(Censored) Vaccines

September 10, 2009

Moo finally had her MMR vaccine today.  The dreaded MMR vaccine, the one some advocacy groups blame for autism, the one Jenny McCarthy protests, the one I’ve torn my hair out about for over a year.  I’m not saying my way is the right way, but I read all the material, talked to friends and family and doctors, bent the ear of a friend who studies autism, and finally decided I wanted Moo to have the vaccine.

I decided that about a year ago.  Then I talked to my sister, who told me that her pediatrician told her that if she’s nervous, just go ahead and wait until they’re two.  Procrastinating sounded really great, so I waited until Moo turned two, and then I waited… about five months more.

The idea of your smart, healthy daughter having a vaccine and then waking up the next day with autism, as some horror stories describe, is just so incredibly horrifying.  But finally I realized that my putting it off had less to do with leftover ambivalence and more to do with me just being a Wimpy Mom.  And I needed to cut that out right away.

So Moo and I found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office close to lunchtime.  I told her we were going to get a tuna sandwich, and then once we were on the road, mentioned that we were going to stop at the doctor’s office for a checkup first.  She seemed fine with that, and happy to see the fish in the waiting room, and then went silent as soon as we walked back into the office and our doctor started chirping happily at her.  Our doctor always asks how her speech/vocabulary is developing, and I always tell her how amaaaazingly proficient Moo is, but Moo never says a WORD at the doctor’s office.  I wonder if our doctor thinks I’m crazy.  Moo did great with all the poking, peeking and prodding, and then it was just the two of us waiting for the nurse to come in with the shot.

I sat there holding her and thinking, “Do I tell her?  Do I tell her?”  I didn’t tell her.  Should I have told her?  I remember – I remember every moment of some of those doctor visits when I was a kid, those awful moments before the nurse comes in with the needle.  I remember my mom trying to involve me in a game of I Spy, and I remember the utter despair that enveloped me as I tried to find her “something green.”  I was one of those kids that had to be wrestled down.

And so I didn’t tell Moo what was about to happen until the nurse started cleaning her arm.  “They’re going to give you a vaccine to help keep you healthy,” I said.  “It might hurt for just a second.”  Moo didn’t really have a chance to react.  And then, right before she plunged the needle in, the nurse told me, “Actually, this one usually hurts a bit more than the others.”


Moo wailed.  With past vaccines, she screamed but then stopped almost immediately.  This time, she wailed and wailed and wouldn’t stop.  My heart broke.  I think she may have been crying more out of a sense of betrayal than from pain.

Maybe I should have told her sooner.  Should I have told her sooner?

It took a red lollipop and a new Backyardigans book to ease the flow of tears.  We retreated to the waiting room, found chairs next to the fish, and I read about Uniqua and Pablo pretending to be pirates while Moo licked and licked her lollipop.  And with every, “Arrrrrr” I uttered, I prayed, “Please let this vaccine just do its job and nothing else.  And please please let my smart and healthy daughter be just as smart and healthy tomorrow morning.”

Now it’s one in the morning, and I am counting every second until I hear her chattering away in about six hours.  Let the night go quickly.


3 Responses to “(Censored) Vaccines”

  1. Beth H. Says:

    oh man, that must be a tough spot to be in. i can only imagine. waiting to hear the morning-after update!

  2. mamarose Says:

    All is well…

  3. […] seemed to affect her at all, except for her insistence that we Do. Not. Touch. The Bandaid.  We took a different approach this time, telling her on the way (thank God it was a Saturday and Herbie could come) that we were […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: