What you need to know:
- The first time I took him alone was a few weeks after my wife moved, and the change was so difficult that we both grew emaciated.
- The nurse, who was attending to us tossed him on the weighing scales.
- Lo and behold! My boy had not gained a single kilo since our last visit!
Parents hardly say it, but many spent their first year of parenting wishing there was another way to have their babies immunised. It was torture for me, a grown man with beards dotting the chin. Those monthly clinic visit inflicted more psychological pain in me than the physical pain experienced by the baby.
Every time I peered at the calendar and saw the next circled day approaching, shivers ran down my spine. I flirted with the thought of skipping the visits more than once. What kept me going was the reality that the baby's Immune system wasn’t exactly top notch. You see, his breastfeeding was often interrupted courtesy of his mother's work trips.
I recall with much dread, the early Saturday morning drives to the clinic. He sat there, occasionally looking at me with those big innocent eyes oblivious of what lay ahead. I couldn’t help feeling like Abraham from the bible, as he led his son Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice the poor chap!
Once at the clinic, I sat patiently at the waiting lounge, my son strapped around me in a kangaroo carrier so trustingly. Sometimes I would distract myself by catching the stares of other parents, mostly women, and muse at their puzzled faces. Although I was curious to know what their wild conclusions were, I didn’t enjoy one bit their glaring stares.
The first time I took him alone was a few weeks after my wife moved, and the change was so difficult that we both grew emaciated. The nurse, who was attending to us tossed him on the weighing scales. Lo and behold! My boy had not gained a single kilo since our last visit!
“Is this your child or younger brother?”
“He is my child”
“Why are you not feeding him? And where is the mother anyway?”
Sometimes I kept myself busy with more pleasant sights, like toddlers running around the area and making new friends.
I never got used to that point when the nurse sunk the needle into my son's tender flesh. First of all, did it really have to be that long? That first time I thought all would be nice and dandy once the injection was pulled out. I was wrong.
My son's piercing cry rent the air amidst my useless efforts to calm him down. Oh, I almost to forgot to mention how the nurse always insisted I look on as the needle went through my son's tiny thigh. Beats me why that part was so important. Sigh. Sometimes it got worse like when the attending nurse requested me to hold up the thigh so they can insert the needle properly, it really felt like they were set to make the experience as unpleasant as possible.
You won't believe it but it gets worse. The next 24 hours after these visits were filled with endless crying, high fever and restlessness. I became an expert at administering Calpol, I could do it with my eyes closed If need be. Are you wondering why I never tried the baby-friendly jabs? Haha, they were not any less unpleasant and the cost was plain ridiculous. Calpol and handling the injected leg gingerly for a few days worked out just fine.
I cannot explain the joy in my heart the day I drove back home after his final immunisation. It felt like a heavy load had been lifted off my heart, but the memories still make me cringe. I hope technological advancements find a way to come up with immunisations that will be administered orally without that injection drama. It will definitely save future dads a load of trauma.
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The writer has raised his son alone since he was six months.