Going Off Book

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.

profile of a boy

Watching his baby brothers make a mess with the hose. Someone snuck in my house and replaced my baby with this boy when I wasn’t looking.

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  1. Oh, look those curls. I LOVE his hair. But when did he get so big???

  2. When DID Charlie become such a little man?!

    And, I’m the primary researcher, thinker, decider about medical stuff, therapies, etc. too.
    Yes, the trust is nice, and I’m a control freak, so even just letting someone else do those things would be hard for me, but . . . sometimes, it is such a very, very heavy weight to carry around. There’ve been times where I have had to say to my husband, “I KNOW YOU TRUST ME, BUT I NEED YOU TO HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT THIS.” He cares so much about the girls, its just that he really does trust my researching, analyzing, etc.
    But oh the worry that comes with that . . . .

  3. I was thinking the same thing as the others…first – look at those gorgeous curls and second..where is Charlie?? He is turning into a little boy. And from the side, I can definitely see daddy in him.

  4. I’m so thankful for this post. Sebastian has his four year check up next week and needs his DTaP. He did not have it at 18 months but had it at 2, 4, 6 months. He did not develop epilepsy until age 2 after initial seizures at birth from his traumatic birth. We follow our own schedule of vaccinations since then and never more than one at a time. I did not know such severe side effects could happen with DTaP and epilepsy. I will certainly find the right Dr that is aware, etc. Glad it went well with Charlie.

  5. He is growing up so fast. Right before our eyes.

    You are a good momma!

  6. Barbara says:

    I’m having the same reaction as you and everyone else to that photo! Lawd he is beautiful!

  7. I think you read my mind when you posted this. Emily has never received the DTaP vaccine. She has received the DT vaccine. When she was a baby, her pediatrician and I were very concerned about the Pertussis component bringing on seizures on top of all the other stuff Emily was already dealing with. Well, I keep hearing about Pertussis cropping up all over the place and I have been very concerned about the fact that Emily has not received that immunization. So I have been debating back and forth about the DTaP vaccine. I, too, am the primary researcher and decision maker and it is daunting at times! I am definitely going to discuss this will a few of Emily’s docs and hope that I come to a decision that I can feel good about.

    Charlie is gorgeous! And looking SO grown up I can barely stand it!

  8. That must have been an extremely difficult situation to make. My husband leaves most of these kinds of decisions to me too! Hope adjustments to new baby is going well. How did your first day on your own go? Anyway– I have been given the Versatile Blogger Award and since I love reading about your lovely family, I am passing it along to you! Check it out at my blog if you would like to accept it!

  9. Beautiful picture of Charlie.

  10. I thought the same thing. What a big boy. what a beautiful picture. That is a tough call- seizures are scary.

  11. So glad you made it through with no complications. It is so hard to be the one making all the medical decisions. Nothing like having the weight of the world on your shoulders. What a gorgeous boy.

  12. what a sweet picture. he does look so grown up! Saying thanks that the vaccination was side effect free.

    How is August doing? how did the test go?