This blog has been a tad bit tired lately. I'm tired of how tired it is. Putting up linkys is nice and all, but I want to do a bit better. I haven't had a ton of amazing, scintillating, exciting thoughts on my mind lately, but now, I do have a few worries. Join with me in worrying about... vaccines. It sounds insidious when you kind of hiss that word out.
Vaccines have been something I've worried on and off about since Seth has been born, before that really. As much as I like modern medicine in some ways, I am quite distrustful of it in others. Especially when it comes to powerful medication, which, in my case, has felt like a force for both great good and great harm.
A little background is in order. I am well aware that some people out there may think I'm a little nuts, but I am pretty convinced that birth control pills caused my infertility. Here's why... I took them for less than a year, the first year that David and I were married. Before I took them, I had a regular period, like clockwork, from the time I was 13 until I was 21. After 8 months on them, I got off (because I thought other forms of birth control might be better), and my period did not come back, except in little spurts, every 2 or even 3 months. When I finally went to see a doctor about this a year later, he wasn't surprised. None of the doctors I talked to about this were surprised. He told me I wasn't ovulating, and he couldn't tell when when I'd start ovulating again. He told me that it could be anywhere from tomorrow to 10 years from now. I was pretty shocked. He was the most honest doctor I've talked to, and looking back, I appreciate his honesty. He wasn't willing to say that the pill caused my lack of ovulation, but he came far closer than most doctors.
Orthotrycyclen works by telling your brain to tell your body to stop ovulating. It creates a chemical change in your brain to do this. For most women, when they get off of it, their brain reverts back to the normal pattern, and after about 6 months, they're ovulating regularly again. This did not happen for me. My brain was sticking with the instructions it had gotten that I shouldn't ovulate, and I did not ovulate again, as far as I know, for 4 years, excepting the hard fought, medically induced ovulation during our year of treatments.
Whenever I asked most of my doctors if my lack of ovulation could be caused by birth control, they blew me off. "Well, anything could've happened during the time you were on the pill to cause you to stop ovulating, and the pill just masked that, so you didn't know about it." That was the standard answer I got. Never mind that I hadn't been on the pill for years. Never mind that I'd never had a problem with anovulation before. Never mind that I was in my early 20s. It seemed that they simply couldn't admit the possibility that the drug whose ties they were wearing could possibly, for some small part of the population, cause the extremely serious side effect of infertility. I'm shocked (dripping with sarcasm).
I was very angry over this for quite awhile. I can tell as I write this that I'm still angry. I know that God decides what He allows to touch us in each of our lives, but I still put some blame on drug companies and blinded doctors for a very real evil that is hurting women. I am not saying that a large percentage of women who go on the pill become infertile as a result. I'm just saying that it appears to me that at least some small percentage do. And it bothers me that doctors won't look you in the eye and admit to you that it could be possible. I guess I would just like women to be informed that this is a possibility for them if they take the pill. I want it listed in the potential side effects on the drug package. Then, its up to you if you take the risk or not, but you have been warned. This seems reasonable to me. What seems unreasonable is that doctors won't admit the possibility, even though they don't seem to have any idea what causes anovulation.
I'm ovulating again, it appears. I finally got pregnant with Seth, even though getting me to ovulate again was not like flipping a switch with meds. It isn't that easy, and fertility ovulation is nothing like your own. My fertility doctor talked about how pregnancy could "reset my system." If it could "reset my system," then doesn't that imply that something got it off balance? What was that something? If you don't know, don't pretend you do.
I have talked to other infertile women who have similar stories. They also wondered if their lack of ovulation after the pill was because of the pill. They were also blown off by their doctors. I don't know how many of us are out there, and the sad thing is that I'll probably never know. It would take a bunch of clinical trials to figure that out, and they would be incredibly complicated, and I'm doubting I'll ever see one in my lifetime. I'm throwing this out there in this post, hoping that my story will make a difference to someone, as nonclinical and unscientific as it is. I don't think science is going to rush out there and try to validate me, so I guess this will be as far as it goes.
We think that prescription drugs are benign things, doing lots of good and very little harm. Most of us don't think much about that list of side effects on the package. I may have taken the pill anyway, even if I knew there was a small chance it could make me infertile. I don't really know.
But, after this experience, I know that I was very wary of any drug that fertility doctors wanted to prescribe me. I read up on each one. And I only tried each one out of desperation. It took me years to seek treatment partly because I believed that drugs got me into the mess I was in. I didn't want to get worse as a result of more drugs. In the case of infertility, medicine became a huge blessing. I am very thankful for it. But I have a very bittersweet relationship with medication as a result of all I've been through.
And this makes me skeptical of the American vaccine regimen for kids. And that skepticism, once again, is opening me to the argumentation of my doctor. Like most mothers of baby boys, I worry about autism. I don't know where to look for answers because nobody has any. And, I argue, if no one has any, doesn't that mean that I should be allowed to question without much arguing? Yes, I am fully convinced that children should be vaccinated against truly awful diseases that have great potential to kill or maim them for life. Who isn't thrilled about smallpox or polio vaccines?
But I don't think that doctors should think it is ridiculous that I call their judgment into question when they recommend a vaccine for chicken pox, a childhood illness that most of us had with very little fuss or problems. In fact, I would argue that recommending vaccines for chicken pox for most healthy kids is something I should call you on the carpet for as a doctor. If you're willing to do that, why should I trust your recommended vaccine regimen? I've just found one questionably "necessary" vaccine that you recommend. Why shouldn't I believe that you're trying to over vaccinate my child if you're recommending this?
I am weary of this already. I would love to just trust my doctor that every vaccine that he recommends is perfectly safe and perfectly necessary. It's a lot of work to try to make these decisions for my son in a safe and balanced way. At this point, I have had Seth vaccinated with almost everything recommended, but as he gets older, and the list of vaccines he's supposed to get at each checkup gets longer, I question more. And I worry that my questioning will label me as some sort of fringe wacko that doesn't care if her child gets sick and won't intervene if they do. I want to have a good relationship with my pediatrician. He is a good guy. This is tough for me.
I wish there were more answers for my questions. I have a lot of them. Over the years, I have become more willing to question sometimes. I guess this post has explained why...