Why Can’t I Let It Be?

I am feeling so stressed right now. To distract myself I tried and tried to think of a happy song for today’s post but I couldn’t. I married a control freak, a lovable  control freak, but a control freak, nonetheless. It’s been a beautiful union for us because it has taught me to let go of some of my control freak tendencies. I’ve had to, in order to maintain peace. And I’ve learned to let go of many, many things. But my children’s health? I can’t seem to let it be.  

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be” – I am about to be blasted by many of you out there but I confess. I broke down (after watching 60 minutes Sunday night) and had my kids vaccinated for H1N1. Me. I can’t believe it. I am one of the most cautious people out there when it comes to vaccines. We have vaccinated our kids on most things but never more than one at a time. Their first years in this life have been spent at the doctor’s office every couple months getting a shot because we spread them out. But my husband (who typically says NO to most vaccines) even got one. He’s in health care, and no, he wasn’t required to but he chose to. And then he puts it all on me and says, “Go ahead and vaccinate the kids if you want to.”

“Whisper words of wisdom” – Are you kidding me? If I want to? He knows I wrestle with the regular flu vaccine every year since having children. He’s always against it. I’m teetering the line. Staying up on the internet. Researching. Deliberating. Talking to anyone who’ll listen, anyone who has an opinion, anyone who might be in the know. I always end up agreeing with him but I still sit on pins and needles the entire flu season, wondering if I made the right decision.

“And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree” – Have you caught on yet that I worry endlessly about health? I’m not much of a worrier in other areas. I’m not afraid to fly or drive a car. I pooh-pooh most pain when it comes to me. My husband knows something is really wrong if I’m popping herbs or motrin. But since my kids have been born? If we could, realistically and happily, live in a protective bubble I know I’d sleep a lot better at night. I can control what kind of food they put in their bellies – most of the time. I can control whether they wear a helmet while riding a bike or if they can have a motorized scooter (no). But I can’t control when and if they’ll catch a cold. And, God forbid, something more serious.

“There will be an answer, let it be” – And truth be told, I’m a horrible nurse. Horrible. We don’t have any serious illness in our family but my middle child was a high fever baby and toddler. I’m talking 105, 106 routinely when he’d get a cold. We’ve been to the emergency room a number of times for it and it’s scary every time. My fear and anxiety translates to anger with my kids. More than once they’ve asked  me, “Mommy? Are you mad at me for being sick?” It breaks my heart. And I feel terrible that they feel that way. And I try my darndest to hide my fear and many times it works. But bottom line? I have no control over how much they’ll suffer or when they’ll begin to feel better and it drives me crazy. I want a magic wand to take it all away.

“Yeah, There will be an answer, let it be” – So I researched. And I weighed every study I could find. And I sifted through the (shady) statistics. For example, one 60 Minutes an “expert” said that 1% of all people who contract H1N1 will die. I found online that the latest estimate is that 63% of the U.S. population will contract H1N1. So that means, in the subdivision I live in (we have about 400 homes); if 3 people live in each house that means 756 people are going to contract H1N1. So 7 1/2 of my neighbors are going to die?  C’mon. But what frustrated me to no end was if you were schooled in Western medicine it was “vaccine good” and if you were schooled in non-traditional medicine it was “vaccine bad.” No middle ground. No reasonable, balanced information out there. It was my pediatrician who pushed me over the edge. She is well aware of how we feel about typical “modern” medicine. But she said, in all her years of practice, she’s never seen something hit normal, healthy children this hard. My kids are normal and healthy. I bit the bullet and got them the vaccine.

“And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me” – And while I should feel relieved, I don’t. I’m still worrying. And it didn’t help that my 17 yr. old daughter told me I was endangering her because her science teacher just showed them a YouTube video of some cheerleader that now can’t walk or talk right because of a flu vaccine she had. Crap.

“I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be” – I need to let this go. I did it. My kids have the preservative-free, live vaccines coursing through their tiny systems. I should now be able to relax and let it be. Then why is my stomach still in knots?

Update: 2 out of 3 children are fine after having the vaccine. But it appears my middle child (my sweet ‘high fever’ boy) has had a reaction. High fever (104.1) and body aches, dizziness and pain. The leg pain is what is concerning the doctor now. We’re medicating and watching him closely. Just putting this out there so that any of you can be extra mindful of side effect you or your children might have….and to shake a finger at myself to say “I told you so!” I’ll keep you posted.

