that squishing sound
I don't usually link to other blogs (not out of high principle or anything, I think I'm just generally not very plugged into internet "communities" as a whole and also I'M SHY) but I wanted to post this link to the most recent entry on Alice Bradley's blog, "Finslippy" about the vaccine debate. (Warning: video!) The topic of the debate is: who do you trust more, doctors or other parents?
But first, full disclosure: a lot of these so-called "mommy blogs" make me insane. I love "Finslippy" (I think Alice writes incredibly well and with great humor, and she's a Wellesley alum besides) and I think that Julia from "Here Be Hippogriffs" is another blogger who writes beautifully, with humor and nuance) but generally I find myself becoming short tempered with mommy blogs where, shall we say, perspective becomes a little unhinged from reality. I will say no more about this, because when I know I am about to step into a big pile of shit, I do not need to make the shit mound any deeper.
What bothers me particularly about some of these online mommy communities, however (aside from the fact of insisting to use "mommy" as an adjective attached to everything--perhaps this speaks to my own bias, but I feel that it essentially neuters mothers by using a cute diminutive, something akin to calling Frances "Baby" in "Dirty Dancing"), in particular when it comes to debates like whether or not to vaccinate, is the fact that doctors are so often cast in the role of the bad guy. Those evil doctors! Those dumb doctors! Those greedy doctors! They don't know! They don't care! They just want to make money off the booming commercial market that is vaccine production! Anyway, no one knows anything my kid as well as I do! It may not be scientific, but my mommy intuition trumps all!
The thing that drives me nuts about this debate, aside from the anti-vaccine crazies (about which a little more later--enough has been said about this without me needing to add too many words into the ocean of discourse on this topic), is this: sometimes doctors are mothers too. Sometimes doctors and mothers are the same people! Mothers that have gone to medical school! Doctors that have reproduced! The novelty of it all! I know this is hardly the main point to make about this topic, but that's something that has always irked me to no end about this Mothers vs. Doctors debate. (And Alice, thank you for trying to call attention to this, but of couse I'm not surprised that they edited it out. How can there be an "Us vs. Them" if there is no "Them"?)
And look, I'm not saying that doctors know your kid better than you do. Obviously I know my kids better than my Pediatrician does. But loving my kids does not mean that I know everything, nor does it mean that I can protect them from everything bad that could possibly happen, much as I wish I could. Loving my kids does not make me an infectious disease specialist. It does not make me a pulmonologist. It does not make me an immunologist. In the hospital, when I call a consult on a patient, I listen long and hard to what the consult is saying. It behooves me to do so. I know the patient better than they do, but they are the experts in their field while I am the expert in mine. If I am of the mindset that the consult I'm calling is an idiot and maleficent and isn't going to make the right recommendations, why do I call that consult at all?
Look, I don't meant to discredit those who are anti-vaccine by calling them "crazies." The Lancet has taken care of that for me. (Oh, snap.) All I'll say is to repeat something I heard on NPR, which is that it's very easy to scare people, and it's very difficult to un-scare them. Just look at the opinion posited in the video to which I linked, for the mother who refused the MMR vaccine because Jenny McCarthy apparently had such compelling evidence of how it clearly caused her son's autism; but who clamoured for the H1N1 vaccine because it was in the news, all SWINE FLU WILL KILL YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE, OMG, TIME TO START DRINKING PURELL. Easy to scare people, almost impossible to un-scare them. Someone should do a study on that.