Hi Little Bean: A Post for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Each year, October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and in 1988, President Reagan declared October Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This post is dedicated to my dear friend Zoë, whose son was born still on October 23, 2013.

Hi baby,

I suppose you aren’t really a baby – you’d be turning 8 this December, a big second grader who rides the bus to school and probably has homework assignments. I bet you’d be a great reader, too, since your dad and I both love a good book. Maybe you’d be reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this year. I remember that was the first book that caused me to stay up all night just so I could finish reading.

We were just 12 weeks along when I lost you, so I don’t know if you were a boy or a girl. In dreams, though, you were always a boy, with your daddy’s green eyes and funny square chin, with my round cheeks and dimples. Kind of short and squat, but in those dreams, you always looked so handsome to me. We talked about naming you Robert or Roger, family names. In the journal I kept for you during those few weeks we were together, I always called you “bean.” I wonder whether that nickname would have stuck?

Your daddy and I split up, of course. A few years down the road, but still, I think, at least in part because we lost you. It was hard for me to focus on your daddy because I missed you so much, and after you were gone, daddy realized he didn’t want any babies at all. Don’t worry, though, sweetie, I’m not mad at you. Sometimes mommies and daddies can get along better when they are apart, and it doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Plus, now you have two amazing sisters, and I just know that they would love you so much. Especially Bubba, she’s always looking for someone who can play rough and tumble with her, and for a reading buddy. I can just imagine you two cuddled up on the red couch, you coaching her through Hop on Pop.

Sometimes I miss you so much, sweetie. I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. But, of course, with the girls still so small, I can’t really give into that urge, at least during the day. The nights can be hard, though. Sometimes I go long stretches without thinking about you at all, then, when I remember you, I feel so guilty. I still wonder, sometimes, if I could have done anything to save you.

Do you think you’d still want snuggles with me? Second grade, you know. Maybe. Every now and again, anyway.

I’m so sorry, little man. I’m sorry I never got to hold you. I’m sorry that my body, which fought so hard to sustain you – nearly a month between when we found out something was wrong and when you left me – wasn’t enough to keep you alive.

There’s a part of me that has been empty ever since you left. I guess I’m still holding a space open for you. Just in case.

I miss you, Little Bean.

Love,

Momma

infant loss - miscariage

The North Dakota Momma Grinch that Stole Halloween?

In the wake of the recent “fat letter” controversy that continues to spike the parenting community across our nation, one North Dakota mom is taking child obesity into her own hands. Tomorrow, while other parents across the country will be greeting innocent traveling trick or treaters with candy and big smiles, this mom is prepared to hand any child that she considers ‘moderately obese’, um, a fat letter? What?

She “Cheryl” (no last name given) claims that by passing out candy on Halloween, “I’m contributing to their health problems, and really their kids are everybody’s kids. It’s a whole village,” she told a local radio station, according to Valley News Live.

Can we get an ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Alright, let’s vote on it: how long before this mom gets drop-kicked in the jaw by a neighbor? Really, is she serious or is this just a media play?

Did you catch that? Just in case you can’t read it…

Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!

You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo.

You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.

My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.

Thank you

 

If this is not a media stunt, something tells me that this momma will have very few visitors tomorrow – aside from the press of course, and maybe a few neighbors wearing spiked shoes;)

 

 

Featured Mom: Charlotte Gibson, Co-Founder of Wellness and Support Network BE3

Our latest Featured Mom is a lot like us in that she and two friends are following their dreams and starting a mom-focused business endeavor to help people – especially other moms! Read on to find out what she and her partners are doing and what inspired them to work to make the world a better place.

You have a pretty ambitious project brewing in BE3 – can you tell us something about it and how moms can benefit from the work you will be doing?

BE3 is a resource and support center for people, mostly mothers.  BE3 stands for BE… educated, empowered and enlightened. Our mission is to build awareness through educating, empowering and enlightening individuals with a variety of speakers and workshops. Our motto is “learn one new idea.”

We want to create a community by supporting. Eventually we will have a location where people can congregate for a cup of tea, a speaker, a workshop or see a variety of practitioners. Mothers would come here for themselves and bring the information home to their families. Primarily, mothers are in charge of their family’s education, health and general well being. For example, a mother could come to BE3 and receive information on how to prepare healthy meals, what to give their child for an earache or how to help their children with anxiety, depression or ADD without medication. A mother may choose to use BE3 as a way to empower herself through workshops towards better understanding of who she is and how she wants to BE in this community. Lastly, mothers could use BE3 as a family practice bringing their children to a variety of practitioners:  an acupuncturist, an energy healer, a nutritionist, and a chiropractor.

I believe mothers can benefit greatly from the speakers and workshops BE3 presents. Today many mothers are expected to wear many hats. That can feel overwhelming. Many mothers have the stress and pressure to take care of their families. BE3 can provide a safe space and place for mothers to come explore how to balance their lives physically, mentally and emotionally while learning alternative ways to help their families. I think mothers are craving a place they can call home away from home, to be themselves without judgment, fear or a schedule dictating their lives.

What inspired you to start BE3? Your co-founders are moms, too – what inspired them?

What inspired me to start BE3? My family. I am a mother of four children. The beginning for me was when my youngest was a newborn and my 3 other children were 3, 5 and 6. My oldest son, Ben had been having medical problems when I was pregnant with my youngest, Liv.  The doctors kept passing me from doctor to doctor, and no one was quite sure what was wrong. I of course was scared and after months of many doctor visits, alone, no doctor was calling me asking me how my son was doing.

This isn’t about Western vs. Eastern medicine for me, it is more about how we need to advocate for our children. Ultimately I believe it is about a balance of both merging and becoming an interactive practice for the greater good of the patient. This is where the birth of BE3 began in my mind, a place that families could go and receive Western and Eastern medicine and the importance of communication between the practitioners would be stressed.  I began researching alternative medicine and landed with an acupuncturist for my son. He relieved his pain, basically curing him. My same child had strep throat 6 times that year. The doctor sent us to a specialist to discuss having his tonsils taken out. The doctor described the procedure in graphic detail. I left the appointment and promised my son we would never return to that doctor. I was smart enough not to promise he wouldn’t need his tonsils removed. I took him to a homeopathic MD. He is thirteen now and never had his tonsils taken out, and hasn’t had strep since. I am not saying alternative medicine is always the cure or the answer. It is simply part of my journey, the beginning of how I could share and help others.

As for my co-founders, Heidi had this to say:

I was fortunate to meet Charlotte and Chris through a mutual friend. My background is in sports medicine and wellness and I have a degree in education. I have always been interested in helping people feel their best and reach their potential. I thoroughly enjoy working with clients and helping them attain their fitness & healthy lifestyle goals. As one person I am only able to reach a limited number of people. It has long been a dream of mine to create a wellness center where people can come to work with different instructors, consult with multiple practitioners, eat a healthy meal and enjoy a lecture or workshop. Living in a small ski resort in Colorado for many years as I was raising my children, I became acutely aware of the benefits and importance of community, support systems and resource sharing. Since my return to this area 7 years ago, I have noticed that there is a definite need and a desire for this same kind of “community”.  A gathering place, for education, information and healing. When I met Charlotte and she told me about her journey in wellness and her desire to share her wealth of knowledge and resources with others, I knew that we not only shared a similar dream, but were going to be great friends. When Charlotte introduced me to Chris I felt the same way. I was struck by the compassion and incredible energy these two shared. Together as B3 we hope to educate, empower and enlighten all who are seeking wellbeing for themselves, their families and friends.

And Chris said:

What inspired me to become part of BE3 really is the belief system that the energy the we send out into the universe is the energy we will receive back.  I believe even the smallest of giving can have a huge continuous impact.  As a mother, we all know how precious time can be so when the idea of Be3 evolved, I thought how great it was to be able to incorporate getting back into the business world while at the same time giving something back, something that matters.

Were you and your co-founders friends before becoming business partners? If so, how has that impacted your friendship? If not have you found working with other moms challenging? Rewarding? How so?

A friend asked me to look at a property with her last spring. I went to the property and it opened me up to the potential of having my dream come true, a place for people to come and BE.  I was so inspired while on a yoga retreat I shared my thoughts with my close friend, Chris Smith. She was very interested in finding a project/ business that she believed in.  I am not sure I ever asked Chris “hey you want to develop a business.” It just evolved. She had worked as an accountant for 15 years before having children. This is ideal for me. She is interested in health and wellness and also has the background I lack.

A few months later a friend introduced me to Heidi Winslow. Heidi and I share similar visions and passion for the future in health and wellness. She and I immediately clicked. She has a background in fitness, pilates and reiki. She owns her own personal training business, Winslow Training.

There you have BE3.

If anything BE3 has made my relationships stronger with these women. It has been an amazing experience with all the women mostly mothers helping with our project. When a problem arises we are really honest- it’s all about the gut. When something doesn’t feel right it’s quickly addressed.

I have a wonderful old friend, Tracy Davis who has been helping us with marketing and PR. We feel so lucky to have her involved. I have another friend who has helped with the legalities. Another mother is working on designing our t-shirt.  All these women are mothers and amazing to be around. I feel like we have created a community, a village of talented mothers. Thus far I can only say the energy is incredible.

How are you balancing starting a business with the demands of family life at your stage of the journey? What tips would you give other moms who are similarly driven but nervous about finding the time?

