Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In This Corner...

weighing in at a robust 9 pounds 12 ounces, 23.5 inches long - Amari Becker Fishman. Last week was Amari's two month check-up, which inspired a slew of emotions - excitement that she gaining weight and no longer looked sallow and worried, sadness that she was growing up right before my eyes, and jealousy that she was already more than one-third my height. Time to swallow the pride and break out the basketball.

Two month check-ups mean vaccinations, or at the very least a discussion about our options. I spent half my childhood in India, so I was inoculated against practically everything. I wore my smallpox vaccination scar like a badge of honor during my months in California and I remember getting booster shots every year when we'd return to India to live with my mom. I also remember getting Straw Hat Pizza and movie as a reward for the physical violation - most memorably Winnie the Pooh, The Littlest Horse Thieves, and Cheech and Chong: Still Smoking. I'm not convinced that last reward was for us. By the time we finished our pizza, our arms had begun to hurt and feel heavy, and when the movie was over we could barely lift our empty sodas to take to the trash. The next day the pain had faded to a dull ache, but the memory of movies and pizza lingers on today.

I do not take vaccinating lightly, but I'm also not a reactionary extremist. I've noticed that people's opinions range anywhere from totally on board with every recommended shot to vehemently opposed to vaccines with a splash of government conspiracy designed to inoculate people against liberalism. Other extreme views include the chiropractic belief that a healthy, subluxated spine makes our immune systems indestructible. I guess anyone who ever had the plague or tuberculosis had lousy posture - in which case, I'd be seriously doomed without vaccinations. I also know that if I were a chiropractor, I'd be spreading this belief as well. In fact, as a practicing marriage and family therapist, I would like to make it known that bi-weekly therapy visits at $80 a pop is an effective substitute for any recommended vaccinations. Totally true. Call me.

In all seriousness, I know there are a multitude of reasons people make their decisions regarding vaccinations. I did not go into the conversation last week blindly, but instead took the recommendation of our pediatrician and read through "The Vaccine Book" by Robert W. Sears. The Sears family, which appears to be a multi-generational pediatric empire, has written extensively about infants and children and are well-received in the medical community. They appear to be the Dr. Spock of our generation, so I bought the book and perused the details of the various vaccinations schedules. I will include a review of this book in my next blog.

When decision time arrived last Wednesday, I felt slightly informed at best. I shared my thoughts with our pediatrician, and asked for her input. Ultimately, as a novice book skimmer I deferred to her decades of experience, but I stuck to my guns when it came to Hepatitis B, feeling very confident that Amari would not be mixing blood with anyone in the near future. Hopefully never. She ended up receiving three schedules of vaccinations - the DTAP/HIB, polio, and the PCV.

The moment was traumatic, but Amari's recovery was exceptional. She was cooing and babbling throughout her weigh-in, clearly in a good mood about her new height and weight. She still looked sweet, naive, and innocent when Carla, armed with three syringes, held her legs down. When the first needle went about halfway through her leg, her eyes widened, her brow furrowed, and her smile disappeared. It took another second for her brain to send the message that she was feeling a sharp, PKU-like pain. Then two more needles followed, two more messages, and Amari was screaming. We managed to clothe her in record time and Carrie nursed her into silence within 30 seconds. Impressive.

Later that night Amari appeared to be slightly achy, a little warm, and very tired. We gave her a single drop of liquid Tylenol, a few slices of Round Table Pizza, and then gathered around the TV to watch Cheech and Chong's Next to Last Movie: Prescription to Smoke. It's important to start these traditions early.

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