Small excursus on the smallest kiddo


This week, in addition to getting a puppy and putting far too many hours into fencing, we’ve been dealing with Zuzu – specifically, the special packaging edition of IncrediblyGrumpy!Zuzu.

The reason she’s been screaming and throwing every object her hands come to is both simple and very complicated: She had her third round of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccination a week ago.

She is the kid I have delayed vaccinating the very longest. She was completely unvaccinated until a couple of months ago, and then we cautiously began with what her pediatrician has as his “if you only do one, do this” vaccine, which is DtaP/Tdap/whatever they’re calling it. First dose, sailed through. Second dose, no reaction. Third dose: WHAMMO. She started heating up three hours after she got the shot. She ran a very high fever for two days, a lower fever for another day, and has done nothing but yell and bite people and refuse to sleep or eat well since then. She’s lost weight (which she can’t really afford to do) and is all blotchy and rashy.

Today, though, she woke up with a smile and called for her daddy. Later, when I sang to her she sang back, and she had the words right. And I picked her up and hugged her and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Because it means that she’s had a really hard time but she’s going to be fine as soon as I can get her to eat a lot of full-fat yogurt and (yes, I’m going to say it) chicken nuggets.

So, you say, so what? Get to the point, woman!

The point, gentle reader, is this:


That’s Honour, the one with The Hair.

Honour is ten now, and aside from some asthma and the fact that I could use her wee ankles to pick locks, is a great kid and pretty much OK. But when SHE was one, and The Hair was a mere suggestion upon her round little head, she had her third DPT shot. And the world ended.

Up until that point she had been on schedule with her vaccines, always reacting to them with low fevers and all the stuff we think is “normal,” but that last shot divided my world between “Before Honour got that vaccine” and “Ever since.”

Within a couple of hours of getting that shot, Honour started crying. And she kept crying. And crying. And the cry got thin, and sad, and she slept, and woke up crying the thin sad cry. For three days this went on. And she had a high fever the whole time. When her fever broke and the crying stopped, she was a different baby. And I really mean that. She was a different child. I suddenly understood all the changeling myths, where my sweet fat talkative baby had been replaced by a pale thing that stared at me suspiciously. Honour had, at that point (about 12 months) perhaps 40 words – mommy, daddy, doggy, truck, all the good ones. After that shot, her words were gone. She didn’t speak again for a year. And when she did finally speak, it was only with one consonant – “d.” When she added “m” and could say mommy again, it was a revelation. I can still remember the order in which they came – M, N, S. We didn’t get R back until she was five.

The other thing that stopped abruptly was any consumption of solid food. In three months she fell from the 75th percentile in her growth chart to the 5th. She nursed, but that was it. She didn’t start eating again until she was almost two.

The story of Ever Since is really, really long, and involves multiple hospitalizations (whenever she got sick she’d lose her ability to get oxygen, so we’d end up in the hospital because her O2 sats were in the 80s), medication, worries about autism (for years the only way she’d play with toys is to line them up in straight rows), and other stuff that makes me get weepy and shaky when I think about them, but the ending is good. We found a couple of really good doctors who helped us, we radically changed her diet, we added supplements, we fought back in every way we could. And by the time she was seven she was able to go to school, though she got tired easily, and now at ten she’s pretty much fine. “Pretty much” encompasses a bunch of stuff that it would not be fair for me to write about – it’s her story, not mine – but let’s just say that I don’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying anymore. She’s creative and hilarious and very smart.

SO – that’s the so what. When Zoober Zu got this sick there was more than a little PTSD rearing its head as I held her hot little body. And, ummm, yeah, we’re not going to be doing any more vaccinations with her for a while. But we seem to have dodged a bullet that hit us square in the torso last time, and for that I’m more than a little grateful.


6 thoughts on “Small excursus on the smallest kiddo

  1. And that, Joanna, is why I’m so scared about taking Shelby to Korea. Unlike you, we haven’t ever had a vaccine reaction, so at least I can hope that it won’t happen to us. But we are suddenly in the midst of an accelerated catch-up schedule that gives me goosebumps. Shelby is scheduled to get 4 shots every 4 weeks for the next two months, or else we can’t travel to Korea. I don’t want to, REALLY don’t want to give her all these shots. But I find myself waffling between an intense desire to have my family together, and worries about HER well being, including what would happen if she caught one of these diseases during the 2 years we’re in Korea, where Hepatitis B is found in daycares and Polio is not uncommon. It’s so hard knowing what the best course of action is. 😦

  2. OMGosh Joanna, I have tears streaming down my face…

    I’m so happy that Zuzu has “broken through” the vax reaction and given you some peace of mind. PTSD indeed.

  3. Oh my goodness, don’t cry! We’re all good and happy and healthy and that’s all that matters. Honour is sleeping with a certain black and white puppy right now, as a matter of fact.

  4. Boy, that sure is a terrifying testimony about vaccinations. Glad my boys got them in the old days because I don’t know what I would do today. Friday and your red heads are adorable.

  5. oh J, sorry, I got very emotional reading about Honour because… well, your daughters are SO lovely, and I’m terribly sleep-deprived, and yesterday was the first day of Kindergarden for my “baby”, and I’m a mommy who delayed vax due to worries about how they might affect her already “different” youngest child. So, it was a perfect storm of emotions. Plus, it was a beautifully written post honoring two of your daughters, and I’m a total sap for that kind of thing.

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