I is for immunization: to or not to?
I can’t remember when I learnt about the immunization process and schedule in the UK, but at some point after Precious Sparkle was born I had to consider this issue.
To immunize or not to immunize?
I bought a book at a Mum2Mum Market’s nearly new sale about reasons why not to immunize babies. I was however told by the family who sold it to me to take it with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read the book.
I have also had lengthy discussions with some of my mummy friends about a range of views on immunizing children. I remember stumbling on an article that considered the decision of some parents not to immunize their children to be selfish; I don’t agree with this.
All these left me unsettled about following through with Precious Sparkle’s immunization schedule. However, I was also unsettled about not following through with it. I was immunized as a child and I grew up seeing it as a positive act.
I am uncomfortable with the idea of introducing live virus into my baby. I am concerned about its potential effects, even though it works well in majority of cases. I will be very unhappy with myself if immunizing him negatively impacts him in any way.
However, it is also worrying to think that Precious Sparkle will be unprotected against some really nasty viral killers in the future. The thought that he could be more easily infected with the diseases that most children are immunized against makes me shudder. I couldn’t forgive myself if anything really bad happened to him as a result of my decision not to immunize him.
After careful consideration of my concerns, I bit the rusty bullet, went to my surgery, and booked his appointment. I felt there were more reasons to immunize him than not to.
His dad and I took him for his first immunization. We had to decide who was going to hold him … how to hold to him … how to quickly turn him so that nurse could inject his second thigh without faffing around … it was quite a plan.
I was sad to learn that it would be a painful experience for him; albeit, one that he wouldn’t remember. It was scary hearing the nurse list the potential effects of the injections. I tried to write down her key points; I didn’t want to forget anything that was vital. The nurse was very reassuring and she answered every question we asked.
I was thankful to know that breastfeeding him as soon as possible afterwards would help him to calm down and feel better. However, I was a bit concerned because he would have received an oral shot of live rota virus beforehand. Even then, the thought of breastfeeding him afterwards empowered me a bit; it was something I could do to BE with him in the situation. It made me feel better than holding him as still as possible for painful injections.
I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t have any side effects, at least nothing serious. I didn’t mind if he slept a bit more than usual, but that didn’t happen. 🙂 I decided to hold him instead of my husband. I suppose this made me feel less helpless.
The nurse prepared her material and immunized Precious Sparkle; it was over before we knew it. It was hard offering his other thigh to the nurse whilst he cried from the first injection. I tried to cuddle him as he cried really hard. 🙁 I was given cotton wool to stem the minor bleeding, before plaster was placed over the injections’ points. We then left the nurses’ room to breastfeed; she had other appointments, you see.
When he was okay enough, we stopped feeding and booked his next appointment. We were extra careful with our hand-washing after every nappy change for a while. We were also very fortunate that Precious Sparkle didn’t have any visible side effect as such.
2nd and 3rd Immunization
I took him to his 12 and 18 weeks immunisation alone; his dad had to be at work. I was more confident because I knew what to expect, but it was nonetheless hard watching him cry in response to the pain of the injection. I hate injections. Seeing my baby receive injections on his thighs and enabling this to happen is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mother. I am so glad that it’s not a long process.
He had a light fever after the 3rd one; ushering in my first brush with Calpol. It wasn’t an easy introduction, I saw it as putting in more chemicals into his system. Added to this, I don’t like medication. But hey, we’ve got to do what we got to … right?
His interest vs. my preference
In instances like this, I’m learning to accept that my preferences have to take a back seat. I have to consider what’s in my child’s interest, what’s really best for him. If we had decided not to immunize him, I will feel that we’re protecting him from chemical concoctions and their potential side effects. However, I know that we will also be leaving him exposed … unprotected from potential infections from really nasty illnesses.
Of course, immunization does not offer 100% protection from all horrible childhood ailments and it has some potentially bad side effects. I’m however satisfied that it does offer some vital protection and that it’s a result of a lot of professional thought and care. I accept that in today’s world, immunisation is a necessary measure.
Even then, I think each parent is entitled to decide what to do.
What side of the immunisation debate are you? Was it an easy decision for you? Did you have to deal with any side effects?
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