Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter fun

Photo credits go to the fabulously talented Gerard Assi.

We have had a huge few days. It was decided 6 months ago that all of Daniels family would come and spend the Easter long weekend with us. And what a good idea it seemed at the time....

The lead up was stressful. I made it stressful. There were things I really wanted done by the time everyone got here and, realistically, there just wasn't time. Life has been ridiculously busy. Laughing as I type that because, really, when isn't it? Work has ramped up (mine and D's) and I have also added in formal learning for the kids. Just keeping house with four children around all the time and trying to add in my volunteer work and you get why I feel overwhelmed sometimes!

But all of that went out the door when the cars started rolling up. It was so nice to reconnect with family, to feel apart of something bigger than the ordinary day to day stuff. There is something about conversations about times long, long past. Something about the connection with your younger self or something. It was also beautiful to see the connections happening in the next generation. I don't know who said it but it is so true....A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost......

We didn't plan for there to be so many structured activities. It just kinda happened. Because we wanted to. The best kind.

We had an impromptu dance party on Saturday night. It really reminded me of when we were kids and we would be involved in the adults parties. 21st, engagements, weddings - you name it, we went along with our parents. You don't see that as much now. I know my kids haven't been to nearly as many as I had at their age. It was awesome and so good for the kids to see their parents let their hair down and have FUN.

And then crash all together in the lounge room:

Children need to see things like this, I think it helps them see us as human beings. They get to sit around the campfire and hear the stories of when we were younger, before our entire lives became about them. And I also feel like I have had a break from them because they were so occupied by the other kids. This is what I miss about living in a community. Although, I do have to say - after 4 nights with up to 26 people - I have breathed a sigh of relief to be getting back to our routine!

Hope you all had as good a Easter as we did. x

Friday, April 11, 2014

The voice of a vaccine refuser.

I've written about vaccines before but I have wanted to do a follow up piece for a while now. This need has been triggered by a couple of different things. The main one being that a person very dear to me (who shall remain nameless) became very interested in this topic and allowed me to really refine my views on it. She is a very highly regarded academic and did not pull punches when it came to dissecting the information I provided her. She has no dog in this fight, her children are raised, her choices made. She is now very skeptical about vaccines.

So, a few things I would like to clarify from my last musings and some new thoughts to add:

I no longer think money is a big player in the vaccine debate. Vaccines will only make up around 1.82% of Big Pharma's revenue for 2013 according to the World Health Organisation. While this still equals millions of dollars, it is nothing the big companies would write home about. I'm not going to slip into any conspiracy theories (in this post!) so I will leave this point at that.

The more I have looked into the BASIC science behind vaccines, the more convinced I am that the premise is sound. I do believe that vaccines work. I also believe that individual vaccines are probably safe enough not to cause too much concern. I still have issues with the current schedule and with the lack of studies showing the cumulative effects of 42 doses of vaccine in four years. It is the lack of transparency and accountability that has raised the biggest red flags for me.

The thing I didn't address in my last post was the herd immunity theory. This is a corker because it places the responsibility for public health squarely at every parents feet. It is OK for people to have a choice, but what happens when that choice affects the health of young babies? Of the elderly? Of the immunocompromised? The thing is, herd immunity is just a theory. A theory based on natural immunity, not vaccine induced immunity. And it has huge holes. There is an interesting table of estimated herd immunity thresholds for vaccine preventable diseases at this wiki link.

The thing that I can't get my head around is that the majority of the population are over the age of four (which is when the real onslaught of vaccinations end). Herd immunity is based on around 80% of the population being immune to a disease. The majority of vaccines last between 5-10 years, which means the majority of the population are no longer immune to most vaccine preventable diseases. Especially considering the differing schedules of the Baby Boomers (4 doses of vaccine by age 4) or Gen Y (19 doses of vaccine by age 4) compared to the 42 doses children of today get. Now there are some adults who get boosters but I don't know any who follow a similar schedule to the current childhood one. The logic is flawed.

