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June 26, 2012


Um, a chipmunk? At least it's cute! I put up a bird feeder and got rats. RATS. Yeah, nothing like lying in bed, nursing your baby, and seeing a rat run along the window. Feed the wildlife, get the wildlife, and no, I've never had another birdfeeder since. Good luck with the vacation, though. Pertussis is miserable -- my doctor decided that's what I had and then I cracked a rib, making it conclusive, and ... yeah, I won't get started on people who aren't smart enough to realize that vaccines were invented to stop life-threatening illnesses. But it was quite miserable, and I'd definitely start looking for a more breathable vacation destination.

I love that Caroline was aiding and abetting the chipmunk. That just makes me laugh!

Also, Edward and his wheels? That sounds like pure joy.

Thank you for the update; they come far too seldom.

Yes yes yes! Vaccinate! I renewed my own pertussis because adults can be carriers without knowing it and in Oregon it is spreading. My neighbor's granddaughter has leukemia; when we get vaccinated we protect her as well as ourselves. I think it is a moral obligation!

Also, Patrick may be older but he is still the same kid as ever: not letting on that he is sick until you are at the ped's office.

Hope your vacation is good and free of fire!

Wow. I totally agree with you about the vaccine thing, but it is rare that anyone has the cajones to say what you did on the internet. It's the cool kid thing to get all holier than thou and not vaccinate your kid. I just look at people and wonder about how they can have such great degrees and yet have such little knowledge of history. It is only a couple of generations since many children and adults were crippled, deafened, or killed by these same diseases. The only reason people now can get away with not vaccinating their children, and feeling very self-satisfied about it, is because the rest of us have had our children vaccinated and are providing their children the protection they scorn. A generation from now we may reach the point where these diseases become endemic again and these same people will look around at the resultant trauma and demand why 'someone' didn't do something to prevent it from happening!

Blech. Getting off of my soapbox to say that your writing is hilarious as always.

Except he has gotten all his vaccines and still has pertussis right? My kids are fully vaxed, but I did delay some vaxes. I felt as a whole that since I was a SAHM and they were just at home with me and were being BFed the odds were pretty low that they would be exposed to anything and we weren't around any old people, premies or immunocompromised people. But the last piece of that for me also is why are we giving them so. many. vaccines and then they still get the diseases anyway? If the choice is get it either way then I'd prefer the way that didn't involve injecting my infant with a lot of chemicals. It's just not really a ringing endorsement of vaccinations when when kids who get vaccines still get the illnesses. Chicken pox is the worst offender, but you're by no means the first person I've known to have a fully vaxed kid get whooping cough.

Robyn, you wouldn't know by just looking at my husband that he is immunocompromised, but he is. Folks who don't vaccinate put him at risk by being in the same store he is, so just because you don't *think* you're around any at-risk individuals doesn't mean you're right about that. Just some food for thought.

Ditto Robyn... something like 90% of pertussis cases are in vaccinated individuals. I've actually done quite a bit of reading on this lately to alleviate some fears. Did you know that 1,000 cases in a state of 50 million people is considered "epidemic"? It may be true from a scientific standpoint but as far as public perception, the word "epidemic" is creating fear out of proportion to reality (IMHO). Also, when I read the statistics on infection rates, complication rates, etc. I figured out that the chance of a baby in Washington State getting pertussis and dying of it is approx 1 in a million... the chance of dying from an epidural-related complication is 4 in a million and women every day are told it's perfectly safe. Personal choices and feelings on vaccines aside, it's interesting to look at it that way, is it not?

Ladies, vaccination works, period. And you really don't want your kids getting some of the diseases we routinely vaccinate against. Measles, for example, kills.

The vaccine for pertussis is an imperfect vaccine which relies more than some of the others on a cohort being vaccinated - ie the more people vaccinated, the better it works. And the reverse is also true.

Tara, regarding the statistics you mention, a woman deciding to have or not have an epidural only has the risk to herself to consider. Deciding not to vaccinate puts others at risk.

