My Baby's Got a Secret (Part 2: Pasteurization & Homogenization)

Tim and I are relaxing on the couch with Indy, How It's Made is on Science Channel, and Flynn's diapers are in the wash. Today was an extra stinky diaper day. Once they start solids... things get REAL. That's part of the "fun" of cloth diapers. Even though I work, I still have the pleasure of seeing everything that came out of my sweet baby boy at the end of the day. This is definitely something only a mother could love.

Flynn still poops two or three times a day. He's never constipated and never gassy. Seriously... never! I credit 3 things: half of his milk still comes from me, the probiotic powder in his formula, and the fact that he's getting natural enzymes from raw milk. A digestive trifecta.

Here are some crazy stats for you:
- 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant.
- 75% of all African-American, Jewish, Mexican-American, and Native American adults are lactose intolerant.
- 90% of Asian-Americans are lactose intolerant.
[Even Leonard Hofstadter, everyone's favorite TV nerd is lactose intolerant]
This is my crude understanding of lactose intolerance. Bear with me, I'm no scientist. Lactase is the enzyme our bodies naturally create to digest lactose. Most people worldwide experience a drop in lactase production around age 5. When our bodies don't produce enough lactase, we become lactose intolerant. 

I realized I was lactose intolerant in college. Growing up, I fought my parents about finishing my milk and ice cream always gave me a stomach ache. Duh - my body didn't know what to do with it! I've tried going dairy-free a few times, but it's so hard. Those sneaky food manufacturers use casein (a dairy protein) in practically every processed food as a binder, especially cheese. Eating too much casein has also been linked to cancer.

So why is raw better?

Milk straight from a cow contains awesome enzymes specially designed to make it easier to digest. However, these enzymes (and all the other lovely nutrients in milk) are very fragile. Once milk is heated to a certain temperature through pasteurization, these enzymes are destroyed forever. The molecules that comprise them are literally flattened and the enzymes can no longer do their thing.

Pasteurization heats milk to just below boiling temperatures, while ultra-pasteurization forces milk through pipes and steam outside of the pipes heats it for 15-20 seconds at 171 degrees, and for 1-2 seconds at up to 275 degrees. Bacteria is killed, as well as all the good enzymes.

[See this website for more details]
Pasteurization is very helpful to Big Dairy because it extends shelf life dramatically and allows them to ship their products all over the country without the risk of it going bad. Obviously when you support a local farm and buy their milk, it's a much shorter distance from cow to store. I'm sure you've taken a whiff of conventional milk that's past it's prime - gag. Do you know what spoiled raw milk smells like? Sour cream! The way it's supposed to be if you think about it.

No homo

Now let's talk about homogenization, which is the process that removes cream from milk. When I buy raw milk, the cream naturally rises to the top and I have to shake it up before I pour it. According to my Mom, who grew up drinking raw milk on a farm and is still alive to tell about it, everyone used to just skim the cream off the top themselves and use it in their coffee. Now, the dairy industry uses centrifugal cream separators to speed up the process. And then we buy our cream separately with a bunch of additives thrown in. Makes total sense.

The Weston A. Price Foundation sums up the problem with homogenization better than I can: During homogenization there is a tremendous increase in surface area on the fat globules. The original fat globule membrane is lost and a new one is formed that incorporates a much greater portion of casein and whey proteins. This may account for the increased allergenicity of modern processed milk.

[The good old days]
Enter Digestive Aids

After pasteurization became the norm, people started feeling all icky after eating dairy. Instead of wondering WHY this was happening, they turned to drugs to solve the problem. Gas-X, antacids, Pepto, Mylicon for babies. The pharmaceutical industry started reaping the benefits of pasteurization big time. People wanted to enjoy their ice cream without the unpleasantness that followed, so they popped a few pills and ate it anyway. This paved the way for "alternative" milk products like Lactaid, and even lactase drops. Ahh, problem solved. Butttt, not really.
[Silly Lactaid, conventional cows are too sick to dance]
Who wants to rely on drugs their whole life just to eat dairy? If you choose raw dairy products, you don't have to. You're giving your body everything it needs to do its job.

