It’s been 8 long years since I have last seen your sweet little face and heard your contagious laughter. I’m already in tears just remembering those days. It’s easy for me talk about you and what an amazing, smart little boy you were, but talking about 2 particular moments in your life is not as easy for me. The first, the day you suffered a very serious, painful, and frightening reaction to your immunizations, and second, your death.
You were born a healthy 7 pound 8 ounce baby. You loved to nurse and sleep in your daddy’s arms. Everything changed on March 5, 2007 at around 2pm when you received your first round of immunizations. You received Pediarix (a combination shot containing 5 vaccines: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, and Hepatitis B), Hib, and Pneumococcal. 7 vaccines in 3 injections were pumped into your little legs in just a matter of seconds. From the moment you were “poked”, as the nurse so gently put it, you began to cry. Our nurse assured us you would calm down and to administer a dose of Tylenol or ibuprofen when we got you home. She left and I tried to nurse you before putting you back in your car seat. You refused to nursed and only wriggled and writhed in my arms as I tried to console you. I tried in earnest to settle you down, but could not, so I put you into your car seat and left hoping you would settle down in the car. We had been through vaccinations with your older sister, and I admit, I felt confident you would be ok. Nothing ever went “wrong” with hers.
The ride home proved useless to console you. I brought you into the house, my feelings of worry lessening thinking you were just hungry. I carefully administered a small amount of ibuprofen. You choked a little but swallowed it. As I went to unsnap you from your car seat, my mere touch sent you into a high pitched screaming. If only I had known that your brain was beginning to painfully swell due to the mass quantity of chemicals, toxins, and metals that had reached your brain. Dread began to rise in my heart as I lifted you out and tried to nurse you. You, again, refused to eat and your screaming began to turn into airy rasps. I could clearly see you were in pain, unlike anything I had ever seen before. I placed you in your bassinet and called the doctor’s office, telling them what was happening. The nurse assured me you were okay, that this kind of reaction was common. She told me to give you another dose of ibuprofen and to rub the injection spots on your legs. I didn’t do either. I felt I had put enough foreign chemicals into your body, and I feared an overdose of ibuprofen. Massaging your legs seemed out of the question. I felt helpless as you continued to scream. Your older sister looked traumatized watching you. She was scared for you, too. After 4 hours of continuous screaming, Daddy came home from work. He tried everything he could. He held you in those special ways you loved so much, he encouraged me to nurse you again, but to no avail. At one point, I lied you down on the floor and leaned over the top of you since my touch seemed to trigger more pain. You nursed for a minute or two, but then refused again.
I called the “Ask A Nurse” at a local hospital, frantic and in tears. You had been crying for 6 hours now, continuously. The nurse tried to tell me ways to soothe a crying baby, and told me to call back if you didn’t stop after I tried several things. I tried them all: a warm bathe, a cool rag on your hot forehead, a gentle tummy massage, swaddling, walking, etc. Nothing helped. I called back after 2 hours and spoke to a gentleman nurse. He asked me ridiculous questions like, “Is he gassy? Is he teething? Did you pinch his finger?” None of them made sense, and no one seemed to listen to me when I told them this all started the moment after your vaccinations.
You continued to cry until about midnight — 10 straight hours of non-stop crying. My heart ached for you. You seemed so tired and worn out it was almost like you passed out, but you were breathing — and silent. I let you sleep. You woke up every 30 minutes to an hour crying a high pitched squeal – one I had never heard before your vaccinations– but I was always able to get you back to sleep.
As soon as the doctor’s office opened the next morning, I called. I talked again to the nurse and told her about how the evening had gone. She assured me you were fine. She said they see that type of reaction a lot. She told me that if you reacted that way again after your next round of immunizations that they would consider splitting up the doses. From that moment on I have given hours and hours of research to the topic of vaccines. I am so confident now that vaccines are not appropriate for children or adults. They cause more problems than they solve. Vaccine makers are protected from accountability if their vaccine hurts a child. What a red flag. How can we trust them to make something safe if there is no consequence if it is not safe?
After those shots, you were never the same. The eczema showed up on your legs and arms just 3 days after the shots, and never went away. You also always seemed inconsolable, as if you were in pain. Days at home were so hard, and you seemed to never be able to get enough hugs (which I loved). As you got older, it always seemed like you thought something was inside your head. You would occasionally bang it on the floor, the wall, or with your hands. And soon after the shots is when you started to have those seizures. I didn’t realize that’s what they were until long after, but those moments when you would just snap out of reality and stare at absolutely nothing for several seconds? Those were staring seizures. You would be mid-laugh, or mid-cry, and suddenly stop and stare for so long and then continue laughing or crying several seconds later. I hope those didn’t hurt. I wish I could have saved you from all that.
When you were a year and a half old, you were placed in the arms of our Heavenly Father. There’s now a hole in my heart that will never be filled. That was the hardest day (and following year) of my entire life. I have experienced first-hand 2 of the many feared questions parents raise with themselves today: “What if my child suffers a serious and painful vaccine reaction?” and “What if my child dies?” If I had done my research before I ever took you (or your sister) into that doctor’s office, I could have spared you so much pain. You suffered for over a year. I have no idea what was going on inside your body, but I know it was painful. I am grateful that despite these challenges, you still developed normally and we have so many happy and fun moments to remember. You started walking at only 9 months and talking 3 word sentences by the time you passed away. I was so proud of, and I’m so lucky to be your mom. I know if I had continued those shots you would be like so many other stories — loss of speech, vision problems, autism diagnoses, and so much more.
My prayer is that your story might help another child, somewhere in this world. My prayer is that your story might urge at least one parent, somewhere, to question vaccines and to go beyond “what the doctor says.” My prayer is that so many thousands of children don’t suffer and/or die in vain. Vaccines are dangerous, and my child isn’t worth the risk. I’m sorry I didn’t know this before your tragedy, Keelan.
‘Til we meet again, my little man.
I love you with all my heart,