions based on moral issues, racial issues, ethical issues. Financial issues, sure. Legal issues, you bet (I think it is okay for the government to limit the ability of a person to adopt based on background checks and prior criminal actions.) But the color of your skin, your religious practices, or your sexual orientation? Nope. Not the government's place.




On the other hand, I think moral issues surrounding homosexuality and homosexual individuals/couples adopting are completely, 100% a different issue. I personally believe that homosexuality is a sin. I don't care that science "proves"* that homosexuals have different brains and neurological functions than heterosexuals, just like I also don't care that science "proves" that evolution is how we all came to be rather than being created by God. I am not interested in what science says. I am interested in what God says. And the Bible doesn't mince words about homosexuality.

As such, I think it is perfectly reasonable for adoption organizations that do not receive government funding to chose not to work with or place children with homosexual individuals/couples, especially if they are faith-based organizations. It is much like my feelings that churches have the freedom to restrict membership or ordination from homosexuals. In matters of faith-based organizations, they are driven by their morals, and they need to do what they think is right. This is a tough pill to swallow, because for me, it meant that many Christian organizations would not approve me for adoption grants/loans because I was a single mother and their morals led them to believe that children should be placed in traditional two parent homes. But who am  I to judge that? Ultimately, they are responsible to God for their actions, and God opened other doors for me.

But what I want to point out about the sin of homosexuality is this: I think homosexuality, like any other sin, is just that... sin. It's not "bigger" or "worse" or "yuckier" than any other sin. And we are all (ALL, even our kiddos!) sinners. We are all equally unworthy. I think a lot of so-called Christians get caught up on homosexuality because it is something that is "outward." I mean, lying or lustful thoughts are just as much a sin as homosexuality, but because those cannot always be judged outwardly, they don't get as much attention from those so-called Christians who feel it is their place to judge (or to  lobby for laws that dictate their morals to the nation.)

In fact, I think it is our response to sinners that defines us as true Christ-followers. Christ didn't love sin; the Bible says that God hates sin! But Christ loved sinners. All of them. Each and every person He met when He walked the earth. Each and every one of us alive today. And He loved them in tangible ways. He worked miracles to provide them with fish and bread. He healed people so that they could participate in society and do good works. He instructed his followers to be active in caring for the marginalized of society. He hugged children. He touched lepers and unclean women. He prayed for them. Christ's response to sinners was not judgement (although, He certainly was in a position to judge, if ever a man was!) Instead, His response was compassion, love, and generosity. As Christ-followers, is this how we are treating the sinners we know? Well, unless you are responding this way to every person you know, then the answer is "no."

But back to the issue of homosexuals and adoption: I am sure what you are trying to find out is if I think Becca is right. Well, yes and no. I don't think it is the optimal situation for a child to be placed in a home with homosexual parent(s). But I also don't think it is the optimal situation for a child to linger in an orphanage or foster care. I don't think the government should restrict the ability of homosexuals to adopt or foster, but I don't think private organizations should be required to place children with homosexuals if it is against their moral beliefs. This is one of those no-win situations, because the ideal situation is that all children would be able to remain with their birth parents. And any situation where that is not possible is less than ideal.


* With regard to science's ability to "prove" homosexuality as a genetically determined... well, neither John nor I are aware of any research that has shown this gene exists. Even twin studies (where identical and fraternal twins were studied with regard to sexual orientation) show that only about 50% of genetically identical individuals (identical twins) will exhibit the same sexual orientation (this number is only 25% in fraternal twins, but would be 100% in identical twins if there was a genetic cause since their genetic code is 100% identicial.)  Additionally, research does exist that suggests the ability to manipulate the sexual orientation of fruit flies based on changes in neurotransmitters and chemical function in the brain, but it does not show that this is in the genetic code, and further, it results in "genderblind" (bisexual) fruit flies rather than homosexual fruit flies, and is limited to the male fruit flies. There is also research that suggests that abnormal "firing" or "reception," or "misfiring" of neurotransmitters within the brain can be linked to homosexual behaviors/preferences, just like abnormal abnormal firing, reception, or misfiring can be linked to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other neurological dysfunctions. I am not implying that homosexuality is a neurologic dysfunction but rather that there is a component that is biologically related or regulated with regard to neurotransmission, as research has "proven"...or at least as it has "suggested."

More Fall Soup Recipes

I love soup. I love that it's usually a very economical meal, and easy to re-heat for lunch. I love that I can often get 2 meals for the price and effort of one, and that many soups freeze well. Honestly, what is not to love about soup? Especially when it's in the crock pot.

I also love the bread that I often serve along side soup. Italian bread. Corn bread. Garlic bread. Mmmm.

Here are some more soups I want to try out:

Calico Bean Soup (Great for using up little bits of beans you may have around the house!)
Baked Potato Soup (I made this as one of my first crock pot recipes... very yummy, but be aware that it makes a TON! And does freeze well. But requires a good bit of prep cutting the potatos.)
Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup- or as I call it "Clean Out the Fridge Chicken Noodle Soup" (I've made this several times, using what was on hand- always a hit with the kids!)
Chicken and Dumpling Soup- This is actually not the recipe that I use, though. I put a whole chicken fryer (or leftovers of your chicken carcass from your roasted/rotissierie chicken or chicken pieces) in my 6qt crock pot, along with a chopped onion and a bit of garlic or a few garlic cloves, and 8 cups of chicken broth. Cook all day on low, then remove and cool the chicken and strain the broth for fine bones; carefully sort through the chicken to get rid of bones and other yucky stuff and return to the crock. Turn to high and follow the original recipe's directions for the dumplings, using drop biscuits (I use the Bisquick recipe) or a tube of biscuits. The biscuits will make the broth "creamy" the way you expect, but will probably need to be broken up and turned to cook all around.
Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup- Our all-time favorite!
Jamacian Pumpkin Soup- As Steph the Crock Pot Lady says, this can be made without the cream to keep it light, but with the kiddos, basically anything with heavy cream is a win, so we will be adding it, I think.
White Bean and Sausage Soup- A commenter used half a pound of regular rolled sausage (I'm guessing she pre-browned) which sounds good! I will probably chop my veggies in the food processor to keep them extra-fine and to help the kids eat more "hidden" veggies:) I like that you can use leftover rice or add uncooked rice... I will probably use uncooked brown or wild rice since we usually make jasmine rice when we "cook" rice and I don't think that will hold up well in the soup- although I am sure it could be added the last 20 minutes of cooking and turn out well.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My basic political philosophy as a Christ-follower

I find myself wanting to start this post with a disclaimer... So here it is:

What I am going to share here will almost certainly ruffle some feathers. I want to preface by saying that I am not trying to influence any one's thoughts, change their opinions, or prompt them to any actions. I simply intend to share my thoughts, struggles, and ponderances. Whew. Here goes.

Nearly two years ago, Becca wrote a "big, controversial post". It was right before the elections, and many of my friends were polarized in their politics. I had Christian/religious friends as well as non-religious friends who were fiercely Obama or fiercely McCain. I had been home with Anna for just a few weeks, and it was not the right time for me to enter the debate (either about homosexual adoption or politics in general) in a public way, but Becca's post sparked a lot of discussion between John and I, because we saw the controversy surrounding her post as part of the bigger political controversy we are facing as a nation. So, I am going to share with you my personal political philosophy before writing about my response to Becca's post, because I think you need to understand the framework of my decision-making and thought processes.

For me, I think the biggest issue in politics- and the biggest arguments between Republicans and Democrats- is the legislation of morals. I wrote before about the dangers of politicizing morals with regard to abortion. What do I mean by "politicizing morals?" I mean taking moral issues and attempting to make them into legislation. This is dangerous because, for me, it represents a huge "slippery slope" that will snowball into more and more legislation of moral issues (see my other post for examples.) It also is dangerous because as a country that is supposed to be open to all people of all backgrounds, races, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, ages, ethnicities, and political beliefs- and treat them all equally, when we make a moral issue into legislation, we are automatically showing preference for one group's morals/values/belief system and ostracizing citizens with different or opposing morals/values/belief systems.

At the same time, I believe if we do not have a system in place that allows constituents to have a say in the moral atmosphere in which they live, we do a disservice to them. For instance, I think it is perfectly acceptable to have a system where citizens can vote for or elect officials to protect their children by refusing to issue a business license to a strip club. I think it is okay for constituents to vote for or elect officials who will ban the sale of alcohol or firearms in their community. (I don't think the local community can or should be allowed to determine access to abortion procedures as that is a matter of physician preference and licensure.)

So, what it comes down to, for me, is this: the primary role of the federal government is to uphold the Constitution. Beyond that, the role of the federal government should be to address federal issues. Taxes, regulation of national agencies, foreign policy, federal business regulations, the military, national health epidemics, etc... all of these things should fall under legislation provided by the federal government.

The federal government certainly has no place regulating what I do in my place of worship, what I talk about with my physician, or who I take to bed. There is no place, in my mind, for federal legislation for issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control (other than to protect the citizen's Constitutional right to bear arms), the death penalty, or any other "moral" issues. The federal government has enacted non-discriminatory laws and regulations that they can enforce on state and local governments, but I don't consider those truly "moral" issues so much as an extension of the Constitutional rights in Amendments 1 (freedom of religion/press/expression), 15 (race no bar to vote) and 19 (women's suffrage) which were designed to create a country where all people are truly equal.

I think the federal government should stay out of my personal life. Period.

I think "moral" legislation becomes more cloudy at the level of state and local government, primarily because these are the systems in which constituent needs are best addressed. On the other hand, I still think local and state government should stay out of my personal life. For instance, I don't think local or state governments have the right to tell my church that they can or cannot perform same sex marriages. Marriage is a holy union and a religious ceremony, and the government (at any level) has no business determining who can participate in religious ceremonies. Follow my line of thinking, and you can see that I believe the government has no right to ban polygamy, as polygamy is the practice of a religious marriage ceremony between more than 2 persons. At the same time, I believe the government does have the right to determine who may participate in civil unions (including limits in age, gender, and number of persons who may be joined) and to limit the government's recognition of marriage (the church's unions) to the same limits as civil unions. This is not to say that marriage (religious) unions outside of those limits are any less important, meaningful, or holy, but simply that the government will not recognize them and grant them the same rights and responsibilities as unions (civil or holy) that are recognized by the government. This allows individuals to continue practicing their religious ceremonies as they see fit, while still allowing the government to make legislation that is in the best interest of the state. (And polygamy is never financially in the best interest of the state. Nor is a union involving a child.)

This means that I think it would be perfectly acceptable for any state to pass legislation that allowed for civil unions between same sex partners. Any holy unions performed in that state between same sex partners would be recognized by the government and given the full benefit and responsibility of any civil union in that state. The union would have to be recognized if the participants moved to another state that did not allow for same sex unions, due to Article 4, Section 1 of the Constitution. But I don't think all states would then be required or should be required to pass legislation that allows for civil unions between same sex partners. Legislation at a state level should be determined by the constituency, and on this matter, I am sure there are a number of states where the constituency would not want similar legislation.

Again, I think there is little to be gained from politicizing morals, and even less to be gained by using legislation as a platform for evangelism, which is supposedly the primary goal of creating "Christian" laws. Further, I believe that it is the choices we make that define us as Christ-followers rather than the laws under which we live. The whole of Christianity is about choice... (see Valarie's post). It is not the laws of this nation that make us as individuals Christians. It's not the legislation that determines if we are honoring God with our resources. It's the choices we make about how to live our life and how to act within the laws of the land.  If we as Christ-followers want to be more "moral" or more "Christianly," there are plenty of ways to do that- practical ways that start with loving your neighbor. If we want to "evangelize," we do this best not by dictating a list of "dos" and "don'ts" in the form of federal laws, but rather by talking to people, loving people, and using our lives as witness to the living God who is so much bigger and so much more than the legislature.

The most difficult part of politics, for me, is that I don't think that my religious beliefs necessarily address how to behave as a constituent in our political system. In fact, true Christianity- true Christ-following- transcends any political system. The basis of my faith system has everything to do with my heart and nothing to do with my politics. At the same time, I believe that I have a duty to understand the political system in which I live so that I can pray for the leaders of this country. I don't have to agree with their politics or vote for them or even think they know what they are doing, but I do believe that we are called to pray for them, and that is done best when we understand the system in which we all operate.

So, to sum it up: Let's not make laws that supposedly make our nation more "Christian." Instead, live your life to honor God and love others. Let the federal government worry about federal issues, and keep morals a personal choice.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

36 Week Bumpdate


I have gained 54 pounds in this pregnancy. I try not to think about that. And I really try not to think about loosing that.

At my check-up on Thursday, everything went well. Baby sounded good, I measured perfectly, and they did the Group B Strep test... I thought this was an internal swab (like a Pap), and would therefore give them the opportunity to check out my cervix, but it's just an external swab. They offered to take a peek at things for me, but really, who wants an internal exam if they don't have to have one? I declined. So I have no clue what my cervix is doing. I'm okay with that. Even if it was doing something, it really has no bearing on when I will go into labor or if my cervix would continue to dilate "normally," so really, what's the point in finding out?

I have been having horrible heartburn, though. And a few times I have had this overwhelming sense of "I am going to vomit RIGHT NOW" come over me out of nowhere (thankfully, there is not been any actual vomiting.) So I am not sure what is going on, but that is not fun.

I also have swollen feet and toes that look like sausages. It started on Friday when I had to drive my mother-in-law's minivan down to Philly. I was so scrunched up in the driver's seat that my knees were literally hitting my belly when I moved my foot between the gas and the brake. 5 hours in that cramped position was enough to give me pitting edema in my feet. I kept them elevated during the evening as much as I could, and by this morning, the swelling had gone down significantly (but not entirely gone.) Then I spent the day running errands in the minivan (John had my car, and his mom had his car...), playing with the kids, cooking, cleaning, and driving 40 minutes to Abigail's cheerleading... well, puffy feet are back with a vengeance. Trying to elevate again, but it's just not working. I think I will buy some more compression socks to help with that. Thankfully, I really haven't had much swelling otherwise. But I do need to get it to go away before I head to work for 3 days in a a row next week... if my feet stay this big, I am not sure I will be able to get my sneakers on!

I am down to my last few baby-related errands... need to get the car seat base installed in my car and the MIL's minivan, finish packing Abigail's hospital stuff and snacks/vending machine money for John in the hospital bag, add the Viacord kit to the hospital bag, and just generally get my house cleaned up. That last one would be a lot easier if the contents of my kitchen were not spewed across my living room and play room while the contractors (finally) fix the flooring, cabinets, appliances, and paint from our minor kitchen fire back in August (yeah, I could have predicted that it would take nearly 2 months to fix...) Then it's just a matter of waiting until after the 20th.

17 days to go to my ideal delivery date! 28 to go to my due date! Yea!

Why I am Anti Attachment Parenting

So, I came out before as being anti-attachment parenting. I am sure that didn't sit well with some of you, and I can understand why. Attachment parenting theory is often touted as what "enlightened" and "well-educated" parents do, and as such, it is considered the gold standard in parenting theory in some circles.

In order to understand why I don't believe in attachment parenting theory, I think it is important to understand the origins of the theory. AP grew out of the research done in the first parts of this century that showed that when we neglect kids, they don't turn out well. The theory itself focuses on the importance of early family relationships in helping children develop into healthy individuals, and promotes the idea that emotional disturbance in children is the result of abnormal or inadequate bonding with parents in infancy and early childhood. The abnormal or inadequate bonding is, of course, a result of the consequences of the parent's own childhood experiences of inadequate or abnormal family bonding. The "treatment" to assist a child in developing into a mentally healthy adult is for “the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment.”
There are concepts in the origins of attachment parenting theory with which I agree, and there are things that I are limitations in the theory. For instance, I agree with the idea that attachments in infancy and early childhood are important and often set the standard for how a child will be able to form attachments later in life; a healthy attachment to parents/caregivers is vital to an infant/child's well-being. However, I think to say that children don't form attachments because their parents had messed up attachments as a child is grossly underestimating the many influences on children. The theory itself, is just that: a theory. It is unproven, and some research supports good outcomes when the tenants are practiced, while other research does not support the tenants of the theory.
Currently, when you think of how attachment parenting theory is actually put into practice, you probably have a certain picture come to mind: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, on-demand breastfeeding, stay-at-home parents, etc. Attachment Parenting International is a website that discusses the current practice of AP. According to the website, there are 8 principles of AP. These principles alone do not cause me pause, nor do they seem extreme in their basic concepts. However, when you examine the ways the API says these principles should be "lived out," I start taking issue. Some of the ideas the API promotes as "living out" the AP principles include: 
- breastfeeding on demand and "comfort nursing", or in the case of those who do not breastfeed, bottle feed on-demand and avoid schedules
- form your schedule around your child's "natural inner rhythms"
-"High levels of stress, such as during prolonged crying, cause a baby to experience an unbalanced chemical state in the brain and can place him at risk for physical and emotional problems later in life" and should be avoided
- "It is perfectly normal for babies to want constant physical contact " and physical contact should be maintained as much as possible (baby wearing)
- tantrums are "normal" and the parent's role should be to comfort a child who is having a tantrum
- co-sleeping (in the same room) and bed-sharing (in the same bed) are encouraged until your child no longer expresses interest in the practice
- separation greater than 2 nights should be avoided until a child is at least 3 years old
- "Daycare situations that exceed twenty hours a week can be extremely stressful and detrimental to the long-term health of children under the age of thirty months. In-home care, either by a trusted caregiver or parent, is preferable."
- follow the child's lead with regard to readiness to separate
- "Explore a variety of economic and work arrangement options to permit your child to be cared for by one or both parents at all times"
- "Studies show that spanking and other physical discipline techniques can create ongoing behavioral and emotional problems"
- "Attachment Parenting incorporates the "golden rule" of parenting; parents should treat their children the way they would want to be treated"
- "Positive Discipline involves using such techniques as prevention, distraction, and substitution to gently guide children away from harm"
- "Resolve problems together in a way that leaves everyone's dignity intact"
- "Discipline through play"
- "Consider carefully before imposing the parent's will"
- "Use logical consequences sparingly and with compassion"
The API states on their website that "The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection," implying that parenting with a different method predisposes your child to be emotionally disconnected and heartless. Dr. Sears, probably the biggest proponent of attachment parenting in the US, writes on his website that "Attachment parenting is a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents" and the goals of attachment parenting are to raise a "connected" child, implying that other methods of parenting result in children and parents who do not meet their full potential and are never fully "connected" to each other.


However, when I look at the results of putting attachment parenting principles into action, I don't see that these goals are met, let alone met more consistently because of the particular parenting philosophy being used.


When I examine these ideas, I am left with the impression that the parent is not there to guide, direct, teach, train, educate, and prepare their child for active participation in the world and society around them, but rather to indulge and gratify (as quickly as possible) their child and create a co-dependent relationship with their child. And that is probably my biggest reason that I am anti-attachment parenting: I have never seen it work!


John and I agree that of the parents we know who use attachment parenting principles, we don't enjoy spending time with most of the adults and have even stronger feelings of preventing our kids from spending too much time with their kids. These are very nice, well-educated, well-off, well-meaning, loving parents, and I am not judging whether AP is working for them, their children, or their family. What I am saying is that I don't like spending time with them, and even more so, I don't like spending time with their children. Why? Because consistently, their children behave in ways my children would never be allowed to behave. I am not saying their kids are "bad" but rather that they have raised children who are rewarded for behaviors I would not tolerate from my children. These observations started before I had my own children (I babysat a lot and had opportunities to observe a variety of parenting methods) and continued over the past 8 years of parenting.


What kind of behaviors have I observed? Well, for those parents who have infants, I know that none of them have children who are "good sleepers," and several have babies who are still waking up several times a night- even at the one year mark- to nurse/eat. The babies consistently over-eat, and the breastfeeding moms are constantly expected to whip out the boob at the slightest indication of hunger or discontent in their baby; bottle-feeding parents constantly have a bottle at the ready. The parents are always 100% aware of where the pacifier or bottle is, and these are the primary tools used to comfort the baby; baby cannot fall asleep without a bottle/breast, and needs to be held, driven, or put in the swing to stay asleep. The babies are not comfortable with anyone other than mom (and maybe occasionally dad) and do not want to interact with others, not even their own siblings.


Toddlers are generally clingy, whiny, and demand attention from their parents at all times. They exhibit little to no ability to play independently, even for short periods of time. They are late potty-trainers, and generally make diaper changing an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. They have tantrums frequently and are generally not very fun to be with in public because they are loud, distracting, and have no control over their behavior. They are picky eaters and whine, cry, or tantrum during meal times. They don't sleep well at night, and scream when they are put down for a nap, or demand that mom/dad stay with them while they fall asleep. Even if they fall asleep in their own room (which is rare), they consistently make their way into mom and dad's bed at night. They are often very jealous of younger siblings and have little interest in playing with older siblings or friends. They are "attention hogs."


Pre-school and school age children... again, poor sleepers, often tired during the day because they have spent all night trying to sleep next to mom who is trying to also sleep next to her younger kids. They don't have a close relationship with younger siblings and often struggle to gain mom's attention away from the younger kids. Picky eaters, whiny, few friends, little ability to engage appropriately with peers in play or school setting.


Again, these are just my observations, and I am sure there are kids who are the product of AP who are not this way. However, I look at the principles of AP, and I can see how these behaviors are the product of those principles.


The way I see it is this: AP principles place emphasis on making your child "feel good." Gratification, limitless attention, limitless access to parents... these are all purported to improve the "connection" between parents and children, which in turn is supposed to help your child feel loved, and from there help them develop into caring and compassionate individuals. But I think this is just as likely to lead to children who believe that the whole world revolves around them.


Ultimately, I also think that the issues I have with AP have to do with the goals of the philosophy. There are many things that I want for my children, and certainly, I want them to feel loved and connected/bonded/attached to me- I want them to be compassionate and caring individuals. But I also want them to be deeply connected to their siblings. I want them to focus on becoming productive members of the society in which they are a part, and to use their productivity to benefit those who need a champion. I want them to be able to think for themselves, to question, to make good decisions, to love learning, to stand up for the defenseless, to stand up for themselves, and to be able to form healthy and rewarding connections with others. I don't think the AP methods help my children achieve these goals.


Additionally, I think AP parents have a harder time enforcing limits with their children. In my opinion, the goal of limits (rules) is to help a child behave in the way that is safe and acceptable until they are able to think and reason for themselves whether a certain behavior is safe and appropriate. This takes a long time and quite a bit of maturity for a child to do... they need to be able to understand the long-term consequences of their behavior before they will make good decisions about the appropriateness of their behavior. Therefore, limits are necessary, and when limits are clear and consistently enforced, kids usually respond well to them and simply adopt them as part of how they behave (of course, we do have one very strong-willed child who makes this more difficult at times...) However, AP parents generally report that they feel bad when they enforce rules because it makes their child mad, sad, or otherwise want to "withdraw." Since that is the opposite of what AP parents are trying to achieve, the kids don't have limits enforced, and effectively run the household.


From a totally different view of things... part of why I don't think AP is ideal is because I don't see the practice in other cultures or even in history. Have people historically and in other cultures breastfed? Sure! Has it been "on demand"? Well, generally not, since most people historically and in other cultures don't have the luxury of just dropping what they are doing to feed the baby... kind of hard to just put down that jug of water you are lugging 10 miles to breastfeed your baby, or to stop churning the butter to feed the baby... Have people co-slept with their kids? Sure! But not so that their baby would feel loved, but rather because there was no where else to put them, it was too cold, or they needed to know when to change the baby's diaper; they certainly didn't do it once the child was older. Have people used slings and carriers? Absolutely! But not out of a desire to be physically within reach of their child at all times... simply out of convenience... It's much easier to keep your kid safe strapped to your back while you are working in the field than to leave it somewhere- and people did and do leave their kids with caregivers (other parents, grandparents, etc) in a variety of cultures/times. Older siblings often cared for younger siblings while parents attended to household and work duties.


Even Biblical, I see little to no evidence of AP standards... not only in the parenting practices of Biblical characters, but also in the ways that God as "Father" treats us as His children. Does God make sure we always understand why He is doing what He is doing? Does He reason with us when we don't like something? Does He attend to our every desire, whim, or wish? God promises to supply our needs, but He is the one who determines what we "need." Does God make sure that we feel loved and respected at each moment of our lives? Is God more concerned with our ability to feel loved or our ability to obey? For that matter, is God more concerned with our emotions or our actions?


As for actual AP practices, some of them I simply cannot agree with. On-demand breastfeeding was the worst thing I have ever done in my life as a parent... it nearly destroyed me and certainly left Abigail anything but happy and content. When I switched to parent-directed feeding, I became happier, healthier, and better able to meet my child's needs, and out of that my child became happier, healthier, more pleasant, and better at communicating her needs. Abigail slept better when we weren't co-sleeping, which meant I slept better. I never carried Abigail much in a sling or carrier, simply because it was uncomfortable for me, and she preferred to be held by a variety of people. Despite my lack of AP parenting, Abigail turned out as a wonderful, interactive, loving, compassionate (bleeding heart, truth be told) child with a great capacity for empathy. Bonding and attaching with Anna was different, and my parenting methods were different because of our more unique situation of toddler adoption. But even still, I did not use AP principles, and Anna is securely attached and loving. Moreover, I consistently receive complements from other parents, teachers, and non-parent adults that my children are pleasant to be around... that they like when their kids spend time with my kids because my kids are so much fun and so well-behaved... that my kids make the classroom setting better... that my kids are respectful and empathetic, while also learning how to be appropriately assertive. My kids are never without a playmate, and Abigail makes friends so easily that I am a wee bit jealous (Anna is very shy, so it's harder for her to make friends, but it's not because other kids don't like her.) My kids share a great relationship with each other and count each other as a great friend, although they do have times when they don't want to be with each other (it's going to happen more and more as they get older, I imagine.) I am not saying this to brag (although, I do love my kids and I am very proud of them) but rather to show that AP is not the be-all, end-all of parenting theory.


Overall, AP does not make sense to me on many different levels, and I personally have not seen evidence that it is effective in raising the type of children I want to have. While I certainly think that some of the practices of AP can be useful as guides in helping parents learn to respond to their children, and while I believe that truly knowing your child and having good communication with them is important, I simply cannot buy into the rest of the AP principles. If other parents chose to use AP as their primary method of parenting, that's fine with me... they are the ones who have to live with their kids, not me! And if AP works for their family, that's great for them. But it doesn't work for us, nor do I believe it truly "works" for most people, especially when examining the long-term consequences of the method.


I am not alone in thinking this. If you want to explore alternative viewpoints on AP theories and the consequences of using AP methods, you might want to consider reading a few of the following:

The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children


Spoiling Childhood: How Well-Meaning Parents Are Giving Children Too Much - But Not What They Need

 

On Becoming Baby Wise

 

Or this brief article: Why a Homebirth Couple Said NO to Attachment Parenting

 

Please note: I am not saying that any of these books/articles have everything right, simply that they offer a different perspective.

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