Today was the day that I have dreaded since finding out I was pregnant nearly one year ago- the two-month checkup. Don’t get me wrong- I always enjoy seeing the doctor to make sure that my son is developing well, and to get reassurance that he is strong and healthy, but I was not looking forward to his first set of vaccinations.
There is a constant debate revolving around the mere theory of vaccinating a child. As a friend posted on my Facebook today, “children don’t even have an immune system until they are six months old- WHY would you vaccinate them at two months?”. Reading that post made my skin crawl- I hadn’t thought of that! Ohmigosh, I just had my son injected with several mercury-laden potions and I did not even know that his immune system is still completely immature! What had I done? Why hadn’t I heard that before?
I force myself to take a deep breath, and I remind myself that vaccinating children is not new practice- in fact, it has been done for generations, and there is zero proof that it leads to Autism, or any other developmental disease. I was vaccinated as a child and I am perfectly fine.
In fact, I recall a few years back, there was a huge outbreak of Pertussis in California, which was blamed on parents’ refusals to vaccinate their children against the whooping cough.
This raises an important question- are parents who refuse to vaccinate their children to blame when their kiddos infect others? Some say it is like letting your child carry a loaded handgun on the playground, while the other side debates that parents have THE ultimate choice on whether or not to allow their kids to receive shots. “Law and Order: SVU” even based a 2009 episode around the case of a mother being found guilty for the death of another child after refusing to have her son, who had been in contact with the deceased at a playground, vaccinated.
Personally, the thought of having my child injected with the multitude of shots at once made nauseous – at first. I was adamant that I wanted his shots drawn out over several doctor visits in order to assure his safety, and to keep his little body from being invaded by foreign substances.
My doctor repeatedly assured me that the shots’ formulas are designed to work together, so following a delayed shot schedule is actually detrimental. In fact, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who claimed to have found a link between childhood shots and Autism, retracted his statement earlier this year as his research was found to be completely bogus.
So, back to today…
We trek to the doctor and the voices of many-a-girlfriend dance through my head:
“My son screamed for hours after he got his shots,”…
“I bawled my eyes out,”…
“My daughter wasn’t herself for days,”
“I just simply couldn’t vaccinate my child. It’s against the natural order.”
The nurse loaded the ominous syringes full of fluid and slowly approached my son’s legs. I grasped his small hand, mine shaking. The needle touches his tender skin, and he screams. The nurse injects him a few more times and he continues to cry. After she finishes, I offer his favorite binky to him, and he gladly accepts.
And then there is silence. He is happily sucking away, I stop shaking, and I realize that I have one hell of a good patient on my hands.
True, he slept a lot today, but he isn’t growing a second head, an eleventh finger, or a horn from the center of his forehead – he’s happily sucking on his hand staring out the window.
In fact, he was my source of encouragement at the dentist today. As I sat in the chair waiting to get two cavities filled, I joked with the dental hygienist that my son didn’t cry at the pediatrician today, so I couldn’t have a break down at their office.
Funny what we learn from our children, isn’t it?