Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I had to take Emerson for the last of her one-year vaccinations today. You see, just before she turned one I bought a Very Popular Book by a Very Popular Pediatrician which recommends spacing shots out and delaying some until the child is older. I watched all the talk shows and read all the headlines and by golly, I was NOT going to let the doctor poke my baby over and over and over and over...

(Note: I am not trying to start an argument about vaccinations here - I'm merely telling a story.)

At her last appointment, I pulled The Book from my diaper bag and my pediatrician promptly began a 10 minute lecture - I'm not exaggerating - on why the hype is mostly that - hype. He mentioned something about how he HATES to see parents walk into his office with That Book, and then he told me why. So I listened as he made a reasoned, rational argument and I somehow managed not to ask for copies of the studies he was citing. I thought about it for a moment and when I spoke, it was to ask "But why does she have to get FOUR shots at one time? That just seems so...mean."

Thomas was so sick after he was born that I was sort of immune to the meanness of shots. They had done so much to him at Duke - intubation, scalp IV, central line - vaccinations were child's play. At his well-child appointments I was relieved that the doc was merely giving him shots. I would hold his arms and stroke his hair as the doc poked him, and then I got to take him home, happy in the knowledge that his visit was for something so normal.

But those memories have faded some and I have found myself dreading the doctor's office on behalf of my children. I HATE taking them for shots.

Today I held Emmie's little arms and stroked her hair, and watched her face as the nurse poked her chubby little thighs with her needles. I watched her eyes as she went from quietly lying on the exam table to the sudden awareness that someone had just HURT HER. And then hurt her AGAIN.

She did the purple-faced open-mouth silent I'm-screaming-but-I'm-so-pissed-I-can't-make-any-noise thing, and as I picked her up and held her she clutched my shirt and dug her little feet into my tummy, trying to climb me. It broke my heart a little bit and I am so, SO glad that neither of my kids thinks that Mommy is doing hurty things to them on purpose. And I've decided that two shots are all I can handle at one time.


Mommy's Nintendo said...

I know what you mean. Baby shots are the worst! I can't help but cry along with them!!

kim said...

I agree! I hated it when I had to take Donnie to the MD for shots. I was greatly relieved when I didn't have to take him for anymore shots. I don't know who it is harder on- the mom or the child.

j said...

When my first daughter was 4 months old she got quite a few shots and ended up with a horrible fever that night. While putting her in lukewarm water at 2 a.m. I vowed never to let her get that many shots again and that I would be better informed. With my newborn I followed the advice of possibly the same Very Popular Book and told him I wasn't letting her get the Hepatitis B shot yet. I have to say it was kind of empowering and made me realize that I'M the mom and I'M going to have to make decisions for my children and my family that may meet some resistance and that's okay!

heather said...

OH. That silent scream is the worst. It never fails that I am the one who takes Maddie to the vaccine or blood draw appointments!

Dana said...

I think the most we dole out up here is 3 at a time. The first two don't seem to elicit a reaction. I mean, when I get shots, I don't feel the needle going in so much as the fluid being pushed in. The third shot, however, is the stingy one and always gets tears. Babies are quick to forget, especially when distracted! As for myself, I just repeat to myself that it's for the greater good.

I'm very curious as to what Book you're referring too. Canada Health has a very respectable regimen and I can't help but wonder what Americans are recommended in regards to immunizations. Email me whenever you have a chance!!