As each of my baby's scheduled doctors appointments approached, I was filled with apprehension. I knew the pediatrician would measure my son and weigh my son and ask a few necessary questions, but it was the real reason we were there that had me sweating. He was going to poke my baby with a needle and it was going to hurt. So, yeah, things parents who vaccinate do worry about, because it's hard to see your baby in pain, even when you know that following the recommended vaccination schedule is a vital, responsible part of parenting.
I don't worry about unfounded links, long since disproved, that claim to unearth a link between vaccinations and learning disabilities. I mean, that's just not a thing. I don't worry about the minuscule amounts of toxins necessary to stabilize the ingredients in vaccine preparations, either. I definitely don't worry that kids today get more shots than we did, because I know the amount of active ingredients has actually decreased. Why? Because I know that without vaccinations countless children would die from preventable diseases, and I know that when parents vaccinate their child they are not only protecting their own baby, they are proactively working towards ensuring that we are all protected. Vaccines are proven, life-saving advances in modern medicine and the whole community benefits when parents vaccinate their children. Simply put, vaccines work because, you know, science.
However, even though I'm doing the right thing by my son and my community, I still have a somewhat difficult time taking my kid to the doctor's office for his routine vaccinations. After all, those visits aren't necessarily a walk in the park. So, yeah, I'll admit that I have many worries and concerns, it's just that none of them are about the actual vaccines.
The Pain Your Baby Will Feel
Seeing your kid cry is never easy. Even though I know the momentary pain is more than worth the protection from a range of horrible illnesses that it provides, it's still hard to purposefully allow pain to be inflicted on your own child.
The Pain You'll Feel
Each time I took my son for his shots, I breastfed him to take the edge off the pain and provide him with some comfort. But I did wince just in case he decided to chomp down and take his revenge. (Thankfully, I have remained unharmed.)
A crying baby seems to attract an awful lots of stares and judgment, even when you're at a doctor's office. People want you to stop the noise immediately, and your parenting skills are on full display as you try to calm your traumatized infant while simultaneously walking through a crowded waiting room. Ugh.
Most health care professionals, especially those that choose to work in pediatrics, are kind and gentle with their junior patients (and their parents) However, and unfortunately, we've probably all met a miserable nurse or grumpy doctor who didn't have the time or energy to comfort a scared toddler or bawling baby (or upset mother).
Their indifference seems to make the whole experience more stressful.
All The Sick People In The Waiting Room
Sticking to your child's vaccination schedule is one of those rare occasions when you have to visit the ole doctor, even though everyone is perfectly healthy. Sitting in a room full of sick people is the worst, and you end up watching every sneeze and cough with suspicion.
Dealing With Parents Who Don't Vaccinate Their Children...
I hate the mommy shaming that seems to permeate all of our personal parenting decisions. So many of our choices do not affect anyone but our own child, so whether or not we co-sleep, bottle feed, breastfeed, use cloth diapers, or feed our kid organic foods really and truly shouldn't matter to anyone else.
However, vaccinating children is a community topic, precisely because it does affects us all and it is totally irresponsible to simply say, "My child, my choice" when the stakes are so very high. While these conversations are usually extremely passionate and can make people uncomfortable (and even angry), I believe they're important conversations to have. After all, the health and wellness of our children are at risk.
... And Having Your Kid Around Unvaccinated Kids
One thing I worried about when I was pregnant (and again when my son was too young for his vaccinations) was other people's unvaccinated kids.
Even when my child had his shots, I worried. It honestly only takes one unvaccinated person contracting a deadly disease to potentially affect the health of an entire community. Those who are vaccinated can still be put at risk, thanks to a breakdown in what is called "herd immunity."
Crying, Because Duh
I've become much more emotional since becoming a mother, so I already know that watching my baby cry while he's stuck with a needle is going to elicit some, um, feelings. In fact, it's safe to assume that in that moment, I cannot control whether or not I cry.