Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shots, Doctors, and the Milk Cow

It's nice when the milk cow feels like she is doing her job well. It helps make up for walking in to the doctor's office feeling like you're about to receive the Incompetent Mother of the Month Award.

Miss Gabriela had her first appointment with the pediatrician yesterday afternoon. We took her in to a vaccine clinic just before her appointment to get her newborn shots (Hepatitis B and BCG here in Brasil.) The nurse at the clinic asked if she was our first child and when we said yes, she started to explain the BCG vaccine to us. It is given to protect children from tuberculosis. And it leaves an open wound on her upper arm - that could bleed and ooze for up to 6 months according to the nurse. Oh, and it will leave that scar that you see on all Brasilians. And then she pulled out a reference book and showed us pictures to make sure we understood what she was telling us.

Whoa, hey, back-up . . . you want to do what to my child? I know that scar well. My parents have it. Eric and I had noticed it on people our age here, but assumed that Brasil just didn't update the method for vaccinating as early as the US or something. After some research, I now know that the US doesn't vaccinate against TB anymore . . . and that in the 100 years this vaccine has been around they haven't developed a better way to administer it. (Time out on all the hard to fix problems of the world for a moment - we can send people to the moon for goodness' sake, can't we find a better way to vaccinate babies against TB?!?)

Eric and I left the clinic with our kiddo only getting the Hepatitis B shot. In the thigh. With a normal needle. She only cried for 5 seconds. The way vaccines are supposed to go for a baby, in my opinion. We told the nurses we needed to do some more research before agreeing to permanently scarring our daughter's arm. And taking on caring for an open wound that may or may not really be necessary.

She's liking bath time with Daddy more and more these days.

So we went on to her doctor's appointment after that. I knew she was going to ask us if we'd gotten the kid vaccinated. I wasn't really looking forward to answering that one since I hadn't done the BCG research yet and had no argument against the vaccine except - it looked like it would hurt and I'm not sure I want my daughter to have that scar. I highly expected it might get me a nomination for Incompetent Mother of Month.

And that was on top of my first concern of the pediatrician-appointment-day. With two weeks under my outside-of-the-womb-care, and over a week and a half of successful cloth diapering, Gabriela had had a perfectly healthy hiney. No skin irritation, no pink bum, no need for any diaper rash cremes, nothing but skin as smooth and soft as, well, a baby's bottom. So imagine my dismay when she wakes up yesterday morning and from the bottom end it appears that a baby baboon has escaped from the zoo and crawled into Gabriela's pajamas and replaced my sweet baby girl while we were all sleeping. Poor thing. She had the brightest red hiney! It seems that the remnants of digested breastmilk produced from calories provided by spicy Mexican food has roughly the same effect on my child's skin that pure battery acid would. (Explains why she cried while filling up that diaper though!)

So now I look like the mom who lets her new baby sit long hours in dirty diapers. And doesn't bother getting her vaccinated. Score.

My little princess showed off her exhaustive list of tricks yesterday highly impressing the doctor though. She peed on the doctor, pooped on the scale, spit up on the exam table, and screamed like a banshee the entire time the doctor examined her. For extra credit, she also poked out that pouty bottom lip as far as it could possibly go to show her displeasure with the whole experience.

I grew up showing sheep and beef cattle with 4-H and FFA. But I swear I haven't trained my daughter to assume this 'show animal' position! (Although her form is good, huh? Head up, arms and legs squared up, back straight . . . )

Luckily, she checked out just fine at the doctor's office. And she has grown: 3 cm longer and about a half pound heavier since birth. So I might have redeemed myself a little - she didn't appear to be completely neglected. Her mother might seem incompetent, but at least the milk cow has been showing up to feed her!

Her cheeks might be getting chubbier, but none of that weight has gone to her legs yet!


Amanda said...

She just keeps getting more beautiful every day! I can't stand it!

Ha, now you know first hand what "screeming like a banshee" really means! I laughed out loud when I read about her new tricks, sounds like she's been coached by her uncles!

Interesting about the whole tb thing. I would have done the same thing my dear and now I'm gonna have to check into that because I could swear I remember mine getting it in a shot form. Hmm....

lovelydharma said...

She's just getting cuter by the day!

I'm really curious as to the reactions you are getting from Brazilians regarding cloth diapering. Were you able to find good cloth diapers here or did someone send them down for you.

The whole TB vac is a dilemma. It never occurred to me that I hadn't been vaccinated until I read that there were 15 cases in Juiz de Fora last year. But they aren't even sure if childhood vaccines would even be effective for adults if there were to be an outbreak. But vulnerable kids would be protected. You guys are going back to the US eventually, so that makes it an even bigger dilemma being that it is so unlikely that she would be exposed to it there.

Alexandre Macedo - RJ said...

Eric e Emily. Parabéns...A Gabi é linda!

