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    The Alarming Status Quo {Part II}

    August 18, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    As I mentioned in my previous post, the hospital ticked me off a bit when I called about the vaccine and eye ointment waivers. I don’t want to build this up to be a huge story, because it really isn’t, though I do believe the conversation is symptomatic of the medical industry’s approach to parents {i.e., trained professionals know more than the mother, even if the mother turns out to be well-informed and researched, or even a trained professional herself}.

    Today, I want to explain why we are refusing the day-of-birth vaccine {which we would refuse even if we had not already decided not to vaccinate our children} and the eye ointment. Part of the reason I’m writing this is to remind myself why we decided this in case I have to answer impertinent questions on Friday when I go to get the waiver forms.

    As an aside, I thought I’d mention that folks like me who choose to live outside the status quo when it comes to schooling, health care, or whatnot {choose your poison}, should take care to guard against offense. When someone does something that is different or unusual, the curiosity of others is naturally aroused. It is not rude for people to be curious, and questions are not inherently a sign of bad manners. My new approach is to, first of all, never give a hospital or doctor’s office employee more information than they need. However, if another mother casually asks a question, I consider it an opportunity to encourage someone to think for herself. Most people ask questions because they are searching for information or they found something interesting. This isn’t a reason to get defensive.

    Ahem.

    Moving ever onward…

    Newborn Eye Ointment

    I could go on and on about this subject, but instead I’m going to point to a couple handy references, and if any reader truly wants more information, they can click away. Newborn eye ointment is administered as standard procedure to pretty much every baby born in the US {as far as I know}. The purpose of newborn eye ointment is to defend babies against two types of blindness. The first is caused by gonorrhea and the second by chlamydia.

    To read more about some of this, there is an interesting discussion in the archives at GentleBirth. There is also a great analysis of Neonatal Ocular Prophylaxis at Unhinderedliving.com.

    What I’m going to talk about now is why we have made this decision. I’ll make it fun and use bullet points. My husband loves bullet points.

    • Personal experience. Our oldest enjoyed the status quo to its fullest. By the time I met him, the hospital staff had gooped up his eyes until they looked like they were almost swollen shut. He ended up contracting a subsequent eye infection that required additional antibiotic ointment for a week. I was later told that the first ointment probably killed all the bad and good bacteria in his eyes, and left him vulnerable to the later infection. I spent five weeks cleaning his eyes with a warm washcloth after every single nap because of his excessive eye drainage.

      Our second child ended up in an even worse condition. She, too, looked like she was swollen after the administration of the ointment. She, however, ended up with plugged tear ducts. Her eyes would ooze during every nap, so badly that they sealed themselves shut. I had to prepare warm wet cloths and soak her eyes whenever she woke. I could tell it was painful to pry all of the sticky discharge out of her eyes. This continued to the point where the pediatrician mentioned more than once that she might require a surgery at one year if it didn’t clear up. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go to that extreme.

      Before the birth of our third child, I read that what my first two children experienced was considered a side effect of the eye ointment given at birth. When I realized that the sole purpose of the ointment was to protect them from diseases I couldn’t possibly have, and which they could only contract during a normal delivery {and my children are all C-sections}, we considered the status quo to be too risky.

      Our third child was spared the ointment. She made much more eye contact from the very beginning. She never had disgusting eyes upon awakening. And, amazingly enough, she never went blind.

    • Logic. If I knew what I knew now about the ointment, I would refuse it even if I hadn’t had the bad experiences with my older children. I am not a fan of administering medicine that is unnecessary. The ointment is to prevent a form of blindness caused by STDs that I couldn’t possibly have. And such forms of blindness, by the way, are much more unlikely in a post-penicillin world even for babies born to moms who do have one or both diseases.

      But back to our personal situation. My husband and I, as Christians, take seriously the command to keep the marriage bed pure. We happened to be Christians before we ever met, so purity is something that has not only been a part of our marriage lately, but it actually preceded our marriage.

      I’m trying to be vague here, for the sake of discretion.

      Ahem.

      If the marriage bed is kept pure, it logically follows that the children resulting from the marriage do not need ointment.

    • An expression of freedom. When the hospitals require a certain action regardless of who the patient is and what diseases they do or do not have, they are treating patients in an impersonal, inhuman manner. Subjecting my child to a drug because some other mother somewhere has some disease which I do not have is putting me in bondage to that other, infected mother. Why must I reap what she has sown? Why must I pay for her deeds? And why must my child?

      In a truly free society, the government respects that parents are just that: parents. Parents have not only the right to make decisions for their children, they have the responsibility. Regardless of what decision is made for the child, I think the very act of making it a decision is a way of taking hold of my own position of parent. It is an act of love when I decide, as best I can, what is best for my child.

      I am not a slave, and no hospital employee should dictate my child’s care.

    Day-of-Birth Vaccine

    The vaccine given on the day of birth is, I believe, for Hepatitis B. I say I believe, because my children were never offered vaccines on their days of birth before. I only inadvertantly found out from a friend that this would be a threat to our new baby and I would need to sign a waiver form. Times, they are changing, I suppose.

    We do not vaccinate our children anymore. The primary reason for this concerns some specific ethical and religious beliefs. If you want to read about them, you may click here. A secondary reason we do not vaccinate is that our first two children have had multiple health issues {including severe vaccine reactions and possible vaccine injury} that {surprise, surprise} our third child does not share. Our third child is our healthiest child, and she is unvaccinated.

    However, since my first few babies survived not being vaccinated on their first day of life, I see no reason to administer a shot to such a new soul, even if some government official somewhere out there decided to revamp the vaccine schedule.