The thought that my unvaccinated children are a risk to society is simply not true. A study out of Israel shows that those vaccinated with the pertussis vaccine can become asymptomatic carriers of the disease. This to me is way more dangerous than if my non vaccinated child contracts whooping cough. At least I would be able to quarantine my child, thus stopping the spread of the disease. The whooping cough vaccine is also one of the least effective vaccines on the market with outbreaks occurring largely in the fully vaccinated.

Then there is the issue with the attenuated vaccines (Varicella and MMR) which the package inserts clearly state that those recently vaccinated need to stay away from susceptible members of society due to the risk of transmission of the vaccine virus. How is it that most people are unaware of this risk? 

Why do people throw so much blame at the unvaccinated when a) they themselves are probably not 'up-to-date' and b) it is the vaccinated that are more likely to be putting people at risk?

There are some interesting findings coming out of the court systems internationally. I don't believe vaccines cause autism. I do, however, believe they can trigger (or make worse) autism or autistic traits. That is all I will say on that hotpot but I will share the transcripts of two court cases: USA and Italian.

I'm getting really tired of the shaming and vitriolic hyperbole coming out of most pro vaccinaters. I have read an awful lot of pro vaccine articles. I am yet to find one that is respectful or that doesn't use emotive dying baby stories to get its point across (examples here and here). I don't mind people being pro vax, I do, however, mind when people post gross misinformation that is designed to produce an emotional (rather than rational) response. The very definition of propaganda. I would never stoop to the level of posting all the articles and stories I come across of the links to dementia, the deaths of tiny babies or those poor families who have to deal with the consequences of vaccines every single day through their now disabled children. I was taught to express knowledge with intelligence and compassion, not play dirty with emotive misinformation.  

And just one last thing. Those who question vaccines are far from stupid. The list of highly educated people who are suspect of vaccinations is growing. You are not alone.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Oh, you're pregnant?! Do you know what it is?

Ummmmm, a baby?

This has always been one of the first questions I have been asked when pregnant, followed closely by - do you want a boy or a girl?

I never know what gender the baby is because I don't agree with routine ultrasounds. But that is not the only reason.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I felt strongly that I was carrying a girl. I wanted a girl, yearned for a little girl, I had her name picked out and fantasised about the sisterly relationship between her and her older sister. I did think about getting a scan, I thought about finding out the sex of the baby. One of the biggest reasons was because I was worried about how I would feel if the baby I was carrying turned out to be a boy. How would my (then 3 year old) daughter react? Part of me felt like I needed to find out so that I could prepare myself and my daughter.

I didn't end up getting a scan, I just couldn't justify a medical procedure (that is quite invasive) just to satisfy my own curiosity. So we waited. I felt the baby move for the first time, rubbed my belly, dreamed of a tiny bundle in my arms again. I pictured our family transitioning from two children to three - all the normal things you do when you are preparing to bring a child into the world. And all the time there was the belief that I was carrying another girl-child. And all the time there was the fear that I wasn't.

And so, when the day finally came, the day of the birth, I was very excited to learn the sex of the baby. And you know what happened? It must have been a full 15 minutes after he was born that I even thought to look! After the hard work of actually birthing, all I could think of was "A BABY! I HAVE A BABY!". In those few precious minutes it didn't matter if that baby was a boy or a girl, all that matter was that he was here and that he was mine. A baby. To love and cherish and protect, no matter the sex.

Not finding out before the birth was the best decision I ever made. If I had found out, it would have tainted the entire pregnancy with some sort of disappointment (and associated guilt). As it was, though, holding a beautiful baby in my arms after working so hard to bring him into the world, there was no taint of disappointed, no pang of "I wish", just pride and joy in the new addition to our family.

Fast forward a few years (and another son!) and I really feel I would have liked another daughter. And I don't think that feeling will ever go away. But I got the magic of the 'what if's' throughout two beautiful pregnancies and the wonder of holding a brand new soul, completely untainted by gender. I would not give that up for anything in the world.

In our age of knowing everything, we have lost the magic and the mystery of not knowing (and all the benefits this has on a pregnant woman).

So the next time someone asks you what you're having, you can simply say "a baby", and know deep down that that is all you really want.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You know it's all work, right?