The balance of starting a business and raising children is tricky. Particularly this summer was very hard. I have four children. The meetings would be at my house and my children were all there. Sometimes that worked and sometimes it was chaos. The kids were great for the most part. My youngest, Liv (5) said to me at one point “mom are you going to have any more meetings because it’s just too busy.” That was hard. I definitely have thought what am I doing. I taught for ten years and was a reading specialist that would have been much easier. When I share my concerns with my husband, he looks at me and says they will be fine and for some reason I know he is right. My husband has been amazingly supportive. Initially, I wasn’t sure what he would think. He is interested and really pitches in when I have a speaker or need to work at night. My children like to be a part of it whether it is setting up the chairs in our living room for a speaker or hanging fliers. They are curious about the topics too. A friend said recently when I was having a down day, feeling the mother guilt… what do you think your kids are going to remember you doing the dishes or starting your own business. It helped. The other piece of advice I recently received was “your good is great.”  I’m learning a great deal about myself , and where I need to let go. We all need to remember our good is great. Ten people at a speaker is good. It’s progress.

What would you like moms to get out of BE3?

I would like for mothers to feel more in their authentic self, to feel vulnerable. I think the more work we as mothers do for ourselves can only positively impact ourselves. Remember this about mind and body. I am not just talking about physical healing but emotional. Because most of the time our physical ailments are from our emotional baggage we carry. I also want people to understand this is about health and wellness but a big part for me is parent education. Not from a preaching place but from a vulnerable place. As we slow down maybe we all could have the clarity to discuss why our children are overscheduled, overmedicated, overtired and experiencing anxiety and depression. I include myself in this discussion. BE…inspired to ask why?

What’s your mom superpower?

I believe my Mom superpower is my intuition. I know my children really well. That doesn’t mean I always do the right thing because I’m human, but what it does mean is I’m aware. I always communicating. I used to think everyone had this ability but I realize it truly is a superpower.

Would you like to be our next Featured Mom? Email christa @ mommeetmom dot com for details.

Better Than Bisquick Homemade Pancake Mix

Or maybe the title should read pretty much exactly like Bisquick pancake mix except slightly cheaper, probably. I don’t know. I’ve never actually priced it. Making my own homemade pancake mix just means I can throw it together whenever I want versus having to buy it at the store.

You see, we eat a lot of pancakes around here. And crepes, too, but more often it’s Saturday morning pre-dance pancakes, P. style. That just means they look like this:

homemade pancake mix - homemade BisquickThese had chocolate chips, as you can plainly see. They also looked a bit vile but were very tasty, I promise.

Look, I actually don’t have anything against Bisquick. Many of my mom friends love it. I was under the impression that it was full of preservatives or whatever, until I looked at the ingredients and found that most of the unpronounceable ingredients are, in fact, leavening agents. But I’m cheapskate and we buy flour in bulk so it’s (probably) less expensive for me to whip up some homemade Bisquick using what’s already on hand than to buy the real thing. Sorry, megafoodcorp!

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • .5 cups shortening

And here’s what you do:

Step A: Whisk the dry ingredients or, hey, sift them if you have a fancy sifter like grandma used to use. Hint: You can leave out the sugar if’n you like.

Step B: Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter or with a plain old fork if you don’t have a fancy pastry cutter like mine.

Step the Next: Take two cups of your pancake mix, and stir in one cup of milk (in our case it’s soy), two eggs, and a couple splashes of water to thin it out as much as you like. Don’t overmix, you crazy monkey, or your homemade pancakes are going to turn out dense instead of fluffy! Food coloring? If you like. Add some chocolate chips if you want. Then fry it up in butter or oil or lard or bacon grease or Earth Balance or whatever you happen to like, making the pancakes themselves whatever size you happen to like.

That’s all there is to making homemade Bisquick pancake mix! Keep some around and you can have perfect fluffy pancakes any time… even on busy Saturdays.

Moms, Don’t DIY Yourself to Death Over the Holidays

The background: One time I decided that the mister and I – but mostly me – would make all of our holiday gifts for friends and family that year. I needed something to distract me from the first anniversary of my triplet miscarriage and DIY holiday gifts was as good a distraction as any. But let me tell you, I will never do that again. Here’s why:

Once upon a time, people actually were psyched to be able to find goods in stores because prior to the arrival of consumerism DIY (aka do it yourself) wasn’t a fun, quirky lifestyle choice. It was what you wanted to do if you preferred say, eating to not eating or wearing clothes to being naked. You might be able to buy some things some of the time, but you were generally responsible for your own everything.

Now we can buy anything, any time, and have it delivered in a day or ready for pickup almost immediately or if it’s something like pizza it’s on the doorstep in about 30 minutes. And we can buy it from anywhere, too, excepting the pizza unless it’s flash frozen and delivered with a heaping helping of dry ice. Thanks to the Internet, ordering shoes from Italy is as easy as ordering from Nordstrom.

And definitely easier than actually going to Nordstrom (even if I love their staff) thanks to the traffic.

Now – I’m pretty sure thanks to Martha Stewart (who apparently hates bloggers*) – everyone is supposed to be canning and sewing their own cloth diapers and making all their own art while also reframing their spare bedrooms and inventing recipes and flipping their houses and designing their own clothes and churning out homeschooling curricula.

