We attempted The Who’s 12-month lead blood test today. I’ve been putting it off for months — in part because it just never seemed like the right time, but also, I’m sure, because I knew it would not be pleasant. And it wasn’t.
Although I cried when The Who got his first vaccinations at 2 months old, that was the exception, not the rule. I have not shed a tear at a vax appointment since. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I never like to see The Who in pain, but I have very good boundaries around what needs to happen for his health and well-being and I don’t feel guilty when I believe the pain he is feeling is in his best interests. I feel worse, frankly, thinking about how happy and carefree he is in the waiting room when he doesn’t know what’s coming. But when the time comes to actually hold his arms down, I put my face very close to his, whisper stories into his ears and give him kisses when it’s done. His are the only tears and they don’t last long.
But today was next to unbearable. For him, sure, but he recovered within moments. Smiling and waving bye-bye to the tech with big, fat tears still gleaming on his cheeks. Meanwhile, hours later, I still feel a pit in my stomach.
Before, he wandered around the waiting room, making friends with “Miss Donna”, the tech, and the big leather chairs. He happily walked back to the room. He sat on my lap, played with the stickers and the rubber gloves. He waited patiently when Donna put the tourniquet on his arm (“It’s like a bracelet!”) but then — then — she stuck him. And he screamed. And she poked around, looking for the blood and he kept screaming. And he pulled back on his arm, which apparently makes the vein collapse and I kept watching for the blood to flow through the tubing — I kept waiting for the payoff for his suffering and…nothing.
She pulled the needle out and I kissed his sweaty head and gave him his binky and kissed him again and tried not to cry myself. And then she did it again in the other arm with the same results and the poor child screamed again. I said, “just take it out. We’ll try another day,” because I seriously couldn’t bear to watch her digging around in his veins anymore. “All done, baby,” I told him and, through his tears, he repeated, “all done” and I felt like such an asshole. For holding him on my lap and making it all seem like it would be fun and then it wasn’t. It so wasn’t. It was horrible for him and for me. And the kicker? We didn’t even get the blood. We’re gonna have to do this all again. Ugh.