A year ago yesterday, there was an incident that occurred in our family that I have not shared with anyone online yet. The only reason I share it at all is not to make a statement in a very controversial issue, but to share the lesson that I learned. The truth is that I became a different mother on that day.
The story of the incident...
Jude was exactly one year and eight days old, and like any good mother, I took him to the doctor to assure us all that he was a healthy little boy. The appointment went as routinely as it could. I reveled in that motherly pride over my child's growth and accomplishments. I was happy inside when I was assured that he was in as good condition as possible.
Before leaving the office, we had to face the infamous immunizations. My happy feeling was gone, because even though I believe that vaccination is important and beneficial, I still feel the anxiety of the unknown. However, I agreed to abide by what was preferred by my doctor and the AAP. So when the nurse walked in and told me that he would be receiving five shots, I ignored that voice inside me that said five is too many. I ignored my own instinct, and listened to what someone else believed was necessary for my child. I died a little bit inside as I watched those five syringes being emptied into my screaming son. I reassured myself over and over that everything would be fine, and I told that voice to be quiet.
We left that appointment and Jude's good mood failed to return. This is nothing out of the ordinary after receiving shots, so I took him home, cuddled him like crazy and laid him down for his nearly four hour nap, checking on him obsessively the entire time. When he finally woke up that evening, he still wasn't himself. He was lethargic, clingy and burning up. Jeremy and Jonathan ran out to pick up some pizza for dinner and while they were gone, I gave Jude some Tylenol, laid him down next to me on the couch and pulled out the doctors information to call and see if my concern was appropriate.
Somehow, I knew something was wrong before I knew what was happening. Something inside me knew it all along. I knew he was having a seizure before I saw his arms seize up, before his lips turned blue and before he fell over, his body stiff and his eyes focused on the nothing above his head. To see your sweet baby in this state is sickening. I immediately snatched him up into my arms, I cried out his name, I kissed his head. He would not look at me or respond to my calls. Meanwhile, I dialed 9-1-1 with my free hand. I screamed in panic at the operator to please help me. Within 10 minutes, there was an ambulance in front of my house and Jude was sleeping peacefully in my arms.
At the time, my knowledge of seizures was practically nonexistent. I remember thinking at that moment that he could end up with brain damage. I remember being taught to keep him upright. I remember thinking that if I held him tight enough and willed him to be okay, I could somehow heal him of whatever was happening to him. I remember watching him turn blue and thinking that he could die.
But he did not suffer brain damage, and he is perfectly healthy and happy today. He and I were escorted to the hospital just moments after Jeremy and Jonathan returned in a panic because they had passed the ambulance on the road and just knew it was headed to our house. Jude was giggling and happy within a few hours at the hospital after his fever finally broke. We were released that night and returned home to an un-eaten, cold pizza.
Apparently what happened to Jude was not uncommon or even alarming. Apparently, seizures are a common reaction caused by a spiking fever. The fever was brought on by the shots. There are no long term effects and does not mean Jude suffers from a seizure disorder. I don't blame the doctors for what happened, but I do blame them for not preparing me appropriately. I blame them for never asking my opinion on the matter. I blame them for making my feelings seem invalid. I don't care how common or harmless these seizures are; it was devastating to me.
Everything turned out okay, and I am extremely thankful for that.
But I became a different mom that day.
When we become parents, we are ingrained with an amazing ability that helps us to avoid disaster and protect our child. It's called instinct. If you have a bad feeling about something, you have that bad feeling for a reason. Speak up for your child. I didn't, and I blame myself for being too nervous or shy to tell the doctor that I was uncomfortable with five shots.
Will I give Jude vaccinations again? Absolutely. Never again will he get more than one at a time, but I do believe that they are a necessary precaution to keep children healthy. Still, I won't get involved in the vaccination debate. I will never tell someone that their concerns are invalid or tell them that they are wrong. We are all concerned with our children's welfare, and this issue is really a double-edged sword. There are rights and wrongs on both sides. My experience has taught me that I cannot let someone else make decisions for me and my children. It's their job to give shots; it's my job to educate myself and do what's best for my family. So, I can't tell you that vaccinations are terrible or great. I can't tell you to avoid them or get them. What I can tell you is: you have a choice, and instinct is useless if you don't listen to it.