DIY holiday gifts

I made dat! (It’s a sponge holder, for the curious.)

The phrase do-it-yourself may have originated in 1912, but DIY sure has come into its own in the past ten-ish years or so. Probably thanks to in a large part to those bloggers Martha loves to hate and, more recently, Pinterest. Which means that more and more of us either feel obligated to run ourselves ragged making macarons from scratch for the superbly designed bento boxes we’re making for our kids and partners or feel awful because we pin all the things but our dirty little secret is that we’ve never actually made a single pin-inspired thing.

And here come the holidays!

Goodness forbid we go to Target or West Elm or wherever and just buy a couple of identical hostess gifts to get it over with. How terrible would it be if your kid’s teacher knew you grabbed her Christmas trinket from the shelves of TJ Maxx? It’s practically mortifying to admit that one’s child is happiest with the exact piece of blinking, beeping Chinese crap they requested versus a scratchy homemade sweater from sustainably harvested organic alpaca yarn.

Look, I DIY some things and furthermore I know that not ALL hand knit sweaters are scratchy. Personally I am of the opinion that everyone is a little bit crafty, even if they don’t know it. DIY can be fun and economical and is even sometimes appreciated by the recipients of said holiday handiwork. What I’m not cool with is the expectation that as moms, we should all be DIYing everything and, worse, if we’re not we’re somehow not taking good care of our families.

Because damn it, being a mom is hard enough without even more pressure. Society, if the media  marketing machine has anything to do with it, still expects us to do the vast majority of the cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. We’re also still supposed to be doing it in heels and pearls and sometimes also a power suit because we should also be bringing home that bacon we’re frying up in a pan. Preferably in a sassy apron we sewed ourselves. Bonus points if the heels are decoupaged and we cured the bacon ourselves. And of course, we’re doing all of this in between fulfilling orders placed in our Etsy shop and training for our next half marathon.

Here’s my advice: If you are addicted to DIY and good at it and you have the time, then by all means go glue gun crazy in November and December. I’d love to see one of your homemade creations show up in my stocking. But if DIY is secretly stressing you out, screw the haters. Seriously.

Target has some amazingly adorable hostess gifts at the mo’.

* She said “Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. There are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of what really good editors have created and done. Bloggers create a kind of a popularity but they are not the experts. We have to understand that.” Well, gee, everyone starts somewhere, lady.

Three Words that Could Save Your Daughter’s Life

I was 14 years old at the time and home alone. The phone rang and carelessly I skipped across the kitchen floor, picking it up to offer a casual greeting. “Hello?”

“Hi,” the man on the other end of the line replied, “are Mr. or Mrs. T there?”

The question was common and yet his choice of intonation was alarming.

“No…..” Wait, I thought, something is wrong. “No, they’re out on a walk,” I offered.

“Oh, and who might I be speaking with?” His voice was familiar and yet something about it continued to make me feel uncomfortable.

“Meaghan,” I said. The sound of my own voice and my telling him my name now alerting me that this was not normal conversation.

“That’s a pretty name, Meaghan,” he said, and this was followed by a pause that cut through me like a knife. “Do you like your name, Meaghan? I like your name, Meaghan.”

“Who is this?”I asked.

I was still in denial and attempting to convince myself that the man on the other end was simply a family friend or uncle that I couldn’t quite pinpoint – someone playing a game with me.

But he hung up.

Instantly that gut feeling – the one that made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand tall at the beginning of the conversation, back at his first question – was confirmed. Shock and then panic set in.

Snap out of it! I told myself. Eventually I did and while shouting for my golden retriever, Sadie, I darted for the front door. I didn’t stop. I ran straight across the yard and out onto the quiet New Hampshire road. Barefoot, I continued down the street. It wasn’t until I reached the mile marker that my frantic panic was broken by the approach of my parents’ car. I cried and got in.

Many experts believe that women have a gift of intuition – a sixth sense that gets stronger like a muscle with practice. How we choose to handle this gift is what makes certain situations turn into life or death scenarios. That afternoon, I came face to face with my intuition. What I didn’t realize was how many more times in life our paths would cross…

In high school, its familiar presence resurfaced after cross country practice in a city convenience store. I passed a middle aged man who appeared normal at first glance, but something about his presence alerted me, sending a chill down my spine. I ignored it. When I closed the water cooler at the back of the store and looked up, there he was in front of me, holding out his hand for a shake. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you,” he said. I relentlessly shook his hand. Then slowly and painfully I backed my way out of the store, feeling the need to continue conversation with him along the way. Outside my captivated trance was broken by the sound of my friends calling me from across the street. I said goodbye and left.

In college, again, it returned. I was on the cliff walk in Newport in the evening, running along the water with loud music blaring on my ipod. It was getting dark but I didn’t care. I was invincible, enjoying my daily release. That is, I was invincible until I felt the presence of someone else and simultaneously realized there were few routes to escape the potential danger ahead. I kept going. I ran past him, holding my breath along the way.

