Before I became a father last June, my life was – for the most part – carefree. Of course work was busy, and life brought ups and downs, but until my daughter arrived, the only parental duties I knew were feeding and walking my furry four-legged child, (my dog) Baxter. Everything changed in the best way possible when Stella arrived, and overnight I became a fierce protector of someone I just met.
This momentous event brought about a flood of feelings – pride, mixed with the weight of responsibility, and a newfound knowledge that I would do anything in the world to protect this tiny baby from harm. Because she was born 13 weeks early, Stella’s doctors were extremely concerned about the dangers that pertussis and flu (along with just germs in general) could present. Stella’s hospital stay would extend well into cold and flu season, and we didn’t want to take any chances. My wife and I required all family members and visitors that would come into contact with her to have their pertussis and flu shots, educating them on the importance of vaccinations to someone in her delicate state. My family joked that I was the “vaccine police” because I was a complete stickler about immunizations (along with thorough hand washing and house cleaning). Did we go overboard with this requirement? For some, maybe. For me, we were dealing with precious cargo, and were willing to do everything we could to prevent compromising her fragile immune system. It was the right choice for our family, and it paid off. Stella survived cold and flu season without even the slightest runny nose.
As Stella got older, and was ready for vaccines of her own, I was admittedly a little skeptical of all the vaccines on the recommended list. I drew somewhat of a (naïve) parallel between vaccines and antibiotics, which I believe can sometimes be overused. Stella was still so small and young – did she really need all of this medication in her body? However, after talking to our pediatrician and learning about the benefits of immunizations, I changed my tune. She walked us through the risks of forgoing immunizations and gave some realistic expectations about what could happen if we were go that route. I realized when it came to protecting my daughter, I wanted to do everything I possibly could (short of putting her inside a bubble) to keep her safe. And that definitely included vaccinations.
Although the past year with our daughter has been a rollercoaster ride, we have been blessed with a healthy little girl who will turn one this month. I think our doctors’ attention to detail, our crash course in “all things preemie,” and of course, the vaccinations administered to both Stella and our family, played a major part in her current success and overall health. I truly feel like a lucky man to be spending my first Father’s Day with a healthy, happy, beautiful daughter.