Robert Gets the Needle

Robert was in a very good mood this morning, he actually went back to sleep between us on the bed after his 6 a.m feeding, which is something he rarely does. I woke up at nine and had a full breakfast before he finally called for me.

Ron was busy checking out tennants at our rental flat, so Robert and I managed together with feeding, bath, and two nappy changes. He was perfectly content through all that, and fell asleep as soon as I put him in his car seat, it is such a pity that we were about to spoil such a perfect day by giving him the needle.

We arrived at nurse B’s rooms shortly after twelve, with less than an hour to spare until closing time, and I feared that we will have a long wait ahead. As it turned out, however, she was busy with one baby, and we were immediately next in line. During the past weeks I got to watch many babies and children getting the needle. The nurse uses one room, she attends to injections and assessments on one side of it, in clear view of the waiting area, where all the moms, babies, toddlers, and some dads are seated. Last week there was quite a line-up of vaccination cases, their reactions, and that of their mothers varies dramatically: A mother of an eleven-month-old girl winced and hid her face as her daughter was jabbed, while another Afrikaans-speaking toddler did not issue a single whimper. In general, though, most small babies would be content throughout the examination right until the moment they feel the needle. The only exception was one older toddler near the end of the waiting line; he started howling the moment his mother moved with him to the other end of the room towards nurse B. He had been silently watching the procession of happy kids working themselves into screaming fits once they go to the other end of the room, and was old enough to know what to expect. Of course, little Robert was innocent of any experience in this regard and did not know what was coming.

Nurse B weighed and measured baby Robert, he weighed 5060 grams, and was gaining beautifully. Next on the agenda was the vaccination, which is a combo injection for: Diphtheria, Tetanus, whooping cough, Hib Meningitis, and Polio. The nurse advised me to sit with Robert in my lap and put him on my breast in order to calm him down quicker once he gets the injection. She injected the vaccine in his right thigh, and there was a little bit of crying, but he soon calmed down and resumed the feeding session. The nurse said that we should expect some fussiness in the next 24 hours. Baby will feel some pain in his upper leg for the next few days, and there was a rare risk of running a fever. We had given Robert a dose of infant drops before heading to the clinic, and the nurse advised us to continue with the recommended dosage at least for the next 24 hours, and later as needed.

Robert did not run a fever. He was a little bit cranky in the evening, but the drops helped calm him and he slept through the worst of the injection’s side effects. His next vaccination appointment is in two weeks’ time, and that one will be oral drops.