After college it surfaced when a guy asked me out at a bar. There was something about him that was off, but I figured I would give him a chance. Lucky for me, I was beginning to understand and respect my gut instinct. Though I should have avoided the date all together, this time I acted a bit earlier. After one drink, I made up an excuse and bailed on dinner.

And let’s not forget the train incident shortly after my wedding. While waiting for the subway, I noticed a few shady guys laughing on the landing. It was clear they were on something and I wanted nothing to do with it. As the train pulled in, I made my way for the farthest car. It wasn’t enough. When the train took off, I heard the same laughter far on the other side of my car. Ugh. Just a few minutes into the ride, the guy across from me grabbed his throat. He couldn’t breath. Then I felt it. Burning pain with every breadth. The drugged up guys on the other side of the train had sprayed a bunch of mace, clam-baking our car. There was nothing we could do about it but panic – grabbing for windows and doors. We were forced to wait for the the next stop. It was painful and one of the scariest experiences.

With the last incident I acted faster and smarter. I was in a car and a man approached my vehicle, signalling for me to roll down my window as if he needed to ask me a question. As I felt the familiar chill down my spine, I hit the door lock, turned on the ignition, and took off. It was that simple. Or was it? Could it have been my motherly instincts kicking in? Had I acted faster because of the newborn baby in my backseat- faster because I was protecting someone other than myself?

Regardless the case, today I am one step ahead of my friend, my sixth sense. Rather than wait for the feeling to come, I anticipate it and avoid potentially dangerous situations. I don’t run at night. I avoid sketchy parking garages. At lights, I leave enough ‘exit room’ between my car and the one in front of me. I know who is around me and anticipate what could be around the corner. My peripheral vision is my escape map.

At 31 years old it is finally apparent to me that I, like most other women out there, have a gift – one that took me 31 years to discover, understand, and now respect. I have the gift of gut instinct. Intuition.

And while many people stress the importance of self defense, it’s clear that we more often than not overlook the vital stage that comes before this – situational awareness. As young women, we are taught to be careful, don’t talk to strangers or run at night. But as young women, we are rarely reminded of the three words that could very well save our lives: TRUST YOUR GUT. Words that could prove valuable if learned as early as 5 years old.

In the news I read headlines about young women all the time. Women who reacted just like me to threatening situations, but were not so lucky. Women who hesitated. Women who second guessed themselves.  ”Get killed on the scene” is the advice that was given to me. “Never leave with the perpetrator”… “Run”… “Fight and Scream”. Although we are armed with the special gift of intuition, our inclination to justify, trust, and make sense of situations makes this gift absolutely useless. The inclination to go against our gut is what gets us killed.

And as I sit here now, with two young nieces and pregnant with my second child - a girl – three words, backed by situational examples, stand atop the list of lessons that I plan to pass down to them: TRUST YOUR GUT. I will teach them what this means as soon as they are old enough to comprehend it. Then, I will teach them again, and again.

15 Cute and Creative Halloween Costumes for Kids

Last week, I tackled inappropriate Halloween costumes for kids – this week, for a chaser, I wanted to post some absolutely adorable and amazing costumes for little ones and not so little ones:

1. The easy DIY octopus costume – awesome for the non-walker:

2. Ghostbusters… perfect for the whole fam:

3. Air your kids dirty laundry:

4. We love this kids fox costume because it’s ACTUALLY WARM:

5. Charlie Brown:

6. Rocket costumes (DIY or store-bought):

7. This Halloween costume is raining cats and dogs:

8. No description necessary:

9. Love this sweet ice cream man costume:

10. Sweet Halloween costumes for a special girl:

11. See a penny:

12. The classic UP costume:

13. DIY snail:

14. A DIY Medusa:

15. The Eiffel Tower:

10 Affordable Baby Halloween Costumes Under $20

All right mamas, it’s that time of year again. The smell of warm ciders fill the air, the store aisles are lined with candy corn, and your neighbor’s yard is covered in scenes from Dracula.  At the park, the creatively gifted type-A moms giggle as they describe the adorable costumes they threw together last weekend for their new bundles of joy. Deep down in the back of your head you cringe…Oh frig, what on earth am I going to dress the bean up as this year? 

The good news – your neighborhood department store is cluttered with Halloween costumes and if you look hard enough, there are some pretty amazing deals out there. With the busy budget-conscious mama in mind, I went ahead and pulled my favorite in-store baby Halloween costumes for under $20.  You’re gonna love them!

