I didn’t cry.
SB did. Big time.
God, I felt awful. She was already unsettled, because she’d just peed on the scales (pre-emptive revenge, if you ask me) and then the doctor force-fed her a medicine to prevent Rotavirus (we decided to have it in the end, after weighing up the pros and cons), so she was already in a bit of a bad mood. Once the first injection went in her thigh, that was it – she screamed. Thanks to the power of thick walls and doors, D couldn’t hear her, but all the other patients could – apparently a couple went through into the waiting room and commented on her screaming. She really was giving it all she’d got; all of her effort was going into screaming the place down until she was hoarse.
Then the doctor tells me, “Now this second one stings a bit more”.
My heart sank. How on earth could it hurt more than the last one clearly had? More than that, how on earth was she going to react to this one? I didn’t think it was possible for a baby to scream more than she just had – but, as the second injection went in, I realised how wrong I was. The sound was absolutely heartbreaking, all I could do was hold her and rock her and whisper ‘Shh’ into her head – it usually soothes her, but she was having none of it today. For the second one, I actually had to hold her leg still to stop her from jerking it away, and I felt awful – like I was complicit in a crime against my own little girl.
I know they’re for her own good. I know that a moment of pain and a couple of days of discomfort are much better for her than any of the nasty illnesses they’re vaccinating against. That said, it’s so hard now to watch her, still doing that weird hiccuppy-cry in her sleep as she’s lying on D’s chest, after seeing the look in her eyes when I had to hold her for those injections. I felt like she was accusing me of betraying her! It was a real ‘Oh Mommy, how could you?’ pout, bottom lip quivering and all.
We’ve managed to hold off on the Calpol so far, and hoping we can get by without it as long as she doesn’t have too high a fever – we’ll do anything to keep her comfortable, but I want to give the jabs their best chance of working.
This is another thing that they don’t warn you about in sex ed classes, in between their promotion of abstinence and denigration of teenage mums as wastes of space (I may be exaggerating there) – whatever age you have a baby, unless you outright refuse injections, you’ll have to hold your baby while someone gives her an injection. The scream is heartbreaking, the tears and fussiness afterwards are exhausting, and honestly all I could think while it was being done was that she relied on me, her mum, to take the pain away – and I can’t, because she needs this pain to protect her from all these nasty illnesses.
I was considering getting the new Meningitis B jab done privately (it’s fairly expensive but her health is worth it, in my opinion), and now I’m not sure I’ll be able to sit there while she gets an injection that she doesn’t necessarily need – as it’s currently a choice, although it will be joining the immunisation schedule on the NHS soon, just not soon enough for SB – and what’s more, I’ll know that I’ve paid for her to scream and be in pain.
The only thing I can do right now is tell myself that it’s all for the best, and hold her close and try to stop the tears. I may not be able to take away the pain, but at least I can be there for her – and she won’t remember any of this. This pain is temporary.
We’ve got to go back in four weeks to have it all again, plus one more.