Birth Stories, Bits and Whatnots

Ninety-Seven and Seventeen.

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It was so desperately hot that summer.

1997. We were living in a double-wide modular home, in a park not far from where we live now. The heat seemed like a living thing, a second skin that slithered over me and nestled in for the long haul. Even the middle of the night brought no relief; it was sticky and hot and even a thin sheet seemed too much to bear. One hundred degree days were one after another, a record breaking heat wave that had television weather forecasters and radio DJs jabbering excitedly.

At the time, I was heavily pregnant with my second child, and had a one-year-old daughter, Olivia. Some days, I would pack the baby up in my old car and drive to the grocery store or Walmart just to walk around in the air conditioning. My hair was constantly damp against my head and I felt always out of breath, the humidity in the air seemed to steal any good oxygen I took in. We lived for the occasional thunderstorm, just to breathe some cooler air.

I was due October 11 and had an appointment with my doctor on October 7. He was concerned, he said, because my first baby had been an emergency C-section, and I had plans to deliver naturally this time. A family member of his had died and he needed to leave the country unexpectedly, and he was worried another physician wouldn’t pay enough attention to the possibility of uterine rupture. “You might die,” he told me. “You could lose the baby.” I was hot, gigantic, miserable and terrified, so when he said he wanted to induce my labor so he could attend the birth, I agreed. We made our plans: I would make arrangements for Olivia, finish readying the baby’s room, pack for my hospital stay and have my husband notify his work that he needed the time off. I went into action mode, making calls and settling my plans. My husband took me out to dinner and we grinned through the entire meal.

I was excited because the hospital was air conditioned.

We hadn’t found out the gender of the baby. I liked having it be a surprise, but everyone who had an opinion or a guess thought I was carrying a boy. We had a boy’s name picked out: Collin Phillip. My sister wanted me to name a boy Levi, and reminded me about it every time we hung out. If it turned out to be a girl, I knew I wanted the middle name to be Grace; my first daughter’s middle name was Faith. John’s choice for a girl name was Alyssa, and I liked it well enough, but at the time it was a hugely popular girl’s name, and a woman at our church had just named a her daughter Alyssa Grace. I wanted something a little bit different.

We showed up in the early evening to check in at the hospital. Everything seemed to be going dizzyingly fast, the meds and the IV and forms that needed signing and the nurses and doctors checking me. Contractions started quickly, and by the middle of the night were down to three minutes apart. I had a back labor and it felt like my hips were shattering every time a contraction hit. I cried and threw up several times, but I tried not to scream because I knew my family was just around the corner and had my daughter with them, and I didn’t want to scare Olivia. My nurse’s name was Devota. She was a night nurse, but stayed well past her shift so she could remain with me. Mom came in and rubbed circles on my back and kept my long hair out of my face. Dad came in, looked at me and promptly threw up. By mid-morning, I was confident the labor was never going to end, and I told Devota I had changed my mind and wanted to go home. She talked me into an epidural, and I waited for the relief to come and bring me rest, but it didn’t happen. The doctor came in and placed a second epidural, and again, I waited for the relief my friends had told me about. You won’t feel a thing, you can sleep until it’s time to push, they’d told me. Lies! It became evident I was in the miniscule percentage of women the epidural didn’t work for. The pain intensified, and I’d been hours with hard contractions two minutes apart. I wanted to scream, but instead I put my fist in my mouth and bit. I kept worrying Olivia would hear me and be frightened. John kept telling me to stop it, I was going to hurt myself. There came a point when – and I remember the moment with such clarity – my sister Charlotte was walking in to see how things were going, and as she came around the privacy curtain, I had just put my fist in my mouth again, biting hard against the contraction that enveloped me. John reached out and smacked my hand away from my mouth. “Quit doing that!” he scolded. And I reached right out and grabbed his arm and chomped down on it. Hard. “Ow!” he shouted and looked at my sister. “She bit me!” Charlotte’s mouth hung open for a minute, then she shrugged and told him he shouldn’t have done what he did.

I bit him because he had shoved my hand from my mouth, and also because he was eating a glazed donut.

The pain was so great, it felt like every nerve fiber within me was on fire. My skin hurt. My hair hurt. My eyelashes hurt. Devota and my doctor whispered near my bed about the possibility of another C-section. “No,” I told them. I wasn’t doing that again. The problem was that my baby was lying diagonally in my abdomen, and her head was slamming against my hip. The solution was to twist me into randomly and ever-increasingly uncomfortable positions until she straightened up.

And finally, after about 14 hours of labor, it was time to push. The marathon was nearly over.

It only took another two and a half hours to receive my prize.

Another daughter. I was relieved and elated and exhausted, so I burst into tears and started sobbing.

“But we don’t have a name for a girl!”

My husband shushed me, and said if I would only stop crying, I could name her whatever I wanted.

I named her Savannah Grace.

There was a little problem with her breathing, so they whisked her off to have her checked out, and I cried again because I wanted to hold her so much.

Once she was declared healthy and perfect (which I already knew), she was brought back to me and I held my little girl. I felt as if I was in some magical world where every good thing that ever could happen was happening, right then, to me.

My family came in then, and they took turns holding her and crying and laughing and rejoicing in the perfection of Savannah.

