Early Wednesday morning, I received an email notifying me that a bill, HB 1342, was going before the House Thursday morning in Richmond that would remove parental consent and mandate vaccinations for all children in strict accordance with the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended schedule. It also restricted medical exemptions and potentially limited physician’s say in the matter as well. If this bill passed, it could have become law in as little as 6 weeks.
Now, I’m not opposed to the concept of immunizations, but I have concerns about 1) many vaccine doses being given on the same day (hexavalent and pentavalent vaccines deliver either five or six different vaccines in one injection), 2) when vaccines use aborted fetal cell tissues in their making (four of which were on this bill) and 3) requiring vaccines to be given that haven’t been around long enough to study long-term health complications that might result from other additional ingredients (such as aluminum, a known toxin).
(But seriously, we can send a man to the moon but we can’t find a way to provide vaccine options for the community of people who would be uncomfortable with the use of aborted fetal cells???)
As I read the bill and considered what it was proposing, I understood that I would have no say in potentially spacing out my children’s vaccines in accordance with my motherly instincts or even declining them altogether. (With Bennett, it wasn’t uncommon for me to return a week after a pediatric check up, to receive the next vaccine to avoid multiples in one day. And when they wanted to give him a Hepatitis B vaccine at birth, I declined given that he wasn’t exactly at a high risk for that sexually transmitted disease at five minutes old.)
No choice allowed? Isn’t our society all about pro-choice? The government can’t tell me what to do with my body, but it can tell me what to do with my child’s body?
No, thank you.
Both Brian and I were pretty upset about potentially losing our rights to determine what was best for our children, no matter how much we had studied and researched our options (believe it or not, in BOOKS… not just the internet!). But then he told me that during this subcommittee meeting, public testimony of three minutes was allowed!
Well, that changes things.
In Brian’s words: “One of us has to go. And if it’s me, I’ll end up in jail.”
Which left me, Square Piece, who commutes to work by walking to her garage.
Richmond is a bit over two hours away. If I wanted to make the 8:30AM meeting, I’d have to leave no later than 6:00AM. I set my alarm for 5:30…
…two days later…
…and woke up at 6:30 instead.
For sure I was going to be an hour late.
Should I still go? Will I have missed my chance to speak? Should I do this drive if it might potentially be for nothing?
All the people I knew who might have insight into this predicament were either asleep or unavailable. Had I waited for their replies before leaving, I’d have definitely missed any window of chance. So I brushed my teeth, threw on my clothes, dashed out the door and froze my butt off defrosting my windshield. (Something must have been frozen because my wiper fluid wouldn’t spray!)
With the heat on blast, I used this time to put the address in the navigation. Then it occurred to me that I left all my makeup on the counter. And had no food. Or water. Or anything.
I was on a mission.
Surely there’s a half-empty bottle of water in here somewhere, right? A sippy cup? Something?
It turns out there WAS a partially filled water bottle that was almost entirely frozen. So for two hours I sipped the slowly melting dribbles on my way to Richmond.
When I arrived to the State Capitol General Assembly Building (already one hour late for the meeting), I rolled down my window and a kind police officer pointed me in the direction that I’d need to go.
“I see that’s the building, but where do I park my car?” I emphasized.
He casually shrugged and explained that everyone parks in a church parking garage two lights up and on the left. So that’s where I headed. Once in the garage, I was informed that a special service was beginning at the church and only attendees were permitted to park that day. I admitted that I’d be willing to attend the church service if I could use the parking, but the garage attendant was not amused and directed me to another parking lot. It was SUCH a tight squeeze getting back out of there that I scraped the side of my van on a pole and currently have bright yellow paint down the right side (and I think a little dent… it’s hard for me to tell).
There were two entrances to the parking lot to which I had been directed. Both I and a man in a pickup truck entered at the same time, but he was better positioned to take the very last spot (the mountains of snow weren’t helping), so after switching from forward to reverse about 20 times, I was finally able to get out and hunt for more parking. Eventually I found another parking garage and – I kid you not – every SINGLE spot had a sign requiring only small vehicles parking front first. There was ONE spot left on the roof, 9th level, that allowed me and my minivan just enough room to park.
Upon arriving in Richmond, it literally took me another 30 minutes to find parking.
The garage elevator wasn’t in eyesight, so I ran down nine flights of stairs (fearing for my life… you should have seen this creepy, spiral staircase… worse than the movies), then hustled another two blocks, went through security, found the committee room, entered, seated and heard a man speaking on –
…wait for it…
– deep-frying foods in restaurants.
What. What? Hold on. I gotta check something.
I exited the room to review the random papers taped to the door. There were, in fact, several bills being presented in what appeared to be in a particular order. And my bill was at the bottom! Which means I didn’t miss it! We were only halfway through the session!
