A pin-prick of prevention

A pin-prick of prevention

Image: Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

Whoops! You blink and two months have gone past, and the only real evidence of it is that the baby now seems impossibly long. Where did these legs come from?

I feel like a broken record on the topic which has prompted me to post today, but a golden rule of communications (my day job) is that by the time you’re sick of saying something, someone else is only hearing it for the first time.

So: please, please vaccinate your babies.

In our wonderful antenatal classes the message was very simple: we vaccinate our children against the things we don’t want them to get. I don’t want my baby to get measles, or whooping cough, or polio or HPV. I don’t want anyone else’s baby to get them either. And vaccination is how we make our babies, and everyone else’s babies, safer.

A month ago we did baby’s 15-month jabs, and due to her heart condition, she had to get a full four – one in each delicious little arm and leg. And she was very not happy about this situation, and there were tears and crying and declaring one parent (her father) to be the cruellest villain in all human recollection and the other (moi) to be the second-cruellest for not stopping him.

But it was 100% worth it to know she has protection against diseases that could kill her.

There is so much disinformation out there about vaccinations – and I say “disinformation” not “misinformation” because it’s absolutely, deliberately misleading. A lot of it is focused around the COVID vaccines, but it’s clearly bled into other areas, as this story on Newsroom illustrates. The impact of the anti-vaccine movement is literally counted in lives, and this was particularly underscored for me by learning this week that goddamn polio is back in New York.

Never one to miss a chance to quote Hannah Gadsby (and lament that there isn’t a handily embeddable video of this quote, come on, internet!):

“As difficult as this life is, it’s nice to have a life. And it’s particularly nice to have this life in a world without…


Polio is bad, and that is a fact, not a feeling.”

I know a lot of people who are declining or delaying vaccinations aren’t vicious, or gullible, or too deep in the rabbithole of far-right conspiracy theories. They’re worried, because of course you’re worried when your child is so young and fragile and seemingly beset by danger on all sides. But it’s also true that when it’s too late, it’s too late – not just for you and your baby. When immunisation gets so low that we get outbreaks of measles, and they spread like wildfire because we’ve lost herd immunity (which is a thing you get through high vaccination rates, NOT letting a contagious disease kill thousands of people and crossing your fingers), a lot more children get sick. It’s like putting on your seatbelt before the car starts moving, only the seatbelt goes around your whole community. You just won’t be able to get it on in time when a crash happens.

But we can get immunisation rates up now. Please. Not just for our babies – pregnant people can get vaccinated against flu, COVID and whooping cough, and the antibodies pass to your baby in the womb, giving them protection too.


For those with nearly two hours to spare, I really do recommend this video about Andrew Wakefield and his deceptive linking of MMR vaccines with autism, which drives the anti-vaccine movement to this day. Even he didn’t intend to demonize all immunisations, just the combined MMR jab, for reasons that will make you absolutely furious. Slight spoilers, but there is good news: once the disinformation gets taken away, vaccination rates go up again.

The support curve

The support curve

Baby is nine months old, and I have no idea how much she weighs. It’s not a big deal – she’s very clearly happy, healthy, eating us out of house and home, and we have a Plunket appointment next month for her 9-12 month checkup. But it’s been nagging at me a little, and making me reflect on how it feels like the supports that have surrounded us since before she was born are on a real decline.

And that’s not really a big deal either because we’re still surrounded by friends and family and community. We’re in a really privileged position, being able to have one parent at home full-time (and to have me work from home a few days a week). My mum lives only a half-hour away, J’s family visit regularly.

But before she was born, there was our amazing midwife. Always there, literally at any time of the day or night if we needed her. One person who knew us intimately and had a huge amount of experience and knowledge to calm any anxieties we had (and there are so, so many anxieties). Our antenatal classes connected us to a bunch of people expecting babies at literally the same time as ours, and more experts on things like feeding and sleeping.

Once she was born, there were the hospital midwives and surgeons and Plunket, and once they found her heart condition, the entire NICU team swept in, with nurses and more doctors and social workers. We got enrolled in Heart Kids and put in touch with Parent to Parent. We were back at the hospital for a weight check every week for the first two months of her life.

At the same time, the antenatal group kept going, with group chats and coffee catch ups. It meant so much, sitting in the dark at 2am feeding a jaundiced little bub, to be able to type “god I’m so tired, anyone else up?” and have three other mums respond.

It’s a bit redundant to say things change over time. Of course, once baby had her surgery and recovered like a complete champ, we weren’t going to need all those checkups. Of course, Plunket doesn’t have to be dropping in quite so often once you’ve nailed those early milestones. And naturally, as paid parental leave starts to finish up, people go back to work and schedules become more complicated and those weekly coffee catch ups become harder to coordinate.

I’d never go back to those early weeks when everything was new and completely terrifying and we desperately needed to have all those people on the end of the phone to reassure us and get us additional support. But I do miss the security net, and the sense of a whole community focused on one thing: a happy healthy baby. It feels like you lose that support in little bits and pieces, and sometimes – like when you look at baby’s WellChild book and realise you don’t know how much she weighs – it hits you all at once.

Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

Being a wrong mama

Being a wrong mama

In an almost too-perfect turn of events, the first version of this post got lost to posterity. Maybe it was in a random Word document that didn’t get saved when I shut down the computer too late at night after too little sleep. Maybe it’s hiding in some bizarre folder. Maybe I accidentally posted the whole thing to Facebook already?


I’m Stephanie, a Pākehā, feminist, brand-new mother-of-one from Wellington, Aotearoa. I’m a word nerd at heart, and I’ve always been a writer, and I definitely love to overthink things. So of course I took a lot of notes during pregnancy and the early days of parenting and decided – eventually – to share those with the world. On the one hand, I thought, we probably don’t need yet another mummy blog (worst phrase ever); on the other, I rebutted, we might need one like this.

The title of this blog comes from the overwhelmingly dominant feeling I had in the early weeks of Baby’s life: that I was doing everything wrong (I even messed up giving birth to her). Making every choice poorly (Formula? Pacifiers? Disposable nappies!). Doing the worst things I possibly could and thus ruining my daughter before she even had a chance to prove herself.

I know a lot of mamas and other parents feel the same way. And I know it’s infinitely easier to deal with when you can talk to each other and reaffirm, as often as possible, that you’re not alone. It’s also easy to forget as soon as you have a rough day or your routine gets thrown out the window – which is a universal feature of parenting.

So here we are. A place for to share and commiserate and remind each other that there’s nothing wrong with being a Wrong Mama – and making less-than-perfect choices for your bub is a long way off from actually harming or neglecting them.

There’s a few posts up already, from another blog I write which is more ranty and political (of course there’s nothing to get ranty and political about when it comes to parenting, right?). Those talk about the journey (I kind of hate that word too but it’s the best we’ve found so far) my partner and I had going through IVF. The road to pregnancy and having your child can be just as difficult and even harrowing as everything afterwards. And you definitely feel like you’re doing it wrong when you have to turn to science to make your baby.

It’s tough to make commitments with a wee bub on the hip, but I’m going to aim for a weekly post here. Even if it’s just a bit of fun. And who knows what else might develop? If you have any suggections, let me know in the comments below! You can also subscribe to get posts delivered to your email. And don’t follow me on Twitter. It’s mostly just yelling about NZ politics and science fiction.

See you next time!

Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash