I have been reading several articles lately on vaccinating children. When I scroll through the comment section I am absolutely devastated. The fact is this, people will always disagree. You may feel so strongly about something but like it or not, someone else will undoubtedly believe the exact opposite of what you are so passionate about. Being a parent is so hard. You are responsible for this tiny little life that you bring into this world. That tiny little life, although not important to most of the world is now the center of your world. In fact, that precious little life is your WHOLE world.
I know it is hard to accept, but you do not have the right to make decisions for anyone else. You do have the right to bash, berate and try to humiliate others who will not choose the same. What does that make you? You may justify these unfortunate behaviors because you really believe in your cause, but at the end of the day you are just the school yard bully. Nobody likes a bully and bullying never leads to anything good. Have respectful conversations but respect others right to choose.
Many years ago, when my daughter was young, she had a febrile seizure a few days after her MMR vaccine. It started out like an ordinary day. The fever came on suddenly and quite honestly I had no idea anything was wrong. As I was putting her pajamas on, I watched as the color slowly drained from her face. She made an odd sound as she exhaled and I saw her eyes start to roll back in her head. That’s when it started, the worst 25 minutes of my entire life. The seizure did not kill her and some may argue the seizure is no big deal compared to the risk of not vaccinating her. The MMR vaccine did not kill her either. But, if the EMT in the ambulance who was administering the Valium to stop my daughters seizure was the type to obediently follow orders, my daughter might not be alive today. She told me she was not comfortable giving the amount of Valium the doctor ordered and I had to quickly make a choice. In a frantic moment as this child was convulsing helplessly in my arms, I chose to give her half. My daughter did not die that day but part of me did. No one can ever comprehend the unimaginable fear that paralyzed me in those crucial moments. I could do nothing but watch my child seize in my arms and bargain with God. Please God, if you let her live, I will this and I will that. I would have promised anything that day to save her life because without her I would have no life. She was my reason for everything back then. 25 minutes felt like an eternity that day. The Valium ultimately shut down her breathing, even half the dose. I cannot even begin to think of what the outcome would have been if that EMT did not make the choice to tell me she was not comfortable giving that larger dose. She had to be intubated and flown to a nearby hospital. I drove three horrendous hours not knowing how she was. Not a single word. I sat in horror agonizing over the last image I had of her tiny body convulsing in my arms. She was so tiny and so pale as I held her jerking body wishing the ambulance had wings and not those darn tires that seemed to be taking too long. I was alone, helpless, lost, scared just waiting for it all to stop. My head was spinning and it felt like a dream. One minute she was smiling and playing and the next minute….this. Just writing these words brings back the intense pain of those moments. I was mom, the one who was supposed to keep her safe. I was the one who gave her life but I had no power to save her precious life that day. All I could do was pray.
Looking back, I don’t know how I got through that day. I guess I really didn’t have a choice. I wish I could forget it, erase it from my memory and never think about it again. I am blessed to say, Kayleigh is alive and well. She is sixteen years old now and I thank God everyday for another day to spend with her.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has the right to choose. Not everyone’s story ended up with a positive spin. Vaccines come with a risk. Yes it is a risk to not vaccinate but we cannot ignore the fact that some children’s lives, families lives are forever changed by the decision to vaccinate their children. Show compassion and realize for some, every vaccination comes with fear. Go easy on people and maybe try and understand where they are coming from too. Because at the end of the day, you are solely responsible for that little person who depends on you to keep them safe in this great big world.