The title of this post are the wise words of Janet Fraser, posted in response to a Mumma struggling with working from home. Most of us have been there - wait till big kids are happy and engaged in something else, get little ones to sleep, open computer and ...... all hell breaks loose. Rinse and repeat. Over and over again.

Some days are worse than others. I have periods in my life where I am particularly hard on myself. Many days end with frustration at not achieving enough, not seeing enough checks on the list, not spending enough time with the kids or the husband or the friends. Generally not being "enough". It is rough when this attitude is reflected in our society as a whole.

Janet's response to this woman (and it felt like to me!) was "You know it's all work, right? You're just doing three times as much stuff as most other people opening a laptop today."

Ah! The tears welled up in my eyes reading this. How much easier would all our lives be if this was how everyone thought? 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Birth Trauma

The following is a speech I did in 2009 at a Gloria Lemay event in Melbourne. Someone has only just brought it to my attention that it is no longer online. I'm going to put it here for safe keeping.

What is Birth Trauma? Wikipedea simply states: the physical or psychological trauma of childbirth.

A little inadequate I think.

When talking to my sister and mentioning the term “birth trauma” her response was - that’s just birth. To many, many women this is the case. Birth automatically equals Trauma.

If you look at the way birth is portrayed - on TV, in movies - its all the same. Women being rushed into emergency screaming, puffing, panting as though this is the worst thing in the world that could ever have happened to them. Its no wonder that birth is approached with such fear.

Through our ante-natal care we are reassured that we are in fact in the safest space available for birth (hospital). The days of loosing women and babies to birth are long gone and we are sold the collective lie that Obstetricians and hospitals are the saviours of birth. We are told to write out birth plans, to look into what sort of birth we want and encourage to talk to our care providers about it.

Recent surveys, and our own experiences, tell us that most of us want a drug-free spontaneous, physiological birth and yet we continue to go to the last places on earth this is likely to happen. ( Fraser, J. (2004)  Stepping Outside the System to Birth - Embracing Woman’s Power and Rejecting Obstetric Control.)


Because we have been programmed to accept other people making our decisions for us, and desensitised to the violence that occurs during childbirth. From a very early age we are taught not to trust ourselves and are socialised to believe our bodies are defective and probably dangerous to the babies we birth.

We are so scared of birth, which is based on the lie that birth is innately dangerous and a woman is unable to do it without medical assistance. We are also conditioned to believe that hospitals are safe and appropriate places to birth and even when they brutalise us, many of us go back without knowing there is an alternative. (Fraser, J. (2004)  Stepping Outside the System to Birth - Embracing Woman’s Power and Rejecting Obstetric Control.)
We place our bodies, our babies, our trust in these systems, in these people who are, after all, much better trained than we are. We are told that we can get the birth we want in hospital, as long as we go in prepared. THIS IS A LIE.

When this trust is violated, trauma occurs.

There was a recent Australian study that involved  nine hundred and thirty three women. The results revealed that 45.5% of women experienced a traumatic birth and that 1.2% had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at 4 to 6 weeks postpartum and 3.1% had PTSD at 3 and 6 months postpartum.

Characteristic symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, avoidance of situations that may trigger memory of the traumatic event, nightmares, sleeplessness, anxiety, psychogenic amnesia, hyper-arousal, hyper-vigilance and intense psychological stress.

Specifically, the study investigated the predictors of perceiving childbirth to be traumatic, the development of PTSD and PTSD symptoms, and PTSD symptom change, and found that some of the most significant predictors include: persistent dissociation, environmental stressors, and peri traumatic affective responses such as the intensity of fear, helplessness, and horror. (Alcorn, K. (2006) Variations Among Women: An Investigation Into the Nature of Birth Trauma.)


These seem to be prevalent emotions in women birthing in hospitals. Why? Maybe its because hospitals are predominately set up for sickness and so when a very normal physiological event occurs (like childbirth) the system automatically treats it as pathological until it can be proven otherwise. The problem with this is if something is looked for hard enough it can often be found.

People have stopped believing in birth. People have stopped believing in women. WOMEN have stopped believing. And that in itself is incredible disempowering.

Birth should be one of the pinnacles of a woman’s life. It is a sacred event that’s purpose is to prove her strength, her courage, her power. It is/should be an amazing, sometimes frightening, all-engaging journey from maiden to mother.

