A Shot of Zen

Yesterday, Felix received his first round of immunizations. The doctor’s great–very laidback with a peculiar, dry wit (he referred to S as Parmalat)–and I understand the need for the shots, but still there was something a little sinister about it all.

Since the NICU, Felix has thrived solely on breast milk, so the thought of him getting pumped with medicine and who knows what had my mind veering into science fiction conspiracies. Does the government put chemicals in there that make citizens want to pay taxes (if so, I’m not sure they’re working), or do corporations slip in substances that drive us to watch TV and spend money (obviously these are more effective)? Is this the needle of knowledge that will corrupt our innocent little tot? I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Though still one wonders.

Before getting down to puncturing the little guy’s chubby thighs, the doctor gave us some great advice in regards to our sometimes obsessive worrying about his sleep patterns.

“If Felix isn’t crying,” he said, “then the only one concerned about whatever it is you’re worrying about is you. Trust me. He’ll let you know when there’s a problem.”

This wisdom was validated a few minutes later, when Felix told us in no uncertain terms that getting shots posed a big fucking problem for him. His face deepened to a radioactive shade of mauve and scrunched up like the baby’s in that old John Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland. We could feel the howl coming before he had sucked in enough breath to let it out. And when it came—holy shit.

“So that’s what it sounds like when he’s in pain,” S said.

We realized just how good a job we’d done of keeping the little guy safe and for the most part content.

The amazing thing was that just a few minutes later I had Felix out in the hallway, waiting for S to set his next appointment, and he was back to his giggling, babbling baby self. It was as if the needle was nothing but a nightmare. One minute, pure screaming break your heart hell, the next, a lovable bundle of blossoming interactivity.

Is this Buddha nature, or what? The little guy’s totally in the moment, a creature of pure emotional response. And while sometimes—like when I’m strapping him in his carrier and he’s crying his head off even though he loves stroller rides, or when his mom’s getting in a last minute pre-feeding pee and he’s fussy with hunger—this can be a negative, at other times it’s something to marvel. Let’s hope that whatever it was in those injections, or perhaps—and this makes more sense—the experience of getting the injections themselves, doesn’t wash that quality away. Because often even grown ups are at their best when they stay in the moment. Something I frequently fail to remember.

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