Update #2: After the fever went up to 105.7 while medicated and the disorientation set in we went back to the doctor’s office for tests. It is NOT a reaction to the swine flu vaccine and it is not some other flu. Just a nasty bug and he is reacting the way he did as a toddler. It just  coincidentally presented itself at the same time that my son received the H1N1 vaccine. And I’m relieved (as scary as this is) because I’ve been through this before with him and he always comes out ok. We just do lots of fluids, rest and medicate the fever to keep it below 103. But I WILL say this – In the doctor’s office I had to fill out a form and answer some questions. I always leave questions blank that I don’t know for certain – plus I love to mess with Western Medicine one-size-fits-all assembly line approach. One thing it asked was if my children had a fever and further stated that the vaccine would not be given to them if they had one. I left that question blank because I had no idea. They seemed fine to me. The nurse asked me if they had a fever and I told her: I don’t typically take their temps if they appear healthy. She looked them over and then gave them the vaccine. I have a feeling this illness may have been caught if she had taken #1son’s temp. Word of advice: Take the temps of your children yourself before you get the vaccine.  

24 Comments

Filed under children, Motherhood

24 responses to “Why Can’t I Let It Be?

  1. Steven Harris

    Tricky issue, isn’t it? Because of my respiratory problems I have a jab every year. At first I had the same concerns you’re wrestling with but I think familiarity has made me complacent. But it’s such a thorny subject, intensified by the swine flu strain. I know that swine flu is just a flu like any other flu. The problem is, and the reason I get my jabs, any flu could kill me or at least make me seriously ill. And swine flu could be one of the most virulent in years. So any misgivings I might have about side-effects are nothing compared to the consequences if I don’t get a jab and then contract oink-oink flu. Mother Mary sometimes comes to me too, and she asks me why it’s been four and a half decades since my last confession (apparently not being a Catholic doesn’t count in her book).

    • Every situation is unique – and weighing pros and cons about side effects vs. consequences is how we make our vaccination decisions. Luckily, if you were born before 1980 (which I was) you’ve probably already been exposed to a version of this swine flu and already have built up an immunity. Here’s hoping you don’t have to worry about this flu strain, anyway.
      I had to laugh at your ‘last confession’ comment. I AM Catholic and haven’t been to confession for 30 years. Maybe that’s my problem!

  2. In my experience mother’s generally “worry” about their kids more than dads. And when there is worry it is about slightly different things.

    In my town of about 40,000 I think there has been only one reported H1N1 death.

    It seems to me there is risk in everything. Turn left or right? Unless you decide to do nothing (which is still a choice) you have to go one way or the other. Only those with a crystal ball will know which direction is best in spite of the odds.

    For all the talk about H1N1 I still don’t know if I want a shot or not. (I know the choice is different when it comes to children who are more “high risk” than me.) But in my entire life I don’t recall ever getting a flu short or even considering it. H1N1 has at least had the effect on me. For once in my life I am considering it, but to be honest, not very much.

    You made a decision. It contained some element of risk, but probably infinitely smaller than you imagine. Finding a way to Let It Be can be what you do for an encore. 🙂

    • Your comment about doing nothing is still a choice reminded me of the Rush song “Freewill.”
      “You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
      If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
      You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
      I will choose a path that’s clear
      I will choose freewill”

      Maybe THAT’S the song I should have chosen for today!

  3. I know it’s really hard not to worry about the health of your children. But yours appear to be healthy, so there’s no point in obsessing about it. Easy for me to say….but we all go through it- and we all make stupid mistakes. I didn’t have the internet for research when I was raising mine. Everyone is grown and healthy. Kindness, care and reason will get you through anything.

    I am older so will not get an H1N1 shot- but I do get flu shots every year and have had the pneumonia shot. Pretty much all I can do to protect myself…except to keep washing my hands!

  4. Steven Harris

    Wouldn’t it be great if Paul McCartney was a priest? ‘Say three “Mother Mary’s” and one “Let it Be” and don;t forget to buy my new album as penance.’

  5. I hope your son feels better, the entire thing is scary from any end you look at it.

  6. I am struggling with this issue too but will no doubt get the vaccine for my daughter as she is at high risk (respiratory problems). Still, it scares the daylights out of me, so I understand where you are coming from.
    I hope your son gets better soon!
    (Ditto for me on the 30 year confessional visit)

  7. As a nurse I never got me or the kids flu shots. But I did get the cervical cancer vaccine for my 2 daughters. I’ve known too many great women who got that disease (2 from cheating husbands) and then struggled with fertility issues.
    I want my kids to get the H1N1 vaccine. It seems the bacterial pneumonia is what is hitting these healthy children who get really ill with this. Sure that’s the exception, but it’s a hellava exception. So far, we can’t get the vaccine, none available here. And our HS has many cases. Sports have been shut down and the school may be closed if it continues. An otherwise healthy man around 23 died here in September. The friends of my daughter who have it presently aren’t that sick but it is scary. Keep us posted on your middle child but don’t feel guilty. As mothers all we have to go on sometimes is our gut. Assume your gut knows something you don’t. And consider yourself lucky that there was vaccine available where you are!

