October 11, 2014

FIAO 4.4 - Healthy Twins, Happy Family - Shots! But not the fun kind...

As far as I understand, having not experienced it myself, aside from those first days in the hospital, once your babies are born you don't usually deal with much medical intervention until said babies start their shots. Baby arrives, whichever way you have decided, and barring any health issues can be handed right to you and from then on if anyone wants to do anything to it they must get through Mama first. This was really not the case for us, I have to say, since we had a two week NICU stay and I didn't even hold my girls until they were 8 and 27 hours old. For me, it was an experience of letting go just as I was supposed to be holding on. That was actually the reason I got to see Viv at 4pm that day, instead of the next morning like a lot of C-Section or NICU moms. I cried AND CRIED and told the nurse that my body was screaming at me to GO. HOLD. MY. CHILDREN.

That wonderful nurse said she would call the NICU and let me know. A few minutes later I had a wheelchair and my own tech to hold my bag and monitor and escort us down there. My babies had already been held, tubed up, wrapped up and, hopefully, loved on a little bit by the good nurses that were there that day. It killed me then but as the days go by I am making peace with it and have even fully accepted that it was absolutely the best thing, for them and in some ways for us.

One surprising side effect of our experience has been that I don't think I fully possess that defensive mama bear attitude that you see so often. I don't feel that sense of worry when someone else holds my babies. I don't think twice when a doctor or nurse gives me a recommendation because for my entire pregnancy and the first two weeks of their lives I had no choice but to trust that they knew better than I did. I have to say this goes against my beliefs in some ways, as I am one who tends to question the motives of the American medical industry what with big pharma and the like. I had done a ton of research on natural childbirth, home birth, labor interventions and non or delayed vax. In the end I ended up having the exact opposite experience from what I had originally planned. Thankfully we had a wonderful experience starting with all 18 ultrasounds (way more than I wanted to expose them to) and ending with our non-dramatic NICU stay. This has given me a new found trust in the physicians that come in contact with my girls. So when the time came for their first vaccinations I reviewed my research but ultimately decided to just trust my pediatrician and her insistence that they were absolutely necessary, especially for my preemies.

When it came time for the actual shots I recalled all the stories from my daycare moms of how hard it was on mom herself and how miserable their babies were after. I steeled myself for a tough day before the appointment and prepared to cry with my babies. But then something funny happened. My mom was there and she told me not to look, as it would kill me, but I looked and instead of feeling sad I felt confident and proud as my girls were being protected and in the capable hands of my favorite nurse. I didn't cry, I cheered them on and said over and over that it was ok, and that it wouldn't hurt for long. For Jules I reminded her that this was nothing compared to what she'd already been through (see my post on her Hydronephrosis). And then something even more miraculous happened. I braced myself for the teary afternoon, the pained screaming and possible bad reactions. But instead I ended up with just two very sleepy babes. They fell asleep right after the shots, took a short bottle when we got home and then slept for hours. It really was the opposite of the experience I expected. I know I am one of the lucky ones and I am very thankful for that. Once again, I wrestled with my choice but in the end it wound up being the best thing for all of us and I have no regrets. We will continue to vaccinate on schedule and hopefully all will continue to go as smoothly.

I know the anti-vax movement is sparking heaps of debate these days but I am confident in our decision and truly believe we made the right choice. I don't subscribe to the belief that vaccines cause autism, although I can't deny there are children who are harmed by them (otherwise they wouldn't give you information on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation fund. I just believe that those are risks you must be willing to take, much like having 18 ultrasounds and selective C-Section at 35 weeks to prevent issues that might arise due to sharing of the placenta.  I still believe that we should question medical authorities to an extent but the most important thing is to find a physician that you are comfortable with and who leaves you feeling informed and confident in your decisions. At the end of the day it's up to you but I know now that it's ok to trust them and that most of the time they really do know best.

How was your vaccination experience?


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