Okay, going to just jump into the vaccine discussion here and say, yes, it's true that vaccinated individuals can still get the illness they have been vaccinated against. BUT, it will be much less severe and not likely to be life threatening. Vaccinations don't necessarily prevent the illness 100% of the time as they are not 100% effective (nothing is), but you are still getting protection. So the answer to why get kids vaccinated when they might still get the illness anyway is they may still get sick from it but not die from it.

Worse, I think I get it, but I still think it is awful, wrong headed thinking. Of course most people who get the disease are vaccinated- basic math says this must be so. Most people are vaccinated, so even if the vaccine is 99% effective, it's still going to be the case that more people who get the disease have been vaccinated, because you are not dealing with equal numbers there. There would need to be multiple times as many people who have been vaccinated- like 9 or 10 times as many- as who have not who got the disease, and that is never so, to demonstrate anything. And it's not supposed to be- you are supposed to be able to rely on herd immunity, so a few unvaccinated people would not make a difference. But now you can't as much, especially in particular areas of the country. Also, people seem to vastly overweight the result of "action" (ie giving vaccine) over "inaction" (complications from a disease), when logically they are the same.

I actually used to not take this as personally, until my third child had a semi serious but not life threatening reaction to the MMR vaccine. In a normal world- where people vaccinated rationally (I live in Washington state- not that normal world) and herd immunity worked, it would be obvious that I should just not give her the last vaccine, because she's had 1, and the disease should be nearly eradicated. But instead, those diseases have made an incredible comeback here, and up to a quarter of the children here are not vaccinated. If those children had had a reaction in the past or were compromised somehow- fine. Great. That is what herd immunity is for. That would be- at most- 2% of the population, though. And that is not what is going on. People are crap at statistics and are scared of this vaccine because of some dumb fraudulent British scientist who freaked them all out about a nonexistent autism connection. So I have to decide as though we live in a third world country, and put her at enormous risk- all because people can't properly do math. It irritates me.

It's weird how not vaccinating your kid is now equated with giving that child a death sentence by the pro-vax crowd. Because as a child, I remember having the measles, the mumps, german measles, and malaria (just for kicks) and yet here I am a grown adult with all my faculties who most definitely didn't die from a communicable disease.

I do find it fascinating how vaccinations are now everyone's responsibility. Back in the day (60s, 70s?) I think it was more for the individual, but now with so many micro-preemies surviving into childhood with enormously fragile immune systems, their parents are shouting the loudest about everybody/everywhere needing to vaccinate...

Liberty, you are lucky to have a very robust immune system. Mine isn't, due to MRSA as an adult, and others have similarly compromised systems, and we need as many people as possible to also vaccinate. Space out the vaccinations, do whatever you need to do, but VACCINATE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Please. Herd immunity is what keeps us, all of us, alive and well.

Julia, those series of pictures of Caroline are adorable. Thank you for sharing them with us!

which last I checked should have gone out with the whalebone corset.

That had been my impression, too, until we went to England for a weekend at the end of March and a good quarter (if not more) of the ~70 people who were gathered there came away with whooping cough, including my husband. I was so glad that Gwen had gotten her 4 month vaccinations just a week or two before, because she (and I) ended up escaping it. But Joel was out for a good 6 weeks, and it ruined our plans to go hiking in the Scottish Highlands in May because by the time he was well again it was too late to make plans.

It's my opinion that people who choose not to vaccinate are taking advantage of people like me who DO vaccinate, to keep their kids safe. They're happy to take advantage of the protection of my child being vaccinated for, say, measles, gives their child. I wonder if they would have been so complacent 100 years ago when Polio was still rife? The other thing that riles me is the patently bad science they sometimes use to justify this decision, particularly the long ago and thoroughly debunked MMR scare.

There have been significant outbreaks of whooping cough here in Australia, too...part of the issue is that many adults don't realise they need to have booster shots > leads to community outbreaks in older populations.