Non of this is acknowledged in our society. Not by Obstetricians, not by midwives and certainly not by other women.

The medicalisation of birth and infant feeding has stripped women of their intense power they have that is so totally different to our male counterparts. This has massive consequences when it comes to a woman’s journey through parenthood. 

When you look at the forms that birth trauma takes it is sickening to realise that many, many people accept gross violations of a woman’s body simply because it is done by a care provider during childbirth.

A good friend of mine has just given birth to her first son. She was very well informed, had planned to birth in the local country hospital where the intervention rates were ‘low’ (because their definition of low risk was so narrow and they transferred anyone they thought may run into problems). At 39 weeks she was told she could not birth there and they were transferring her to a major Melbourne hospital. Because she had high blood pressure. The irony is that her blood pressure was still within normal range and that it was in fact her lowest reading in months.

She had a very clear birth plan - delayed cord cutting, skin to skin, no separation, no drugs. As soon as she arrived at the hospital she was confined to the bed with a monitor, the top band measuring contractions, the bottom measuring babies heart rate. After only 2 hours (with intermittent monitoring) all hell broke loose. Babies heart rate had dropped dangerously and a team was called in. The whole time mum knew her baby was fine and couldn’t understand what was going on.

Her vagina was cut and her baby was ripped out of her with a vacuum, cord was cut and baby was whisk over to the resus cart and suctioned. Vitamin K was given. A midwife later found out that the machine used was faulty and the heart rate they had pick up was actually the mothers. 47 minutes later - after extensive stitching she got to cuddle her child for the first time.
Her birth plan wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

My sister was told that the anaesthetist had been called and was on his way up to prep her for surgery. If she didn’t push her baby out *now* she would be caesered. She ended up with a third degree tear from her anus to her clitoris. And she was thankful to the midwives for protecting her from abdominal surgery.

A friend was labouring beautiful, was feeling a little overwhelmed and so was jabbed with pethidine. Her baby was born 10 minutes later. He was so drugged up that she didn’t see his eyes open for 2 full days. She got a synto injection in her thigh as the baby was being born and ended up with a retained placenta. Massive cord traction, the Obstetrician attempted a manual removal with no drugs. 3 separate people “had a go”. She was then taken to surgery while her mother gave the baby a bottle. She has never bonded with him and has been diagnosed with PND.

 A friend of mine was having a pph and the registrar decided a manual retrieval of her placenta was in order. Her husband was removed from the room because he was telling the reg. to stop what he was doing. What a shame the registrar never thought to look in the stainless bowl on the trolley next to him, which contained her full intact placenta.

Many, many women are labelled failure to progress and their labours augmented with Syntocinon. The Syntocinon causes contractions to become harder and faster than is natural, causing distress for the mother. She usually ends up with an epidural ( which is standard policy in some hospitals). Many babies get distressed from the contractions and are then ripped out with forceps or the ventrose. Many babies get cut out.

One woman’s account of her birth: When I woke the next day I was weak and sore. I turned over to see a tiny baby staring straight at me. My experience left me disconnected from her. [...]
I had terrible dreams, flashbacks and body memories from the birth ...with so many people involved, and such damage, I feel like I was pack raped with a sharp instrument. (Cross, J. (2008) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Postnatal Period: Causes, Context Treatment and Prevention.)

Stories like these are not rare. Its not like I’ve had to sift through everything I hear, trying to find the bad birth stories. These are the closest women to me in my life.

And all of this is unnecessary trauma.

When a woman is belittled, infantilised or condescended to during one of the most important times of her life - that is traumatic.

When a woman is saying, yelling or screaming NO and no one is listening - that is traumatic.

When a procedure is carried out on a woman’s body without her consent or with clearly coerced consent - that is traumatic.

Birth trauma is real, it exists and it impacts on everything we do.

So why does birth trauma generally go unnoticed, ignored and avoided? Why do people find it so hard to believe that women suffer from ptsd?

Its complicated. Women are placated and manipulated with phrases like “healthy baby”, and “healthy mother”. Healthy is a term I would use loosely as it seems to apply to any baby or mother that’s not dead.

