11/3/17: To Immunize or Not to Immunize

At least we are given a choice- I had the “pleasure” of taking our son to the doctor yesterday for his 4 month Well Child visit. As most parents know, this means his second round of shots since he was born.  He did pretty good for the 2 month shots, definitely some crying, but he was still very little then and calmed easily.  He is more alert these days. More interactive and definitely more aware of his surroundings.  He was such a good boy today and even gave the nurse about to inject him, the biggest, cutest smile ever(see above before picture).  I tried to explain to him what was about to happen and said “be brave little Bekytt.” I tried to tell him what was going to happen and that yes it would hurt, but that we were not only trying to protect him, but others as well, from viruses we know can cause death.  I am not in a position to have a debate on whether we should vaccinate, or when or how to vaccinate or anything of the sort.  While I have researched some information, I simply do not know enough of the specifics to have a good solid debate or stance on the matter.  We have chosen to vaccinate on the schedule our pediatrician has recommended, but it doesn’t mean we like the idea of them.

Shots just plain hurt. Even as an adult when we know what to expect.  So for an infant, I can only imagine. I have never liked when people say “at least they won’t remember it.”  Sure I don’t remember my shots as a child, but I’m sure I didn’t like them at the time.  Pain is not something we want our kids to go through, yet I voluntarily put him up on that table and said go ahead! Strap his legs down and stick a long needle in him 3 times and inject something that likely stings going in and then remains sore and oh ya, is a dead version of a virus that can kill you.  I know what the flu shot feels like, so it can’t be any better to such a small child. And his cry. That cry that starts out silent as he holds his breath and his face turns red and you just want him to breathe and scream, but then when he does it just breaks your heart.  The saddest face you’ve ever seen with huge, real tears of pain.  Ugh.  Being a parent is tough in those moments.  You try everything to calm them and then when they finally do you don’t want to move them.  I swear I held him in the same position for 30 minutes before I left the doctor’s office.  Thank goodness he was sound asleep when I put him in the car.  I even drove circles around my neighborhood for an extra 20 minutes when we got home because he was still sleeping and I didn’t want to wake him. I knew when he woke up he’d remember he was in pain and I didn’t want to see him in pain any more.

I finally took him in and was very thankful my husband was home to help because Bekytt sure did cry.   In those moments where you’d do anything to take your child’s pain away, I swear you lose your mind a little.  I’m sure my husband looks at me sometimes and just wants to say “what the hell?” I know I make no sense half the time. Should we give him a bath to soothe him or skip it again so we don’t have to move his legs? Do you hold him at your shoulder? Put him down and let him be free? Rub his legs? Don’t touch his legs? Give him Tylenol? Read the after care sheet? That one I would advise against.  The things those 6 pages or more say about the shots… you probably never want to know.  Reading it just makes you more mad that you decided to get him vaccinated, especially in that moment when he is still in obvious pain.  While I know it is what we decided and for good reason, those sheets make you feel like you just risked your child’s life.  And I’m sure we did! Ugh.  I wanted to stay calm and just hold and rock him so he was calm, but I honestly felt like I lost my mind a little. Again, thank God for my husband who doesn’t tell me I’m crazy and lets us sit in the steam room I created in our bathroom as he brings Bekytt’s clothes and diapers to us.  I swore the steam room would make him happy.  He liked it once, he’ll like it again! If only things with babies went that way.  If only they were consistent.

Thankfully we were able to get him to calm, eventually eat, and fall asleep peacefully.  I’d like to say we learned a few things so that his 6 month shots will go better, but I’m sure it will suck again and I’ll have no idea what to do to make it better.  And I am sure the day he has surgery for his PDA will suck even more and be even scarier, but he is one tough little man and I believe in him, his doctor’s, and his resiliency even at such a young age. I believe all of this will make him tougher one day and that his health will be better for it.  I do believe we are doing the best we can about making decisions for him with the information we have, it just sucks to be a parent sometimes and have to make these decisions.  All we can do is be there to comfort him through it.  Let him cry and try to soothe him while hoping Bob Marley is right…everything’s gonna be alright. –Kathryn Kraft, MPT

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