  8. I sympathize with you. I am the same way about my kids. You never know. It sounds like he’s actually got the flu, not just a reaction. I say this because we just all had it and those are the symptoms, loud and clear. Leg pain and all. Hang in there and remember the age old refrain of This too shall pass…

  9. Yeah. You can second-guess yourself into insanity. I won’t say ‘don’t, because I know it’s not that simple. There are techniques, such as writing out your concerns (worst case) and then writing out the caveats (that the bad reactions to vaccines are statistically very very small). There are times when I think the kids need treatment and my husband doesn’t — these are the times I come closest to feeling genuine dislike for him. It’s the mothering instinct — it’s strong, and not always rational.

  10. LisaF

    Mother Bear Jane,
    Trust your gut. It sounds like you did your homework. There is always an element of risk with vaccines. It’s a hard call when it comes to your kids. I’ve never had a flu shot and haven’t had the flu for years. But you never know…

  11. Like ANY medication, vaccines can cause problems…but at a very, very low rate. I usually rely on CDC and Peer-reviewed health journals. http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/surveillanceqa.htm their stats are much lower than the 60 minutes guy. Good thing too…since our last pop count put us at 304,059,724.

    Something as simple as amoxicillin or lidocaine can trigger dormant disorders or cause severe reactions, even death.

    We make the best decision we can, based on the best information available. It sounds like you did that very thing!!

  12. I would never beat you up about your choice to vaccinate…or not. It’s a personal decision (cue the Rush music) and you made an informed one.

    Sure, there’s always that miniscule chance that something could happen, but your perfectly healthy, un-vaccinated child could be hit by a flying rock in the head at any moment, so who is to judge?

  13. Oh my. So glad he is getting better. I hope your son fully recovers soon and the whole family stays healthy. Sorry you had to go through this. You must have been extremely freaked out. And if you are blaming yourself for doing something or not doing something, please STOP! I know it is hard to not feel guilty, since that’s what we mothers do. We need to tell each other to stop going back to the past and asking what if questions.

  14. We had a terrible time deciding on whether to give our second daughter the MMR jab. There was such a connection between that and Autisim that I couldn’t do it. My partner made the decision and took her to get it done. She was quite a bit older than she should have been, but of course, she was fine.

    Now, they’ve said there is no link between the MMR jab and autisim. All that worrying for nothing.

    My partner is a control freak too. Hard work isn’t it??

  15. Of course kids can have a reaction to the vaccine. They can also get the H1N1 flu. It’s a crap shoot and you do the best you can as a parent. Either way it could be the wrong decision or the right one, see what I mean. I’m still waiting to get mine because they are out of the vaccine here.

  16. Hi, I’m visiting from the Island Roar.

    I have learned not to worry but to just do what I think is best. It is not easy but my two boys (they are 17 and 15) have made it clear to me that they will cooperate but they will not tolerate worrying.

    It is not easy, but you have done your best and thought it through. I pray your son will be well soon.

  17. I hear your struggles. The vaccine isn’t available here, but when it is, I’ll be having a similar internal struggle.

  18. I understand the turmoil you felt concerning the decision on whether or not to vaccinate against the H1N1. I can’t vaccinate my son… his pediatrician said he’s just too young. But my primary care physician recommended that I get one because since I am still breastfeeding, some of the antibodies will be passed on to my little one. In the meantime, I am stressed to the point that I am losing sleep at night. (I worry incessantly about health, too) The thought of him being so young and contracting something so potentially deadly frightens me beyond words…
    -Jen

  19. I’m uncomfortable with getting it, and I’m uncomfortable with not getting it. Everything I have read and heard indicates that this vaccine is developed in the same way as the regular flu vaccine. H1N1 is so rampant here, my inclination now is to vaccinate. We have an appointment on the 17th. I’m reading, listening, and watching the news in the meantime for any legitimate reason to cancel.

  20. Okay, now you have me worried! And thanks for the advice on taking their temp beforehand.

    Hope he is better soon!

  21. For what it’s worth, I think you made the best decision. The usual flu, the elderly are at risk; the h1n1 puts young people at risk. Of course, my arm still hurts like a bitch from that stupid shot. And the cheerleader on YouTube had anearul disease that randomly set off by the shot. I seriously doubt your daughter is in the risk group for that since, only one person in 50 years has got it.
    Thanks for the song. I haven’t heard it in years.

  22. Pingback: Sid Gets The Flu Shot « Theycallmejane's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s