Charlie has had very few well-child visits. Like, his last one was two years ago. I think. In the beginning he was so sick and we were in and out of the doctor’s office so often, that well-visits just weren’t on my radar. I didn’t really see the need to go visit the doctor and find out if he was developing on schedule. He wasn’t. Obviously. And that checklist they give you when you arrive? That can bite me.
The main reason I decided to have one of these well-child visits was somewhat controversial. For almost a year now it’s been on my heart that I need to have Charlie vaccinated against tetanus. Charlie’s neurologist advised us about two years ago that we should avoid unnecessary vaccinations because he has a very ugly EEG and vaccinations have been known to cause seizures. Charlie had a very severe form of epilepsy as a baby and we have managed to keep things in check since then. Still, rocking the boat is not recommended. DTap in particular carries a caution for his specific type of epilepsy–it must be stabilized and under control before administering it.
Unfortunately, DTap is the only way for a child under seven to be vaccinated against tetanus. You may be able to find a doctor that would administer it before that, but it’s not FDA approved before age seven. Seven is a LONG ways away and meanwhile I have a very oral child who loves to put his mouth on cool, metallic objects. I only had to see him try to mouth the chain of a porch swing once to know that if there’s tetanus out there, Charlie would be the one to find it. Not everyone worries about Tetanus, but me? Well, I don’t like any illness that includes “convulsions.” Nope, not one bit.
After I thought about it for a very long while, I remember that Charlie had the DTaP vaccine at two months(before his epilepsy appeared) and had no ill effects that I noticed. Of course, he then went on to develop epilepsy, so take that with a grain of salt, but I didn’t think the two were related. I took that information, combined with my fear of tetanus, and my general dislike for pertussis (I had it a few years back), and decided to go ahead with the DTaP vaccine. Let me tell you, NOTHING is scarier than having your doctor ask you, “you do have emergency seizure meds at home, right?” Nothing. They should hand out nerves of steel right after they cut the umbilical cord, amirite?
The shot itself went fantastic. I had talked to Charlie about it several times before we went and he didn’t even shed a tear. Well, he shed a lot of tears, but that was because I had the nerve to put away my iPhone when it was time to go home. I’m a mean mommy like that. I kept a very close eye on him for the next few hours and he had absolutely no ill-effects from the shot. And now? We’re vaccinated against tetanus. Yay!
It’s hard to make a decision like this. In my family, I make almost all of the decisions about my children’s health and well-being with very little input from my husband. While I appreciate the trust, it can be very scary to make those sorts of decisions for another human being. What if I’m wrong? I often think that burden is the hardest thing about being a parent–making decisions that actually could be life or death. Nothing I did before parenting prepared me for that.