In Part 3, I'll give you all the details about Flynn's homemade raw milk formula. Breast milk is always best, but I'm so glad I found a healthy alternative to commercial powdered formula when I needed it.

Are you lactose intolerant? If so, how do you deal with it? Do you love Big Bang Theory as much as I do? Discuss...


My Baby's Got a Secret (Part 1)

For the past 3 months, we’ve been supplementing Flynn’s diet with formula. We’ve told friends, family & even our pediatrician that we’re using Earth’s Best commercial powdered formula. It’s not a lie, because we do use it occasionally. However, the majority of the time we give him homemade formula made from raw cow’s milk. Or, as I see it, fresh milk from healthy & happy cows.

We've been keeping it hush hush because many people think raw milk is unsafe for adults, let alone infants. But you know what? I’m tired of keeping it a secret. I want people to know that there is something available besides powdered infant formula with questionable ingredients (see articles about that here & here).

I’m sure you’ve heard terrible things about raw milk. The USDA & FDA have entire web pages dedicated to educating brainwashing consumers about the dangers of it. The National Dairy Council wants you to fear raw milk because they represent the interests of large, factory farms that produce pasteurized milk and don't like competition. Raw milk has also been in the news recently because retail sales are actually illegal in some states and the government is cracking down on local farmers who distribute it. (It’s 100% legal in Pennsylvania, so don’t worry, we’re not breaking any laws.) 

First, let’s clear up a few things and talk about how raw milk compares to conventional milk. When I say "conventional milk," I mean pretty much any pasteurized, homogenized milk that comes from a grocery store. Organic milk is a small step up, but it's still pasteurized, homogenized and receives very little oversight from the government agency that slaps the "organic" seal on it.

According to the USDA, raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is designed to kill bacteria, such as E. coli, Listeria & Salmonella. The process of pasteurization also extends the shelf life of milk. However, if you look at factory farming practices in the U.S. and how conventional milk is produced, it makes complete sense that pasteurization is necessary to prevent pathogens from making people sick. Conventional milk comes from sick cows that are treated inhumanly.

Factory farm dairy cows:
-          Live in concrete & steel environments
-          Receive zero time at pasture
-          Are artificially bred
-          Are fed unnatural feeds like soy, cotton seed & corn
-          Are given feeds that contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms that have never been tested for safety on humans, but have given lab animals cancer)
-          Live surrounded by piles of their own manure (E. coli, anyone?)
-          Have a short life span
-          Receive artificial growth hormones to help them produce more milk
-          Receive antibiotics to keep them from getting sick (most factory farm dairy cows have extremely painful mastitis from over milking)

[Typical Factory Farm]
It’s no wonder that this kind of milk has to be pasteurized. If it weren't, there would be serious bacterial outbreaks.

However, when you buy fresh, raw milk from a small dairy farm, you aren’t getting milk from sick cows.

Organic, fresh, raw milk cows:
-          Roam freely at pasture
-          Are fed natural feeds that they would choose in nature
-          Are never given feeds that contain soy or GMO’s
-          Are naturally bull bred
-          Live over four times longer than factory farm cows
-          Never receive hormones or antibiotics
-          Do not live in piles of manure, because they  have access to pasture
-          Are raised on small family farms that give consumers full access to tour, take photographs & review safety testing procedures


[Pasture-raised cows]
For more information, I recommend checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation website. They've started A Campaign for Real Milk to dispel the myths of raw milk dangers and to promote pasture-fed, unprocessed, full-fat milk. If you want to locate raw milk near you, click here.

