Well, today is not the day to write about the politics of vaccinations…it fills me with anxiety and a sudden burst of obsessive hand-washing. Facemask anyone? No, not politics. Today is the day, however, I will write about a recent vaccination story.
First off, I will say that there are many terrifying medical decisions that have to be made for your child while you are trying to wade through the murky sludge of ‘pregnancy brain’…and any Google search done while you are feeling like a beached whale will send you into a panicked tailspin. You will convince yourself the world is ending with every ache and pain. Come to think of it – you will think something is wrong if you don’t have any uncomfortable symptoms at all!
And then the baby makes his/her appearance. No longer are you making decisions only about what you take into your own body, but you’re also fixated on everything required for that small helpless creature you created!
For me, it started pretty early. I had a high risk pregnancy and was required to be on various types of medication – and bedrest – for most of the time. I had to gauge the cost/benefit analysis to everything. Would taking medicine to keep me healthy harm the development of the baby? Would breastfeeding be a responsible choice if medication is required post-pregnancy? Many specialists weighed in on the topic but, in the end, it was my choice. I held my breath, jumped in, and hoped for the best…but tried to prepare myself for the worst.
Miraculously, Aidan ended up healthy, and now it’s my job to keep him that way.
Vaccine debates have been burning up the internet (and relationships) for years. Personally, I support vaccination schedules and regular check-ups. Nevertheless, there is still that uncertainty in the pit of your stomach about something going wrong and how it would be completely your fault. Maybe that’s what parenthood is about?
In Nunavut, more vaccinations are recommended than in other parts of Canada due to the prevalence of certain pathogens. My boy was only 2 days old when he got his first shot. The BCG vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) is one that is supposed to protect against TB. I was still in a fog of pain killers and exhaustion when consent was assumed, but I knew it was standard.
As time passed, J and I would shuttle Aidan to the Public Health Centre for his regular wellness checks, measurements, and immunizations. I don’t do well with needles, but J was always the calming personality in the room.
And then Aidan’s one-year MMR shot came up on that little yellow card in my wallet. Despite all the reading I had done to prepare myself, I was scared. And Jason couldn’t make it to the appointment.
Put on my big girl panties, right?
So I sat there, on the examination table, trying to calm Aidan down while holding him still…not an easy task. He was going to get a needle in each arm and, other than the BCG, all others were administered in the thigh with him lying down. I could feel myself getting dizzy as the nurse prepped the vials and got the little alcohol swabs lined up and ready to go.
I began to see spots when she came to clean his arm. Everything in me was screaming, “Show no fear! Babies seem to be like dogs in their uncanny ability to sense anxiety in an environment!”
After the first shot, my ears started ringing. Then Aidan started to cry – more so in shock and anger than in pain I think.
I could feel sweat on my face after the second needle. I laughed about it with the nurse and blamed it on my jacket.
J, you are now required to make it to all doctor appointments until I develop a thicker skin.
I left the office shaky, but there was a smile on my boy’s face and a twinkle in his eye.