Friday, November 22, 2013

Avoiding Forced Retraction

   As parents, we should be able to trust medical professionals with our children even if no one else. Yet far too often intact boys are forcibly retracted by the very professionals parents are counting on to take care of them. The outdated ideas of intact care are hurting boys all over the country. We have to reverse the epidemic of forced retraction with education and awareness. It's not that I believe doctors, nurses and other caregivers are doing this maliciously. It's just that intent does not matter- it is harmful no matter the good intentions. 

   On Wednesday my son had a minor surgery. With forced retraction so widespread, my husband and I were concerned with protecting our son from harm. We discussed this with all of his nurses, showed them what I had written on his diapers and asked that they not change his diaper at all anyway. The first time we brought up the subject of no retraction we were brushed off "I've changed plenty of diapers". So we repeated ourselves several times until it was very clear this was something we would NOT let go. I'm happy to say our son came back to us not only with the surgery having gone well but also unharmed- he was still in the diaper I'd put him in and no signs of harm.

The reason I felt the need to mark his diapers, talk to the staff AND still just ask them not to change his diapers? Because it has happened that all of those measures have been ignored and since the staff showed no understanding of what I explained, I wasn't trusting them to follow my instructions on this. The staff was great otherwise but as all of them just kind of stared when I explained this.... well, not exactly confidence-inspiring in this area.

 EVERYONE who will be caring for your son needs to know to only clean what is seen and that retraction in a young child is not just unneeded but actually damaging. Beyond being painful and the possibility of infections, forced retraction can lead to problems such as adhesions. The reason intact boys of past generations were thought to be more prone to infections? Improper care- forced retraction. 

All parents and caregivers need to know that retraction is a sexual function. There is no need for it besides that and no need for it to be possible before puberty. Foreskin should never be retracted by anyone other than the child it belongs to and the age of natural separation ranges from about 3 years old until puberty. 

Also,it's important to make sure that everyone understands that even "just a little" retraction can be both painful and harmful. Our own pediatrician retracted my son's foreskin "just a little" when he was an infant. It was enough for me to see the glans before I could stop her. Yet just this week when we brought him to have a physical done to get clearance for surgery, I had a wonderful conversation with her about how foreskin is not meant to be retracted in children and that it is often not possible naturally before puberty. I'm not sure if she's changed her thoughts on "just a little" retraction but I've made mine very clear for sure. Thankfully all LM suffered through after it was irritation but it could have been much worse. Since then I have always reminded her NO retraction should be done. 

Also, Saving Our Sons has “intact, do not retract” stickers and oversized “proper intact care” cards that would be perfect in situations like this along with new babysitters, daycares, etc. I was definitely wishing I'd had the proper intact cards to give to the nurses and the stickers to put on his diapers. Also, I've heard from other moms that they put the stickers on wipe cases, diaper bags and other belongings- anything that will be seen before a diaper change or bath by a caregiver.

To learn more-

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Everyone's Business"

 Is it everyone's business if and how my child is vaccinated?

It is, in that, if you ask me about my son's vaccination status, I'll honestly tell you and should you decide to avoid him because of that, that's your right. I could easily ask for the same information too. After all, I am not sure I want our children that close together after your's receives a live vaccine anyway. And while I'm at it, can we talk about you bringing your sick child into public and exposing everyone to whatever germs you're trying to pass off as allergies?

Beyond the right I'll concede that between friends, you can ask and be given an honest answer or at least told flatly that an answer isn't coming (rather than just a lie), nope, this is not "everybody's business" territory. You can talk about it and complain about it all you want but I won't have chemicals injected into him just to offer some maybe-possibly benefit to someone else's child. Not trying to claim I can do and not do whatever I want with my children. Society should care if a child is being abused in a proven way or being neglected to the point of their harm. Always. No matter who's child it is, we should never turn away from a hurt child.

Has everybody read the "I'm Coming Out... as Pro-Vaccine" post on HuffPost? Considering my headache after reading it, I don't recommend it if you haven't already. My irritation is not from her pro-vaccine stance itself but because of it's premise that I should do something I know is risky for my children to maybe possibly benefit someone else's child. Not happening. Obviously the last thing a child with leukemia needs is another disease heaped on top.... but my child doesn't need that many chemicals shoved into their system either. Who's health is of more importance? Neither. Both are innocent children, who's parents need to do their best for them.

Vaccine preventable disease is a misnomer to begin with. No vaccine is truly 100% effective, thus there is no way to guarantee your child doesn't get a disease. And herd immunity is a joke in a society that eats chemical-laden junk food constantly, pops antibiotics for a cold and basically does nothing to boost immune systems besides inject a massive amount of chemicals into our youngest citizens. Who's immune systems, btw, would be stronger anyway if they where breastfed in higher numbers and weaned onto real food rather than overly processed sugar-filled treats. Not to mention, how many adults (who received far fewer vaccines as children) stay up to date on recommended boosters? Getting a flu shot once a year doesn't make an adult "vaccinated". Why are children targeted and burdened with maintaining this illusion of herd immunity rather than adults? It's very easy to argue that vaccines are safer for adults because their brains and bodies are no longer developing as children's are. Children can be dragged to the clinic for shots though and parents can be pushed into doing so because of schools claiming "no shots, no school". Adults though, they are a lot harder to drag somewhere to receive several injections. The ones who DO stay up to date on boosters are generally working in the medical field and pushed to do so by their employers. Without that incentive, how many adults go along with vaccinations for themselves? I vaccinate myself and call all adults worried about herd immunity to do the same thing. If you're worried about my child hurting herd immunity, when was the last time you got a Tdap booster? Or any others?

