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Guest Mom JoAnn: Getting Poke’d

Welcome a lighthearted approach to vaccines from Guest Mom JoAnn Rasmussen

JoAnn Rasmussen writes at The Casual Perfectionist and is also the assistant editor at Mile High Mamas, the Denver Post’s parenting blog and online community.  JoAnn and her husband have a four-year old daughter named Claire.

JoAnn is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, but doesn’t consider herself to be the stuffy, up-tight kind. She’s more of a casual perfectionist, hence the name of her website. She tries her hardest to focus on the positive, learn from the negative, and laugh at both. In fact, she is a firm believer in the notion that if you haven’t laughed today, you weren’t really paying attention.

I’ll never forget Claire’s first trip to the doctor’s office for a shot she would actually remember.  It was October 2007, right in the midst of flu shot season, and I wasn’t sure how things would go.  At 22-months old, Claire was exponentially more mobile than she was last time.  We’d always been really lucky when it came to shots, so I was hoping this time would be no different.

When Claire was a baby, I never hesitated in getting her fully vaccinated on the schedule that our pediatrician had recommended.  As a mother, it tugged at my heart to see the momentary flash of pain in her eyes, but it was quickly replaced by her beautiful smile, and I knew it was worth it.

I was so thankful to have access to these vaccines.  The thought of protecting my child from the deadly diseases that had plagued my relatives only a generation before was worth it.  Knowing that by getting my child vaccinated, she wouldn’t contract and pass along one of those preventable diseases to someone younger or unprotected was worth it.

Still, this was going to be the first time she’d actually remember getting a vaccine, and I wanted it to go well.

That morning, I set the scene.  “Guess where we get to go today! We get to go to the doctor’s office, and he’s going to give you a flu shot. He’s going to give you a shot in the arm. And, it will feel like a poke!” I said as I lightly pinched her upper arm. “Momma’s going to get a flu shot too, and she’s going to get a poke in the arm, just like Claire!”

“The doctor’s gonna poke my arm!” she said excitedly. “The doctor’s gonna poke Momma’s arm!” She didn’t understand that there could be pain involved with a poke in the arm, but I let her run with it. Any chance to go on an adventure was exciting, and I was hoping to use that excitement to my advantage.

When we got to the office, she didn’t want to wait for me to fill out the paperwork, and she headed down the hallway with one of the little chairs. “I’m gonna go see the doctor! He’s gonna poke my arm!” she yelled as she pushed the chair through the doorway.  Luckily, I was able to retrieve her before she got too far.

Claire’s excitement was nearly as contagious as the toys over on the “sick kid” side of the waiting room, and this was quite entertaining for the receptionists. They certainly didn’t see this every day.

Because this was a “Flu Shot Clinic,” there were lots of people in line with us.  “The doctor’s gonna poke my arm!” Claire told a little girl waiting in line in front of us.  Claire didn’t understand why this was so upsetting to the little girl who now had a look of shocked panic on her face. “Oh yes. We’re really excited about getting our flu shots,” I said to the little girl and her mother. What else could I do?

Then, it was our turn. The nurse called, “Next!” and Claire dragged me into the room. “Hurry, Momma! Hurry! The doctor’s gonna poke my arm!”

I got my shot first, and then it was Claire’s turn. It took three seconds, and she didn’t even flinch! She was all smiles and even thanked the nurse. The nurse gave her a big yellow smiley face sticker. As Claire was clutching her newest prized possession she said, “The doctor poke’d my arm! The doctor poke’d Momma’s arm! I got a sticker!!”

Over the years, our experience has remained the same, and I am glad that the hardest part about getting a vaccine is containing our excitement while waiting in line.

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