It was early this fall when I got a note from Stella's preschool saying they needed an updated doctors approval for her to continue attending school. I was less than thrilled with this news since we had just been to the doctor and it did not go well at all.
At our last visit she hid from the doctor under my chair and I believe at one point she even took a swing at poor Dr. Leo. She has never been fond of the nurses but usually she tolerates our doctor. On that particular day you could say she was not in the mood.
When I found out we had to go back and experience all that fun again I knew I had some work ahead of me. I did a lot of preparation for our next doctors visit. This is a regular practice with Stella because she tends to have strong reactions about too much attention or any kind of poking, prodding or touching. So we talked a lot about what to expect with our next visit and I even threw in a celebratory trip to McDonald's after a successful doctors visit. You may call that bribery, I choose the word celebratory. I know I was probably pushing it with this one, but I figured since we were going to be at the doctors office anyway, why not get the flu vaccination too? After all, they have a mist for kids. How tough can that really be?
The big day came and my little Stella was an absolute trooper! The only thing she wouldn't do was the eye test where you look at a sign and tell the nurse what letters you see (its pictures for little kids). She even got on the big scale, which usually causes tears and screaming. I know...the scale? Really? All said and done the doctor completed her physical and signed her off for another year of preschool.
Now for the flu mist.
We waited for the nurse to come back with the mist then it was off to McDonald's. Well, we waited and waited and waited. After 30 minutes I finally stuck my head out in the hall to flag someone down. I got a nurses attention and she said another nurse would be right in with the vaccination. At that point Stella had had about enough of the doctor and enough of cooperating. When the nurse finally arrived with the mist Stella was totally done with this whole doctor business.
I was soft and encouraging at first, reminding Stella about the Happy Meal that was waiting for her. The nurse and I tried to tell her how quickly it would all be over but she she adamantly refused. I became anxious and sweaty, taking on her panicked feeling on the inside but trying to stay calm and collected on the outside.
After a good amount of reasoning, (even though we all know reasoning is pointless with any child but sometimes happens when a Mom is desperate and losing control), I became a little more stern and uttered a threat or two. The nurse was trying as well but was following my lead as to how to handle the situation. At one point, OK maybe a couple of times, we tried to restrain her but she was like a bucking bronco. It was fight or flight for Stella and I still can't believe how strong a 35lb 3 year old can be. My mother was in the waiting room with Ben and came in for the end of the festivities to try and help. We could all see it wasn't going to happen, we left. Stella and I were both in tears.
In the end what I was most upset about was that I didn't allow her to have the real victory of her doctors visit. She did so wonderful with everything else I had asked her to do and she deserved to feel great about her success. Unfortunately it was overshadowed by the trauma of the stupid flu vaccination. I have shared this story with friends that were very kind and reassured me they probably would have done the same thing. But in that moment I felt like I failed my daughter. I know what it takes for her to overcome fears and If I could do that day over again I would not have pushed her.
Good news though! This is not the end of this story. Stay tuned for part 2, it ends so much better!