I DO feel like this is one of the parenting choices where there are shades of grey, and anyone who researches it to make their choice rather than following blindly has my respect, no matter if that's full vax, partial vax or no vax. But my child hurting "herd immunity" is no more HER business than her child shedding is mine. Routine infant circumcision is always damaging and breastfeeding is always the biological normal way for infants to eat but vaccines.... many times a child receives them and shows no ill effects. Sometimes, they are miserable with a high fever and soreness. And sometimes the effects are much worse. I don't need to list all of those effects because all you have to do is read the vaccine inserts but here are a few of the top ones- seizures, uncontrollable fever and brain swelling. I'm not against vaccination but I am very wary of it. There is not enough research, not enough long-term studies, no comprehensive studies (the vaccine schedule as a whole has not been studied, only the vaccines separately). They are not "safe" or "risk-free", and thus they should not be forced.

The fact is... we do vaccinate. Sorta. Slowly, one injection at a time (which can mean up to 3 or more actual vaccines unfortunately) and very selectively. I can understand why some parents fully vaccinate, and why some do NO vaccinations. There is a lot of fear on both sides, and in the middle ground with me. Each time I consent to a vaccine being given to my child, there is fear. I've been one of the "unlucky few" when it comes to another area of parenting before (full-term stillbirth) and while the numbers of "unlucky ones" may seem small to you, they are still real. I'm not naive enough to say "it won't happen to MY child".

No parent should be forced to something risky to their child in the idea of possibly benefiting someone else. Many things factor into my decisions when it comes to vaccinations. My child hurting the flawed idea of herd immunity and "the greater good" are not those factors though.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tot School: The Beginning

Tot school, or homeschooling for toddlers. 

Little Man is now TWO. Very active, curious and fearless. He loves being read to over and over during the day. 

We've decided to start tot school with him. It's mostly ideas, goals, etc for ME though. Certainly we're not trying to sit our little wild man down to do workbooks. It's focused on play and reading to him, and I'm really excited about it. He's enjoyed the first week of it but doesn't really seem to notice it's any more organized than before. Which is kinda the point. No stress, no pressure, no pushing, no set structure. Just offering up opportunities and ideas for learning thru books and play. This is how I envision our homeschooling being for a long time. Our motto isn't that learning should be fun, but that play IS learning. 

Here where my goals to keep in mind so far: 

Themes: Ducks

Letters: Familiarity with magnet board and spiral flash cards.

Numbers: Familiarity with magnet board and clock puzzle, counting toy ducks and reading his book One Duck Stuck.

Animals: Ducks! Find ducks in books, all his toy ducks, pics on computer and work on “not a duck”. Have ducks “swim” in the water on water-table, bath and bowl on the floor.

Duck facts- 1) ducks swim in water, 2) baby ducks are ducklings, 3) ducks say quack, 4) ducks eat grass and bugs and 5) a group of ducks is called a team.

Music: Songs about ducks, letters and numbers. Play with his music toys, talk about the names for them and the sounds they make. 

Vocab: Reading aloud books and "quack like a duck"  plus 1) Five Little Ducks, 2) The Little Ducklings, 3) The Six Little Ducks, 4) Ducks on the Bus, 5) I Had A Little Ducky, and 6) Lucky Duck. 

Active Play: Yoga and our walks. 

Health- Basic body parts, their names and what they do. 

Really, this stuff we do sometimes anyway. But we get into ruts of doing the same thing every day and us both getting bored. We're actually pretty bad at that... just hanging out, doing the same thing every day. This was a list of things to do all week, not necessarily doing everything every day. I choose a duck theme because the kid LOVES the idea of ducks... just not being up close and personal with them. To be honest, I started out the week with the idea of having an animal AND color theme for each week. Half-way into the first day, I knew that felt too forced and we ditched it. Teaching colors in a vacuum just isn't our thing for now, though that is how I taught them as a day care teacher. 

We started our days with listening to songs about ducks. My reading duck-themed rhymes/poems to him went over really well, though in a bit of a bizarre reaction. Whenever I'd read one, he'd run back and forth across the living room while giggling. Pretty funny, and whenever I paused between them, he'd stop and stare at me. Hearing Daddy and me "quack like a duck" was hilarious  but he had no interest in trying to mimic us. His favorite things to hear about ducks where about what they eat and how they like to swim. 

It was a great week, we had fun, he said a few new words (yellow, blue, clouds) and it was exactly the relaxed feeling I want it to be. Obviously this is a learning journey for me as well, and that's just part of the excitement. No idea what or how much we'll change as we go along, but it's definitely going to remain Little Man-centered. 

I've been gone forever it seems. Anyone still following? There where a few different reasons WHY but I never lost my interest in writing and I've been wanting to revive my poor abandoned blog for a long time. Maybe I'll do a separate post about what's been up/what's new.