I feel very lucky to live in a state that allows healthy, fresh milk to be sold retail. Before starting Flynn on the homemade raw milk formula, we had to decide which farm we’d get the milk from. Turns out we had quite a few options! Ultimately, we chose Camphill Village Kimberton Hills. They sell their dairy products through Kimberton Whole Foods and they receive high marks from The Cornucopia Institute who grades small dairy farms on criteria like how much information they disclose to the public, the health of their herd and if antibiotics & hormones are used. 

Camphill Village Kimberton Hills is a farm and also a unique community for adults with special needs. Not only do the residents have the opportunity to live interdependently, but they also work the land. How cool is that? They help to produce dairy products, run a CSA, bakery, cafĂ© and do craft work like weaving, woodworking & pottery. We are planning a trip to the farm for their annual Hootnanny on July 14th. It’ll be pretty neat to see where our milk comes from!

Stay tuned...

In Part 2, I’ll discuss why pasteurization & homogenization aren’t all that great, and why the lactose intolerant (like me) have no problems with raw milk.

In Part 3, I’ll tell you all the details about Flynn’s homemade formula: what else is in it, and how we make it!


How we do it: Making & Storing Baby Food

I always slightly dread the next stage in Flynn’s development because:
1) I fear change 
2) I like routines and 
3) I feel like if I have anything else to accomplish in one day, my brain is going to have a nuclear meltdown.

But then once that stage arrives, and I accommodate it for a few days, it’s no big deal. Two months ago, I was not looking forward to Flynn eating solids. I mean, I was excited to have him try new foods, but I had the nursing/bottle routine down and now I’d have to deal with baby food, also?! Ahh! But like all the other stages that have come and gone, it’s really not a big deal at all.

In fact, it’s pretty fun to make baby food. And did I mention it’s SUPER easy? Especially since their diet consists of one ingredient purees to start. Peel it & mash it. Steam it & blend it. Roast it & puree it. 2 steps! Maybe 3 if you include washing & cutting up produce. And buying it. OKAY 4, but let’s not get too technical…

[There is a newer version available here]
This book has been my go-to source for the recipes I’ve made so far, but it’s mainly inspirational because once you make a few of them, you’re like, “Wait, I needed a book for this?” That’s how simple it is. Pick pretty much any fruit or vegetable; decide how to make it soft enough to be pureed and just do that. Want pear puree? Core pears & cut into quarters. Steam until soft (7-9 min), remove skins and toss flesh into a food processor or blender. 30 seconds later, boom, done. Want apple/carrot/sweet potato/pea/green bean puree? Do virtually the same thing. Cook until soft, puree.

The recipes get more complex for older babies and start to incorporate multiple ingredients and spices, but you’ll already be a pro because you started out with one-ingredient meals.

In my opinion, the hardest part was figuring out how to store the food so that it was also easy to transport to my Mom’s house (Flynn's "day care"). There are lots of baby food storage containers on the market but I just went with ice cube trays that I already owned. They're probably not BPA-free, but I'm only using them for a short period of time & I'm not heating them up, so I couldn't justify buying special trays.

Helpful Tip
1 cube = 1 oz. (or 2 tablespoons)

Every other week, I make 2 different purees (usually a fruit for breakfast, to eat alone or to mix with the Earth’s Best baby oatmeal he so loves, and a veggie for lunch). I fill up my ice cube trays with the purees and pop them in the freezer overnight. Then, I dump out the cubes and put 2 cubes each in plastic snack baggies. Everything is pre-portioned and ready to bring to my Mom’s house along with Flynn’s milk for the day. I can’t tell you how convenient it is to just grab a bag of this and a bag of that from the freezer in the morning. It keeps me slightly more sane.

To thaw, either put the cubes in a bowl and let them soften slowly in the fridge or give them a 30 second zap in the microwave and stir, stir, stir to get it all to the same baby-friendly temperature. If necessary, add a little water/breast milk/formula to thin out the puree. To thicken a puree (like pears, which tend to be watery) I add a little oatmeal.

[Flynn's first avocado experience]
There are foods baby’s love that don’t need to be cooked at all, like bananas & avocados. Flynn loves mashed avocado with a pinch of salt, and we often mix in banana with his oatmeal.