Doctor also told me that a few years ago, they changed the vaccine to reduce the risk of a rare, but severe side-effect. Since then, there have been many outbreaks of whooping cough, but it's a less severe strain. My son got the "less severe" strain at age 7 (thanks to being fully vac'd) - that was bad enough, wouldn't want to see the real thing!

Just FYI 80% of pertussis cases in CA on 2010 were fully vaccinated. So most likely a vaccinated child passed it to Edward and not an unvaccinated one. Just like Edward probably passed it to other vaccinated people. Why should I put chemicals in my daughter that are obviously not very effective in preventing the disease?

you don't get it because quite honestly, people who don't vaccinate their kids are complete idiots. Not to put to fine a point on it. But seriously. Morons. and irresponsible ones at that. It's similar to sending your child to school with a loaded gun.

Ashley: because the strain of whooping cough Edward contracted from a vaccinated person (and likely passed on) on is a much, much less severe strain than that which was around before vaccination. That is why he is merely slightly ill as opposed to dead.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. One of my pet issues is people using bad pseudoscience hearsay (I hear it called "research" very often by this set), or worse (or perhaps it may as well be the same thing) "prayer" to justify putting society at risk by not vaccinating their children. I'm with you on the whole "first-world problem" thing. I wonder sometimes what mothers in third-world countries would say if they heard people whining about whether or not to use a (free) vaccine on their children. It just kills me.

Anyhow. Thanks for saying it. It needs to be said by more people more often.

In other areas of interest, I saw this thing at our local garden store. It was a device to prevent squirrels from getting in to bird feeders, and they had a video playing to demonstrate how the device operated. It's a battery-powered rail that a bird would use to sit on to access the food, but when enough weight is placed on the rail, it spins with a mad fury and flings off whatever creature is unlawfully attempting to access the bird food. I sat and watched that video for a good ten minutes, laughing my ass off the whole time. It was hilarious, watching the squirrels try over and over and over again to get the bird feed and being unceremoniously flung off of the feeder by the spinning rail over and over again. Squirrels are not especially clever, are they? Anyhow, when you wrote about the chipmunk, I thought of that feeder. It would probably be pretty funny in addition to solving your feeding-the-wrong-creature problem. Not sure what it would do for the Caroline issue, other than perhaps entertaining her long enough to distract her from aiding and abetting the chipmunk.

Pertussis is making the rounds in my corner of the 1st-of-the-1st world, too. The "bad at math" thing is so true - there may well be 1 or 2 horrible outcomes out of 10,000 vaccines (and no one would with that on anyone) but not vaccinating presents us with, say, 75 horrible outcomes out of 10,000 illnesses, plus more of the illness. People! Think!

We messed around with our kids' vax schedule and delayed some (and, in some places, it may still be possible to NOT have combo vaccines - as in, you can have the D and the P and the T instead of the DPT - and that is worth pursuing) and the thing that got my head out of the danger feedback loop was thinking that right now, at this very moment, there are probably a half a billion moms out there who would do ANYTHING to have the opportunity to have that needle stuck into their kids.

Have you seen the Jenny McCarthy Body Count? http://jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html

My son also had pertussis! - diagnosed three weeks before a scheduled vax booster. Did you know it's also called the "100 days cough"? Not very encouraging, I know - John was diagnosed in May and said, correctly, "I'll still have this when I get to middle school." It was a long summer, for sure. Wishing Edward all the best.

I'm going to buck the trend and ignore the immunization debate (except for a brief moment to mention that I agree with you!!) to say that being in Colorado right now is far from a vacation. It is smokey all up and down the front range. We are about halfway between Colorado Springs & Denver, and my car is covered with ash and it frequently feels like we are sitting beside a campfire. In good news though, we may actually not reach 100 degrees today, and rumor has it there might be a drop or two of rain in some places... so yay!

