When you have a new baby, it feels like you are at the doctor every other day. You get to know the receptionist really well and you re-read the same five magazines over and over and over again (because the wait time is always more than you bargain for). Of course, you also kill some time by burying your face in your phone (for a bit) and texting your friends. Because many of these appointments are going to involve routine vaccinations, there are texts every mom sends before her kid gets vaccinated.
It makes sense, right? Discussions about any aspect of vaccines are kind of having a moment right now. People are asking more questions, doing a lot of independent research, and, in the process, have encouraged a public discourse about vaccines that just hasn't existed in the past. The larger discussion, which usually breaks down along pro-vaxx and anti-vaxx camps, prompts a lot of discussion between individuals on the same side of the argument, too, so we wind up having as many conversations on the topic with our like-minded friends as we do with those who disagree with us, and who we definitely disagree with.
Above and beyond all that, of course: we're moms. We're about to give our baby needles. I mean, it's for their own good but still. We need to work through the anxiety with our best friends because, after all, what are best friends for? So, what are we going to wind up texting them? A lot of the following will probably look familiar to my fellow vaccinating mamas...
Godspeed To You, Good Lady
You know the appointment is coming weeks, maybe even months in advance. You're nervous in every way one can be nervous. You're afraid your baby is going to cry. You're eagerly nervous because you just want it done. You're full of dreadful nervousness because you don't know if your kid getting vaccinated is going to send them into a tailspin that is going to throw off your whole day. Yep, there's a lot to take into account, and you're accepting any and all thoughts and prayers.
Just In The Knick Of Time...
While the vast majority of children in the United States are vaccinated (for most vaccines we're talking more than 90%), the number of families opting out of vaccinations is growing. More still are following "alternative schedules." As a result, a great number of diseases that had been all but eradicated are making comebacks, mainly in and around areas with higher than average opt-out rates.
This is bad news for everyone, especially very small children too young to be vaccinated. So, it's a relief among those who do stick to the CDC recommendations when we're able to get another inoculation checked off our list.
Mama Bear Starts Feeling Anxious
Despite what certain orange-hued presidential candidates may espouse, getting multiple vaccines at a time is perfectly safe. That said, of course it pains a mother's heart to see her baby get "boo boos," even when she knows they are totally worth the few seconds of pain.
Common Side Effects Include...
The various vaccines most children will get over the course of their life come with a bevy of potential side-effects, most of which are mild and go away after a few days. (And to be very, very clear, once again: autism is not one of them.) Personally speaking, my kids rarely experienced any sort of adverse reactions, but if they did it was a low-grade fever and eye-popping amounts of diarrhea. I mean, it was staggering, really. I didn't know whether to be concerned, disgusted, impressed, or all three at the same time, somehow.
Keeping Deadly Diseases At Bay Aren't The Only Perks
You guys, it's glorious. Not all children wind up needing a long nap after their shots, but some do with some shots, and mine are among them. It's like, "What is this? PCV13? Sweet. Can I take some of these home with me? Because this kid has never slept through the night, but I bet they would with some of this..."
I mean, you can't do that. In fact, I'm begging you not to even ask your doctor. But still, in a perfect world it would be lovely.
Opinions Are Like A**holes: Everyone Has One And They're Particularly Visible On The Internet
At this point, I have calmly breathed the phrase, "I will not fight about vaccines on social media" so many times I should probably have it tattooed across my chest, Memento style. I'm pretty sure a lot of other pro-vaxx parents will be subjected to "that one friend," at least once. Seriously, it's just not worth it to get into it with them.
Sure, if you can have a calm, respectful discussion about it, that's fabulous, but it's also really, really rare to be able to have a calm, respectful discussion with someone resorting to thinly-veiled callouts on social media, so just don't even try.
Well Whaddaya Know...
An accusation I have received, as a parent who has her children vaccinated, is that I blindly swallow whatever my doctor tells me without looking into issues for myself. "Vaccines are full of toxins! Like mercury! Look it up!" Sigh.
Well, joke's on you, folks: I have looked it up and it turns out that vaccines do not contain harmful mercury. Most, in fact, do not contain any mercury whatsoever, though they used to, which is what many anti-vaxx people are pulling their information from (and even that particular mercury compound has since been proven safe). You know what they say: sharing is caring. Spread knowledge, even if it's only to your friends via text.
This Can Really Go Either Way
Seriously, there's just no way of knowing. Past experiences can't necessarily prepare you. A child's age or usual disposition don't always give you clues. My son's reactions to getting needles has run the gamut from screaming and kicking the doctor, to bravely sobbing but holding still like a "big boy," to (honest to goodness) giggling.
Just In Case
You're not done with vaccines once you hit high school or college. Adults need booster shots (and some annual shots) in order to reap all the benefits of these glorious medical advances.
I Love Science
No kidding, not having polio is awesome. I'd go as far as to say it's the bee's knees. Who wouldn't want to bestow such a wonderful experience on their kid?