Many women truly believe they are lucky and their feelings towards the perpetrators of their trauma are confused and distorted.

On the one hand you have feelings of having been violated, abused and unheard.

On the other women can have feelings of gratitude - these people saved their lives and the life of their baby.

Just because the perpetrator uses gloves doesn’t make it any less abusive.

I believe the figures in the Australian study of PSTD would be much higher if we took out the mitigating and often complicated responses that are generally accepted. Many women are misdiagnosed with PND.

A diagnoses of PND is much easier to manage, it places responsibility squarely on the woman’s defective body. To make the PTSD diagnosis would involve revealing just how damaging our current maternity system is. 

 PTSD is defined as being caused by events that most people would find distressing; events that are outside normal human experience such as violence, rape, war, natural disasters.

And I guess this is why the initial claim of the PTSD  diagnosis to symptoms women experience following birth was controversial, because birth is not outside of normal experience.

However, many of the procedures women endure through the medical system of childbirth can be interpreted as violence that is distressing and in no way “normal” and it has been noted that women experiencing post partum PTSD seem to have more in common with victims of torture rather than natural disasters. (Cross, J. (2008) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Postnatal Period: Causes, Context Treatment and Prevention.)

There are also some cover-up symptoms associated with PTSD which could explain some of the misdiagnosis of PND because the longer the person has suffered from untreated PTSD, and the more severe the trauma, the more likely the PTSD will be hidden by one or more of these or other cover-up symptoms.

Alcohol and drug abuse
Eating disorders: bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, compulsive eating
Compulsive gambling or compulsive spending
Psychosomatic problems
Homicidal, suicidal or self-mutilating behaviour
Panic disorders
Depression or depressive symptoms
Dissociation symptoms
Fainting spells (Fraser, J. (2004) Birth and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

In depth de-briefing and counselling are routine for any type of major surgery except a caesarean section. Doctors, midwives, women, people seem to focus on the “healthy” baby and “healthy” mother (and I use this term loosely as it seems to apply to anything that’s not dead). This response creates a lot of confusion for the women who have gone through these traumatic experiences because the trauma itself is not acknowledged.

At the end of the day trauma is subjective and what was traumatic to some women may not be experienced that way for others. Comparing one woman’s trauma with another’s is not helpful and can be really detrimental.

So how do we move on from our traumatic births?

There are quite a few ways we can start healing and processing our trauma. Joining a support group (or starting your own) is a great place to be able to safely talk through the things that have happened to you with a bunch of people who understand and have similar feelings.

You can also get a medical debriefing from your care provider. Talking through things with the midwife or doctor if you had one can be a good way of working out exactly what happened and why it happened, getting your medical records can also be beneficial in filling in some of the gaps.

Writing out your birth story can also be a healing experience. Working through all the tough bits, having to really concentrate on each bit of your story can help get it out of your heart and your mind.

Be gentle with yourself. When you know better, you do better. There is no point beating yourself up over things that may have been out of your control at the time. Maybe use your feelings to work out what you would change for any subsequent births.

Read books and articles about birth trauma. And join Joyous Birth, which has an enormous amount of information on Birth Trauma, PTSD and healing.

Birth is dying and it is reflected in what is happening in our world today. We live in a world that places more value on stacking supermarket shelves than on raising children. Where millions of dollars are spent on institutionalising babies and children.

We are living in a disconnected world and it all starts with a disconnected birth.

People ask me why I’m so passionate about birth. I guess it is because I still think the world can be saved, but it is so huge where do you start? I say start at the beginning. With birth. Because you can’t save the world until you save birth.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On vaccinations....


This has been a looong time coming. I have been thinking about writing this for around 5 years now, ever since I started researching vaccinations myself. I find myself sitting here with writers block over a subject that I am so passionate about. The reason being that anything I put down in words here can be debated and pulled apart. And this is not the purpose of this post. I want to be able to provide you with all the scientific, peer reviewed, top-medical-journal evidence on the ineffectiveness and danger of the current vaccination schedule but unfortunately it is just not that easy. The reasons why are just as complicated. Money is a big one. Big Pharma controls a big proportion of our world but I know that if I talk too much about it I will be written off as a conspiracy theorist. I'm also not a Scientist and so will not attempt to untangle the web of 'evidence' for you. What I am going to do is attempt to write a succinct wrap up of the reasons my family made the choices we did. And to debunk some of the myths that surround vaccination in general.