My 4 year old has respiratory issues- kinda like asthma, but not exactly asthma, and we are now playing indoors in hopes of avoiding massive steroid treatments. Even so, it's not looking overly optimistic. If I had a choice about bringing him here, I would respectfully decline... but also, I have no idea how pertussis would be affected by the smoke, so it may not be the exact same thing.

You should come visit US! We are in Colorado, but not currently on fire or even smoky (at the moment). Although to be sure, we are also not in the mountains, but just the wilds of the Denver suburbs. It is very scary here right now. Every day, a new fire or three pops up. Just yesterday, some good friends faced possible evacuation from a fire that started from lightening just a few hours earlier. Hopefully the heat will break soon and we'll get some rain.

"I am seriously unimpressed with the people in this educated, affluent, first of the first world part of the planet that choose, that deliberately choose, not to vaccinate their otherwise healthy children."

Amen. And thank you. Also, no vaccine is 100% effective (witness my neighbor's kid who got chicken pox this spring). But the cases that occur in vaccinated individuals are milder. And if everyone who can would get the vaccines, then we wouldn't get these flare-ups in areas where it should be eradicated.

re: Colorado, don't go. The people I know in the Springs are packing emergency bags so that they can get out fast. And w/ Edward and Patrick's assorted sinus, etc., problems, it's a bad gamble. Sorry. :(

I was offered (and accepted!) a DPT booster in the hospital after my son was born. I thought that was a really good idea on the hospital's part to prevent further spread of diseases like Whooping Cough.

NOT going to touch on vaccines,but with regard to Colo. trip:

I would stay away from Colorado Springs (but your friends!). We live about 55 miles from the Hay Park Fire in Fort Collins and still, there are some mornings when the winds whip that smoke our way and combined with the particulates and ozone from the heat wave we are experiencing will basically rub your lungs raw. I cannot imagine how bad the smoke is in the Springs right now. And they are evacuating more residential areas as we speak (they also just shuttered the AF Academy).

I know it's late in the game to be making plans for a holiday week in the mountains, but I would try scouring the resort towns along I70 for a place to stay to get away from the smoke and heat. Breckenridge, Copper, Vail, etc. If you don't feel like driving that far, I would suggest staying in Denver and trying to get in as many -indoor activities as possible. The art museum, the Museum of Nature and Science, movie theaters, malls, etc.

For updates on the fire situation, try 9news.com they do a reasonable job of updating the situation.

Kids can get whooping cough even if vaccinated? Consider me educated and joining you in your frustration and dismay over the vaccination issue. Why oh why is it an issue?

Best wishes for wellness and travel or at least summer enjoyment.

I had a kid get chicken pox (less than 1 year old) and his sibling not get it because of vaccination.

I had a kid get a variant of strep pneumo that wasn't in the Prevnar vax at the time. Scariest thing I ever saw. Nearly diead. They are using his cultures for vaccine research so some other kid doesn't have to live through that some day. When the new Prevnar came out, I begged the ped for it. Begged. He told us to wait a year so that something something. When he finally got it, I could breathe.

I even had an infant contract influenza when all people in the household had been vax which means he got it in the community because someone who was sick didn't stay home. I'm a huge fan of quarantine to iprevent spread of illness but people think they have every right to travel willy nilly to the store while violently ill. You do have that right, but I hate you. Have a friend bring you soup.

I had whooping cough in third grade (yes! I was vaccinated!), and was miserable for 9 long whoopy coughing so hard I vomited months.

Worse, by FAR, than Chicken Pox, though I remember that being awful too.

As impressionable young parents we asked our wonderful pediatrician if he really-really-really wanted us to inject our beautiful Boy with those horrible-awful vaccines. He looked at us as if we were, well, morons, to paraphrase a well-known blogger. Then he said "In my 20 years as a pediatrician I've never seen a really bad reaction to the vaccine. I have, however, seen four children die of whooping cough, and you do not want your child unable to breathe until he dies." 'Nuff said.

