Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Almost Flu Season, Have You Vaccinated?

As is occasionally the case in my role as Ma, yesterday the day wasn't full of fun and adventure.

It was a day spent building up to one of the most dreaded events in a parent's life -- shots.

Let me say up front that I know there are parents who chose not to vaccinate fearing the side effects of vaccines are damaging to their children, or citing religious reasons. We vaccinate because there is no question that polio, small pox, whooping cough and other diseases can kill, scar or cause long term damage. I had measles when I was a child and lost a whole summer to fever dreams and late night trips to the doctor. Everyone makes their own best informed decision, and as long as those unvaccinated children don't get sick and expose my baby who doesn't have full immunity, then I just hope their parents are making the best choice for them.

That's not what this about.

Most kids dread a vaccine of any kind, not because of any possible side effects, but just for the appearance of the needle itself and the fact that the friendly looking nurse sticks it into their body. I can't blame them for that. I just don't look and try to relax. You can't convince a child to do that.

Parents approach the whole vaccine situation with a mixture of reason, bribery, coaxing, and if necessary, force.

Up until recently, E1 has been the world's best kid about vaccines. She laughed at the idea of a needle. Cried if E3 needed a vaccine and she didn't get one. Doctors and nurses were amazed at her ability to watch with fascination and collect her "bam bam" (her word for bandage). She was frequently praised for her bravery. She occasionally says she's going to be a doctor.

Sometime this fall between her two year checkup and a trip to have blood work taken, something went off track. By the time the nurse tried to prick her finger, she was ready to fling herself out a window to get away. Well, maybe not that bad, but it took Mom and nurse to get it done (I had E2 and E3). It didn't help that she emerged from the lab with a bam bam that was not holding up its end of the bargain and blood dripping down her clothes and into the floor.

A trip with all three to get flu shots was not on my highly anticipated to do list. Especially since they'd just spent a fun-filled week at Disney World with their other grandmother -- sometimes I feel like the evil witch in The Wizard of Oz, paired up against a good witch Glenda. (Just a day now and then mind you, and no reflection on their Nanny, it's just how it is.)

The appointment was at the end of the day during a flu clinic, so we had all day to talk up the visit. E1 promised to be brave. She wasn't afraid at all. Papi was going along, which made the whole trip seem more of an adventure. Waiting our turn was full of games, especially since the older two are fascinated by the masks used to control germs. Even going back to the room was no big deal.

Then the nurse told us to go ahead and get their pants down (why do all the pictures on the Internet show babies getting shots in their arms?) and she'd be right back. E1 lost it. She retreated into a corner holding her pants up and crying as she argued with Papi that she just wasn't going to do it. Reasoning and bribery were out the window and coaxing set in.

I pulled down E2's pants and scooped E3 into the right position with her little jeans around her chubby thighs. I think the image of the needle going in hurt me more than the shot actually hurt her. She gave a surprised cry, I popped the pacifier in her mouth and handed her off to Papi and picked up E2. The nearly hysterical crying continued from E1. The 2-year-old likewise took her turn like a trooper. A little crying and she was done.

Then it was time to take on E1. At 4, she can sometimes be reasoned with. "Look, your sisters have already had theirs and they aren't crying," I said. "It's not that bad."

"No," she insisted. "I don't want it."

"Well, you really have no choice." At this point force becomes the only option. I pull her hands off her pants and loosen them, pulling down as she tries to pull up. The nurse says we'll probably have to lay her down and hold her. I ask E1 if she wants to be put down like a baby or sit up like a big girl. She opts for the big girl option but the nurse still asks me to hold her hands to keep her from scratching. Ouch, the little ones really do put up a fight!

The needle goes into the little thigh and E1 stops struggling, she starts laughing again. "That didn't hurt," she proclaims, watching the bandage go on.

Seriously? So what was all this drama?

I help her on with her pants and we collect our things and leave with me inquiring exactly why she had been crying. "I didn't cry when I got a shot," she said. Well, but before. There was no unraveling that piece of yarn. She had not cried when she got the shot, so everything else was out the window and she not only didn't know why, she more or less decided it had not happened.

A couple of stops where they sat in the car and enjoyed a DVD with Papi and we were headed home.

The little princess, however, had exhausted herself with her crying. She had to have a power nap before we were back in the driveway.

Come to think of it. I could have used one, too.

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