The Shot Heard Around Shaker Heights

Yesterday was a normal day for most people. A typical fall day with Halloween costume chatting, and leaf raking commencing…a very normal day indeed.

And yet, a raging two month mental battle also ended yesterday with my wondering over whether or not to get the h1n1 shot.

I’m fairly knowledgeable about the issue. Research is one of my specialties and I spared no pamphlet or website when absorbing the pros and cons of vaccinations for pregnant women. Despite my insides telling me that regardless what I choose, I will likely be fine, my housemate seems to be a magnet for all local and national news reporting bad news about the swine flu. Steeped in worry, Nick passes the information along to me as if I need more momentum to swing me back and forth in my decision.

To get or not to get the h1n1 flu shot is risky. It’s risky either way, I saw it, and in the end, seeing how slow my body was recovering from a simple, albeit nasty, cold and cough, convinced me that I probably should go ahead and get stuck by the needle.

So, after work yesterday Nick and I made plans to get to the middle school where they were administering round #2 of the vaccine. I imagined it was going to take hours, Nick disagreed. Of course I was right.

But before I took the shot in my arm, I felt like I had to confess something to Nick. A deep, dark secret welling inside me like a balloon. I looked up at him in the kitchen over chopping Bok Choy and green beans for dinner and announced,”I realized today I have been stalling to get the shot because I think if anything goes wrong with the vaccination and hurts Isaiah, I’m afraid I’m going to blame you for the rest of our lives.”

There. I said it.

Nick had a confession as well. “Last week, when you were sick, all I kept thinking was that if you had the flu and something happened to Isaiah, I was going to blame you for not getting the shot for the rest of our lives, too.”

Immediately, I brightened, “Really? We were ready to blame each other for the rest of our lives? This sounds demented, but I feel SO much better!”

We hugged.

Now that our confessions were confessed, we headed to the middle school and saw the lines wrapping around the building. It took several minutes to find parking and finally got in line. It felt something like a combination of the lines at Cedar Point, a huge pediatrician’s office with a million kids running around, and a gigantic holiday sale where they haven’t opened the doors yet and make you wait outside.

In other words, it was hell.

Immoveable and inflexible situations are prime time conversation periods for me and Nick. The possibilities were endless. We had hours to wait, so talked about numerous things:

Nick’s Topics: the lack of efficiency when it came to setting up the lines (half the people were waiting outside when the whole middle school could have been utilized), his brainfart that he did not bring a heavier coat, how people were supposed to “prove” if you were on the priority list (pregnant people are kind of obvious, but healthcare workers? ), and other issues relating to orderliness and publicity.

I was fairly single-issue minded: WHY ISN’T THERE A SEPARATE LINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN?


No chairs. Standing out in the chilly air with children running amok.

A thought occured to me and I shared it with Nick, “Do you think that it’s slightly ironic and even more slightly idiotic that they make us stand outside in the cold with a bunch of screaming children with no heat or chairs so we can get vaccinated for the FLU?”

The women behind me had a stroller for her perfectly big 6 or 7 year old. She was not careful with the wheels and kept rolling over the back of my foot. I was feeling a bit snappy but bit my tongue countless times. After all, she’d be right behind me for God knows how long.

We make it inside only to wait another hour or so. A volunteer took pity on my very pregnant state and asked if I wanted a chair. I nodded gratefully.

So, Nick held my place in line while I sat for about 20 minutes, giving my back and feet a rest. Watching Nick, I just shook my head while he made friends in line – chatting with people in front and behind him – and even helping a stranger get their stroller down the stairs. What a good samaritan. All I kept thinking of was how much I wanted a Twix bar.

I got back in line with Nick and discovered he’d made his own h1n1 support group in line. Everyone was offering us advice on birthing, breastfeeding, sleeping, pain meds, and Hillcrest Hospital where we’d be deliverying Isaiah. It was nice to be talking, inside the building and shielded from the cold, but my energy had depleted and I just wanted to get it over with.

Surprisingly, Nick was able to get a shot as well, thanks to Isaiah’s due date of 1.1.10, Nick qualified as a parent with a child less than 6 months.

Then came the time to decide whether to get nasal mist or the needle.

Another decision. Not my specialty.

The nasal mist is the activated vaccine. It has no mercury.
The needle is the inactivated vaccine with mercury to keep it germ free.

My only question was, “So where’s the INACTIVATED vaccine with NO MERCURY?”

One of the volunteers replied, “They are just starting to make that now, but we have no idea if or when those will ever come to the Cleveland area.”


So, loaded with all different kids of information pamphlets on brightly colored paper, we got in line – Nick in the nasal line, me in the needle line.

And within 3 minutes, it was over.

How can one seemingly simple decison be so complicated and anxiety-ridden?

As someone said to me, “Welcome to parenting.”