I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this as it wraps a few emotive topics together, but having been recently inspired to not keep my opinion to myself I feel I need to get this out there.
I have been pro immunisation for all my children. Having not been immunized fully as a child and then suffering through chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella I didn’t want to put any of my children in a position of suffering the same. The older two did end up with chicken pox despite being immunized but all in all suffered no ill effects from the process.
My resolve was strengthened the night I spent in hospital pregnant with Eve after sharing a room with a lovely lady who suffered from post polio syndrome. Add to that the need for herd immunity and knowing immune compromised children and it was a pretty clear case for me.
But sometimes we are made to see things differently given time and different experiences. As some of you will know Eve is allergic to anything cow based, so along with dairy products and beef anything with gelatin or other cow based bits make her very unwell. This ranges from a very sore stomach and screaming for four days minimum, high mucous levels, terrible gassiness and snoring when I eat something with a small amount of cow product in it to what we have experienced for nearly a month now.
Just before Eve’s immunisation she had started sleeping through from 8.30pm to approximately 5.00am which was heaven given that she is not a sleeper. We still had a strong breastfeeding relationship and were slowly lessening the amount we supplemented with soy formula. We didn’t have screaming nights often as I spent a considerable amount of time label reading and restricting what she and I ate to ensure I didn’t trigger her allergy.
Every time we have been for Eve’s immunisation we have been asked about allergies and every time they have shrugged her allergies off. This time though a comment of ‘but she doesn’t use an epi pen’ did make me wonder.
It took a couple of weeks of Eve screaming at least hourly each night and her other symptoms showing to get me really thinking. At first I thought I must’ve eaten something wrong and wracked my brain regarding it but could think of nothing. I also noticed that she seemed to be weaning, but more than that she was at times of distress shoving the breast away but happily taking formula something that happens if I get an allergen in my system and pass it on to her.
I decided to try to find an ingredients listing for the immunisations she had, something that I have not been able to find on the documentation given to me at the health clinic. Sure enough every one of her immunisations contained gelatin and some have other cow products. This has made me furious. How on earth am I supposed to give informed consent when I haven’t been informed that allergens are a core component of something being injected into my child?
Where I go from here with Eve’s immunisation is unclear but as her 18 month round gets closer I feel even angrier that I am placed in this position. Knowing that she will suffer for at least a month is not acceptable to me and feeling very sure that the last set is what has made her begin weaning makes me incredibly sad. I’m troubled that medical professionals have so little respect for my knowledge and Eve’s body that they don’t even bother to warn me that they are going to jack her system up by flooding her with an allergen. The pressure is added to by the fact that I now have to have a doctor sign a from or lose access to child care benefit should I chose not to put Eve through pain again. But the most pressing is knowing that any further immunisation will be the final nail in the coffin for our breastfeeding relationship.
A relationship that I fought hard to establish having previously had a breast reduction, and hard to maintain due to Eve’s allergies meaning a strict and dramatic change to my personal eating habits. A relationship that I’d hoped to continue until at least the two year mark to optimize her gain from the breastfeeding, one that I didn’t give up when it became clear I needed to supplement. It is just so disappointing that it’s a choice between the health benefits of immunisation and those of breastfeeding.
I don’t know where this is going to lead me for Eve’s situation but I do hope putting this out here will help other parents in the same situation know they are not crazy and that their child is reacting for a reason.
I’m happy for people to comment and welcome opinions, even if they are not the same as mine I just ask if you are going to disagree please do it in an adult respectful way.