entire predominant reason for our semi-regular jaunts back to Aussie-land is to get Bo’s vaccinations. To ensure she stays on the Australian schedule and in the system. Every time we come back I like to avoid needle time as much as possible. It’s not surprising really, anyone out there who has a child (and who chooses to vaccinate) knows that god-awful feeling of standing idly by (or wore, participating) whilst someone hurts your child (even if it is totally for the best). It’s not pleasant.
I am pro-vaccine. I didn’t know I was until about six months ago. Honestly when I was pregnant I didn’t know how I felt about vaccinations at all. I didn’t know if we would or not. When I held Bo for the first time, I knew we would. There was no way I was letting anything preventable hurt my baby, I would never forgive myself. The debate still interests me and I read a lot on it. But I know in my heart of hearts we will always be a pro-vacc family, even if getting them sucks more than just a little.
My father is a doctor and we take Bo to get her shots at his clinic, not by him, but by his super gentle nursing staff. Knowing the reason for our visit he often asks when we are planning to come in. And by the end of last week, we both knew it was time. Rip off the band-aid, get it over and done with… move on with our lives.
I hate it. I have always been the one who has held her whilst she get’s her needles. I held her when they pricked her little beautiful heel when she was only 2 days old, I held her for her very first vaccinations, and then her next ones, and I knew again it would be me alone, holding her for these ones. As fate has had it Ni has never been in the same town/country/universe as Bo at needle time, lucky him!
I remember the very first time I went to take Bo for her vaccinations my mum said to me Don’t you cry, remember she will be watching you. She’s a sponge. You need to be strong for her. Understand? Yes mother. I didn’t cry the first time. I didn’t like it. But I smiled that ridiculous smile for Bo as the doctor stuck that needle into her chubby little thigh and her face scrunched up in that very-first-time-she-ever-felt-pain kind of way my smile said Pain, what pain? Everything is wonderful, shiny and happy rainbows my love! But my eyes would have said Oh my poor baby I’m so sorry… Please don’t cry, I’m so sorry. My eyes give me away every time.
When I got home my mother confessed that she cried like a baby when she took me for my shots, and when she took both of my younger brothers. It’s awful, she confessed. That little face. The first time they have ever felt pain. It’s heartbreaking! But I couldn’t very well tell you that now, could I?
Since that first time I’ve worked under the assumption that it is not my tears that are important, it’s hers. So I fight the urge to sit on the floor and rock back and forwards and sob whilst some woman in plastic gloves inflicts pain on my child. I remind myself that it’s all for the best, and that honestly, half an hour later it’s all been forgotten about. Last Thursday I cuddled Bo up in the carrier and walked into the clinic. She grinned and chatted with the nurses, other babies in the waiting room and to my father as he led us into the back clinic area.
I put Bo up on the bed, where she played with the paper bed cover as if all her Christmases had come at once. Oh the joys of paper. I could feel the knot in my throat, but I knew we just needed to get on with it.
First came the oral vaccination. There is little that Bo dislikes more than anyone shoving something into her mouth – a recent attempt at us giving her pain killers for suspected teething pains in the middle of the night ended with medicine stained clothes and Ni needing to give his eye a quick bath after Bo spat the entire contents of her mouth directly into his face. Nice. Bo tasted one tiny drop of the vaccine and clamped those gummy wonders shut, she scrunched up her nose. She glared at the nurse. The nurse tried again, forcing her mouth open by squishing her chubby cheeks together. Bo grabbed the nurses hand and threw it to the side with a what-the-hell-do-you-think-you’re-doing-woman look. The nurse pinned her down and forced the rest into her mouth. She swallowed some… she cried. She kicked her little legs… And I felt guilty. Bloody hell. Here we go. I pulled down her little leggings to reveal those gorgeous chubba legs and the nurse said calmly, if you’d just hold her down, above the knee so that her legs don’t move, that would be great. Fuuuuck, I thought. Seriously? I can do the stand here while you do this. I can even not cry. But to physically HOLD HER DOWN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Ugh.
I did it. It was awful, but at least it was quick. Bo screamed… understandably. Then the second jab made her scream more. Then within seconds she was climbing into my arms with her mouth open wide, big tears rolling down her face. Once in my arms the tears stop and the glaring at the nurse begins. She’s no fool. She knows who did it.
The nurse handed her a sugar cookie in a truce-like move, which I ate (I don’t believe in sugar for babies… more on that some other time), and I gave her the magical mama boob which more or less calmed her down and made her happy. And it’s done, we both survived and as always it was no where near as bad as I expected. No more for six months, and Ni will be with us then and then it’s 100% without a doubt his turn… lucky him.