Learn from my mistake: When I first made apple puree for Flynn, I used Granny Smith apples because that’s what I like to eat. You should have seen his face - it was like I gave him a sour apple blow pop. Oops! A little cinnamon warmed him up to it though.

As far as baby-proof dinnerware is concerned, I haven’t bought any yet. My sis-in-law gave me a bunch of Gerber baby spoons, and I serve Flynn his food in small, ceramic ramekins. When he starts feeding himself, I’ll obviously need some kind of unbreakable bowls and plates that are BPA-free/Phthalate-free/Latex-free/PVC-free made of rainbows & sunshine. My mom has this cute bowl for feeding Flynn and she loves it because you can just mash & mix whatever you want right in the bowl and serve.

There are lots of pre-made baby foods available, but the freshest and most cost-effective way to feed your baby is to get in the kitchen and make your own. If you're an ingredient control-freak like me, it’s the best way to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t completely object to pre-made baby food. It definitely has it's perks! During our summer vacation in July, I say bring on the convenience of organic fruit in a pouch & disposable diapers! Everyone needs a break once in a while.

[Asparagus. Not a fan.]
What were your baby's favorite first foods? Do you have your own baby food making/storing routine? 


Changes ahead!

Just a heads up... I'm beginning the process of transforming my blog, so please bear with me! I'm still the same gal, don't worry, I am just attempting to refine the focus of my blog and make it more professional. You can expect the same content, I'm not going all political on you, I promise. I just wanted the title to reflect more of who I am. I guess you could say my blog is finding itself - awh. Thanks for following along, reading & commenting. I appreciate it more than you know!


Post-partum: 5 things no one tells you

Before you have a baby, you hear a lot of: “It’s life changing!” “Enjoy every moment!”
No one tells you: “You’ll feel like a mental patient!” “You’ll bleed like a gunshot victim!”

So I’m just going to be honest and tell you five things I was not expecting after I gave birth. Even though we took an in-depth childbirth class at The Birth Center, I feel that the information we were provided was extremely sugar-coated. Most likely to not scare us silly, which I can appreciate, but looking back, I wish someone was a straight shooter with me about a few things.

This is based on vaginal childbirth. So for people who are having a scheduled c-section, your experiences may vary.

*Warning: TMI ahead*

1. Blood. So much blood. I actually think gunshot victims bleed less than women who give birth vaginally. And I’m not even talking about hemorrhaging,I’m talking about normal post-partum bleeding. Before your due date, go to the feminine hygiene aisle of Target and buy 4-5 large packs of maxi pads – all different sizes. Then, steal every single pad from the hospital that enters your line of sight. When you nurse, hormones will make your uterus contract and you’ll feel a gush. When you stand up from a seated position, you will feel a gush. If you overexert yourself, you will feel a gush. Prepare yourself and don’t wear any cute underwear for at least 2 weeks. (The good news? Flynn is almost 8 months old and I still haven’t gotten my period back.)

2. You may not want anyone to hold your baby. Family & friends will want to visit sooner than you'd like them to and “give you a break” by holding your baby. While this is well-intentioned, I just want to warn you that you may not want anyone else to hold your baby. In fact, you may feel like punching whoever is holding your baby in the face. This was the case for me in the first week or so after we brought Flynn home. When my parents, my sister-in-law and my in-laws were holding Flynn, I felt an intense surge of RAGE pulsing through my body. This has got to be some sort of primal urge of a mother to protect her young because I have no other explanation. Tim could hold him all he wanted and I was fine with it, but when anyone else did, I wanted to grab Flynn and run away. (On a brighter note: most visitors will bring food and that is the most helpful gesture in the world to new parents.)

