I had been thinking a lot about the best way to give Riley her MMR and preschool boosters as to me giving a baby two injections at once seems quite mean but at least they don’t remember it after. But take a three year old who is just developing her own strong opinions on how things in her life should work and it seems to me like a recipe for disaster. Added to that the fact that I know vaccinations can make you feel a bit rough I decided it would be better to have them done separately.
Then I realised I could time Riley’s MMR with my whooping cough vaccine, it seemed like the perfect situation. We discussed what would happen at home when I had made the appointment and that we would both be getting injections in a few weeks which might hurt a little bit at the time but would make sure we didn’t get ill. Riley seemed happy with this and after asking a few more questions went back to playing happily.
So yesterday was the day and it was pouring with rain, so after a 45 minute walk to the doctors I was soaked and feeling a bit fed up (it’s days like yesterday when I really miss being able to drive). As we entered the nurses room the nurse said, ‘did you get my message?’ I said ‘no’ and she explained most people get the two vaccinations done together as it can be quite traumatic for the child. Riley can’t have her pre-school booster for another few months so the nurse suggested we waited.
I explained we had talked about what was going to happen and I wanted her to have her MMR now and pre-school next year (as in a couple of months we would be a bit busy with a new baby) and Riley then said ‘Mummy’s going to have her whooping cough injection first and then I am going to have my injection, I’m a big girl, I’m three’. I think the nurse was quite surprised that Riley was so clued up on what was about to happen and yet not making a fuss at all.
Riley sat on my lap while I had my injection and then snuggled into me for hers. She then turned to the nurse and said ‘that didn’t hurt and that she didn’t want a plaster because mummy didn’t have one’ and then she chose a sticker with a dinosaur on and explained it looked like Dub (her imaginary dinosaur) and skipped out of the room saying a cheery ‘thank you, bye’. The nurse smiled and said if only they were all that easy! Riley then walked home skipping in all the puddles as she went.
We’ve always tried to be open and honest with Riley about everything, explaining things to her in as simple a way as possible but without hiding things from her. I think sometimes people don’t give young children enough credit for what they can deal with and maybe we shelter them too much. It’s all about giving them the tools and support to be able to deal with what might happen in life – life’s not perfect and does have good and bad bits and part of our role as parents is to equip our children to deal with this and make sure they know they are loved and cared for no matter what happens.
For us my epilepsy means we have no choice but to talk about some difficult situations. Things like injections are a good exercise for doing this too and I am so proud of how brave and grown up Riley was yesterday.