My husband and I had decided that we wanted to grow our family. We already had two perfect children and were at the age where if we wanted another child it was now or never. At my first doctor’s appointment just before I became pregnant my doctor recommended that my husband and I both get immunized for (pertussis), what most of us know as “whooping cough.” I had seen those commercials with the woman holding her baby coughing. At the time, I felt that they were an attempt to scare people, and found it an over-reaction since, “who really gets pertussis any way”? Since it was time for us to get our flu shot it wasn’t a big deal to get pertussis too. So, at my doctor’s recommendation we were immunized.
On July 7
We welcomed Alexandra in to the world. She was perfect, big brother Ian, age 9 (whose birthday is also July 7) and big sister Madeline were thrilled. Our family was complete.
Ian started with a bad cough. This is not unusual for Ian since he has asthma. We started Ian on his nebulizer treatments, but he didn’t improve. We went to the doctor. At the time Ian would take a deep breath before he coughed. The pediatrician took this as he was faking it. I am not one to question medical advice, but I knew he wasn’t faking it! Since Ian’s lungs were clear there wasn’t much that could be done. I called a friend who is a pediatrician. She could hear Ian’s cough on the phone and also felt that he wasn’t faking it.
After a two more days of coughing we were back to the doctor. Again, his lungs were clear. So we just waited for him to get better. After a few more days Ian woke up and I heard the classic “whoop” when he coughed.
We returned to the doctor, he listened to Ian and diagnosed whooping cough. They took a nasal swab to confirm the diagnosis and gave us prescriptions for antibiotics for the kids. I went to our local pharmacist to get them filled. He was kind enough to call the doctor that my husband and I use get the prescriptions and have them delivered to our home.
Ian worried he might have gotten his friends and family sick.
Our focus was to make Ian comfortable. He was up all night coughing, and was miserable. Ian was coughing non-stop. He sounded like he was gasping for air every time he coughed. Ian understood that whooping cough is very contagious and he could not go to school. He was worried that he had gotten his friends and family sick. I assured him that my husband and I were safe since we had been immunized. I couldn’t offer the same insurance about Alexandra. I just told that everyone would be fine, knowing very well that I may be lying to him.
We were also focused on Alexandra. Fortunately she had had one round of the immunization, but was still vulnerable since she was quite young. Knowing it could be very serious if she became sick, we were very worried.
It took Ian a few weeks to get rid of the cough.
We are forever grateful to the pediatrician who finally listened to me that there was something wrong with Ian, and to the doctor who recommended my husband and I get immunized. I believe that since my husband and I were immunized we were able to help keep Alexandra healthy.
Whooping cough is a horrible disease. When I hear parents wondering about vaccinating it makes me sad. I would have liked to invite any parent wondering what the “big deal” about this disease is into our lives during what felt like endless weeks while our son was suffering. His cough would still echo in your ears, like it does in mine.
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