Baby Ducky – Sears, $15.74

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Bunny – Walmart, $14.88

Baby Elephant – Walmart, $12.97

 Captain America – KMart, $15.74

Baby Cow – Target, $15.99

Baby Lion Cub – Walmart, $14.88

 Baby Ladybug – Babies R US, $10.49

Teemie Meenie Animal Costume – Walmart, $14.88

 Time Out! Babies R US, $15.99

Baby Tinkerbell – KMart, $15.75

 

Vaccinate Your Damn Kids

Editor’s Note: All posts written in the “Controversial Wednesday” category come directly from the author and are in no way representative of or endorsed by Mom Meet Mom.

This post represents the opinion of Mom Meet Mom co-founder Julia High, but we want you to know that Mom Meet Mom supports all moms – even the ones who disagree with our founders. Additionally, there will be a follow-up opposing response blog coming soon from another mom.

TL; DR: Vaccines are safer than the alternative.

I’m going to lose some friends over this; the thing is that I don’t mind. There’s a chance that I’ll save some people from horrific, preventable diseases, or even death. Frankly, anyone who wants to get angry at me for that…well, let’s just say we are at a philosophical impasse.

Pregame: Why it might seem weird that I am pro-vaccination.

In nearly all other ways, I am a very crunchy, hippie mom. We buy local, organic, sustainably raised meat and produce. I wear my baby in a sling – heck, we don’t even own a stroller. Cloth diapered the older kid, still hoping to work out the logistics to do the same with the younger kid. No spanking, and we even try not to yell. Co-op preschool. I even ferment my own kombucha!

I’m a hippie mom – and I vaccinate on the standard schedule.

You know why? Because I love my kids, and I don’t want them to suffer through an awful disease. Moreover, I believe it is our civic duty to keep our vaccinations up-to-date.

And one more thing, and this is where I’ll really get in trouble:

Unless there is a medical reason that prevents you from getting your kids vaccinated (like an allergy to a vaccine component or a compromised immune system), if you choose not to vaccinate your children, I believe that you are a dangerously selfish person.

My reasons? Science and math.

I’m going to focus on the TDaP and MMR vaccines, since those are the ones that most anti-vaxxers skip.

Don’t Whoop On Me

TDaP stands for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis. In the anti-vaccinating crowd, most people indicate that they skip this one due to the presence of “toxic chemicals,” most often specifically citing the presence of formaldehyde and aluminum. While it’s true that the vaccine does contain these ingredients, the amounts are miniscule, and their relationship to disease states is overblown. In short, they don’t pose a threat, even to an infant. You’ll find about 50 times more formaldehyde in a pear than you will in a TDaP vaccine. You heard me, in a pear. And don’t try to pull some kind of silly, “yeah, but you don’t inject a pear into your bloodstream,” argument, because a) you don’t inject vaccines into your bloodstream, either, those are intramuscular injections, and b) your body naturally produces formaldehyde, in amounts much higher than are found in any vaccine. It’s in the metabolic pathway for DNA synthesis, for crying out loud.

So, how about the aluminum? Aluminum causes Alzheimer’s disease, right? Well, actually, no, that’s not really clear. Back in 1965, some scientists injected aluminum directly into the brains of lab animals and found that their neural tissue broke down in ways that were reminiscent of Alzheimer’s disease. Then there was an outbreak of dementia among dialysis patients whose dialysis fluids contained aluminum, and another researcher noticed that in areas where tap water was high in aluminum, there was a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. But then, when researchers directly compared the amount of aluminum in the tissues of people with Alzheimer’s to age matched controls who did not have the disease, they found no difference. In fact, since roughly the early 1980s, attempts to link aluminum to Alzheimer’s have been unreliable. And, frankly, even if aluminum does cause Alzheimer’s, I’d rather have my kids live full lives that end in a few years of awful dementia than have my kids die of a preventable disease before they even get a chance to grow up.

In fact, I’m willing to exchange a few years of horrible dementia for my kids just to keep your kids from dying in their youth.

It’s Just a Measly Disease

Okay, up next, MMR. The anti-vaccination crowd suggests that the MMR vaccine causes autism. I’m going to put this in bold text because it’s important that you read this. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Autism is a genetically-based developmental disorder. That’s why it runs in families. That’s why it’s more common in boys than girls. That’s why researchers have documented autism symptoms in infants before they even reach the age when the first MMR booster is given. That’s why you can safely vaccinate your damn kids, because autism is a genetically-based developmental disorder that cannot be caused by a vaccine. So, what about Dr. Wakefield’s work linking autism to the MMR vaccine? Yeah, it turns out he misrepresented or straight up falsified the data from all 12 patients in his study. And the studies that have since debunked that work? Included thousands of patients, and produced replicable results clearly demonstrating that there is no link between vaccines and autism. So, if you choose not to vaccinate your kid as a result of your fear of autism, you’re really only increasing the odds that your autistic child will come down with a nasty case of the measles. Good luck with that.

Surely This Can’t Happen to Me.

Next, some of you will suggest that the risk of these diseases is so low that there is really no reason to vaccinate.

Really.

