***This post is written by a reader and submitted. Also, this is not intended to spark vaccine debate***
How the Military Failed my Child: A Broken Mother’s Story
My goal is not to spark a debate or to ask you to pick sides (to support me or berate me). I am a mother and I simply want to tell my story. I want to be heard, even if people don’t understand or choose to not understand. It is April, the month of the military child and my heart just breaks that my son isn’t supported like he is supposed to, like he deserves. So here we go.
It was 2009 and I was happily expecting my first baby. My 20-week appointment at the local military hospital was coming soon and, as excited as I was for the amazing “gender reveal,” I was more concerned about the complete physical examination via ultrasound to make sure baby is ok.
What a fun day! We confirmed my feeling all along that we were having a boy. And everything went on as usual on the next prenatal appointment (24 weeks). I was relieved! After all, if they had found anything wrong, they would call me, right? But my next prenatal appointment was a game-changer!
At my appointment, the midwife asks me why I hadn’t gone back for a second ultrasound. What? Why? I was never told that they found something wrong with my baby and that I needed to go in for a second ultrasound. The next opening was 2 or 3 days after I received the news. You can imagine how little I slept during that time, right?
Sure enough, it was confirmed that my son has a dilated kidney. What does that mean? I don’t know. “It can mean many things,” they said. We were to monitor him throughout the pregnancy and run some tests after birth. On the bright side, his life wasn’t in any danger and because we got more ultrasounds, we got to see our precious baby more often.
After he was born, they ran tests. Some were traumatizing for me and pretty hard to watch, but we needed to rule out the worst. Thankfully, his diagnosis was a not-so-bad one. He has a dilated kidney due to an underdeveloped ureter. No reflux. No kidney deformity. No lowered kidney function. No kidney disease. Praise God!
Our journey was just beginning, though. He was put on a daily low dose of antibiotic to prevent any UTIs and kidney infections for his first year of life and we had to see a pediatric urologist 2 hours away every 3 months for the first 3 years of his life. Now, we have a visit once a year, every year.
I am so grateful that he never had complications from it. We were told that this is much more common in boys and that 90% of them outgrow it by age 5. We held fast onto the hope that he would be in that 90%, for sure. Sadly, it wasn’t the case. He is seven years old and his kidney condition hasn’t changed. It hasn’t improved, but it hasn’t gotten worse either.
Fast forward to now, seven years later. My son is thriving and healthy. You could never tell that his kidney is dilated because it has never given him issues. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been a diligent momma and haven’t done my research to protect my child and be his #1 advocate.
One of the researches I have done is regarding vaccinations. We are on an alternate schedule. There haven’t been any issues or pushback because of it. We simply want my son’s immune system to not be overwhelmed or his kidneys having a hard time processing the ingredients in them.
One of the vaccines that he is due for contains an ingredient that has been contraindicated for patients with any kidney issues. Yes, I read vaccine inserts and I research ingredients. I am not paranoid. I am diligent. That ingredient is notorious for having a risk of causing permanent kidney damage and/or permanent vision loss. Sounds lovely, right?
Furthermore, there is a warning for this ingredient and it is not to be administered to patients with any kidney issues or with any vision issues. That, right there, is as clear as day to me that we definitely have to wait on this one until he has outgrown his condition.
Well, not everyone seems to agree with this contraindication and I am told to go against it or face a grueling process. What am I talking about? I am talking about a military base that is denying my son services for socialization because he is missing this one vaccine. The insert and the contraindication don’t matter. He is not welcomed to their facility.
An Impossible Journey
If I really want him to be a part of the child services they offer, I have to then submit all of his life’s medical records, any and all supporting evidence documentation, doctor’s letters, vaccine schedule, kidney tests, etc. Once everything is submitted, it will all be looked at by a group of people and a doctor in their facility. My son has to be seen and tested by him. They will then each have to write a report on their findings.
Like that isn’t enough, I will then have to present all of this in a meeting before a board, who will then make the ultimate decision on whether they will include my son or not. The child services personnel flat-out told me that it is a long and painful process, that hardly anyone goes through it and that it is a pretty much guarantee that it will be denied (religious exemptions aren’t readily accepted as valid submissions).
I was basically told to give it up because to would take months, a lot of time to gather information/paperwork and that it will most likely be denied, even if it is a medical/congenital reason that is pretty black and white. My heart breaks for my son. The military has failed him. The military facility is discriminating against him for having a congenital condition that limits him on vaccine ingredients his body can process properly.
The military life is all he knows. He knows of moving around, of daddy being gone, of making sacrifices other children don’t have to make and yet, the very ideal he supports is putting its hand in his face and saying “you are not welcome here.”
It isn’t his fault that he was born this way. I am sure our lives would’ve been a lot easier without this condition. But it is part of who he is and this has made us stronger. I just can’t bear telling my son that we won’t be able to join in because they won’t take him.
We homeschool, so we love finding outlets for our children to make friends and have different experiences. The military has failed us in this regard. I was told that if my daughter gets up to date with her vaccine schedule, that she is more than welcome there, but not my son.
The nurse I spoke with said to me, in essence, that homeschooling is a culture in itself and that other homeschooling families find each other to watch each others’ kids. She told me that by how nearly impossible my claim for a waiver is, that she recommends I find childcare/social activities for him elsewhere.
What would you do in my place?
Would you give it up or would you fight? Comment below and share your thoughts.
And if a miracle happens and the waiver gets approved, will my son be “that kid?” Do I want him to be mingling with people who discriminate against him for having a congenital condition that keeps him to his body taking an ingredient in a vaccine?
(for anonymous submitter)