So out of curiosity, it Patrick still Dairy free? If yes, that might disprove my theory that sinus infections are from a dairy allergy.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! This vaccination issue gets my hackles up like almost no other. We used to live in Rwanda and when I explained to a friend that more and more people don't vaccinate their children in the U.S., she looked at me like I had two heads. She lost siblings and cousins to the diseases more and more people in this country are REFUSING to vaccinate their children against. It was inconceivable to her that people would voluntarily put their children at risk when effective, inexpensive (often free!) prevention is available. I worry that vaccination rates will continue to decline until we see deadly epidemics that increase child mortality in this country.

Thank you for speaking up about vaccines. Sometimes you get comments that imply that everyone can make their choice, it's none of your business if I don't vaccinate my kids, etc. etc., and it's like, sorry, it IS my business because it's my and everyone else's kids that are at risk if you weaken the "herd" by failing to vaccinate yours. (And yes, it's a weaker form of the disease, but that doesn't make it okay; not to mention that if enough people don't get vaccinated it won't be so weak.)

I really think people have such a poor sense of history. Maybe they've never spent time at a graveyard looking at all the heartbreakingly little gravestones of children who died young from these diseases. My grandfather lost a sister to diptheria, at age three, I believe. My daughter is three now.

I did stagger immunizations by a couple of weeks as it seemed pretty hard on a very small child to get so many at once, and that did seem to keep them from being too laid low the day of. I always get thimerosal-free stuff for me and my kids. But please, people, just do it.

Yep my two youngest have never had chicken pox because of the vax! It wasn't out yet for my oldest and he had it.

I vax'd and don't regret it.

Aside from that, your children are adorable :D

Sorry, when I say "you get" I mean "one hears", not referring to you Julia and your blog specifically.

My kids got pertussis last year. They were vaccinated. The doctor said, "Pertussis is also called the 100-day cough. If it lasts less than 100 days, that's the influence of the vaccine. They may still get it, but it'll be shorter and less severe."

As someone whose kid cannot get the flu shot due to a severe egg allergy and is, well, a bit delicate healthwise, I am not impressed by having him mix with all kinds of kids whose parents don't get their kid vaccinated.

Birdfeeders - we are using golden safflower. all the birds seem to like it and the squirrels are unimpressed (mostly). I don't know about chipmunks - although we have one in our yard, he has not been seen on the feeder.

Thanks for the mention of MCAD program - I had been wondering about those for my artistic son, sounds like they are worth considering.

You could dress Caroline up in some old-timey outfit (with a bonnet, perhaps) and then have her do the moods, and have the pictures in sepia tone, and then make postcards with witty sayings related to the moods (which, I am confident a witty person such as yourself, or Patrick, could come up with.) Prediction: newest hot selling postcards, endlessly linked on facebook. (Wait - maybe I should do that with my daughter - although she doesn't have the eyebrows that Caroline does..... if you make a million dollars I'll be mad at myself)

A driving vacation with (even healthy) kids sounds stressful enough without throwing in the possibility of oh, FIRE and SMOKE. It would be memorable, though!

Wonderful photos of the kids.

Just wanted to chime in and say AMEN to the vaccine thing. Thank you for being brave enough to say so emphatically what needs to be said.

Most people with a firm grasp of of science and statistics vaccinate their kids. It really is the only sensible (and ETHICAL) thing to do. (I acknowledge there is a tiny segment of the population who can't vaccinate).

That there are (growing?) numbers of people choosing to NOT vaccinate suggests to me that we are failing to be clear enough in our public health messages. I wonder what we need to do to make people realize that it is a rash, irresponsible and ridiculous decision to opt out??

Andrew Wakefield (the disgraced British autisim doctor) has blood on his hands. His rigged 'studies' are responsible for children's deaths.

Infuriating and tragic.

I realize I'm not saying anything new here and I'm mostly preaching to the choir. I'll now step off the soap box long enough to say:

thank you so much for posting - always a delight to read about your family. I hope you end up with some fun vacation time whatever you decide to do...