Perhaps you aren’t aware of the huge measles outbreak in the UK this year? Or the one in Texas? Did you know about the confirmed cases of measles in Boston, New York, Orlando, and Seattle? How about the 9,000 folks who were diagnosed with whooping cough in California in 2010? And, can I say for the record that both the 2010 pertussis outbreak and the current measles outbreak have been linked to low vaccination rates, with the highest rates of disease found in those communities with the lowest vaccination rates? That’s the thing; your choice to forgo vaccination doesn’t just affect your family. By increasing the odds that someone carrying one of these diseases will come in contact with another person lacking immunity, you not only increase the risk to other unvaccinated and under-vaccinated people (like, you know, newborns, old people, kids with allergies, and kids with cancer), you also increase the risk that the efficacy of existing vaccines will be reduced by giving the viruses and bacteria an opportunity to mutate. So don’t try to pull some ridiculous excuse that your vaccination choice is just between you and your doctor when you’re actively putting my kids at risk.

“Well, yeah, I had a cough for 4 months, but it wasn’t that bad.”

But enough debunking. Let me talk about these diseases for a few paragraphs, because kids are dying, and suffering horribly, and the parents of this generation have the luxury of not knowing what these diseases do to people because vaccination so effectively eliminated them from our experience. These statistics and symptom lists are all from the CDC:

Tetanus: Tetanus is a bacterial infection that you can get when a cut or puncture wound is exposed to dirt, feces, or spit (so, basically, any cut a kid gets). Symptoms include headaches, painful muscle cramping of the jaw, muscle spasms throughout the body, and seizures. The muscle cramps are intense enough to break the infected person’s bones and can make it impossible to breathe. 10-20% of patients will die, usually as a result of this breathing difficulty.

Diphtheria: Diphtheria is horrifying. Someone coughs or sneezes, exposing you to the bacteria. You get a fever for a few days, then suddenly your body starts to produce a grayish green coating in the back of the nose and throat that is so thick that you lose your ability to breathe or swallow. 10% of patients die. The good news is that vaccination has been particularly effective for diphtheria, with fewer than 5 cases reported annually, as compared to the 100,000 cases and 15,000 deaths each year before vaccination was common.

Pertussis: You have a cold – runny nose, maybe a mild fever for a couple of weeks. Then the coughing starts. The coughs come in fits, and it can be hard to breathe, and you might even throw up. The coughing fits last for two months, or sometimes even longer. Babies are particularly vulnerable to pertussis, with half of those infected ending up in the hospital, 1 in 8 ending up with pneumonia, and 1 in 200 dying. It’s no picnic for older kids or adults, either. Symptoms typically last 6-8 weeks, and can include coughing so intense that you lose bladder control (1 in 4), pass out (1 in 20) or break a rib (1 in 25).

Mumps: Admittedly, the mumps are pretty mild. You get a fever and a headache, and your salivary glands swell up painfully on both sides of your jaw. Every once in a while, someone might get encephalitis. Slightly more commonly, male patients end up with tender, inflamed testicles.

Measles: You feel a little run down with a sore throat and a cough for a few days. Then, suddenly, your temperature spikes, and you get a rash all over your body, spreading from the head down. One in 20 kids will end up with pneumonia. One in 1,000 will develop encephalitis. One in 1,000 will die.

Rubella: Rubella is an interesting one. The disease is pretty mild – a low fever, a rash that lasts a few days. No big deal, right? Unless, of course, you catch it while you are pregnant. Among pregnant women who get rubella, as many as 85% will give birth to a child with birth defects. Congenital heart defects, mental retardation, and deafness are the most common.

Did I mention that my mom was deaf?

Show Me the Money!

One last thing. Some of you will retort with, “All of your sources were funded by big pharma!”

Okay, here’s the thing: producing the MMR and TDaP vaccines? That’s not profitable for big pharma. In fact, until the avian flu scare ten years ago, investment in vaccine research and development was dropping off dramatically precisely because there simply weren’t profits to be made in the vaccine business. It was only the demand for flu vaccines and the development of new vaccines like Gardisil that allowed a resurgence in interest in the vaccine market. Second, whose data, exactly, would you trust? If you’re unwilling to accept anything short of Jenny McCarthy in a lab coat (and, incidentally, upon learning that her son didn’t have autism, Ms. McCarthy reversed her stance against vaccination), then you are essentially putting forth a complete unwillingness to accept any scientific support for vaccination. Let me put it plain: you are accepting the intuitions of celebrities over the data of research scientists, and it is costing children their lives and their happiness.

Like Gavin Norton, who died of pertussis when he was barely 10 weeks old. He contracted the disease before he was eligible for his first TDaP vaccination.

image credit: natalie norton, used with permission

Like 7-year-old Alijah Williams, who cut his foot, and ended up with a tetanus infection so severe that he was put into a medically induced coma. He hadn’t been vaccinated because his parents believed what they read online about the risk of adverse reactions to vaccines.

