Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pokey Pokey

Nikhil recounts Suhana's first vaccination visit, in a rather inapproriately titled post ;-)

What is common between the following gentlemen? (Ok, some of them don’t quite qualify as gentlemen, but ignore that)

  • Mike Tyson
  • Salman Khan
  • Carl Lewis
  • Will Smith

They have gone on record to say that they are petrified of injections! These are full grown macho men, who have been involved in a fist fight or two. If they are scared of injections, can you imagine what a little infant goes through?

One can argue that the real cause of fear of injections is not the actual prick, but the build up to it. You know exactly what’s going to happen, but there is nothing you can do in self defense. And so one would assume that for infants, who don’t know what’s in store, it should be less of an ordeal. But I don’t agree with that at all. Here she is, nicely swaddled in clothes and a warm blanket, in her parent’s arms, being cradled around. And suddenly someone, whom she has never seen before, jerks off the blanket and clothes, places her on a cold mat and begins to jab her with a long, pointed needle. Imagine how that must feel.

Suhana’s first round of injections was scheduled for Monday, 30th June. It was an event, which everyone was nervous about, but was afraid to say so!

Pallavi was nervous for one really big reason. This was the first time that the pediatrician was going to see Suhana, since we left the hospital and besides the injection, he would do a full scale physical examination. For all new moms, in their mind, this is an examination of their capabilities as a Mother. As part of this exam, the pediatrician will measure the baby’s weight, height, skin and general development. If things are going well, then the baby should have put on weight (they lose some of their birth weight initially and then start gaining it back), grown taller and healthier. If this happens, then the Doctor smilingly looks at the mother and says “She looks nice and healthy”. The mother hears it as “Well done! You have passed this exam”. If things are not fine, then he will solemnly look at the mother and say “She needs to improve her pace of growing”. The mother hears this as “You have turned in very poor performance. FAIL”. So, if you find that the wife is particularly nervous and unusually aggressive a few days before this event, now you know why!

The only saving grace is that, in this whole episode, no one even looks at the Father. The only time the Doctor speaks to him during this time is to ask him “Have you paid my consultation fees at the reception?

Talking about the father, this injection time is quite a weird event. It is probably the only time in life, when he will let another grown man poke and hurt his daughter and quietly watch everything. Hell, he even has to thank this other man for a job nicely done! How ironic.

The father’s role becomes important while entering the clinic or hospital just before the injection. The Doctors have warned the parents in advance, that the child is vulnerable to infections till the vaccinations are complete. That every other man, woman and child is a walking talking disease bag, from whom, the child must be protected.

So I entered the hospital like a commando on an overnight search-n-kill operation. Suhana was bundled in layers of clothing, submersed in my arms. My eye’s were watchful, eyeing every person in the hospital with extreme suspicion:

“That filthy guy with a stubble…don’t let him come close. Don’t know how many germs are hiding in his facial fuzz”

“That fat aunty with the sweaty neck. I can just see those germs swimming on her back in puddles of sweat”

“That pesky little kid with a cold. Why doesn’t his mom give him a hanky”!!

As I moved in short, covert bursts from one pillar to the other, my wife gave me cover by walking a few meters ahead, clearing the crowd and shouting in a raspy, aggressive tone that she had not used even in our worst fights!

Finally we reached the Doctor’s cubicle and I heaved a sigh of relief – I had finished my task without any problems. Pallavi, on the other hand, was a sight to behold. Hands trembling, hair frizzed out and eyes nervously shifting gaze.

The Doctor finally began the examination. As he went about checking Suhana, we were expecting him to make a grand announcement after each measurement, declaring a successful performance. But he just kept mumbling to himself, recording each measurement diligently on a paper which he kept close to him. This just added to the tension in the atmosphere. Finally, when my wife could not take it anymore, he announced “She has not only regained her birth weight, but has actually added a bit more. Things are running better than expected”. My wife of course, heard this as “You have broken the 50 year old National Record for baby- weight- gain- in- first- 10- days. You have passed with top honors!!” I literally had to hold her back from jumping onto the Doctor and plastering him with a wet kiss!

Next, it was time for the dreaded injection.

Doctor - “Ok Suhana. Don’t worry, this wont hurt

Me – Thinking. “Yeah, right! That injection relative to her size, is the same as poking you with a full scale baseball bat Doc!!

Doctor – With maniacal eyes. “Here goes…just a little pokey pokey.....hahahahahaha

Suhana – Instantly. “Waaaaaaaaaaaah. This guy is poking me and you guys are just standing and watching? Save me! Waaaaaaaah!

I must admit that it is quite a heart wrenching moment to see a small infant cry like that in pain. You feel very helpless and have to just grin and bear it.

But then something strange happened. The Doctor suddenly lifted her in his arms, with one finger pressed on her wound and began cradling her in a particular position. Almost instantly, Suhana stopped crying. For the next 5 minutes, the Doctor cradled her, talked to her and told us how infants have a much stronger sense of touch, taste and hearing than adults. He told us that only their vision was inferior to ours, but otherwise, pound for pound, they are physically superior! By the end of it, Suhana was completely at peace and was actually enjoying the whole thing.

My wife by now, had fallen for the Doctor. With stars in her eyes, I could gauge exactly what she was thinking -“What a wonderful man. How nicely he put my daughter at ease. What a caring, sensitive soul. Should get to know him better

All I could think was “Fine Mr. Pokey Pokey! With one smooth move, you won over both my girls. But she will still grow up to find me the most perfect man on earth. Beat that!” :-)

More from Nikhil: 1, 2, 3 and 4


  1. Nice doc, that Dr. Pokey Pokey.

    However, he can't beat my GP's idea :-), which was to let me nurse my baby while she (the GP) swiftly jabbed her. I remember the baby paused for a second, opened her eyes very wide as if to ask me "What just happened???" and then carried on with the feed.

    Touch is good, and Mamma's touch is the best.

  2. Good post as always! :)

  3. This guy sure can write. Excellent!

  4. Pokey Pokey.. great name!!! lovely post

  5. This dude has to get his own blog. Come on Nikhil start one!!

  6. wow - nikhil - u ought to write a lot more

    u r so right on this-
    "....For all new moms, in their mind, this is an examination of their capabilities as a Mother"

    and this-
    and on macho men and needles - right again- i have one such as well at home

    and well just about all of it.

  7. nikhil!! everytime i read your posts, its like i have tears laughing and by the end of it they have turned into mushy kinda tears!! :D

    great post yet again! babies apparently cry less till about 6months of age after which they start learning fear i guess!!

    but hey, give credit to M. Pokey where its due!! he didnt hurt your baby girl!! :D

    and yay to Suhana for letting her Mum get outta doc's room unscathed and WO soubts that she is doing super job!!



  8. Poor baby! Good doc. Great narration, as always:)

  9. He he he !

    My son's favourite horror stories are about 'dr yadav' his Ped. In every story he regularly injects the doctor in the bums after throwing his pants off in imaginary water !

  10. Hey NIkhil, you didn't mention the bit where you look over all the other children critically and decide that none of them can hold a candle to your own perfect child. :) I remember my husband being a perfect pest about this.