NowBlowPoMe: Vaccinations, Take 3.

November 14th, 2007

I woke up early yesterday and trekked into the city to have my stitches removed. I got dressed up in order to do so. That’s a sign of the frequency with which I leave the house.

I learned that my skin had grown over two of the four stitches during my week of healing. I also discovered that I’m allergic to the Bacitracin I was prescribed. My doctor told me to stop using it immediately. The site was red and blotchy and slightly raised because of the reaction I had. It hadn’t healed quite as well as she would have liked, so I may need some laser treatment when this is all said and done. I’m to see her again in four weeks. In the meantime, she gave me a steroidal ointment called Cutivate (which I just found out I should not use since I’m supplying breast milk for Emory) and a topical ointment called Biafine to help with the redness after the wound heals.

To be completely honest, I couldn’t have cared less about my face or the scarring because Emory was scheduled to have his second round of vaccinations yesterday. This fact weighed on my head, so much so, I was unable to eat. (A perfect solution to losing weight: schedule vaccinations for your new baby.)

We are having Emory vaccinated. We’re skipping a few, such as Hepatitis B (he can get that later), and the flu shot. I think we’re also going to skip the chicken pox vaccination. And there are others I haven’t even researched yet that may be added to that list. I’m taking it day by day. I do know one thing: we’re only allowing for two shots per visit. The CDC requests that you do more. If a person were to go along with the schedule recommended by the CDC, a child could have up to 6 shots in one visit. And I know what I’m about to write may not go over too well with the Internet, but I think that’s too many. I might change my mind as he gets older but right now I think that 6 injections is far too many. And so we’re giving him less and visiting more often (if need be).

Emory had two more vaccinations yesterday. He was given IPV (polio) and HIB (haemophilus influenzae type b). Both shots are associated with few-to-no side effects. Technically, he was also supposed to receive DTaP already but it tends to cause problems and will thus be given alone. DTaP scares me a bit. By giving it solo, if anything should happen, I will know exactly what vaccine to blame.

Of course Emory screamed when he received the shots. We were ready for that. And I stood outside the whole time. I joked with the nurse and pediatrician and told them I planned on visiting the bar across the street to get a couple of shots myself. Had I not been driving, I may have done so. Next time, however I may take the Xanax I was prescribed for flying. I really do not handle these shots very well.

So, he screamed and TJ did his best to calm him. We waited at the doctor’s office until he was soothed. A bottle helped.

We left. He was still fine. He smiled a lot and even laughed a couple of times. When we got him home, we sang to him and played with him. I gave him a tiny bath and then wrapped him up for a nap. He passed out at around 5 PM.

TobyJoe and I made dinner. I showered. Emory was still sleeping. Emory never sleeps for more than two hours during the day but I knew that his immune system was busy so I let him rest. At around 8 PM, Emory began to stir. And then all hell broke lose. He just started screaming.

Back up. I have said this before about my son but I really must reiterate it. Emory DOES NOT cry. He just doesn’t cry. He fusses, but he saves crying for whenever he’s in pain. He has cried now about four times in his life. So when he woke up screaming and red-faced I became worried. This was not the way my baby normally acts.

TobyJoe dropped everything he was doing and scooped him up. He tried his best to comfort him. And Emory screamed. Every time he opened his eyes, he screamed. With them shut, he screamed. When we tried to feed him, he screamed. Whenever we rocked him, he screamed. Pacification? Screamed. He just screamed and screamed and screamed and his mother nearly shit her pants.

Almost ALL of the literature about side-effects associated with vaccinations says to call a doctor or visit an ER if there’s a change in your baby’s behavior. And there was. It was clear to me that something was different. I called the doctor and left a desperate message.

I have no idea how much time went by (10, 15, 30 minutes?) before TobyJoe was able to get Emory to fall asleep again. And then it was worry time. What would happen whenever he awoke again? Would we have to endure more of this? Was he OK?

