I’m unsure if I would refer to my daughter’s experience as an ‘antagonist’ or an ‘inspiration’ for the major life changes that opened our eyes to a new view of the world around us, but whatever one might call it, it was absolutely life-altering. When I held her as an infant, I compiled beautiful imagery of the many possibilities of Vienna’s future – taekwondo and girl scouts; doing her hair in braids and fancy hairdos; running up to extended relatives with big smiles and hugs; and of course, dropping her off for her first day of kindergarten with an intermix of tears and joy knowing she’d have a great day as I head to work in my anticipated fast-paced career. I carefully laid all these insignificant but special moments into a place in my mind similar to the delicate rose in Beast’s Castle. Perfect, glimmering, and waiting to spring to life.
Then one day things began to go wrong. My child began screaming inconsolably for hours. Someone took a hammer to those dreams, handed it back in pieces, and walked away without a backwards glance. There’s anger, frustration, guilt, all the stages of grief when your dreams are taken away. But the guilt, that is what is particularly hard for us vaccine injury moms. Did I do this to my child? You never forget that feeling, that tinge of guilt is hiding in there.
Eventually most all of us work through those difficult feelings and move on to obsessive reading and into healing of our children. Special diets, nutritional supplements, trial and error… trial and error… trial and error…
What gets me through each day is knowing that Vienna’s vaccine injury saved her two amazing siblings from the same fate, or worse. I saw the signs in her younger sibling following those shots, but this time we did not chalk it up to coincidence, we nipped that in the bud before it could manifest into something far more undesirable. Vienna’s difficult journey protected her younger siblings. And I am thankful for that.
But what I can not express in words is how deeply appreciative of my life now that my child is recovered from vaccine injury. The joy runs deep, deeper than the survivor’s guilt of having a recovered child. My days are not always easy, even recovered children have struggles from seemingly permanent damage. But the appreciation I have and the extra time having a recovered child has allowed me to share what I can to others through activism and education.
Most vaccine injury moms do not get the luxury of ever finding their child fully recovered, and that is one of the greatest shames. But the small steps are momentous and the big steps are pure and utter miracles. If my blog can get any of us one step closer to peace and our children an extra few good days after what we have all endured, I will have fulfilled my purpose.