I’m starting to think I’m making a name for myself amongst the local medical community–first in the world of obstetrics with my unseemly hope of VBACing twins, and now in the world of pediatrics with my (and my husband’s) unseemly decision to not vaccinate our children.
Before Travis and I were married, I was somehow enlightened to the fact that not all parents choose to vaccinate their children. I guess I had thought it was something that everyone just did without question and hadn’t realized that any controversy surrounded the subject. Now knowing that it could be a parental choice, however, I made a mental note to look further into it when the time came.
The time came about three weeks after our wedding when we found out we were expecting our first child. Knowing that an important decision lay ahead of us, I began doing some research on childhood immunizations. It didn’t take me long to realize that our decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate could not be based solely on what I was reading, as I felt that each resource was strongly biased either for or against vaccinations. Which side were we to believe?
Travis and I began praying that God would lead us in our decision, knowing that He would give us peace regarding the direction we were to take. Abel was born and still we had no peace at the thought of vaccinating him. Following God’s lead, we sought out a pediatrician who was comfortable with our decision to not vaccinate and moved forward against the grain and in faith.
When Abel was four months old we moved to a new city. We began seeing a new pediatrician whom we liked and whom we thought understood our wishes to not vaccinate our son. After several well child visits, however, we discovered that the doctor was actually not aware that Abel had never received any vaccinations and that we didn’t intend to start them. When this clicked in his head, his countenance immediately changed and his words became very defensive. Needless to say, we left Abel’s appointment that day with the feeling that we were not welcome to return.
Soon after that we again moved, this time just to a different suburb. For a third time we began the search for a pediatrician, this time fully realizing what we were up against. We were nearing the end of our second pregnancy and needed to find a doctor both for Abel and for the baby. We went with the first and only pediatrician we interviewed, getting the feeling that although she strongly disagreed with our decision against vaccinations, we were still welcome in her office.
That baby–my Amariah–just had her 18-month well child visit with this same doctor this morning. Things were going really well during the appointment; nothing was being said about vaccinations, and at one point I even thought to myself, “Ahh, finally we have come to a mutual understanding.”
But I guess that’s where I was wrong–at least somewhat. At the end of the appointment, the doctor pulled out a piece of paper and said, “I didn’t want to bring this up, but I have to.” She proceeded to tell me about a practice-wide vaccination policy that was written up at a meeting just after Amariah’s 15-month check-up, the last time we were in. The new policy states, “Our doctors believe it is necessary to vaccinate children to help keep them healthy. If you do not agree with the Childhood Vaccination Schedule or choose not to have your child vaccinated, we ask that you choose another doctor to care for your child.”
Feeling that there is a strong chance this policy was written at least in part because of my family (I have been informed numerous times that we are the practice’s only patients who do not vaccinate their children), I listened to and accepted the doctor’s words, took down her referrals for a new pediatrician, and left without scheduling our next well child visit. I didn’t argue; I didn’t get angry or upset. What’s the point? How can you make a group of doctors understand a decision that is ultimately based on prayer when even some Christians don’t understand?
So here we are with two children and two on the way and once again without a doctor to treat them. I don’t know what our quest for a new pediatrician might hold, and I don’t know what the purpose in all of this is. But I do know that our hope is not in doctors, and I do know that no matter what the odds we won’t be deterred from following our convictions.
So yes, I do think I may be making a name for myself. And I hope it is one that points to the Name that is above all names.