The doctor called me back when he was sleeping. I told her everything.

She gave me advice and then let me know that for reasons they are still very unsure of, some babies will wake up screaming and they scream no matter what you do. She said that often enough, once they fall back to sleep and wake up for a second time, they will never scream again. She said that doctors have no idea why they scream. She told me that if he wakes up again and continues to scream that I should undress him and look for anything out of the ordinary. If I don’t see anything, and he doesn’t calm down, then I can bring him to the ER. She also told me what dosage of Tylenol to give him. She tried to reassure me that the two vaccines he had were “mild”, which didn’t really reassure me because if my child was having this type of reaction to a mild vaccine, what was going to happen with the response to the DTaP?

We waited. We listened to his breathing, made sure that he wasn’t having an allergic reaction. TobyJoe tried to wake him a few times. Finally, we decided to be a little more insistent so we could give him some Tylenol.

The following second was reminiscent of something I’ve seen in movies during on of those bomb-disabling scenes. You know, the one where the guy is standing over two different color wires as the clock tics down to mere seconds and at the very last second he cuts the yellow wire. It was the second right after the cut. The one where you’re all waiting to see if the bomb goes off. That’s what the second between sleep and awake was like. Would he scream?

Silence. Grumble. Silence. Grumble. Silence. And then the feed me hands. No screaming. Just feed me hands.

I have no idea what made him scream like that. The experience was reminiscent of the time Homer Simpson remembered having found Smither’s Dad’s dead body and continually screamed no matter what anyone said or did.

And we were able to laugh about that today, nervously so. For I know that in just 30 more days, we’ll have to go through this all over again. But right now he’s happy and smiling and awesome.

How much do I hate this? So much. So very much. But I do know that getting him vaccinated is far better an option than letting him get sick. But it doesn’t make the experience any less horrible.

Notes for me: 25 Inches long and 14 pounds. Smiling. Giggling. Follows people around the room. Makes direct eye contact. Sleeps 4-hour stretches at night. Holds head up but at an angle – toward right shoulder. Blue eyes. Can hold feet.


Part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), where one writes every day for the month of November, which is easier said than done.

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16 Comments on “NowBlowPoMe: Vaccinations, Take 3.”

  1. Wendy said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but Jonah does that sometimes at night, just for no reason at all. Nothing to do with his immunizations.

    His first round of immunizations were so horrid, that I caved and started giving him a dose of baby tylenol as soon as we got home every other time. This seems to avoid the fever and pain that he has sometimes with his shots. I hate giving him medicine each time, but it really helps. Have you tried feeding Emory WHILE he gets his shots? Before Jonah had so many teeth, I would breastfeed him while he was getting his shots, and he was much less upset. I don’t see why bottle feeding would be any different.

    I have decided that maybe Jonah has nightmares or night terrors. He will wake up screaming and screaming, and won’t stop for 20-30 minutes. Doesn’t want food, doesn’t want cuddles, doesn’t want singing etc. Usually I just have to listen to him screaming in my ear for a long time until he falls asleep again. Usually this happens about 1-2 hours after he falls asleep for the night. Who knows why?

    I hope Emory never does that again for you! Poor little guy…poor you and TJ too.

  2. Lillet said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    I think you are going about the vaccinations exactly right by spacing them out the way you are. I’m so sorry you had to endure that terrifying screaming! I would have been a horrible mess.

  3. Torrie said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Willa got shots yesterday too. This was the third time she has gotten shots, and each time I have stood out in the hall while my husband stays with her.
    I hate it. We too are giving her the bare minimum of shots.
    Last night she went to sleep at her normal time (7:15) but she kept waking up every hour until 10pm.
    She then slept from 10pm until 7am- the longest she’s ever slept. I fed her and she went back to sleep until 10:20! I couldn’t believe it. (She normally wakes up between 8-9am.) THEN, she went down for a nap at 12:20! That’s a whole lot of sleeping. Shots freak me out.

