Our first son is Avery. He was a small 6 lb. 11 oz. baby. Adorable, sweet and always sick. After numerous trips to doctor and incorrect diagnosis, after incorrect diagnosis he ended up in the emergency room. That emergency room visit turned into 2 weeks in the hospital and a surgery resulting from a ruptured gallbladder at age 7 months. After countless blood draws daily in the hospital, I decided to hold off on vaccines. I waited until he was fully recovered at around 18 months. When I finally allowed the doctor to vaccinate, I said “no MMR, I heard it causes autism.” The doctor swore up and down that this was unfounded and that the doctors who made this claim were sued and lost there licenses. Trusting our doctor, I allowed the vaccine but said just one since he was so traumatized in the hospital.
Fast forward less than a year later, we had Aydan. Aydan was a big 9 lb., 9oz. baby. Healthy and strong, he crawled at 4 months, walked at 10 and spoke single words by 12 months, even knowing the word “hands” when he clasped his hands together. (Today at age 4 we are still struggling to teach him his body parts). Remembering the words of my doctor; I did not hesitate to vaccinate Aydan. He received all of his shots as scheduled but something happened to our big, healthy boy. In an all too familiar story he began to regress following a sickness and a series of vaccines. His language became sparse and erratic; he walked primarily on his toes and did not have interest in other children, even his brother. One day I took him to our Mommy and me gymnastic class and the instructor asked why he wasn’t talking yet (at age 2), “is it autism?” she asked. I immediately responded, “no”…”he’s not been tested.” I hated her for saying that and I couldn’t keep it out of my head. I became an expert on the subject of Google and looked for any explanation that wasn’t “autism”. I couldn’t find it. Later I heard the “a” word again and this time it was from a friend. I knew she labored to tell me but in the end she did what she thought was best and so did I. A few days later he was diagnosed. The doctor was great, telling me that nowadays kids recover all time and not to worry. What she didn’t tell me was that the reason kids recover is because their families work their as*** off and spend countless hours and funds on resources.
I’ll never know if holding off on vaccinating my first son spared him for autism or if not holding off on my second caused his autism. I can’t really dwell on what could’ve been but can only forge forward and know in my heart that one day Aydan will recover.
Since, I can’t take back what I did having my son vaccinated, I can try hard today to make his quality of life worth it and find meaning in all that we go through.