There were so many parenting decisions I wasn't sure I was going to make, before I became a mother. Was I going to have a drug-free delivery, or a medicated one? Was I going to co-sleep, or try sleep-training? Was I going to try attachment parenting? There were other decisions, however, that were a no-brainer, and vaccinating my kid was one of those decisions. Before my son was born, I knew he would get the shots he needed to protect him from horrible diseases. I didn't know, however, about the sacrifices you make when you vaccinate your kids; the kind of sacrifices that are totally worth it, but don't make this necessity all that easy.
I'll never forget that first round of shots, and having to hold my baby while someone stuck a needle in his chunky little thigh. I mean, that doesn't sound all that fun, does it? I remember him crying, and me soothing him as another shot was administered. I remember wanting to punch the freakin' nurse in the face, even though she was so kind and generous and understanding and doing exactly what I wanted and exactly what my son needed. I remember fighting back the urge to run and protect my kid from any and all pain, even though, by making sure he was vaccinated, that's exactly what I was doing. It's just an odd situation, causing your kid discomfort so that they can remain healthy, and it's one that can be tough on any parent.
I've never had a single doubt about vaccinating my son, no matter how hard it is to do (initially, because it does, eventually, get easier) and any other subsequent children I have will be vaccinated, too. More often than not, being a parent means making certain sacrifices that you know, in the long run, are worth it, and when you're vaccinating your kid that definitely includes the following:
You'll Basically Watch Someone Hurt Your Kid...
Of course, they're not "hurting" them maliciously or in any serious sort of way. However, everyone experiences discomfort when they are administered a shot, and it's difficult to watch someone do that to your kid. Whenever my son gets his immunizations, I have to focus entirely on him, otherwise I feel an urge to punch the kind, wonderful, amazing and generous nurse in the freakin' face. It's not personal. It's not even intentional. It's just this innate, instinctual feeling and I don't think it's going to go away any time soon.
... And You'll Watch Your Kid Cry...
It's normal. It's natural. Hell, it doesn't even last for very long, but it's still difficult.
...And That Horribly Surprised Look They Give You
This is the only part of the immunization process that makes me tear up. I won't cry when my son cries, because I know his cry is just a reaction and not indicitive of real, immense pain. I won't cry when I see the needle because, thankfully, needles don't bother me. But that first look, when he is administered his first shot, and there's a moment when he is completely surprised and looks at me like, "Mom, what's happening?" is what gets me. Every. Single. Time. Until he is old enough to understand what's going on, and why it's necessary, I just have to endure that look.
You Have To Go Into The Pediatrician's Office...
This is never fun, but a necessity and one that, while kind of a pain, also offers a (sometimes) necessary peace of mind. I know that while I am never excited about the waiting room, I am very excited to hear that my son is healthy and thriving.
...And Wait In The Waiting Room
Ugh. Thank the heavens for waiting rooms that have fish tanks or toys or coloring books or anything that can keep my child happy and preoccupied.
You Might Lose A Night Of Sleep
The possible side effects of immunizations are normally, for the most part, extremely mild. It's not uncommon for your kid to lose a few hours of sleep (or just not sleep as soundly as normal) the first night after they have their shots. It could be their sore arms, their low-grade fever, or just a change in their schedule that messes with their sleeping, but it'll go back to "normal" in a few days, I guarantee it.
Of course, the not-so-sacrificial side-effect is that, because of the "big day" your kid had when getting their immunization, they sleep even better than normal. That, my friends, is the dream. You're arming your child's immune system with the tools it needs to fight off serious diseases, and you get to sleep soundly.
Your Kid Might Have A Fever, Afterwards
It's very normal for your kid to experience a low-grade fever after they are administered their immunizations. It's no big deal, but it's kind of a pain, for all parties involved.
You'll Have A Clingy, Cuddly Kid For A Little While
Due to the low-grade fever or the soreness or even the headache that can accompany immunizations, your kid may want to do nothing but cuddle. I mean, this isn't necessarily a "sacrifice," because kid-cuddles are amazing, but when you have things to do, this can also be somewhat of a hinderance. I've found that it's best to clear my schedule, so-to-speak, when I know my kid has immunizations coming up, so that I can dedicate a few hours after his shots to him, and only him.
You'll Have To Deal With Misinformation
Godspeed to any mother who posts on social media about her kid's immunizations. I learned this first hand, when I made some random comment about my kid getting his shots, only to hear the naysayers go on and on about immunizations causing autism and putting poison in my kid's body and government conspiracy theories and the nonsense went on and on and on. It's the most annoying, the most tiring, and because I don't have the time (or the energy) to go around debunking every immunization myth known to man, it's never-ending.
You Won't Necessarily Be Teaching Complete Body Autonomy, At That Specific Moment
Whenever possible, I try to teach my son about consent and instill his undeniable right to complete body autonomy. However, he's not even two and, well, if I facilitated complete body autonomy at this age, he wouldn't be safe. Like, at all. Sometimes (hell, right now, most of the time) I have to call the shots and I have to decide what is best for him and his body and his health and his future. That means scheduling vaccines that will be administered by someone else, without his direct permission. It's a necessary evil, kind of like telling him he can't wear shorts when it's winter time and he can't jump off the couch head first, and, eventually, he'll get to decide what goes in his body, on his own. Until that day, it's my responsibility, and one I don't take lightly.
You'll Realize That Being A Mom Means Doing The Tough, But Necessary, Things To Keep Your Kid Safe
Sometimes it's hard and sometimes you don't want to be the one to do it, but it's necessary. Being a mother means making the tough decisions and pushing through the momentarily sh*t moments, because you know, in the end, it's worth it. Knowing that my son is going to be safe from certain diseases, is worth the few sacrifices I have to make when it comes time for his immunizations. Arming him, and his body, with the tools that modern medicine has devised, so that he can live a long and happy life, is more than worth it.