3. Control over your bodily functions may disappear for a short period of time. I felt all around disgusting in the weeks after giving birth. I had an episiotomy at the last minute because Flynn’s big old head wouldn’t budge after 3 hours of pushing, and that whole “area” was greatly affected by the incision (and tearing). Not only are there stitches in your nether-region, but the muscles that hold in pee, poop & farts take a vacation. Seriously, haven’t we been through enough already?! Not only do you have to be concerned about a gush of blood when you move suddenly, but also accidentally letting one rip. (Thankfully, any visitors will be too enthralled by your baby’s cuteness to notice that you just sharted and if all else fails, blame the dog.)

4. Speaking of pooping… you won’t be doing that for a while. Not without being terrified at least. While you’re at Target stocking up on maxi pads, hunt down the stool softeners. I wasn’t prepared for this and had to make an emergency trip at Rite Aid a few days after we brought Flynn home. It’s a real pain in the ass (pun intended) because you gotta go and yet you’re scared sh*tless (I am on a roll) that you’re going to rip a few stitches out with the slightest bit of exertion. Worst.feeling.ever.

5. You’ll wonder if this was all a huge mistake. After the frozen lasagna is gone, your husband goes back to work and you’re on your own with a newborn, you will wonder if you’re ready to be a mother. There were moments when I wished Flynn was never born. And then I’d beat myself up for thinking something so horrible. I’d yell at the dog or Tim because I was feeling overwhelmed and only sleeping for 2 hours at a time. Flynn would wake up and want to nurse and I would start crying because I had just fallen back to sleep. Looking back I know it was just the “baby blues,” but it felt more like the baby crazies. I didn’t feel sad - I felt completely insane! One night when I was nursing Flynn in bed, I couldn’t see him very well in the dark and I started getting really pissed off at this needy, faceless creature (that’s how irrational my thinking was at 3 am). He peed through his diaper and after I finished feeding him, I carried him into his room feeling extremely angry & unhinged. I turned on the light to see what I was doing and as soon as I saw his precious little face looking at me, those awful feelings disappeared. Things got better from then on, and whenever I was up in the middle of the night, I would make sure I could see his face (thanks flashlight app!) and I felt completely at peace.

Note: There is a big difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression. You can read about both here: http://www.urbanmommies.com/pregnancy-2/the-baby-blues-vs-post-partum-depression-how-to-tell-the-difference/

Has anyone else been through what I detailed above? What were you unprepared for after (or while) you gave birth?


A comfortable routine

Who's up for more breastfeeding talk? It's been consuming my life for the past 7+ months so I always am. Nothing delights me more than when a friend or relative has a baby and asks me breastfeeding questions... nothing! Not that I'm an expert (not even close), but this is how women used to learn about breastfeeding before books and the internet existed. Through sharing experiences. We should do it more often.

Flynn and I have finally settled into a comfortable nursing routine. On the days that I work (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) I nurse him as soon as he wakes up. Then, he gets around 10 oz. of breast milk at his Nana's house plus 5 oz. of formula. I pick him up after work and nurse him as soon as we get home. That is usually followed by 4 oz. of formula since I always seem to be "running low" at that time of the day. He kindly lets me know there's nothing in there by whining, "Eeeeehhhhhhhhh!" and squirming around on my lap. Point taken, Flynn.

I nurse him once more before he goes to bed, and then sometime in the middle of night he wakes up for a quick nursing sesh and goes right back to sleep. We are seriously blessed with a very easy going baby.
There was a short period of time when I was nursing him to sleep, but now I put him down drowsy but awake and he falls asleep within a few minutes. So to all the "experts" who say you should never nurse a baby to sleep because he'll never learn how to fall asleep on his own... suck it. I also comfort nurse him if he's cranky or bumps his head. The horrors!

While I'm at work, I pump 3 times which usually yields between 10-12 ounces. I'm sure my boss/co-workers can't believe I'm still pumping at work, but it's not affecting my productivity and honestly, the little breaks each day are quite nice. My old pal the federal government says I can take pumping breaks for a year, and I'll be taking full advantage of that. Since Flynn started solids, my supply has not dropped (due to the pumping, I'm sure) so why not just keep it going so he has the liquid gold for as long as possible? Anything to delay the inevitable first ear infection... and the inevitable return of my period. Haven't had it for 16 months and can't say I miss it!