Also, two things:

I work with someone who had polio as a child and still uses a cane to get around. The time when these diseases were more prevalent wasn't as long ago as we think.

I once heard a doctor say that vaccines were the second-biggest factor in global human health after clean drinking water. That stuck with me.

Here is the third world vaccines are vital and compulsory. Why people in the first world think they are so safe I have no idea, if you don't vaccinate you are contributing to the return of life threatening pandemics and you are very very silly.

I'm going to say avoid Colorado at all costs. I'm in Denver, which isn't currently on fire, but the rest of the state seemingly is. Our air is under red alert. Sadly it's not the best time to visit.

Whoops, typo, I meant "in" the third world. Kids in Africa die of preventable diseases every day. Do you want that as your reality?

I think people often forget how devastating these diseases can be. Often time chicken pox is thought of as nothing more than a nuisance not really something to be concerned about. My sister was hospitalized due to complications from chicken pox, my sister-in law developed encephalitis from chicken pox and almost died, she now has no hearing in one ear as a result. My other sister and myself had cases so severe that 30 years later we still have scars. When my daughter turned 1 I marched her into the pediatrician for her vaccine and you know what I sleep better because of it!

Whooping cough "epidemics" occur because the vaccine declines in effectiveness over time. Adults actually need to be vaccinated every 10 years to retain maximum immunity. The pertussis booster is given in combination with one for tetnus. I actually got it this spring, after my doctor recommended it.

Amen, sister! People don't grasp the dangers of these diseases. Here in Oregon, it's the educated "elite" that don't vaccinate. Makes no sense to me. As a cancer survivor (and mother of a fully vaxed four-year-old), I can only tell you how scared I was during chemo that I would be infected with something because people in this community don't vaccinate. Really, people, think!
My grandmother was a nurse and always used to tell me how she was so excited when the polio vaccine came out--both for her own kids and for the kids she treated. People don't realize now how scary things were within our parents' and grandparents' lifetimes.

If your kids have breathing problems at you - you probably don't want to visit Colorado right now. I'm in the Denver area and it is hazy, but I work with a woman from Colorado Springs and it is a mess down there right now. No visibility, heavy smoke and something like 32000 people have already been evacuated. Up north, near Fort Collins is a mess, too. My daughter was supposed to go to camp up there and everything has been shut down.

If you do come to Colorado, Denver might be the safest bet - and there is a lot to do here.

So, I have a far more important issue that vaccinating and wildfires: What are Caroline's shoes? I'm shopping for my two-year-old daughter and LOVE those.

Vaccinating is good for your child for all of the reasons stated above, but is also really important to protect another group of people. Infants who are too young to be vaccinated, or who have not completed their vaccinations, are most at risk of death if they contract these illnesses. Without a vaccinated population, we would have a higher rate of infant mortality due to the impact of preventable disease.

When the CDC issues their vaccination guidelines, they are thinking both of the individual being vaccinated and the people that individual is likely to encounter--including very young children and the immunocompromised.

I completely agree with the vaccine issue and am so sorry about Edward's whooping cough. My sister had it a few months ago and was miserable for weeks and weeks. The sad thing about our culture is that so many more people are likely to listen to the advice of a celebrity than to take the time to read actual scientific reports. When everyone starts listening to celebrities, it becomes trendy. When something becomes trendy, it is usually the educated wealthy who jump on board. It's a dangerous reality.

As for Colorado, I'm sure the more you're watching the news, the more you are seeing that it's not the place to be. My cousin was already away on vacation in NC when the fire broke out, and she is now still waiting for word as to whether her house is still there after the fire swept through her neighborhood in Colorado Springs. It is a horrible scene, and I would think with so many residents forced to evacuate (well over 30,000), they will all be needing places to stay - hotel rooms all over the state will likely be filled with these families. And certainly the kids (esp. Edward) don't need to be breathing the air out there. It's such a sad and scary situation :(

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