Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Give Me the Chickenpox, or Give me Death

Until it was time to vaccinate my baby before he left the NICU, and I had my subsequent fear-based freak out about vaccine danger, I had no idea that there was such a thing as a chicken pox vaccine. And when I heard, I thought, well, "Meh, why do we need that? Chicken pox is not so bad. He doesn't need that one."

It was part and parcel to my weird reluctance to vaccinate. The fear had gotten to me in my highly emotional state. babywhumpus was extremely premature and in the NICU. Even though we knew relatively early that he would survive, it was still a state of heightened existence. I tried above all to hold it together and not be too emotional. Consequently, I think I may have put all my fear regarding his very real condition into other areas: vaccines, bottle-feeding, toxins in the products they used at the hospital. Though I still have my issues with the bottle feeding and the products, I was hysterical at the time. Not hair-tearing and raving, but overly panicked and fearful about these small things, having denied the emotional reaction to the very large one. And in a situation where you feel you have very little control, you cling to what you can control.

I look back, and it's embarrassing. Let the damn nurses give your baby a bottle when you are away and get him home earlier (I did, eventually). There are more important things right now than the possibility that he might not adjust to the breast. Calm down about the diaper cream and the petroleum jelly. The dose makes the poison, and, again, there are more important things on which to focus.

And then the vaccines. I had this still very tiny baby, who had survived so much, so early, and I wanted him to stay exactly how he was. Those stories about babies regressing or becoming damaged after vaccination had wheedled their way into my subconscious. After all we had done, I was not going to lose a part of him.

Never mind the other side of that coin: pertussis, hepatitis, and other vaccine-preventable diseases that could take all or most of him away.

People can say a disease is not that bad, or that "only a few people die of it every year, anyway," but if it's preventable, then isn't that statement just a little unethical? What if you or your child is one of the few? It's all OK when it's happening to someone else, I guess.

I didn't think about those things back them.

By the time babywhumpus came due for his chickenpox vaccination, he was all caught up and got his shot. Because even though "only" 50-100 people die every year from varicella, I'd rather it be none.

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