Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nobody Said Choice was Easy: Pregnancy and Vaccination

It's true when they say that the never unheated issue of abortion is the most visible skyscraper in the cityline of reproductive rights. Many other issues, although not as controversial or heavy hitting, are often left in the cool shadows, lingering on the minds of distressed women.

I'm inching toward my 7th month of pregnancy and the issue of the NIHI vaccine has been monopolozing my mind since flu season descended on my calendar, and straight into my big pregnant heart afflicted with tender worrying about my first child.

To vaccinate or not vaccinate that is the question.

Here's what I want to know: how do you trust ANYONE these days to give you correct information? For most computer literate citizens, there is no shortage of informtion. Thanks to trusty libraries, there is no question left in the dark, but, the question remains in my suspicious mind: How do I trust this information?

Maybe there are a handful of organizations or groups dedicated to unbiased information distribution, but, for the H1N1 issue, I'm pressed to find hard core facts that don't have some sort of agenda to nudge you in a certain direction.

This is my body and inside my body is my first child. The questions going back and forth neutralize my ability to make a decision. There is risk in doing something, there is risk in doing nothing, so I look at the facts.

Fact #1 - in my local community, there have been reported and confirmed H1N1 cases. To be exact, the local family care center 2 blocks from my house.

Fact #2 - 1% of the population is pregnant and yet, of those who have died from the the H1N1 flu, 6% have been pregnant women

Fact #3 - The vaccine is new and although people want to remain positive, the uncertainty of its effects are not known. NOBODY truly knows what the effects might be on pregnant women.

Fact #4 - Pregnant women have a weakened immunity system and those in later pregnancy may have more complications from flu-turned-pneumonia because of lack of sleep, irregular breathing patterns (baby pushing up against diaphragm makes deep breathes more difficult), and overall fatigue

Fact #5 - There is risk either way and regardless of what I do, my choice will be unpopular with someday in my life

My father is nearly sweating himself into dehydration because he wants me first in line for the vaccine. My mother is unconvinced that vaccination is safe. My dear Adonis keeps reading whatever he can, uncertain what is best and afraid to push me into getting the vaccine which he, underneath it all, thinks is the best option for our growing family.

I remain on the sidelines, swaying to the winds of news, gut, prayers, and hope.

So, after you've got choice, after you've got the information, what do you do if you still can't make a decision?

I've asked Isaiah what he thinks and he just kicks and rolls happily inside, his firing neurons building a system that utterly depends on the decisions I make with my body and our health.


  1. I live the heart of H1N1 country, at least what was H1N1 country in the spring. The school near my house shut down and my toddler played in the playground across the street. I generally ant-vax and as time has gone one with my chicas, who have never had an ear infection, I'm ok with the decisions I have made when it comes to their health. I know how their cuerpos react and don't react to things so they won't get the regular flu or the H1N1 vax, pero I think you need to trust your cuerpo and the cuerpo inside of you? How often do you normally get sick? Have you gotten sik while pregnant?

  2. Anonymous10:55 AM

    I'm in my eight month and had the flu for a few weeks last month. I don't know if it was The Flu, but I just took the best care I could and knew the symptoms to watch for. I never went to the ER or doctor because I was able to keep some liquids and lite food down. Big fan of the BRAT diet. I rested a lot. I also took care of four sick lil kids.
    I can't follow the swine flu battle too closely. It's just too much. Reality is that people all over the world die from the flu every year and probably the majority of them didn't know how to take care of themselves or didn't have adequate help/info to take care of themselves--kind of same problem right?
    I have some minor chromic stuffs and avoid antibiotics anyway, but especially when I am pregnant. I don't want to knock out my newborn's fauna and set her up for some problems right off the bat.
    So, for me, if I get it--I deal with it. But I'm not going to create a problem just to avoid a potential problem.

  3. A very dear friend of mine, also in pregnancy, was faced with the same decision. I expressed my perspective (do not do it, the risks of taking the vaccine are too high) but urged her to really look into it without fear.

    What did she do?
    She used her common sense and read throughly the liner notes. And noticed the actual manufacturer of the drug (one pushed heavily by the Canadian government, where she is at) explicitly states that their recommendation is to ONLY administer the vaccine to pregnant women in the case of an actual emergency, that apart from that they have no knowledge of its potential effects on a fetus.

    You can look up the liner notes to pretty much any of the vaccines on the North American market on-line.

    When we ask "who to trust" in examining information we give away personal agency, a very foolish thing to do blindly. Who to trust?

    No one at first. Not fully. Weigh all things, part of adulthood and being a citizen is keeping the personal power to ask, examine, and decide. Give that away to experts and you revert to an infantile state of dependence.

    All of us are capable of sincere and well meaning errors and mistakes. Keep a level head, and gather as much information as possible. It is not humanly possible to read and even understand everything, but we can become more informed, informed enough to weigh the plausibility of options and decide, if need be, who further to trust.

    We have all had the flu in our lives, often without shots. What is the worst that happened from your experience.

    Now what are the worst possibilities from introducing a new and mostly untested chemical agent into your body and the body of your developing little one.

    Choose well, and choose with care.


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