Thanks be to God that someone had a booth set up and gave me a free donut before I snuck back in to observe what is appropriate, decent behavior (it’s not like I’ve ever done this or have ANY idea how these things work) and wait my turn.
Would you believe that after the second-to-last bill was discussed, the session ended and everyone stood up and began to leave? Like exit? Like, no one was talking about bill HB 1342?!
As it turns out, the patron sponsoring the bill, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, earlier that morning had pulled the bill and asked that it be sent to a study committee over the summer. If it comes back, it can’t come back until next year. I was able to see what I can only assume is an underground video of her speaking before the House when she killed the bill (all electronic devices are supposed to be turned off and the video is now unavailable) and I have to say, she seemed to be wanting to distance herself from responsibility for this bill as much as possible. She mentioned having only sponsored it because she had been asked to and seemed to imply that the whole point was to “begin the discussion” on vaccines, etc.
Given the backlash of hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, tweets, etc. that she and all the delegates received regarding this huge infringement of both state and national constitutional rights, it looked to me like she “began the discussion” and regretted it.
So I drove over two and a half hours to not speak for three minutes. But I wasn’t upset. I was just glad that my nightmares about this bill passing could go away.
Then the journey home began. The booth people gave me another donut and a little box of popcorn. (And by “gave,” I mean “I took another.”) It was around 11:00AM and I was pretty hungry and dehydrated! (And – shhhhh, I haven’t said anything on Facebook – but sixteen weeks pregnant, so this was a significant oversight on my part to forget snacks, breakfast, hydration of any sort…!)
Of course I got lost finding the parking garage. When I finally arrived, I only knew one way back to my car and that was the creepy, spiral staircase. I ran for my life as fast as I could until about Level 4 when my legs were like, “You’re joking, right? You haven’t worked out in over three years.” My pace slowed some, but I hoped I could resume speed if someone jumped out. By Level 6, I was gasping for air. Level 7, I think I was climbing the stairs slower than my typical walking pace and had resigned myself to settling for a blood-curtling scream should someone attack me. By the 9th Level, roof top, I was literally wheezing.
I’ve never wheezed in my life. This was incredibly humbling.
The good news? My half-empty, frozen bottle of water had finally thawed and I could quench my thirst.
The bad news? It tasted… different.
As it turns out, Brian had used that bottle to spit out an old piece of gum, which I could taste now, because the ice in which it was hidden had finally melted.
I think this sums up the expression “adding insult to injury.”
(He told me to be thankful that it wasn’t a cigarette butt… which apparently has happened to him. So it could always be worse.)
Of course, my navigation couldn’t figure out what street I was on, so getting out of the city was confusing, stressful, terrifying… my wheezing was still getting under control…
When I finally made it back to Interstate 95, I knew I needed to get somewhere to eat in a hurry. That, plus my legs felt like jello and given the adrenaline boost from thinking I was surely going to be assaulted in the parking garage staircase, I needed to sit somewhere and just settle down. I spotted a mall off the interstate, drove in its direction and noticed an attached restaurant that would likely have something along the lines of a portabella-mushroom-somethinig that I was craving. When I arrived, the doors were locked being that they hadn’t opened up yet, so I settled for a food-court-canned-mushroom-sub.
I have no idea where I was. For all I know, the mall could have been a mirage. It felt like I was the only person there, but I definitely left with a hefty bag of maternity clothes, so I know I wasn’t dreaming.
Upon commencing my two hour journey home, my belly was full and the high of the day was wearing off, so I called both of my sisters and relived the day with them to keep myself awake.
But only mostly awake.
Somehow I accidentally ended up in the exit lane right before my own home exit.
“No biggie. I know how to get home from this road, too,” I thought.
Except that was the exit with a broken down truck. So knowing how to get home and actually getting home were two entirely different matters. Cars began to back up, confused people were honking. It was a real treat given that I probably could have jogged home faster (but only in my dreams, because apparently I’m really out of shape now)!
When I arrived home, Brian called and reminded me that I had a midwife appointment that evening. This meant that I had to turn around and leave in about another hour so I spent that time catching up on both work and personal emails.
Right before leaving the house with Brian and Bennett, I found out that one of my stylists was sick and couldn’t come into work the following day. So instead of driving to my appointment, I sat in the passenger seat and let Brian drive while I tried to shuffle her schedule around on my phone and our salon app. I always, ALWAYS get car sick when Brian drives, so this was par for the course given the day that I had!
I laughed when the nurse went to take my routine blood pressure.
“This ought to be interesting given the day that I had,” I joked.
Fortunately, my blood pressure knows how to keep cool under pressure and was great as usual.
Brian and Bennett got to hear the perfectly healthy heartbeat in my womb, then we headed out to a friend’s house to watch the GOP debate… you know, to unwind. Because given the day that I had, a nice presidential debate was just what I needed to relax. (Insert sarcastic smirk.)