Nursing covers are pointless at this age because Flynn enjoys flailing his arms and legs during booby time, so I either find a private area or pack a bottle JUST in case he refuses to nurse, which has happened a few times. 7 month olds are very easily distracted and my son hates nursing when  it's hot outside. Give him a cold bottle from the fridge and watch his eyes light up! Just like his Daddy.
I'm finally at the point where I truly enjoy nursing. Sometimes if I just need to sit down for a few minutes, I'll grab the little guy and say "Let's nurse!" He's always game and I get some time to relax on the couch. Win-win. 

But of course, as soon as I reach the point where nursing is comfortable and easy for both of us, people will start asking, "When are you going to wean?" Ugh, really? But we're finally good at it! It doesn't hurt anymore! He has the perfect latch and he's so efficient! 

When Flynn doesn't want to nurse anymore, that's when we'll stop. It could be a month from now, it could be a year from now. I'm not trying to be Mom Enough or asked to pose for the cover of Time. It's just going really well and it would be such a shame to give that up, ya know?  

Plus, I'm reaaaaaally not looking forward to ditching my awesome nude-colored nursing bra yet. J/K! That thing is hideous and I'll probably burn it when Flynn's "all done" (*waves hands*). 

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I found this yummy and simple recipe for Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough on allrecipes.com and tried it out last night. It was my first time making pizza dough, so I was surprised how good it was!
After I rolled out the dough (note: use A LOT of extra flour to do this!) I topped it with marinara, baby spinach, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and a little sprinkling of salt & pepper. I was planning on using feta cheese, but after Flynn's grocery store meltdown on Sunday night, causing me to take him home & leaving Tim to do all the shopping by himself, it never found it's way into the cart. (It wasn't on the list... not your fault, sweetie!)

Baked it at 350 for 12 minutes and cut it in four pieces - the perfect amount for Tim and I. You could easily make 2 pizzas at the same time or make a few extra balls of dough to freeze.

I used to buy premade Boboli pizza crust, but I won't be doing that anymore. Let's do one of my favorite things.... an ingredient comparison!

Boboli Whole Wheat Pizza Crust: Whole wheat flour, water, palm oil, polydextrose, yeast, wheat gluten, molasses, milk casein, salt, mozzarella cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes), sugar, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid), fumaric acid, modified food starch, sodium phosphate, whey, monoglycerides, lactic acid, natural flavor, garlic, artificial color. 

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough:Whole wheat flour, wheat germ, water, active dry yeast, salt, honey.

Which one would you rather eat? Yeah... not to mention the cost savings is significant. A Boboli crust is $3.79 at my grocery store and using what few math skills I've retained since high school, I figured out that this pizza dough costs $1.42 to make, giving me a cost savings of 63%. Not bad!

I'm afraid figuring out the cost of all the toppings would make my head hurt, so that one's on you. Have you ever made your own pizza dough before? Does everyone already do this and I'm late to the party? I'd love to hear your thoughts (and recipes!)


Over the Weekend...

Some highlights from the weekend, which mainly consisted of doing things around the house, errands & trying to stay cool without A/C. 
We have A/C... I'm just very stubborn about using it :-)

["Sleeping" in on Saturday morning]
[One hundred apples + one thousand hours in the crock pot = homemade apple butter]
[Mastering the art of sitting]
[Indy climbing on the couch like a cat]
[Flynn's toys, officially relocated to the living room for easy access]

Now on to another work week (with Wednesday off, thank goodness).


A peek at our vaccine schedule

First, a Flynn update. A Flupdate.

Our little boy is just about 7 months old, thriving and meeting all of the appropriate milestones. He is (usually) a happy-go-lucky little dude who loves funny faces and barking dogs. He only fusses when he's hungry or tired and it seems like he discovers something new every day. He goes to sleep fairly easily, although a sound machine and his "puppy" are a must! He has 2 little bottom teeth poking through and his favorite thing to do is be on the floor so he can roll around and do "push-ups". Not crawling yet, but it's coming soon...