So here goes:

1) The number one reason I chose not to continue vaccinating my children was that if you follow the vaccine schedule as it stands today your child will receive 42 doses of vaccine in 26 different injections by the time they are 4 years old. And when I asked for the studies that showed this was not harmful THERE WERE NONE. There are plenty of studies out there proving individual vaccines are safe (and some of those studies can be contested - more on that later) but there are NONE that have tested what happens when all of these vaccines are given together. I have researched myself and I have also spoken to the head of the immunological department at the Royal Children's Hospital here in Melbourne. She couldn't help me.

2) There have also been NO longitudinal studies on the safety of vaccinations. NONE. Considering vaccines have been almost mandatory since the 1950's, this doesn't sit well with me. What's more is that each generation are being exposed to more and more vaccines at younger and younger ages. Before I turned 4 I received 15 doses of vaccine in 5 injections as well as 4 does of oral polio vaccine. Total of 19 doses. My mum received 4 doses of vaccine in 2 injections. You get the idea. Source: here and here.

3) The testing of vaccines leave a lot to be desired. I'm not going to go into all the details of how vaccines are tested, it would make you loose your lunch, but I will point out a few key elements that I find interesting. All vaccines are first tested on animals for safety, the whooping cough vaccine is tested on mice. Without going into too much detail (message me if you want the detail), the scientific community has massive misgivings about the efficacy of these tests. Despite this, 60 odd years after the mouse tests were first developed, they are still the benchmark for proving the safety and potency of the whooping cough vaccines.(Corbel, M.J. et al. 2004. "Toxicity and potency evaluation of pertussis vaccines".) I realise that the animal testing is an early stage of the whole process and that human trials are more informative but there are major problems with the human trials as well. Participants in the human trials have to meet a stringent criteria of health. For example - participants in the Hep B human trials were excluded from the trial if any of the following applied (From Hilary Butlers book Just a Little Prick pg 120):

* The mother of the baby involved in the trial is a Hep B carrier, or has AIDS or syphilis. Or have had the Hep B vaccine themselves.

* The mother had been given drugs that suppressed her immune system during the last three months of pregnancy.

* The mother was given blood, blood products, Hep B immune globulin, or antibiotics for infection.

* The mother has diabetes.

* Any problems in labour/birth such as prolonged rupture of membranes, pre-eclampsia, placenta acretia. The list goes on.

The baby would be rejected from the trail if:

* s/he was born before 37 weeks and/or weighs less than 2500g at birth.

* needed resuscitation, received IV antibiotics for suspected infection, or may have any medical condition suspected or otherwise. Again the list goes on (let me know if you want the full details).

So while it may be (and I don't believe it is) considered a 'safe' vaccine, it is only safe in this very small part of the population. The Hep B vaccine was then rolled out world wide to be given to every newborn baby - regardless of medical history. I refused the vaccine for my first born and encountered little resistance, for my second child however, this vaccine was pushed very hard despite the fact that he was in SCN on IV antibiotics and was (in the words of the pead 'very ill'). I myself have been vaccinated for Hep B and his labour and birth were far from normal. None of this was taken into consideration.

Furthermore, the control group in vaccine trials are now given a comparable drug (usually a similar vaccine). Personally I want to know how the vaccine compares to a non-vaxed person. Also, all of these trials have a no public disclosure clause, which means you aren't allowed to see the results yourself. In fact, even the FDA and other governing bodies only get to see what the vaccine manufacturers want them too, ie. a filtered version of the full results (Just a Little Prick pg 119). If the results are so compelling why the secrecy?

Doctors get taught that vaccines are safe and effective and rarely question how these results came about. The vast majority of doctors are not actually experts in this field despite public understanding. I challenge any of you to question your doctor closely on the topic of vaccinations and suggest you prepare to be surprised. I know I have been on every occasion.

