You've Got Nothing to Worry About

Oftentimes, the kids need multiple shots at well visits. At least three or four. This time it was only one each -- the yearly flu vaccine.

Apparently, my daughter, Charlotte, hates needles. I knew she had an unusual fear of pain, and Charlotte had been worried about her annual doctor visit for weeks. Still, I was not prepared for the incredible reaction she had at the doctor's office the other day.

She watched as Simon, my oldest, got the shot first. He took a deep breath, as he was told, and blew it out quickly. This worked perfectly for him. No crying, no dramatics or tantrums at all. In fact he smiled as he told
his anxious little sister: "It doesn't hurt one bit."

Flu

We reasoned. We explained. We comforted and acknowledged. We were stern. We were friendly.

No go. She screamed -- and not her usual look at me sort of scream either, which is usually to do with anger. No, this was serious fear. As I touched her, I felt a block of wood, without defect, utterly unable to be bent. Her arms and legs became as solid bones, straight and locked in place.

I couldn't help but marvel at her strength.

The nurse began patiently with her cute, kid-entertaining, cartoonish voice. Gradually, the patience lessened with the silliness. She came close, and she leveled with Charlotte: I will always tell you the truth. If it was going to hurt, I would tell you it would hurt. Well, I will have to go get someone to hold you if you do not come sit down yourself.

I will always tell you the truth. If it was going to hurt, I would tell you it would hurt. Well, I will have to go get someone to hold you if you do not come sit down yourself.

She tried. You could see Charlotte was really trying to comply. She'd take a step or two towards the table and then stop with a jerk. She'd let me hold her and then stiffen as I moved her toward the waiting nurse.

The nurse went to find "someone to help," and I tried my best to calm my daughter as we waited. When our nurse came back with another nurse, I let her try once more for a minute. But once the two women started to discuss which one would restrain my six-year-old in a bear hug and which one would then stick her with the needle, I decided that was enough.

As I sat there waiting for the nurse to return with "help," I had a brief glimpse of my daughter struggling and screaming and helpless. I thought there was nothing I could do to stop it. Then I realized -- I would rather risk her getting horribly sick, than allow her to be emotionally traumatized.

I generally try to comply with medical professionals, but with four children, I've come to realize over and over again that you can't just follow them blindly. In the end I had to remember, for better or for worse, I am my children's mother. The decisions that must be made for their welfare are mine to make.

As I sat there waiting for the nurse to return with "help," I had a brief glimpse of my daughter struggling and screaming and helpless. I thought there's was nothing I could do to stop it. Then I realized -- I would rather risk her getting horribly sick, than allow her to be emotionally traumatized.

That was two days ago. I do not regret that decision at all.


Charlotte has to carry an Epi-Pen everywhere she goes, but we've only ever had to use one once. I took the injector, jabbed her in the thigh through the jeans she was wearing, and held it there for ten full seconds -- while she cried. It may have saved her life. She was about four years old.