Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tough Kid

(Just minutes after shots.)

Enzo received his first shots yesterday and handled them with little drama.  It was almost as though the shots were little more to him than a wet diaper.

Tami prepared Enzo by explaining to him what would happen at the doctor's office.  She told him in her own way and in Spanish.  When I got home, Tami drove and I sat with Enzo explaining to him what would happen as I saw it, in my own way and in English.  

Roughly, what I said to him was:
We are going to the doctors office to get shots for you.  The doctors office is where we go to see doctors who help us stay healthy and get healthy.  The shots were designed to protect you and help you stay healthy.  They are important for everyone, to help protect all the people we meet.  Mommy and daddy have had our shots too.  Shots are uncomfortable but you will probably get use to them in time.  It's normal that they hurt a bit, it's normal to cry, it's normal that they don't feel comfortable, but the pain goes away.  I love you.  Mommy and daddy wouldn't take you for these shots if we didn't believe they are a good thing.  We will be there with you the whole time, before, during, and after.  It will all be okay and the pain will go away.

I know Enzo does not speak Spanish or English yet, but he does communicate with us and we do our best to pay attention to him and interpret his needs.  I wanted to communicate to him all that I did tell him in words, but in that subtle way of body language and mood that he could partially understand.  I don't know how to imply my intentions directly in those ways but I know we all betray them when we talk.  So, I figured that if I used words that are honest to my thoughts then my body's betrayal of my mood and intentions would communicate the essence of my message to Enzo.  That's one of the reasons it was important to me that I tell Enzo all that I did.  He smiled, he listened, he talked back making sounds and being adorable.  It was good.  It was honest.  I also told him all of the above because I think it is good to talk openly with children.  The other reason is because it was good for me to prepare myself for the experience.  I knew the shot would be uncomfortable.  It certainly goes against the animal body instinct to view such a piercing of our flesh as a beneficial act.  It takes intellect to rationalize that and babies are dependent on the intellect of their adults until their own intellect develops.  I didn't want to betray his trust by delivering him to the pain of the shot without him knowing, as much as possible, that it was not in fact a betrayal.  And, I didn't want to set the precedence that when I am concerned for him that I would just deal with it in my head and let my son go through a traumatic moment in my silence.

Clearly, I was prepared for an ordeal; a right of passage for my son to make it through.  I suppose I imagined that 10 minutes of unconsolable tears and torture would begin at the first shot. As it turned out, however, the ordeal was not nearly so tramatic for Enzo as I was prepared for.  It went like this:

(Enzo on table, Tami and I each holding one of his hands gently)
(Shot one went in)
(A second goes by)
(Shot came out)
Enzo back to normal within 2 seconds, just hanging out.  Wow, I expected more pain.
(Shot two went in)
(Shot came out and instantly shot three went in)
(Shot came out)
"aaa..aaaa" and then calm.

It was like nothing happened and the whole thing lasted only seconds, it seemed.  Enzo's level of discomfort was similar to him having a wet diaper, maybe like having two wet diapers at the same time, if that is possible.  It felt worse for Tami and I then any wet diaper but Enzo looked instantly recovered from the shots.  I was reassured, and surprised, by how quickly Enzo went back to every-day-relaxed-baby mode.  The last vaccine, after the three shots, was a liquid that the nurse gave him to swallow through a little squeeze tube that she put in his mouth.  It looked neither like a boob nor a hand and so Enzo was not happy about it.

(Liquid dropper into mouth)
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! aaaaaaa aaaa aa AAA! AAAA! AAAAAAA! aaaaa AAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
That was more annoying to him then the shots!
(Liquid dropper out)
And back to normal and in my arms.

And that was that!  Really.  I almost teared up during the third shot, a mixture of relief and sympathy.  But the whole thing was so quick and his complaints were equally short.  In the end, I was just amazed at how little this seemed to disturb Enzo.  Tami had fed him while at the doctors office and that always makes him mellow so I can not tell for sure if he was less animated on the way home only because he had eaten or partly because he was a little tired or sore from the event.  He didn't look angry or scared.  He did not seem emotionaly frustrated.  I was plain relieved and happy at how well Enzo handled the experience.

Hours later, into the night, he did become uncomfortable.  By then his legs, where the shots were injected, were red.  We were told to expect redness and swelling in the legs and to give him Tylenol if he developed a fever under 102 and to call if 102 or above.  His head seemed a little warm to us but the thermometer showed that he was not warm so we did not give him medicine.  He was a bit fussy and he did not want to be put down.  That's not a problem for us.  So, we loved him and we held him and we gently rubbed his legs do disperse the vaccines as we were told to do.  Eventually, Enzo fell asleep.  We checked on him through the night but he slept fine.  This morning, his legs looked normal and Enzo looked as content as a happy baby.

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