Fighting for Firsts and a Shot at Life
The introduction to preschool has brought many firsts for our family. We found out rather last minute that we’d be moving across the country, so the spot on the waiting list at the preschool in the Bay Area that I had reserved for Jack was devastatingly relinquished. We moved to New York City the the summer before he turned three, and at that point were already late in the game for signing up for wait lists and interviews for the private preschools in our area and surrounding neighborhoods. The pressure was enormous and exhausting, but in retrospect, necessary to prepare us for living in Manhattan and adjusting to the standards of the school system. We ended up finding a lovely twos program at the local Y for both Jack and Zoe, and eventually realized that the perfect preschool was literally right under our noses in the community where we lived. We interviewed and applied and both children attended for two years. Jack and Zoe both gained so much through being in a small, creative and nurturing setting with caring adults and first friends that they made and have kept to this day. Preschool was monumental for them as developing little people, and for Justin and I as parents. The teachers and director became family to us in a city where we had none, and we all miss them dearly to this day.
Moving back to the Bay Area has brought a new learning curve as well. We moved to a different town and completely different area then the one Justin and I grew up in and left for Manhattan, and we’re finding that the adjustment hasn’t been as completely seamless as I, for one, expected (have I learned nothing as a parent, I mean really). Our community has a very quintessential, liberal beach town mentality, an aspect that we can certainly appreciate on many levels, though also brings new challenges on others. Jack and Zoe attend an exceptional public elementary school and we’re now getting our feet wet with the introduction to preschool with Beau. Aside from the emotional, wrenching, bittersweet beauty of watching Beau absolutely soar with pride and excitement over the prospect of attending school himself, there has been a rather unexpected new barrier presented on the road to our and Beau’s future.
It’s likely naive to assume that finding the perfect place for Beau and our family would be easy. He’s only two, for Pete’s sake, right? Given how pivotal the preschool experience was for Jack and Zoe, and knowing that Beau is as ready as he could possibly be solidified our decision to find a program for him to attend. I think it’s incredibly important for him to have his very own thing now that his new baby brother or sister is due any day, too. That, unfortunately just might be what keeps him from attending preschool.
We found out rather last minute, after our forms had been signed and a check submitted, that Beau would be attending this program amongst children that have not been vaccinated.
It’s widely known and understood that there are families that don’t vaccinate. I’m not interested in their reasons why they make decisions that they do for their family, be it medically, religious or otherwise, and it’s certainly not something I want to even address. I make my decisions for my children, they make theirs. I feel fortunate to live in a country where we are not only given access to medication that is proven to prevent deadly disease, but I also value our freedom to choose.
That said, Whooping Cough has been declared an epidemic in our community. In January of this year, Assembly Bill 2109 was passed that requires documentation that health care practitioners have informed parents about vaccines and diseases, though they are able to submit forms for exemptions due to medical restrictions and their personal belief system. Whooping Cough, or Perstussis, is the most deadly to infants under three months of age, and this year has presented a 30% increase in cases of the disease already over 2013 as a whole.
As a parent making reasonable, rational and informed decisions for my children, I could not allow Beau to be in a situation with other toddlers that might have been exposed and unprotected against the disease, especially knowing that our new baby will arriving any day. It’s not a risk I’m willing to take, and I am incredibly upset and angry about potentially compromising what should be a lovely first year of preschool for Beau.
I’ve had plenty of discussions had with my obstetrician, who also lives and raises her girls in my community, as well as our pediatrician and even my friends that are parents in our neighborhood about the situation. It’s not an easy place to be, especially as hot button as this topic tends to be, but we’re moving ahead and making decisions based on the information we have. We’re adjusting his schedule and have found a place for him to be where his peers will all be vaccinated and his risk is greatly reduced. I plan on cleaning everyone and everything often, as well as breastfeeding to protect babe as much as possible. We are doing what we can keep our family safe, without feeling the pressure of actually building and enclosing us in a bubble like I’m inclined to do.
It seems incredibly poignant, and I am incredibly honored that I was asked to be an ambassador for the United Nations Shot at Life Campaign. This campaign works to provide vaccinations to children in developing countries that might not otherwise have access to such life saving protection. Globally, 1 in 5 kids still don’t have access to the vaccines they need, and a child still dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine preventable disease. This campaign aims to provide a chance for these children to experience the “happy and healthy firsts” that many children in our country are able to have and something many of us take for granted.
This is where you come in. For every comment on this post or share on social media, Walgreens will donate a vaccine to a child in need up to 60,000 during the month of August. I’m the last to post here, and am hoping to take the campaign out with a bang! As of right now, there have been 52,595 vaccines raised thought the power of social media. It’s astounding, and I for one could not be more proud to be a part of this.
Here’s to many more happy and healthy firsts for all of our children. Please comment and share as you see fit!
During Shot@Life‘s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.