At his last check-up, he weighed in at 17 lbs. 9 oz. and measured 27" long. He's a solid little boy, and quite an upper body workout for his Mama.

He was exclusively given breast milk for 5 months, and for the past 2 months we have been supplementing with formula: commercial powdered formula for the first week and then homemade formula thereafter (more on that to come!) I'm pumping 3x a day at work (4 days a week) and I always try to nurse before offering formula. Sometimes he needs it, sometimes he doesn't. His huge growth spurt at 5 months drove me to formula. He was never satisfied after nursing and it was making us all crazy.

Flynn took his time getting acquainted with "real food" and at 6 1/2 months has finally moved on to solids for breakfast & lunch (in addition to nursing/formula), which mainly consist of whole grain oatmeal, fruit & veggie purees. Now that he actually knows what to do with food offered on a spoon, we'll be expanding his diet dramatically. Very exciting! His poopy diapers are also a lot more exciting, but more in a vomit-inducing kind of way.

{Flynn's First Phillies Game in April}
Onto the vaccine schedule...
This post is not meant to be controversial and I am not in any way suggesting that you follow this vaccine schedule for your children. It's simply a look at what we're doing. I've done my homework  and I don't know about you, but I feel the most competent as a parent when I listen to my gut and not anyone else (i.e. the government, talk shows, pharmaceutical companies). I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

The following factors affected our decisions about vaccines:

- His pediatrician. We purposely sought out a doctor who was more "relaxed" about vaccines and comfortable with alternative schedules. He has made suggestions along the way and we have taken some, but not all of them. 
- His gender. Flynn is a boy. Statistics about autism are not in his favor. I'm not saying vaccines cause autism, but if there is the slightest chance that they could play a role, it's really not worth the risk, especially since most of the diseases vaccines protect against are barely in existence in the U.S. these days. Who gets polio, anyways?
- His caregiver. Flynn is not in a group daycare setting, but rather with my Mom (his Nana) while I'm at work. Thus, he is less susceptible to germs that spread quickly among groups of children.

At birth, Flynn received a Vitamin K injection but we waived the Hepatitis B vaccine. I don't have Hep B and I highly doubt he's going to be sharing dirty needles anytime soon. When he's an adult, he can decide whether or not it's something he wants to be protected against.

With that, here are the other vaccines we're skipping:
- Rotavirus
- PCV (pneumococcal vaccine)
- Polio
- Chicken pox
- Hepatitis A
- Flu
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- HPV (commonly known as Gardasil)
We're also delaying any vaccines for adult meningitis at least until high school.

We waited until his 4 month check-up to start vaccines, and then he received/will receive the following: dTaP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis) and HIB (a bacterial meningitis deadly to infants).

4 months - Pentacel (this is a combo of dTaP, HIB & polio manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur)
(After the weekend from hell, we decided to not give Flynn the rest of this vaccine series. Fever, fussiness/screaming, lethargy for 3 days straight. So awful. His pediatrician didn't object to switching things up.)
6 months - dTaP (there was little to no reaction from this shot by itself)
7 months - HIB
8 months - dTaP
9 months - HIB
12-15 months - Another dose each of dTaP and HIB (at separate appointments) may be given

It's exciting to see alternative schedules becoming more common these days. Dr. Sears has one, as do some other pediatricians, but ultimately it's up to parents to do what they feel is best. We are lucky to live in a state where vaccine exemptions are available for public schools and I fully intend on filling out the required forms year after year. I'm sure everyone in the main office will think I'm that pain-in-the-butt Mom, but oh well. It's my burden to bear. And I will bear it proudly!

Is anyone else using an alternative vaccine schedule? Or are you going rogue and not doing any vaccines? Feel free to tell me all about it!