  4. raeraemck said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    OK that little cutie is clearly less upset about this than you are!

  5. Becky said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Yikes! Poor kiddo. My little guy (1 year old) had 4 shots at his last visit. He cried and I cried. I always cry when he gets shots. I think it’s more traumatic for me than him. My older son would always get redness, soreness and a mild fever from his shots. Luckily, the baby doesn’t seem to get any reactions at all. So far. Knock wood.

  6. reddirtroad said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Ok, I have got to say this… That baby is one of the cutest I have EVER seen!! Just look at that smile!

  7. egirl said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    We did first round of shots on my little one last week (2 injections in bottom). 4 hours after shots she just starts screaming and screaming…. Being 1st time parents of course, we freak out. She can’t lie on her back because her bum hurts… so we take turns putting her on her stomach on our chests trying to soothe her. Finally we call the pediatrician. Baby Tylenol rocks. About a half hour after adminstering the acetaminophen, she sleeps soundly. Phew.

  8. Hemlock said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    That sounds like a tough evening. I feel for you.

    I don’t know what we’re going to do when we have kids. I’ll have to read up on it and give my scientific brain a chance to do some work.

    And I’ll second reddirtroad… Emory is absolutely gorgeous!!

  9. Schmela said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    I feel your pain. Our almost-5-month-old girl got her 4-month shots a couple of weeks ago. Since she had no perceptible reaction to her 2-month shots other than sleeping a bit extra, I didn’t worry about the shots much at all. This last time, however, she definitely seemed to have more pain, she slept a lot, and was very irritable. She didn’t do the waking up crying thing Emory did, but she was not the same happy baby for at least 2-3 days afterward. She also had a fever that night after her shots. She has been getting the standard amount of shots, although I am considering what you are doing…less shots, more spaced out.

    I spent this afternoon hunting around for a thimerosal-free flu shot for myself, as I am still nursing her, and that has been difficult to find. I really wish some of the information about vaccines was more accesible, so we could make better decisions for ourselves rather than relying on doctors telling us everything is fine and not to worry. For instance, I didn’t know the DTaP shot was a rough one, but I am going to try to find out about it now. Thanks. And BTW, I love that little toothless grin.

  10. Megan said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Seriously, could Emory be any more handsome and adorable? I think not.

  11. KidKate said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Just got my little one her 2-month vaccinations on Monday (including DTaP) and she had a similar reaction. Even the boob couldn’t calm her, and that’s definitely a first. She just screamed and screamed and was clearly miserable. We also were told to try infant Tylenol and it worked like a charm—she woke up several hours later actually smiling and laughing! They told us to try giving her the Tylenol before the vaccinations next time. Ah!

    PS: My mom gave me a good piece of advice about the shots: She said as the baby gets older, she’d gauge her response to going to the doctor by mine. I tried to remember that while she was getting vaccinated but we all three cried anyway (the baby, my mom, and me)!

  12. Cynthia said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    What a beautiful Boy! It is so hard watching your child in pain and feeling helpless. It’s been 12 years since I’ve had to go through what you just described, and it all came rushing back. I highly recommend the two shots across the street!

  13. tien said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    for what it’s worth, apparently my friend’s 2 year old (jonas) actually slept through shots recently.

  14. Paula said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Thanks for this post, and for sharing your experience… so interesting. We included it our weekly web wrap at http://www.thenestbaby.com

  15. mihow said at 4:47 pm on November 14th, 2007:

    Thanks, paula. I just recently discovered your site. I’ll make sure to explore it some more.

  16. Park said at 5:58 pm on February 21st, 2010:

    Our little one has his next lot in two weeks time and they sound like the worst as it’s three physical injections, two in one leg and one in the other. I hate having to watch his face when the needles go in – it’s like, ‘Why are you letting them do this to me?’ – I hate it but it has to be done.


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