I don’t know what it is like to have a vaccine-injured child. I don’t know what it is like to have a child with a sickness like autism. But Jenny McCarthy does. She urges you to “do absolutely everything you can for your child, no matter what anyone tells you.”
I am on the outside, looking into your world, trying to imagine your long days and sleepless nights and the countless times you have wondered, How did this happen to us? What do we do now?
There is hope. Just ask Jenny McCarthy.
How I Met Jenny McCarthy
I’ve come to admire and deeply respect Jenny McCarthy.
I’m like that strange friend you might have, one of the people that you might know who doesn’t go to movies, doesn’t follow popular television shows, and doesn’t watch the nightly news.
I’ve never seen an episode of Survivor or American Idol. Not even a snippet. I couldn’t pick out Katy Perry from a lineup of famous faces and I couldn’t play Name That Tune successfully with more than three of the songs currently listed on the American Top 40. Until two weeks ago, I didn’t even know what Lady Gaga looked like. I traded my nightstand for a bookshelf, and I know too many of the titles at my bedside are about vaccines and the injuries they cause.
So you can imagine the interest I had initially in Jenny McCarthy. Zero. To me, she was just another pretty face who had a better body than I did. I remember seeing her book displayed prominently at the bookstore several years ago, and thinking the same thing that her critics still say today: she is just trying to capitalize on her fame. What could she possibly know about being a mom? What would she even know about autism?
I didn’t know then how she would continue to write books to help other parents help their own children. I didn’t know how many sleepless nights she would endure to help her son, and other people’s sons and daughters. I didn’t know how many events she would attend on behalf of children with autism. I didn’t know how many television interviews she would grant in order to tell her child’s story of hope and healing. I didn’t know how many people would begin talking about autism, because she talked about autism. I didn’t know how many mothers’ hearts she would touch with her devoted efforts, her understanding words, and her warm smile.
But I should have known. I should have known better than to underestimate the power of a mother’s love for her child.
I feel connected to Jenny McCarthy. I don’t have to meet her to know her. She is a mom, just like I am. I understand how motherhood throws you into a place in this world you couldn’t have imagined before children, and I understand how vaccine injuries destroy everything you have believed about life.
I understand how being a parent makes you do things you thought you would never do — wearing your shirt inside out in public without realizing it, choosing quiet nights at home instead of late nights out on the town — and in Jenny’s case, using her gifts to become the president of Generation Rescue, an advocacy group to help children diagnosed with autism and their families.
Jenny McCarthy continues to fight for children with autism, despite the fact that her child is one of the fortunate few who have recovered. She could easily stay home, see the world, or simply take it easy — financially, physically, and mentally — yet she is taking the proverbial “road less traveled,” on behalf of children who cannot speak … and on behalf of moms who may not have her energy, her resources, her insight to help the children who have been injured, battling a sickness that leaves them frustrated, unable to communicate their needs, and damaged.
How You Can Help Your Child, Just Like Jenny
You can fight for your child just like Jenny McCarthy does. You don’t need a million dollars. You don’t need a perfect body (besides, you know what they say about airbrushing). You don’t need a housekeeper or a driver or a man. (Her husband divorced her when their son was diagnosed with autism. And yes, Dads, I know how hard you work for your kids, too, and how much you love them!)
Perhaps you are one of the fortunate readers who doesn’t have a vaccine-injured child. Perhaps you don’t have a little one who is sick with symptoms of autism. You can still learn to be a voice for your child from Jenny McCarthy’s example, and from other parents who have educated themselves about vaccination.
Step One: Become a Mommy Warrior (or a Daddy Warrior, or a Grandma Warrior)
Jenny McCarthy’s Twitter account is named “mommywarrior” for a reason. She encourages parents to “do absolutely everything you can for your child, no matter what anyone tells you.”
According to the description of her best-selling book Louder Than Words, Jenny McCarthy “essentially earned a PhD in Google Research.” She spoke with parents, scoured the Internet, and in her own words, “tried every single option, followed every single piece of advice.”
Despite the fact that she has proven herself to be intelligent, dedicated, gifted at conveying the need for safe vaccines, and talented at giving hope to families facing autism, she still receives criticism from people, many of whom have no idea what it is like to raise a child with a devastating sickness like autism.
She doesn’t listen to them; she listens to her heart. She listened to the words she knew her child longed for her to hear. She didn’t give up when she faced adversity, and you can’t give up, either. You are fighting for the most noble cause: your child. Your whole life has been training for this battle.
Step Two: Learn the Language
In Jenny’s words, learn everything you can.
Do your own research about autism, vaccines, and therapies. Read, read, read!
Before you decide to vaccinate — yes, it is a choice! — find out what ingredients are in the vaccines your child is scheduled to receive.
Network with other parents. Ask them what they have learned. Share the information you have learned.
Join a support group, in person or online.
These are some of the strongest tools in the most important project you will ever undertake: raising a healthy, happy child.
Step Three: Take Care of Yourself
It’s like they say in the emergency instruction speech you get every time you hop on an airplane: put your oxygen mask on first before you put on your child’s. I remember thinking, Take care of myself first? No way! How long would it take to put on my child’s breathing mask before my own? I’m going to put on my child’s mask first!
Yet, just like the flight attendants implored, there are times when we must put our basic needs first, before our children, so we can take care of them. We need to stay healthy and strong — physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually — to be their best advocate. That’s not an easy job.
Taking care of a child with special needs is even more exhausting than “regular parenting.”
I’m sure Jenny gets manicures and pedicures and facials. I bet she has a personal trainer. She might have a chef to prepare healthy meals for her with lots of organic veggies and fresh seafood.
You may not have time or money to take care of yourself in those ways. Some days, you are probably lucky if you get to take a shower. You might wear the same clothes three days in a row or go four days without washing your hair. You might not go out to eat anymore so you can spend that money on therapy for your child.
But you still need to take care of you. You are the person who is most qualified for to help your child, because you love them more than anyone else in the world! You need to put on your own “oxygen mask” first!
You need sleep. You need fresh air. You need a support system. You need exercise. You need peace. You need joy. This step will likely be the most difficult part of the process of being a strong voice for your child. Caregivers often struggle with making time for themselves because they are so focused on taking care of their loved one.
If you are not doing all of these important self-care responsibilities, start with just one basic, important physical, emotional, or spiritual need can you meet today, for yourself and for your child. Please ask yourself each morning, What would my child want me to do for myself today?
Don’t Give Up!
The mothers I have known, who have shared their lives and their children with me, had something important in common with Jenny McCarthy. No matter how tired they were, no matter how disheartened, no matter how overwhelmed, they did not give up. They were Mommy Warriors, just like Jenny.
Jenny McCarthy could have resigned herself to a life of complacency. She could have settled for the doctor’s diagnosis and adopted the “there’s not much I can do” attitude. But instead, as she has stated, she “went to work” to heal her son. She followed the three steps outlined above to help her son recover from a sickness that robs many children of the ability to communicate with others and make their needs known.
Jenny McCarthy became a Mommy Warrior on behalf of her sick child. She used her gifts and resources to help countless children and their families who have struggled with a vaccine injury or a sickness.
Jenny McCarthy learned the language she needed to speak to heal her child. You can learn that language, too. To help your child like Jenny McCarthy helped her own child, you will need to immerse yourself in a new culture as you learn the language of conducting your own research, networking with parents, searching for experts, discovering support groups, and attending conferences.
Finally, in the most important step, Jenny McCarthy took care of herself so she could take good care of her child. You must remember this.
Jenny McCarthy had what many of us would have deemed the perfect life: a successful career, enough money, a beautiful body, a handsome husband, a healthy child … and suddenly, she faced a loss that many people think only happens to someone else.
She could have given up after her husband walked away. We would have understood. She could have accepted her child’s diagnosis with the “we all have crosses to bear” attitude. Who could have blamed her? She was not a doctor, but an actress, a model, an entertainer. But she didn’t give up. She didn’t give in. She fought the good fight … and she was one of the lucky ones who won many victories, for her child and for children everywhere.
You have what it takes to accomplish what Jenny McCarthy would surely agree is her greatest accomplishment … helping her child make breakthroughs against a devastating sickness. The world needs more Mommy Warriors.