Our family is on Day Six of The Great Whooping Cough Quarantine Of 2011 and it must be said that, at this point, our efforts to keep Charlotte sedentary and entertained have lead us to compromise every single parenting belief we ever held. Television? Check. By Disney? Check. With a princess? Check check. BUT! But the small child seems to be steadily progressing through the typical stages of pertussis and I’m willing to eat my words every day of the week if a healthy kid is the result.
Yesterday morning she walked into the kitchen rubbing her eyes. “Hey beautiful,” she said to me. Like I always say to her. “I need some toast please. Yeah. With some smatos (tomatoes). Yeah. And some peas too. Just a little bit, remember.”
Last night when Donald set her down for the night, her cough seemed to have worsened. He came out to the living room to grab her sippy of water and when he laid back down with her, she told him “You will stay here. You will lay in the bed. I will give you kisses. And you will be happy with that.”
It seems like such a small thing, but to us these glimpses at the Charlotte we knew before Friday mean the world. Charlotte’s symptoms never developed to the life-threatening extent that some people with pertussis experience. (I personally credit this to an incredibly attentive pediatrician, an abundance of breast-milk, and the fact that my husband somehow managed to turn this house into the freaking tropics.) But being sick has taken its toll on her. Hearing her talk like her normal amazing two-year-old self again – not telling us how much she hurts, not gasping, not coughing, not asking us to make her better NOW PLEASE – is like standing at the brink of paradise.
Over the past few days, as I have watched Charlotte fight off this disease, I have calmed down considerably from Sunday night when I wrote about vaccinations. Donald and I are both still upset. We are both still struggling to figure out how we feel about vaccinations given this unexpected situation. But it’s common knowledge that a wounded animal is the most dangerous – and with every step our daughter takes out of the woods, the two of us heal a little bit too.
Will we ever fully back down from our outrage and intolerance after this experience? I don’t know. I honestly DO. NOT. KNOW.
The only flip-side perspective of this debate which I have personally found compelling over the past several days was put forward by Theresa in comment 50-something of my vaccination post. She wrote “Asking someone to do something that could seriously harm their child so that yours might be safer…I don’t know…it’s a lot to ask” and you know? I can understand that. With a little distance from my family’s current situation, I can even respect that.
Yesterday we received some preliminary results from Charlotte’s cultures as well as the full run-down on her blood-work. In another week or so, we should know even more. Today Charlotte begins a new medication and we are both keeping our fingers crossed that this helps her recover. Our pediatrician’s best estimate is that it will take Charlotte’s body, particularly her lungs, nine to twelve months to fully heal. She will probably have minor respiratory problems for the rest of her life. We have made our peace with this. In fact, considering how low Charlotte’s titers were for pertussis, that’s pretty damned good news.
I’ve reached out to a few non-vaccinating pals who I trust and respect over the past few days and asked for them to walk me through the specifics of their decision so that I can better understand their side of the story. I also made some time last night to respond to the e-mail the unvaccinated child’s mother sent me over the weekend. “After I read your blog, I thought I might not hear from you again,” she wrote back. “I understand if you can’t forgive me. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody, though. I need you to know that.”
“I thought about ending the friendship,” I responded honestly. “But I think it might be better just to get together sometime and talk about this. I don’t think you’re a bad person or a bad parent. I don’t think you’re selfish. Charlotte loves your kid. But if we are going to agree to disagree then I would really like to better understand your decision. It’s important to me that you see things from my point of view too.”
Her answer was: “I would like that. Please give love to Charlotte. We are so so sorry.”
Our house sort of devolves into chaos with a sick kid.
Someday maybe I’ll re-visit this topic. Maybe I’ll write about vaccinations or about the specifics of whooping cough or about some of the incredible and thought-provoking comments and e-mails I received from people who disagree with me. Maybe I’ll write about some of the really crappy comments and e-mails I received too. But right now, all I really care about is doing just that. Giving love to Charlotte.
The rest is fucking background noise.
Previous entry: On pertussis and vaccinations.