Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ain't No Measles Gonna Be In My House

My baby had her first set of vaccinations today. I would normally type 'Audra', and just use her name like a grown-up, but today is one of those days where I just want to say 'my baby my baby my baby' over and over again.

We went into the doctor's office and got her weighed in - 11 lbs, 12 ounces. It puts her pretty square in the middle, just a little over - she's in the 62nd percentile. She's 24 inches long, so she's 92nd percentile there; she's apparently a pretty long baby, although I don't feel like that way looking at her. Her head is also in the 92nd percentile.

My baby has a big head.

The doctor and I chatted for a few minutes, and then he stepped out to grab a nurse to do the actual vaccinations.

"Can you be in the room for that?" He asked.

I blinked at him, opened my mouth to answer, and began to tear up. "I, um, I'm kind of scared of needles even when it's me," I replied, my voice already starting to quiver. I sniffled.

"I'll just grab a nurse and tell her to bring someone with her to help," He said, and left Audra and I in the room together.

As though she knew she needed to twist my heart just that much more, she was in an exceptionally good mood right from the start. This is her lying on the exam table in the doctor's office while I talked to her. We sang a couple of songs. She just wriggled around, smiling and happy and breaking me in fifteen pieces while I waited for the nurse to come back with needles.

Sharp, stabby needles.

To use on my baby.

The worst part is, when the (happy, friendly, perfect) nurse came in and I went to leave the office, Audra watched me walk out. She's too young for it to mean anything really to her yet, but having her eyes on me while I went out into the hall was just too much. Just too too too much.

This was surprisingly hard for me to do, even knowing it's just a few little needle pinpricks - even knowing how important it is she gets these. Even with the knowledge that making sure she gets her vaccinations is one of the Top Ten Important Things I can do to ensure her safety as best I can.

Let's talk about how it feels to listen to your baby scream.

This is how it feels.

As soon as the nurse opened the door I was in there snatching up my crying baby like she'd been abandoned on the side of the road for four days. She was bawling, but started to settle as soon as I had her. She went from full-on tears to just fussing in just a couple of seconds, which was pretty nice and made me feel a little bit less like a hideous ogre for not being able to be in there with her.

There really is something to this "my baby knows I'm her mom" thing. It's very comforting, when they settle easier in your arms than in a stranger's. You feel like maybe you haven't completely screwed up yet.

We took a few minutes to calm down, the both of us - although when I say that I mostly mean me. Okay, I entirely mean me because she was pretty calm, although also not happy and smiley anymore, within a minute or so.

When we made it to the car, though, I'd had a fresh bout of guilt and needed a couple of minutes.

We did this (a lot), and she drank an ounce, and then she watched me with a very clear expression on her face. It was an expression that said to me, "I'm the one they stabbed in the leg today, why are you so upset?"

Well, baby, because I am overdramatic and feel everything in huge swells of hyperbolic emotion instead of in reasonable shades of gray like normal people.

I packed her into her carseat and started driving to her sitter's house to drop her off before I had to turn around and go to work.

She was asleep in about sixty seconds.

I had to run through a Starbucks to get something to steady my nerves. I'm still not steady. I hate needles. By the end of my pregnancy I'd been stuck with them so many times I hardly batted an eyelash, but all that hatred and nervousness I previously felt for my own skin is there for my daughter times about five million.

Which meant staring at the vaccination schedule they gave me and realizing how many times I'm going to stand in the hall or hold her down and listen to her make that horrible sound.

I am not steady in the nerves at all.

Oh, sweetie.

This is going to suck so bad, and we are both going to cry a lot, but you know what's not going to happen?

You're not gonna die of polio.


  1. You made me tear up. You are definitely not alone...

  2. It never gets easier to hear your baby scream. :( I just keep saying out loud, to myself and to my baby, "No polio for the baby. No diphtheria for the baby. No pertussis for the baby." I continue to remind myself that any of those diseases would be WAY worse than the needles.

    1. Yeah, seriously. No iron lungs for us!

  3. My mom helped me "normalize" my fear of needles by explaining to me "You're not different, sweetie, your'e perfectly normal. *Everybody* is afraid of needles. Nobody likes them. We just act brave so that we can get our shot and not get sick." It really helped me shake the idea I had that *I* was destined to be paralyzed with fear by the idea of a shot, and that this was some sort of unique problem that doomed me. I guess we just see everything as being totally about us when we're kids.

    Of course, this advice is 100% useless for you (not that you need advice in the first place) because you have an infant and infants don't understand these concepts. Or words. Or much of anything. But at least you innately care about both her overall well being, and her momentary feelings of pain. That bodes well for your parenting skills, even as she gets big enough to understand some of what the heck is going on.


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