My baby is 15 months old. She had her check up yesterday. She is so so smart.
The last several appointments have consisted largely of vaccinations. The nurse will come collect us from the lobby and show us to our room. Hannah is still measured by laying her flat on the paper of the exam table and drawing with pen where she begins and ends. Her head is measured with a tape measure. And then she is stripped and taken down the hall to the scale for a weight measurement. The nurse then deposits us back into the room to wait for the Dr. While we wait, we put Hannah in a new diaper and let her wander about exploring and playing.
The Dr. comes in eventually and conducts her exam, running through typical milestones and checking off boxes. Reminding us of what is to come in the next few months, what’s normal. Letting us ask questions. She looks into Hannah’s eyes and ears. She tries to look in Hannah’s mouth but in public is one of the only times she has it shut. She checks her leg rotation and takes a peak in the diaper to make sure there are no concerns. She giggles with Hannah, tickles her, smiles at her and squeezes her chubby little thighs. And then she leaves.
Hannah continues to play.
And then the nurse comes back to give Hannah her shots.
By laying her flat on the exam table and poking her legs.
Hannah does not like shots.
Hannah does not like this nurse.
At our visit yesterday, the nurse came to collect Hannah and I from the lobby and Hannah ran to my legs. Not that that is unusual, but I could tell she suspected something. We walked down the hall as normal and Hannah’s grip on my hand got tighter. As soon as we made our way into the exam room, Hannah burst into tears. Big crocodile tears pouring down her cheeks. Reaching for me to pick her up. Struggling to get out of the room and as far away from the nurse as possible. She would not let me lay her on the exam table. She couldn’t breath she was crying so hard. We finally got something resembling what was needed and the nurse left the room. I made sure to hug Hannah, tell her she was a brave girl, and keep her clothed until she calmed down a little. She struggled when I tried to get her clothes off. She kept trying to jump off the table. But she wasn’t crying anymore.
I took her down the hall, she saw the nurse waiting at the scale and immediately started crying again. Hugging me hard around the neck. Scurrying up my body like a monkey in a tree. Crying and reaching when I dropped her on the scale. Talk about heartbreak! How do you tell someone that doesn’t speak that this thing that is clearly not OK really is going to be OK?
And then we went back to the room. I got her calmed down again. I tried to put a diaper on her but she refused to go near the exam table so I let her play until she peed on her feet. I let her sit up on the table alone while I cleaned up the floor. I didn’t try to push her immediately into laying down. I let her hold a wipe (she likes to help wiping herself when we change her). And then I gave her the diaper to hold until the Dr. came in. She tensed, but she let me lay her down. Then I put her on the floor and let her navigate the room with this new person in it. She never cried. It took a few minutes for her to lighten up enough to smile and giggle, play and climb without a wary glance over her shoulder. The Dr conducted her exam as usual (everything is perfect of course) and then the Dr. left.
And then the door opened again. Hannah saw the nurse peak her head through and lost it. Crying. Hiding. Barely breathing. I picked her up and hugged her tight. Walked over to the table and made her lie down. Put my arm over her tummy and kissed her face which was contorted with rage and pain. And when her shots were done, scooped her up as quickly as I could to rub her back and squeeze her tiny shaking body. And as soon as the nurse left, Hannah calmed down. Let me put her pants back on, helped me clean up the toys, and walked down the hall all by herself.
I’m sad that she’s made the connection. I’m sad that the nurse gets such a bad wrap. But I’m also weirdly proud that my daughter is that smart, that she knows who does what and adjusts her behavior accordingly. That she can settle so quickly with someone that doesn’t cause her pain. That she still trusts me and wants to hug me even though I make her get shots. I don’t like having to give Hannah so many shots, but I am grateful that they are available to her. I am grateful that she will get so many of them young when she can’t remember it hurting. I am grateful that we are almost done.
We got home and she ate some lunch. She drank a bottle and had some quiet time. And when her daddy was preparing to leave for the night, she sat in my lap and put her head on my chest and looked up at me and gave me kisses without me asking. She waved bye to daddy and played with her toys. And slept soundly the whole night through.
2 more shots. One at each of her next two appointments. And then she shouldn’t have to get anymore for 2 years. Hopefully that will be enough time for her magnificent brain to rewrite the script for the nurse.