4) Propaganda. Both sides of the vaccine debate have been guilty of this one. The government does jump on the propaganda wagon very quickly though and it really does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Take chicken pox for example. Before the vaccine the literature suggested chicken pox was a mild childhood disease that was very common and very rarely caused any significant problems. After the vaccine was developed the information that was included on the pamphlets changed dramatically. These days chicken pox is not simply a normal childhood disease but a potentially lethal monster that has many different (and horrendous) complications. Thank god I (and every single person I know) got through it alive...

We have all seen the posters of beautiful babies with the slogan "Wipe measles out with just one shot"....or should that be two? or three? or lots and lots of shots because the first one wears off pretty quickly...

The fact is that just by looking at the pamphlets in the doctors office you can see how they have been designed specifically to elicit an emotional (fear) response. It is interesting how the look and feel of these brochures change depending on whether a vaccine is available or not.

People always ask me why the government would spend billions of dollars every year on vaccinations if it wasn't worth it. I admit, this was a sticking point for me as well. I have come to the conclusion that propaganda is at play here too. From the vaccine manufacturers. I'll touch lightly on this one because I don't want to be written off as a conspiracy theorist but after reading a few key things, my mind was changed. For example from Hilary Butler's book Just a Little Prick(pg188-189):

It appeared the Smith Kline and French,....[then] decided to progress their cause further and go public and into schools in an advance effort to get a contract to vaccinate 650,000 school-aged children, which would provide a theoretical income of $25 million assuminmg a 100% compliance rate. Fraser MacKenzie said that his company:

"Had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars planning the campaign and educating the public about Hepatitis B."

And this (pg 309) from an interview with a business manager of the vaccine manufacturer:

"We started increasing the awareness of the European Experts of the World Health Organization about Hepatitis B in 1988. From then to 1991, we financed epidemiological studies on the subject to create a scientific consensus about hepatitis being a major public health problem. We were successful because in 1991, WHO published new recommendations about the Hepatitis B vaccination."

What this tells me is that the entire process is flawed. The doctors and the government that are pushing (and funding) vaccinations are not bad people. I do think they truly believe what they are doing is right, it is the Big Pharma that have control here though.

5) I have a lot to say about the side affects of vaccinations. I'm not going to here though because I know there is so much information on either side of the fence. I will say, however, that while I don't believe any one vaccine is responsible for the increase in allergies and autism (up to 1 in 88 children now!!), I do believe that all of these things are caused by the accumulation of toxins in our environment and that actively injecting known toxins could not in any way help the situation. I also believe that each and everyone of us is made up differently and what may not harm one person will cause untold damage in another.

Almost done. The last thing I want to do is bust the myth that the introduction of vaccination has wiped out many diseases. This is accepted as fact by the majority of the population and it is actively promoted as part of the government propaganda.

When you actually look at the historical data on infectious diseases it is quite telling. England began keeping records of the causes of death in 1838 and this raw data has been placed into graphs to get a good visual of what has been happening. Measles and whooping cough were very potent killers, scarlet fever was twice as bad as both of them. In the following graphs you can see how the measles, whooping cough and scarlet fever diseases were dramatically declining before the introduction of the vaccines (and it is worth noting that, although the scarlet fever vaccine was patented in 1928 it was never in widespread use):


The historical data on small pox also holds interesting information. Despite strong vaccination laws in England for over 80 years, small pox continued to be a virulent and unchecked killer.

These graphs clearly indicate that the decline of disease was not due to the introduction of vaccines, whooping cough and measles death rates had fallen by 99% before the vaccines had been developed and scarlet fever had virtually vanished without the use of any vaccine while small pox continued in spite of strict vaccination laws. From here.

What caused the decline of disease can only be guessed at. My money is on better nutrition and hygiene.

I have been talking about this issue and researching this issue for around 5 years now. I have been asked by the RCH in Melbourne to talk to their immunology department about why I choose not to vaccinate. I spoke to the head doctor of that department and even she couldn't give me the answers I needed to change my mind.

Many people I know think that this is a 'no-brainer'. You just don't vaccinate. I'm not there, I struggle with this decision periodically. Each time doubt rears its ugly head, I go back to the drawing board and look into it some more. And each time I have come out of it with the same conclusions - it is just not worth the risk. The only advice I can give you is that you need to be really sure because you can't change your mind once you vaccinate.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Attachment Parenting?

