Friday, February 18, 2011

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Tomorrow, we're going to be having David's 1 year photos taken with our awesome photographer, who is doing some special sessions to benefit an organization that is near and dear to my heart.  There are a lot of wonderful causes to support in this world, and limited time, money and attention to give to everything that needs it.  I have a few charitable organizations that I support and care deeply about, but none that touch my heart quite like this one.

Not all babies get to celebrate their first birthday.  For parents who lose their precious angels too soon, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep helps to support them in their darkest moments.

"Imagine a photo shoot where each moment is a last moment, where there will be no second takes, where what you're doing means everything."

I pray you never need them; in my perfect world, nobody would ever need them.  I also want to ensure that everyone who does need them, knows that they exist, and understands the importance of the precious gift they can give to a family in the most desperate time.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographs babies who left this world too soon.  Volunteer photographers go to grieving families, to document their beautiful children with magnificent, professional images, free of charge.  The families have these photos for a lifetime, forever captured - a tiny hand or foot, the shape of their baby's eyes, things that time can erase from memory, even though the pain never fades.

Here's a video about NILMDTS (please have your tissues ready):

How you can help:

Donate Your Time/Services
If you are a professional photographer, you can volunteer your time.  There is a screening and application process to ensure that families receive the highest-quality images from experienced photographers.  There are a number of upcoming training sessions for photographers.

If you are a musician and you own the rights to a song that might fit a slide show, you can provide the rights to that song.

People with services or products that support photography (including those who may be able to edit images) may also donate their time to NILMDTS.

Spread the word
If you work as a doula, midwife, nurse, prenatal teacher, LC, or some other health-related field, just make sure that you spread the word.  Make sure that local hospitals know about NILMDTS.

If you know someone who is experiencing the loss of a child, tell them about NILMDTS.  This is something you can do - it's so hard to know what to do, what to say.  Offer to contact this organization for them.

To make a donation to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, click here.

Thank you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Babywearing through the ages

David and I went to the local Farmer's Market on Saturday, and as usual he was sitting pretty in the BabyHawk on my back.  If you ever want to see babywearing in action, go to a farmer's market - I counted over a dozen other worn babies. 

A random woman in line commented "Those things are all the rage".  An old (80+) lady with a strong accent replied, "Eeet was da rage when I lived in Moscow too!"  She went on to tell me about how she always wore her babies, and how it helped to keep them warm during the long Russian winters.

Babywearing's not trendy, it's normal.  It's practical.  It's beautiful!  Below is a collection of beautiful babywearing pictures from around the world and through the ages, from a friend's presentation to her high school Spanish class.  Enjoy!

Not sure where, but nice Mei Tai!

South Africa

Ancient Egypt







Congo (Way to get some work done, mama!)

Czech Republic - love the basket!

Czech Republic




French Daddy on a bike (not recommended lol)




More Guatemala!  Beautiful pattern

Inuit - such a beautiful photo


Mary and Jesus

Dark ages?  I think not!

Mexico, rockin the Rebozo Superman toss!

Morocco - babies wearing babies


Roma (Gypsy Mama anyone?)

Slovakia - what a happy baby.

Southern USA

Modern Day Texas



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vaccines and Decisions

I have never been so torn on an issue, perhaps in my life, as I am on the subject of vaccines.  Right now, I have the luxury of indecision.  Because of one of my meds (the immune suppressant), my doctors have decided it's best for my son to be unvaccinated for the time being, and I have the medical seal of approval to postpone the decision of vaccination.  My son did get DTaP before I went on these meds, and technically he could have inactivated vaccines, but we're holding off until I'm 100% sure.  You can't "un-vaccinate"; once it's done, it's done.

For those who do not vaccinate, a medical exemption is the holy grail of paperwork.  For those who believe in the importance of complete vaccination, my situation is a terrifying limbo of irresponsibility.  I see both sides of the issue, and I'm stuck.

Most parenting issues have become clear to me with research.  Breastfeeding, circumcision, spanking, co-sleeping, babywearing.  They're pretty clear-cut, and most research sits on one side or the other.  Vaccinations... eek.  Not so clear.  I have done hundreds of hours of research on vaccines, and I'm still incredibly torn.

