crinkly paper on
cold metal exam table

something shiny on the big man's head

mommy.
where's mommy?

instinctively grasping
soft wrinkly finger

my best rattle!
smiling, hypnotized, shaking my brains
drooling. what's there to be afraid of in this life?

then comes the pain.

First, go read about babies bonking their heads, it helps put this in perspective.

We went to the pediatrician about a month or three after our first child was born (hey, I'm the father, I can't be expected to remember the date of his first shot!)

Anyway.

So they tell us that not only do they have 3 shots they normally give babies the first time, a new shot has come out which, they've found, reduces the chances of the common cold in babies (side note: after nine months he's not had a single cold or ear ache, and only a runny nose once, aside from teething). So they're going to poke him with not one, not two, no, not just three but four needles his first real doctor's visit!

Four!

So they do all the usual stuff, weight, general physical check (mobility, muscle tone, reaction, etc), then they ask one of us to hold him during the shots. I've heard him cry before, it can't be too bad, so it doesn't matter who holds him. My wife and I decided she will hold him. The nurse (obviously experienced) takes all of the needle caps off the shots, sets them aside, takes 4 little BandAids(tm) out of the packaging and sets them up so they can be placed immediately, and then picks up the first syringe. I cringe. Not because I don't like shots (I tolerate them), but because there is no way that I can communicate to him what is happening and why.

Suddenly, from this little creature weighing less than 8 pounds erupted the most terrifying, urgent, painful scream that I had ever heard.

Ever.

It shattered reality for an instant as I realized that this was the first time he was actually in pain.

The first time in his life...

And I could just feel it from my head to my toes, as the scream permeated every fiber of my body.

Then it was over. It took maybe 20 seconds (She was quick!!! Yowza!), and that same instant that she was done my wife was holding and rocking him. He started nursing almost immediately (as opposed to a head bonking, where he screams for awhile, then nurses), but he was still sad (almost a frightened saddness) and grumpy the rest of the day, needing constant comfort. He was fine the next day, and I've not been with him to the doctor when he's received other shots, though my wife indicates that he still likes it about as much.

I remember the first time well enough.

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