I have just two words for you. Attachment. Parenting.

I remember talking to Robin Grille about it all. I almost fell over backwards when he said he didn't like the whole attachment parenting thing. At the time I thought that attachment parenting was da bomb you see. But Robin had seen a different side of it. One that I am only just starting to see with regularity now. Parental burnout.

I know so many mummas trying to parent their children a la The Continuum Concept while living in our separatist, perfectionist society. Most of us live on our own with our nuclear families where one parent is solely responsible for the children. Being at home all day with hugely dependant children while trying to break old cycles and not crush their poor little souls is virtually impossible. And we are setting ourselves up to fail.

I have had to find my way with this parenting gig. I read a line in a Dr Sears book once that changed my life. I think it was in the Baby Sleep Book and it said something like - if you don't like something (are really, deeply not happy about something) then something has to change. This was when I was breastfeeding Jake (he was just over 2) and pregnant with Aron. Jake was feeding a million times a night and I was in pain with every feed. So I night weaned him. It wasn't the most pleasant thing I have ever done but he did cope so much better than I ever thought he would. And I think we both learnt a very valuable lesson. That I have needs that are important too and that it is ok to be sad/angry/pissed off. He also learnt that he could be and show all of those emotions and I would still be there and still love him.

As my children get older, the negotiations and compromise become more even. We have rules and boundaries that are really very solid. Most of them are around safety but lots are around personal space and respect. I try very hard to communicate these boundaries clearly so there are no misunderstandings and then to enforce them when they are challenged. And sometimes this involves quite a bit of unpleasantness. I yell, hell sometimes I scream. I get angry. Quite a lot actually. But I think it is important for children to see (age appropriate) anger. I would much prefer my children to see clear anger from me when I feel it rather than an insidious build up of resentment that poisons every interaction we have (often leading to a hugely inappropriate explosion of rage).

I really think it is important for children to see all sorts of emotions. I hear some parents speak to their children in such a boring, almost pleading monotone, "oh sweetie, please don't do that, darling, we don't do that....." or "no sweetie, we don't run across the road because we could get hit by a car because cars go so very fast and the people driving them don't expect people to just run out onto the road, I know it looks like fun and that you want to run on the road but it really is dangerous sweetie...blah....blah...blah...." jeebus, if I were a kid I would run onto the road just to get away from it.

I think it is important to respect children, which involves talking to them like they are human, not a chiuaua.

This is all part of the reason why I don't feel like I fit in with the "crunchier" crowd. Sometimes I think they have a competition going to see who can hold their baby the most, who can breastfeed the longest, who can delay solids the longest, who can have the least amount of rules (and still be zen). What they forget to do is to look at their child and their family and their individual circumstances.

I've been there. Putting the ideals above my own needs, above the needs of the family. I still struggle with it, finding the happy median is one of the hardest things about being a parent.

I find the attachment parenting principles really sound but I do prioritise. I call myself an attachment parent because I follow what I believe are the most important practices. I co-sleep, breastfeed full term, I believe that vaccinations are harmful and that schooling is damaging. I believe that children should be treated with respect and kindness. I believe elimination communication is ideal, and failing that, cloth nappies should be used. I think that hammocks and dummies are poor replacements for human arms and breasts. I believe in baby led weaning and the thought of spoon feeding makes my stomach churn, I also believe that the longer a baby is EXCLUSIVELY breastfed the better. I don't think punishment and rewards work and I believe in unschooling. However.....

I haven't been coping really well these past few months so I have started using disposable nappies, using a dummy and/or the hammock (and other peoples arms!) when I have needed to. I have introduced some more structure in the form of a curriculum and some (light?) punishment and rewards in the form of pocket money and clear consequences.

I weaned both my boys at night and encouraged the full weaning process when it started with both of them (Jake was 3 and a half and Aron was 2 and 8 months). And maybe all of this means that I'm not really "AP" enough. But you know what? I've let go of it. I've found it easier to let go of it all this time round and I think that's because it is working. For all of us! How nice....