Used with permission, from vaccinews.net

Like Dakota Colfer-Williams, who lost her dad at the tender age of 4. He died of measles earlier this year; fortunately, she survived because he had recently brought her in for vaccination.

Father of Dakota, posted by Daily Mail

My youngest daughter, Isabelle, is still 7 months away from her first scheduled MMR vaccine.

One of those confirmed cases of measles in the Seattle area is a kid known to have visited my town while contagious. That kid? Not vaccinated. And now, every time my baby gets a rash, I have to wonder whether she’s going to end up with encephalitis.

Vaccinate your damn kids. Please.

Sources:

  • http://justthevax.blogspot.com/2009/05/toxin-gambit-part-1-formaldehyde.html
  • http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/components-DTaP.htm
  • http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com/2012/04/demystifying-vaccine-ingredients.html?m=1
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3056430/#!po=17.0290
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/6350535/
  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130930114101.htm
  • http://m.nydailynews.com/1.950012
  • http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/gender-and-autism/autism-why-do-more-boys-than-girls-develop-it.aspx
  • http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/closer-look-early-autism-symptoms-emerge-infancy
  • http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/29/vaccine-autism-connection-debunked-again/
  • http://pediatrics.about.com/od/measles/a/measles-outbreaks.htm
  • http://m.nbcnews.com/health/vaccine-refusal-fuels-whooping-cough-outbreaks-study-finds-8C11301986
  • http://www.cdc.gov/tetanus/about/causes-transmission.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/diphtheria/fs-parents.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/signs-symptoms.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/complications.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/signs-symptoms.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/complications.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/signs-symptoms.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/rubella/fs-parents.html
  • http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/Supplement_3/S164.full
  • The Value of Vaccination – World Health Organization – https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CDgQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.who.int%2Fimmunization_supply%2Ffinancing%2Fvalue_vaccination_bloom_canning_weston.pdf&ei=dNBMUorAFOHniAKI6oDgCQ&usg=AFQjCNEScPw1TOb9lzG13tmcrE0Spm4PKw&bvm=bv.53537100,d.cGE
  • http://m.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/conditions/how-vaccines-became-big-business/article572731/?service=mobile#!/
  • http://hollywoodlife.com/2010/02/26/jenny-mccarthy-says-her-son-evan-never-had-autism/
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julia high - mom meet mom

Part-Time Working Moms and WAHMs Sometimes Get the Worst of Both Worlds. Here’s Why:

As a WAHM there have been so many times when I’ve felt like I have nothing in common with my SAHM friends and nothing in common with my working mommy friends. I’m not in an office and I have a little more freedom than my full-time working mom friends. Key words being ‘a little’. I have a lot less freedom than my SAHM friends – especially those SAHMs who have kids in preschool now since I’m working from home with an 11 month old.

I feel this way especially when it’s 12:04 a.m. and I’m knee deep in a huge writing project, operating n a crazy tight deadline. I’m working because Bo and P. are both asleep. And on the days I’m setting my alarm for 4:45 a.m. so I can get something done before everyone else wakes up. Because I work from home my work doesn’t stay behind when the day ends because my work is right there in my living room beckoning to me at all hours.

Frankly, I’ve felt pretty alone in this. I can’t just go grab a coffee at 10 a.m. since that’s when Bo’s having his morning nap and so I’d better be head down or my day is screwed. I don’t expect much sympathy from the “real” working moms because I don’t have to commute to an office and I pick up P. with sometimes hours before dinner needs to be on the table. I can’t go out and meet moms on the playground since my hours of availability are always changing. It can be pretty isolating.

Turns out, though, I’m not actually so alone. When I was at the MommyBites Boston Ultimate Moms’ Night Out last week, SO many moms who stopped by our table wanted to know if working moms could sign up. Of course, we said! Mom Meet Mom is awesome for working moms. And some of those moms were part-time working moms and WAHMs like me, and they wanted to know if THEY could find mom friends on our site and naturally we started talking about what it’s like to be us.

Here’s what it’s like in a nutshell: We don’t have time to do all the things we’d like to do (make clothes or quilt, make all our baby food, work in the garden, go to library story time, volunteer, do papercrafts, go to strollerstrides, walk with mommy friends in the morning, fix up the house, etc.) and our work frequently doesn’t bring in enough cash to grant us the freedom to buy clothes or hire gardeners or pay someone to fix all the stuff that needs fixing in our houses.

We’re not around for Monday morning mommy and me music classes and no one wants to have late afternoon playdates with us. People tend to assume that because we’re home or only work part time that we have all these free hours to puree organic hearts of palm and whip up batches of homemade, earth-friendly hand sanitizer. Or they make the opposite assumption and assume that because we work we must never be available.

And everyone’s too busy awwwing at the cute crafts the SAHMs are making and gushing over how empowered the working mommies are to acknowledge that a lot of us aren’t doing the former and don’t identify with the latter. (Not that there’s anything wrong with awwwing or empowerment.)