Perdoe-Me pela intromissão, mas, sinceramente... Porque a resistência à vacina BCG? Porque não vacinar se vocês PODEM vacinar e ampliar a proteção a sua filhinha?

Um dado importante é que a vacina BCG previne as formas mais agressivas da tuberculose. É uma proteção imunológica que produz inclusive efeitos benéficos secundários.

Segundo... a tuberculose está presente, infelizmente, em TODOS os continentes (inclusive nos EUA, Reino Unido, dentre outros), apenas ganhando maior visibilidade nos países sub-desenvolvidos (principalmente países africanos) onde a doença mata (pela carência e a falta de um sistema de saúde eficiente).

Caso ainda não tenham recebido a “Caderneta de vacinação” (caderneta de vacinação), anexo abaixo um link do Ministério da Saúde com informações interessantes, além do calendário de vacinas(o site está em língua portuguesa).

Espero ter ajudado.

Ricardo Bairral said...

A Gabriela continua cada vez melhor!! Parabéns.

Mas vou falar da BCG aqui... É muito importante a vacinação completa. A caderneta do Ministério da Saúde é boa e previne várias doenças que acometem muitas crianças. Falando em tuberculose, como vocês devem saber, é pega pelo ar. Porém não é igual uma gripe, é necessária uma baixa imunidade ou imunodepressão (immunodepression), como em pacientes com AIDS, alcoólicos, fumantes, etc para manifestar. Como a maioria das crianças não atendem essa regra, entram na parte da baixa imunidade, não está tudo formado ainda, portanto, candidatos fortes a tuberculosos.
Existe tratamento? Claro, mas são 4 drogas, 4 drogas!!!!, administradas por um ano. Agora imaginem um recém-nascido tomando 4 drogas por um ano...

Bom, era isso que eu tinha pra falar. Pensem nisso com carinho.
Até porque ela nem vai se lembrar da dor da vacina e talvez a cicatriz seja pequena e quase inexistente, igual a minha.

Ricardo - Softball

Tony said...

Granted my Portuguese is limited, but it looks like you're getting lots of advice regarding your dilemna over getting the TB vaccination! I remember when I was a kid, you always knew when the other kids got their TB shots from the sore on the back of their arm, but I don't recall it being all that traumatic. It was just something you did. Anyway, I'm sure you'll do your homework and figure it out.


Anonymous said...

My advice is...go back to your country. If something as simple as TB vaccination is becoming an issue...

Justin said...

My advice to anonymous is...don't have children. If you don't care enough about their safety and welfare to do any research before putting them through medical procedures with which you are completely unfamiliar. Your advice to my sister is not helpful, unlike the polite and informative postings of the two Brazilians who have already given her advice.

Li said...

Hey Emily! Congrats for the baby. She is beautiful. My advice for you is to give Gabriela the BCG shot as soon as you can. TB is a big problem in Brazil, bigger than u can imagine and it's very important to keep your child health and safe. I know the procedure in your country is different but the procedure they do here it's not painfull and the scar is not so big. I know it's not of my business, I just wanted to help. My best wishes to u and ur family. =)

Lori said...

I've just had the chance to catch up on your posts and congratulations to you and Eric!! Gabriela is gorgeous! I also wanted to swing by and wish you Happy Mother's Day! I hope you enjoy celebrating this one of many firsts that are sure to come. Congrats!

Corinne said...


Gabriela is just darling!! I would get the TB shot. Better to be safe than sorry. I gave it to Kevin and it did not cause an open sore, I had no problems and the scar is really tiny. Also be sure to get the meningitis and pneumonia vaccines when it is time. There have been a lot of cases of meningitis lately in Minas.

AcesHigh said...

i dont remember having this scar in my arm until I was around 6-8 years old. I didnt know it was administered to babies.

AcesHigh said...

wikipedia is always useful

i guess the best approach is like Corinne mentioned, "better safe than sorry". A small scar on the arm (never heard women being less self confident because of such scar) is a little price to be paid for protection against a potentially lethal disease (well, if if left untreated) which still exists in many places around the world, including US.

AcesHigh said...

from wikipedia

In 2005, the country with the highest estimated incidence of TB was Swaziland, with 1262 cases per 100,000 people. India has the largest number of infections, with over 1.8 million cases.[75] In developed countries, tuberculosis is less common and is mainly an urban disease. In the United Kingdom, TB incidences range from 40 per 100,000 in London to less than 5 per 100,000 in the rural South West of England;[76] the national average is 13 per 100,000. The highest rates in Western Europe are in Portugal (31.1 per 100,000 in 2005) and Spain (20 per 100,000). These rates compare with 113 per 100,000 in China and 64 per 100,000 in Brazil. In the United States, the overall tuberculosis case rate was 4.9 per 100,000 persons in 2004.[71] In Canada tuberculosis is still endemic in rural Manitoba.

Anonymous said...

my mom asked them to give this shot in my bottom instead of my arms so now I dont have any scar.
The scar disappeared when I was still a child.