    But let’s take a brief look at the Hepatits B shot, just for fun. What is Hepatitis B? Friends, this is the all-important question. According to the CDC website:

    Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus {HBV}. It ranges in severity from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks {acute}, to a serious long-term {chronic} illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

    Transmission: Contact with infectious blood, semen, and other body fluids from having sex with an infected person, sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs, or from an infected mother to her newborn.

    Administering Hepatitis B on the day of birth is similar to the eye ointment situation: there is an underlying assumption that the mother is infected with a disease that is either an STD or a result of IV drug use.

    Repeat after me: My baby is not at risk.

    The only narcotics I’ve ever taken by IV were given to me by hospital staff expressly against my will. And I’ve already discussed the protection that purity offers mother and child. So my baby does not need a shot for this disease.

    However, hospitals aren’t exactly the cleanest places on earth. MRSA, for instance, has broken out in our local hospitals repeatedly. Anytime a person’s skin is punctured, they lose one line of their body’s natural defense. Open wounds, even small ones, are an opportunity for viruses and bacteria. So why allow a child to be vaccinated in a hospital, and receive a puncture wound in a particularly dangerous environment {hospitals being, I repeat, polluted by infectious agents}, when the shot can be given at a later date in the comparative safety of their doctor’s office?

    To me, this just makes sense. If we vaccinated, we would wait. We wouldn’t allow our child’s immune system to be compromised on the day of birth. Since our family is not at risk for Hepatitis B, and newborns aren’t even capable of engaging in behavior that puts them at risk, I don’t think there’s any cause for concern here.

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    9 Comments

  • Reply Brandy September 4, 2008 at 2:00 am

    Emily, It really is amazing to me when I discover why hospitals do the things they do. I love to see other moms thinking through these issues, even if they end up deciding differently than me. Parents should excercise their authority over the child from the very beginning.

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts September 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Yeah. It’s all very ridiculous. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see another mother making wise choices for her kids’ health.

  • Reply Ellen August 19, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks, Brandy. I appreciate you looking up the info for NC. You’re a pal! Looking forward to hearing of your safe, uneventfual, delivery. =)

  • Reply Brandy August 19, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Ellen,

    I suppose it could be The Law in your state. I know that in Washington State, CPS can be called in upon a parent’s refusal of the vaccine and possibly the eye ointment depending on how annoying the hospital is. Here in California, the only thing to do is make sure you’ve filled out the waivers and carry copies with you everywhere you go. They have to honor the waivers, and the waivers protect the hospital from suits for failing to do their duties. You might be able to glance at vaccine rights and exemptions by state at this website. And you could always say something cool like, “My husband is a lawyer.” πŸ™‚

    Am I remembering correctly that you are in North Carolina? If so, try this site.

    I, too, thought I had no choice when my first was born! But I also didn’t think much about these things at the time…

  • Reply Brandy August 19, 2008 at 4:15 am

    Rebecca,

    I’ve thought a lot about your situation with your firstborn, and I think I would have made the same decision in your shoes! It always seemed logical at the time, though now I wonder if the information was valid.

    Next time, bring a laptop with a WiFi connection. Just kidding. πŸ™‚

    I think that the Hep B shots is a REALLY recent thing–as in 2008.

    By the way, I really thought that a hospital visit was eminent early this morning when, at 4am, I embarked upon two straight hours of strong contractions that were 7 minutes apart. It was great fun, and just when I considered waking Si up, they left.

    Oh well. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brandy August 19, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Kimbrah,

    It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I even thought to consider the vitamin K shot. Maybe the term “vitamin” made me more accepting. πŸ™‚

    Anyhow, so far my research says that vitamin K is much more important to preemies than to full-term babes because there are certain other clotting factors that are present in full-term babies that preemies do not yet have. This is why preemies are at extra-high risk for brain bleeding. The vitamin K shot seems to be treating a rare risk, not something that the average baby would suffer. This is why babies survived the last, oh, 10000 years without getting a shot.

    The concern with the shot seems to be that it has been linked to increased risk of childhood leukemia. I suppose we could ask whether or not God intends for the children to have vitamin K in their system at birth if none of them have it. It is a possibility of us thinking we know more than the Designer, perhaps?

    One interesting sidenote is that babies delivered by C-section are at a higher risk and the shot is considered more important for them as well.

    With this said, we have decided to proceed with the shot, even though that contradicts my earlier comments about puncturing a child on the day of birth. πŸ™‚

    Here are a couple interesting reads on the subject:

    Vitamin K: Inject or Not?

    Is the Vitamin K Shot Right for Your Newborn?

  • Reply Ellen August 19, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Yeah. And yeah. Our baby was vaccinated and had the eye goop. I knew ahead of time what would happen and what it was for, and I was disgusted by the fact that Seth had to be subjected to it, but I honestly thought I had no option. I was told it was “the law” that he be vaccinated with that in the hospital. I’m pretty sure that I will have to endure a good bit of persecution if I try to opt out in a hospital here. Sigh.

  • Reply rebecca August 19, 2008 at 12:29 am

    I’ll be doing some research if/when we have a second child re: the eye ointment. I initially refused it, but was talked into having it administered because there was meconium (sp?) present when Lauren was born and I was told that could cause infection. That made sense to me, but I couldn’t really do any research from my bed at the time.

    Do you know when Hep B Shots were instituted? I was telling someone recently that I had heard babies received them while still at the hospital, but I knew my child had not received it and I had not had to refuse it. Of course, there were other things not done while we were there that I have heard are routine.

    Glad to see your post. I was wondering if you were still home today!

  • Reply Kimbrah August 19, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Brandy-

    I noticed that you didn’t mention the vitamn K shot. Just wondering about your stance on that.

    Kimbrah

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