Borrowed from Peaceful Parenting, in case you want to say "I'm vaccinated and I'm fine"
Our children are being vaccinated against many more things than we were.

I have reached 2 conclusions, both of which are controversial.  Isn't this whole topic?

1 - Vaccines are not useless.  They do work.  Maybe not as well as advertised, but they have value.  The rabies vaccine prevents the spread of rabies among dogs.  The influenza vaccine does actually reduce the incidence of flu it purports to prevent.  Since the widespread vaccination of the American public, the diseases for which we vaccinate have decreased precipitously.  I am still immune to measles, mumps and rubella, 25 years after my last booster, diseases I did not have naturally.  Vaccines generally do protect against the diseases they claim to, a majority of the time.

2 - Vaccines are not 100% safe.  They have risk.  Vaccine-related injury is real, adverse reactions are real, and to the rare number who experience them, the injury is often worse than the disease the vaccine is intended to prevent.  It is possible that vaccines damage the overall health of a person's immune system.  Unvaccinated children are, overall, healthier than their vaccinated counterparts, experiencing less chronic and acute illness during childhood and early adulthood (these studies are imperfect in design but still compelling).  Parents who consciously choose not to vaccinate are not morons; they are generally better informed and educated about the issue than those who vaccinate. 

Ethically, I am opposed to the concept of forcing a child to endure pain and sickness, against their will, to prevent potential future harm.   The child is not in immediate medical need or danger, like a child who needs stitches. I am opposed to sacrificing one child for the benefit of many; the herd immunity argument doesn't sway me.  One child should not die so that millions can live; that argument holds no water to the mother of the dead child, nor should it.  I believe in the inherent ability of the natural immune system to handle routine illness, and I believe that a bored immune system is a dangerous thing to have, increasing risks of allergies and auto-immune responses. 

Logically, I am opposed to the reintroduction of measles and polio into the general population, and I do believe that vaccines have something to do with the decrease of diseases (but not all - Polio in particular has a really interesting link to pesticides).  I don't want to see a Rubella outbreak.  I have heard the cries of a baby with pertussis, and they are heartbreaking.  If my son were to experience harm as a result of a vaccine-preventable illness, or worse, were to pass that illness on to another child, I would be devastated.

Emotionally, vaccinating feels wrong - no mother "looks forward" to a visit for shots.  On every other parenting decision, I have trusted my "gut" or "mommy instinct" and it's always been right.  Here, in this one circumstance and no other, I am expected to restrain my baby, cause him pain and potentially cause him harm, to avoid the potential of harm.  This isn't about fighting a diaper change or being annoyed about being in a carseat; the pain is real, the immediate harm is real (even if it's only a mild fever and a sore leg).  If you physically restrain an adult against his will and stab him with a pen or a thumbtack, it is called assault.  I spent a lifetime terrified of doctors and needles.  Babies today are mandated to have triple the number of vaccines that I had; every child I know is petrified of going to the doctor; their parents have to lie to them and bribe them to get them in the door. 

Intellectually, I realize that people used to die of vaccine-preventable diseases in great number, and that my ancestors would likely think I'm crazy for even debating this topic.  Vaccines are considered among the world's greatest medical discoveries, one of the greatest discoveries of human history, by minds greater than mine.  My pediatrician is in favor of most (but not all) vaccines; I respect her opinion as a medical professional.  I respect her years of experience and expertise.  I also know that the entire American pediatric business model revolves around vaccines, and without a visit every 2-6 months for a shot, pediatricians offices would be a lot emptier than they are now.  Money talks.  Vaccines make literally billions of dollars a year for doctors and pharmaceutical companies, both via direct and indirect sources.

Polio kills.  Mumps is bad.  Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis, pertussis, HiB, meningitis, all of them - this is bad stuff, and I don't want my baby to get any of them, if I can help it.  Hell, my double exposure of chickenpox (at 13 and 32, thanks immune suppressants) was miserable enough that I'd happily have taken a shot in the arm instead of 6 cumulative weeks of misery!  Regardless, I am too informed to respond to the "less mercury than a can of tuna" line. 

I am asking for feedback tonight, on what ultimately made your decision, one way or the other.  I don't have to make a decision right now (in fact, I can't) but I could use some guidance. 

Why did you decide to vaccinate your child, or choose to skip or alter the standard schedule?