Someone asked me something recently which made me think I had not heard them correctly. And when they repeated their question it took a lot of effort for me to remain calm and I had to remind myself to take a breath before answering. Because they were asking for my advice and not a reactive opinion.
They were asking whether I thought they should have their new baby immunised.
Not immunised against a random and improbable Kryptonite Ripley Disease from outer space, but from diseases we know exist and we know that immunisations help fight against. For their child to have their normal, standard immunisations.
I am not the sort of person to impose my opinions on how to raise their kids. And if my opinion is ever asked on a subject I tend to say “what works for us might not work for you”. Except, it turns out, this issue of immunisations. Because I just don’t get it. I don’t get why people would not immunise their child. There are so many vile, hideous, awful illnesses out there they DON’T have immunisations for, why wouldn’t someone take the immunisations for the ones they CAN help you with?
So, Ok, the fact they are asking ME (average, got kids, immunised ones), implies to me that they are not really asking if I think it is a good idea. They know my views. They must. They have heard me talk about going to get the kids poked and prodded. They have heard about my handbag full of bribery carrots and chocolate sticks. They have heard about kids covered in stickers who are allowed to eat whatever they want for dinner after ‘the event’. If they don’t know my views then they themselves deserve a sticker for “must try harder”.
To me, if someone is asking someone else’s approval of their decisions, it implies that they themselves are not 100% sure of their reasons for even asking this question. If you are committed enough to not immunise your child, I think you don’t seek someone elses approval. People who choose not to immunise their children tend to be pretty outspoken about it.
I truly think that we should be grateful that we live in a society where we have the opportunity to immunise our children. There are millions of children who are not offered this option. You don’t see them in your real life, because they live in countries you see only on the TV. People donate to Children in Need and Comic Relief which in part pays for immunisations, yet won’t immunise their own children and this just doesn’t make sense to me. Whilst we do not have the third world living conditions these mothers and fathers have to bring children up in, we do still have children.
Obviously, I am not a doctor. You may read this and come back with a lot of medical knowledge, stats, theories, ideas and well, I am sure anger directed at me for posting this. This is just how I feel.
I supposed I get so frustrated when I hear about people not taking every single precaution available to them against illnesses which could affect their children, because I have felt what I can only describe as the raw, primal fear of believing your child has a life threatening illness and could not make it (I still can not bring myself to say “that” word). It was the scariest moment of my life. And the words “the scariest moment of my life” are just words until you experience them.
I wanted to claw at my own skin. Rip it off.
I have been in a hospital room, staring, not moving my body, just moving my eyes, darting backwards and forwards through that glass door panel in to the hallway. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for them to bring my tiny 4 month old baby boy back from this hideous procedure where they had to hold his tiny body down to extract from him the tissues needed to assess his condition. I have seen a nurse carry his floppy little body, my baby, wearing only a nappy, out of a room towards me – a room I was banned from entering with him because of what they had to do to him. I would not wish this experience on anyone in the world.
He didn’t have meningitis. Thank God. But he was incredibly ill for a few days and continues to have a weaker respiratory system. Looking at him now, you wouldn’t know he ever went through that.
Looking at me now, you would. Because everytime someone asks me if I think they should do everything they can to protect against horrible and real diseases, no matter what they are – the flu, whooping cough, meningitis, whatever they say, I say yes.