Like many first time mums I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about the sort of parent I wanted to be. During the pregnancy and throughout Chublet’s first year I read up on Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs), attachment parenting, various sleep and settling routines, baby-led weaning (BLW), baby wearing, benefits of a host of activities and lots of articles and texts on brain development and research into baby development.
All of this reading, combined with talking to other mums, especially my sister and my mum, have combined to mold me into a parent who has chosen as many baby-led, environmentally friendly options as possible; or, as I like to explain to friends, finding the laziest way of raising my child. So we use MCNs (cheaper), did BLW (easier), I baby-wear (so convenient when she’s whingy), and when needed we co-sleep (let’s all get some sleep). I didn’t think that much of these decisions, and I really didn’t think they were all that alternative, until I came across a post on one of the mothering forums I occasionally browse through.
The post was asking for families who followed an alternative lifestyle, who might be willing to be part of an ad campaign promoting vaccination. It called for families who ‘used cloth nappies, did baby-led weaning, enjoyed baby-wearing, grew their own vegetables, and were attachment parents’. Hmmm; 4 out of 5, and depending on the definition, 5 out of 5. Apparently I’m a hippy mumma! This came as a bit of a shock, I really didn’t and still don’t, get the apparent link between using cloth nappies / co-sleeping / growing your own veggies and being a parent who chooses not to vaccinate your child.
There is quite a vigorous debate at present about vaccination rates in Australia and the actions of a very strong anti-vaccination lobby in NSW. Personally I find the statistics around non-vaccinated children scary (in some parts of Sydney vaccination rates are below 90% – the percentage generally considered the point at which herd immunity kicks in, and in some suburbs the vaccination rates are below those of many developing nations). The re-emergence of whooping cough in particular, but also a range of other childhood illnesses that can be fatal, but can be prevented or minimised through vaccination is more than enough to send me to the GP each time Chublet is due for her next round of vaccinations. Yes the crying is upsetting, and her inability to understand what is happening makes me feel bad, but I cannot imagine the pain of watching her struggle to breath, or my complete lack of words if I had to try and explain to her why she was in hospital with a disease I could have prevented her from getting.
So with these views did i put myself forward for the ad campaign? No – it was for parents in a different state, and I figured that when it came down to the crunch we probably weren’t really alternative enough. Still I enjoyed my brief mental foray into being a ‘hippy mumma’.