Victoria Jelinek

The Baby Diaries 17
December 2, 2013, 12:19 pm
Filed under: The Baby Diaries | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Vaccines are the tugboats of preventive health. William Foege

Dearest son,

Diphtheria_vaccination_posterYou had your booster immunizations yesterday – five at once – Diptheria, Whooping Cough, Polio, Tetanus, and something called HIB…you were stellar at the doctor’s office, never crying, not when the doctor examined you, placed you on your front, poked and prodded you for your six-month check up (as you’re six months next week) and then gave you your injection. Your father and I had screwed up and placed the patch that would serve to numb the area that you’re ostensibly injected, in the wrong place, so you had to take it “cold” and, as mentioned, other than letting out a bit of a protest (you seem to be chatting and speaking a lot recently, so it seemed more like an ‘awww…”). Luckily, you’ve got really pudgy, lovely big thighs and didn’t seem too bothered. On the way home, you were chuckling and smiling, then suddenly you started crying, then you passed out asleep. The rest of the day you were your normal cheerful self, sleeping, eating, giggling and smiling and you didn’t have a temperature…

But today you’ve been out of sorts – fussy, hard to settle, obviously uncomfortable, not eating as much as you normally do, making us think its affecting you a day later…I went to get my haircut in town (and also got a fresh bouquet of flowers) and you were, according to your father, difficult and didn’t fall asleep for the entire time I was out (and even as you were asleep when I came home). You did watch a few cartoons in earnest and tracked and grabbed your Brio classic bell/cage ball (very impressive) and played with your over-the-head jungle gym, and laughed when I was dancing for you to THE KILLERS. That said, we’ll take your temperature tomorrow and hope that you’re your normal wonderful self. If there’s a temperature, I’ll likely want to take you to the hospital (in Sallanches, where you were born) and let them call me paranoid.

Much love,


Your MMR Vaccine and Another Round of Antibiotics…
January 5, 2012, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Letters to Leo | Tags: , , , ,

You had your MMR vaccine last week (measles, mumps, rubella) and haven’t been the same since. First you broke out in what looked like hives (though the lazy women at crèche sent you home with chicken pox – varicelle. I asked them where you would have got it and they admitted that there had been a case at crèche two weeks prior though they weren’t sheepish about it, they still acted like you were ‘typhoid Mary’). The skin on your face which is always dry, red and chapped (everything is dry here, I must get better about using your humidifier) got worse. Then your eyes swelled up. Then they started oozing yellow goop and you’d wake up from your nap or in the morning with them sealed shut, scared and crying. Normally calm and easy, you were suddenly fussy and needy, crying and whining if I left your side for even a moment. Of course this all happened on Friday evening and over the weekend, so I couldn’t make an appointment with a doctor. And of course it was the busiest workweek for your father, so while he’s often at home, he wasn’t during this time.

Well-meaning moms here told me you had conjunctivitis (pink eye) and that it’s highly contagious. I had to suffer through lunch with a smug mom whose three-month-old son slept the entire time and the only time he woke up he ate from her breast and then looked cutely around while you fussed, threw things everywhere, and scratched and itched at your eyes and face. The waitress repeatedly remarked on how cute the other little boy is without thinking how that’d be for me, or you (I didn’t tip her for this and because she was an awful waitress). Granted, my gorgeous boy (you!) wasn’t up to par and looking your best, but still.

Bright and early Monday morning I called the doctor and when they told me it was ‘complicated’ to get an appointment for the same day, I begged and prevailed. I then got lucky and got a parking spot not hideously far from the office so that I could slowly and carefully carry you through, and over, the snow and ice. The doctor determined that you have an ear infection and bacteria on your face and in your eyes, and prescribed a general antibiotic. I took it, thanked him, and left. But then I got to thinking that you’d just had the MMR vaccine (and had had a cold when given it) and that takes a lot out of babies…and that you’d had antibiotics – twice – in September, a mere three months prior…and that you’d just seen another doctor the week before (for the MMR and 9 month check up) and she’d not noticed that your ears were infected, and she had looked…so then I got to thinking that I’d maybe done the wrong thing by starting you on the antibiotics, that maybe I should have questioned these things more when they were prescribed, that I shouldn’t have had the MMR done while you had a wee cold (though I did mention this to the doctor), that I am a ‘bad mommy’ and I’m hurting my wee boy.

Panicked, I was up till 2am last night reading various articles online that scared the living hell out of me about the MMR vaccine being linked to Autism, and antibiotics and asthma…I had made fun about the trend in Seattle for intellectual mothers NOT to vaccinate their children due to fear of autism, and even the doctor who prescribed you antibiotics for an ear infection in the US then, had hesitated as they were worried I’d protest, loudly. I’d thought then, and still do think so (but you’re my little one and I want to do the best by you) that by not vaccinating one’s children folks are sending us (western society) back into the dark ages, and that vaccines are the best thing to have happened in the last century.  Yet here I am, worried that I’m wiping out your immune system and that you’ll get autism and my sweet, gregarious, sociable child will withdraw from the world and be ‘lost’ forever…

A friend of mine in London who is smart and modern, I respect her, told me when I told her about my fears, that there’s a rise in children getting measles and mumps, that death from measles is on the rise again in England ‘cause middle-class moms aren’t vaccinating their children and that I did the right thing. Your nu nu (Emma) that I trust and respect (two very hard things for folks to get from me) said that she didn’t vaccinate her boys due to all the information, too, and one of them got the measles. That she also knows that once you start antibiotics you have to finish them, so maybe this will wipe whatever is in your little system out once and for all, and she advised I go to the chemist and try to see if there’s something I can get to help your intestines build up their ‘good flora’ again.

Well, I didn’t sleep much last night and today I was looking at you carefully in a paranoid manner to make sure that you still look one directly in the eye. But for the first time in several days it’s a gorgeous day and as my mother says ‘all things seem possible’ on days like this. So, I will make a point of going to the chemist after part 5 of my root canal and asking them about building up your ‘good flora’ again after telling them what the issue is (in French – bon chance!) and I’ve scheduled a doctor appointment for ME in a couple of days and I’ll cheekily raise a couple of my concerns regarding you, then.

I wish I’d studied medicine. Or car mechanics. Something useful.