Working as a student nurse I’ve seen injections and procedures being done a fair amount on babies and i’ve even carried out heel prick tests myself. Now, this may make me sound a little heartless (I promise I’m not, I have a very warm squishy centre) but although I felt sorry for the baby and often used a very high pitched voice to tell them they were a brave little girl/boy, I didn’t feel overly emotional about the situation. And although I would comfort the parent I had no real understanding of how they felt. Fast forward a year and I now have total empathy!
Grace has had three lots of immunisations now, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 4 months. The first time I took her I felt ok, obviously it’s not going to be a pleasant experience but I was rational and knew they had to be given. That was until I heard the scream; my god I’ve never heard her make a noise like it and considering how badly she suffered with colic that’s saying something. With each injection it got worse, the silent scream (when she’d draw in such a big breath ready to let out an almighty yell) really got to me and heat spread through my body as I desperately tried to comfort her. I bounced around the nurses room while the red book was filled out which seemed to take forever. Once home, she settled quickly and I didnt notice too much of a difference in her. Perhaps a little more clingy but that may have just been me needing the extra cuddles!
With the second lot of jabs I knew what we were in for so felt a little more anxious. I also remembered how painful the intermuscular injection I had during labor was and if that hurt me then her tiny thighs (albeit they have some impressive rolls) must really feel it.
Third time around and my anxiety had peaked; I knew they had to be given but dreaded hearing THAT scream again. I know babies can pick up on your feelings through your body so I really did try to stay relaxed. Grace was smiling away at our lovely nurse seconds before the pinch came which made it even worse, such innocence. Grace settled within a minute, almost like she could just take it in her stride now. However with the third lot she’s definitly been unsettled for a few days after and who can blame her. We’ve followed the calpol guidelines for the MenB vaccine and she hasn’t had a temperature thankfully. Although there has been a lot of comfort feeding, clinginess and unsettled nights. We’ve had to revisit some of our colic buster techniques to sooth her. Including breastfeeding in the bathroom with the shower running as the noise and steam really soothes her.
Although it’s completely unatural to purposefully put your child through pain, it would be so much worse if they were to catch one of the illnesses we thankfully vaccinate against in the UK. If you haven’t experienced ‘the jabs’ yet please don’t let this blog post worry you – that is not my intention. It’s not a nice experince as a parent but so essential and they’ll never remember it; just be ready with those post jab cuddles! I am so thankful in the UK that our children are vaccinated free of charge against so many life threatening illnesses – just another reason why the NHS is friggin awesome