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Posts tagged ‘About Melanie’

A Letter to Parents Who Vaccinate

Dear Parents,

Like me, you would do anything for your child. Like me, you can’t imagine a world without them and you would do anything you can to keep them from harm’s way. Maybe like me, you stood in wonder next to her crib and cried with joy the week you brought her home amazed and blessed with the gift of parenthood. You may have even thought naively (before you had your second…third…fourth) that you could not love anything or anyone more than this child – your child.

What I came to realize is that parenthood has its blessings and its burdens. It is the ultimate challenge of making the best decisions you can with the knowledge, skills and resources you have at your disposal at the time. I admit I’ve made mistakes. What parent hasn’t? I just hope I leaned from them, that I show myself compassion for having made them and that my daughters forgive me for them. I hope they know I do the best I can with the information I have at the time. I hope they can appreciate my process for making my decisions and the risks I am willing or not willing to take on their behalf.

The burden of decision-making and risk taking in the world of parenthood is the ultimate ante. The stakes are high. There are no rules of engagement…you’re on 24/7. Maybe like me you know the Calvary isn’t coming, at least not today (the grandparents live several states away). The funny thing is so many decisions come from your gut. Deep inside there is a response, a feeling, a knowing that you either know the answer or you don’t. When you hesitate you look around and seek out advice or information from friends, on the web, your parents, maybe your healthcare provider, someone you trust.

You look for confirmation of what your gut is telling you. Maybe, like me, you ask questions, talk about experiences. Maybe, like me, you look to incorporate the latest research and science about a particular topic whether it is immunizations, soy formula or sleep schedules.

Choosing to vaccinate is one of those tough decisions. Made tougher still by conflicting advice, various beliefs, and the temporary discomfort of a needle poke, but rest assured you made the best decision. You can feel confident in that choice. Be confident that you made an informed decision backed by rigorous scientific methods. You made the best choice for your child’s health. Really, for ALL children’s health and I applaud you.

And you don’t stand alone. Over 80% of us parents have made that choice. It is a choice for health and well-being. Thank you parents! There are no instruction manuals, warranties, or guaranteed satisfaction when making parenting decisions but choosing vaccines is one you can feel confident and assumed was the right one.



Taking the “ouch” out of vaccines

I must admit, getting their shots is not my kids’ idea of a good time. No matter how much park time we had before, no matter what promises of tasty treats would be bestowed upon them after, it just isn’t appealing.

But I have been able to make it more tolerable by making it a game and telling them how important it is for their health.

I will tell my girls, “We are going for our pokes today! Remember how we get a poke in our arm or leg and it stings for a bit but it helps protect us from icky germs and bad things?” Then I take my finger and give their arm a little poke. They giggle and we’re both more prepared for the shot.

My oldest, Claire, was a champ from the beginning. Even as an infant she surprised me by stoically accepting her fate, looking the nurse straight in the eye as she drew the vaccine into the needle. She also amazed me at how quickly and easily she was comforted and calmed afterwards.

The secret to my success? I empowered her with the knowledge of what to expect during the shot, and the information she needed to feel in control.

When her little sister came along, Claire was in the role of the “big sister” and REALLY found purpose. She helps me by explaining to her little sister, Grace, what “pokes” are and why they are necessary. She even goes as far as volunteering to go first just to prove it wasn’t that bad and that she wasn’t afraid.

Now Grace, well…I haven’t been that lucky. Even with practicing “pokes” on her stuffed animals, watching her older sister not shed a tear, and being promised full sugar snacks in the car, this one didn’t buy it. She hides, refuses, goes for the door, and screams “NO!” I’ve even tried giving her a pain reliever and fever reducer before the shot to prevent discomfort, but that had little effect.

So I went in search of information to see what I could do to ease both the anxiety and the pain of a “poke.” Here’s what I learned can help:

  • Nursing – Allowing a baby to suckle the breast, bottle or pacifier can help manage pain as well as be a distraction.
  • Take a Deep Breath – The best thing you can do for your baby is stay calm before and during the doctor appointment. Babies can pick up on your stress and get scared. During the shot, distract your baby with cooing, touching and smiling. By you being a strong, happy parent your baby will reflect your mood.
  • Pain Relievers – There has been some controversy on whether pain relievers can diminish the effectiveness of vaccines, so ask your doctor before your vaccine visit if they recommend giving pain relievers.
  • Order in which vaccines are administered – It is suggested in studies that the less painful shot be given first. Studies have found that this should be Diphtheria, polio, pertussis, tenanus (Dtap) and haemophilus (HIB) before the vaccine for pneumococcal.
  • Play – Children use play to understand situations, encourage them to take a favorite stuffed animal or doll so they can “practice” giving a shot. Point out how well the animal does in sitting still and getting a band-aid.
  • Sibling Power – Enlisting an older sibling to go first and show how getting a shot “should be done.” Of course, this only works if you have a brave kiddo – a screaming big sis will probably scare the little one a bit.
  • Give a Little Cough – For older children (or adults for that matter), have them give a strong cough right when shot is being inserted. Researchers don’t know if it’s just a simple distraction or actually reduces pain, but it’s seems effective.

Check out this great resource for things to consider before during and after the immunization visit.

I’m curious, what have you found works to keep your kid calm? Does your screaming baby make you not want to vaccinate?

Even I’m Scared of Vaccines

Look at her.

I mean, seriously. Look how perfect and precious and adorable she is. I was lucky, so lucky, to fall crazy in love with my baby. From the minute she was born I was awash in the euphoria, joy and intensely biological need to love and protect her forever. I was blessed.

So imagine eight short, sleepless weeks later when I went in for her well-child exam and had to make the decision to vaccinate. What? Let you inflict pain and possible suffering on this perfect baby? What? Not just once, but four times? Yes, protecting her against eight vaccine preventable diseases, umm I guess I get that.

But four individual shots? ARE YOU INSANE? My husband, already very pale thanks to his Swedish heritage, went so white he was translucent and had to leave the room.

This was going to be hard. It goes against all biological instinct and maternal intuitiveness to willingly allow your child to be hurt or to suffer, if even for a moment.

For several minutes my only panicked thoughts were:  BACK OFF LADY, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HURT MY BABY – I’M OUTTA HERE!

I took a deep breath, I swallowed hard, I unsuccessfully choked back tears and I listened.

I listened to my choices. I listened to the risks associated with disease and how vaccines can prevent them. I listened to why, as a newborn, my baby was at her most vulnerable for these diseases. Waiting would only put her at greater risk.

I had the opportunity to fend off and protect her from something much worse than a needle prick. I had a choice to protect her. As hard as it was at that first visit, (and honestly it never gets easier) I always choose to vaccinate my babies. I choose the temporary pain of a prick over a lifetime of risk and potential disease.

So, how did you feel at your baby’s first doctor’s appointment? Were you surprised at your gut reaction? I’d love to hear your stories!

I Made a Vlog!

I love the shots of me and my kids.  I’m glad I can show such healthy, fully vaccinated kiddos!

This and all the vlogs I’ll be uploading are thanks to our project partner Kaiser Permanente Colorado! Kaiser Permanente generously donated video production to this project, but did not have editorial influence on this project’s content. Thank you so much!

I’m going to be creating more of these so please let me know what you think!