Gabriel was born in the summer of 2006. I had a perfect pregnancy, and after an uneventful 12-hour labor, Gabriel was born on his due date,beautiful and healthy. He nursed soon after birth, and we all went home two days later.
I noticed in those first few days that when Gabriel looked at me he seemed so aware for a newborn. He would look me straight in the eyes, almost speaking to me with them. I had high hopes for my new little guy, my second child but first son. He continued to do everything early, from rolling over to walking to potty training before he was a year old. His doctor was even impressed at how he exceeded his milestones, as Gabriel was doing things his own daughter who was several months older wasn’t doing yet. We started teaching him baby sign language, but stopped around 12 months because his verbal skills were excelling so quickly.
Our whole world changed the day we took him in for his 12 month well baby check-up. We didn’t know then that we were about to make the biggest mistake of our lives. After receiving his MMR vaccine in the muscle of his leg (I later learned that MMR is to be given subcutaneously, not intramuscularly), the injection site became inflamed and red, and tender to the touch for several weeks. Gabriel was irritable like never before. He seemed agitated and cranky much of the time, wanting to be held constantly.
It was about two weeks before the fever came, accompanied by high-pitched and unrelenting screaming. I remember calling the doctor’s office concerned because I could not control the fever, and I could tell he was screaming in pain. I was told to alternate Tylenol and Ibuprofen every 4 hours, and that he would be fine. We did as we were told, put cool rags on his head and body, my husband even put himself in an ice bath and then held the baby next to his cold skin. Still the fever would not go below 102 and continued to spike above 104. I called the doctor’s office every day for four days.
It was only by chance that I skimmed the vaccine reaction information we were handed on our way out the door at Gabriel’s appointment. I read the page on MMR. Serious reactions to this vaccine occur 1-3 weeks after it is administered, and include high fever, high-pitched screaming, BRAIN DAMAGE?!?
I got online and looked up “serious reaction to MMR.” What came up was account after account of what was happening to Gabriel. Many of them ended up regressing into autism. I remember thinking to myself, “That couldn’t possibly happen to Gabriel. He is so advanced. No, not my son.”