And today, at 3:37 p.m., my baby girl turns seventeen.

I cannot believe how quickly she has grown from my little baby girl who hated having clothes on, to a toddler who loved Tonka trucks and building blocks, to a young girl who loved crafts and music, and now to a musically inclined young woman with amazing creative talents. My daughter has become an admirable person who is compassionate, empathetic, and fiercely loyal. And of course, she is stunningly beautiful.

Every day, she makes me prouder than the day before.

Happy birthday, Savannah. I love you more than the stars in the sky.

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Bits and Whatnots, Chronic Illness

Mother Love, Mother Guilt

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This article originally appeared in “I.G. Living” magazine, August/September 2013 issue.

Somehow, it always comes down to the mother.

The first person a teacher asks to speak to when a problem arises. The first person a physician discusses a medical issue with. The person the other mothers – at soccer and baseball practice, at Scouts meetings – whisper about when she leaves the room.

That child is too thin!

That child is too heavy!

That child is too short!

Sad, shaking heads. Collective sighs. Satisfied hands clutch their Starbucks cups. Tiny sips of double mocha light foam cappuccinos.
And then….

What is she doing wrong? Why doesn’t she do something to fix this? Surely, she must see The Problem.

Surely.

Surely, the mother sees the problem. She drops off her child with a smile and a wave, heads back to her SUV to rest her head on the steering wheel. She closes her eyes tight, unable to un-see the differences. The Problem. The fact that her child is unlike his peers; there are glaring discrepancies in the size of her child and the size of the others.

What have I done wrong?

Why can’t I fix this?

Surely, she sees what the other mothers see.

And she sees the other mothers. She notices the way they turn their heads – just slightly – when her child joins the group. Are they checking? Checking to make sure their children are still superior? That The Problem hasn’t somehow affected the perfection of their offspring?

She sees them catch one another’s eye; each in turn. A fraction of a second – barely that –but still.

Enough.

She hears the artificial coating in the invitation that comes just a little too late; the unnecessary volume in the equally unnecessary reassurances: “He’s just a late bloomer” or “He’ll slim down, once he hits that growth spurt”.

She hears the words that are implied, but not stated out loud.

“He’ll be fine, as soon as you figure out where you went wrong, and fix it.”

Judge and jury.

They cannot understand how desperately she loves him. How completely she would sacrifice to be able to fix The Problem.

Mother Love equals Mother Guilt.

She knows something isn’t quite right. This isn’t her first child, she knows what is normal, average….and she just knows…something is off.

Not quite sure what it is. Just…something. But…how could that be? She was so careful. No drinking, no smoking. No caffeine. Forty weeks of carefully measured actions. Vegetables. Milk. No under-cooked meats. Never missed a prenatal appointment. No drugs during the birth.

She breastfed. They said that would be better. Safer.

Well-child check-ups are passed with flying colors. Hesitantly, she voices concern to the physician.
Her worries are blown off, like an insignificant kite detached from a string. All mothers worry. You’re just overly tired. All babies are different. Nothing is wrong.

Nothing is wrong.

Nothing.

Except…..she knows there is something. But she lies to herself. She convinces herself all is well. When the worry rears its head in her throat, lodging there like a child’s bouncy ball, too big to move either up or down, just…stuck – she busies her mind. Turns up the TV. Calls a friend to gossip about nothing. Furiously cleans. Invents extra errands.

Until The Event. The Dreaded Something that changes the minds of those who dismissed her initial concerns.

The day the doctor sits her down and speaks to her in slow, easy to understand words. Do you understand? Yes, she understands. She looks him in the eye, forces herself to listen. She listens, but the pain in her chest makes her hold her breath. Oddly, she remembers another time when she felt this way. When was it? She searches her memory.

First grade. On the playground, standing on the swing with daring. Clutching tight at the chains biting into her fingers, she calls fearlessly to her friends, “Underdog me!” and sails away, up, up, up into the sky.

She falls. Hits the ground with a sickening thwack. She lies there, so much pain in her chest and back she cannot breathe. She wants to cry out, but the air in her chest sits heavy as a block of ice. Unmoving. She is frozen.

This feels like that.

Labs. Tests. Appointments. Prescriptions. Journals. Journals! Logging every bite that passes the child’s lips; every new symptom; every night that passes without rest; every unusual behavior. Furiously, she scribbles into the journals…here, she is certain, the answer will appear. A pattern will emerge, and whatever it is that has caused the Dreaded Something will show itself. She will eliminate it, and everything will be okay again. She will be able to breathe again. She misses the way it used to feel, back when she could breathe without even thinking about it.

She cannot find the pattern. She cannot find the answer.

Sitting in the tiny exam room that has become far too familiar, she waits. The door creaks open, the physician enters and takes a seat on the little spinning stool. Small talk. She eyes the folder in his hand. She does not want to talk. She only wants the magical answer, the sword that will slay the Dreaded Something. She considers snatching the folder out of his hands. She smiles. She waits.

Finally, the answer comes. The block of ice in her chest somehow spreads to her shoulders, arms, head. She feels the slow freezing of her entire being. Her teeth begin to chatter.

It is her fault. The doctor says it jokingly. “Isn’t it always the mother’s fault?” He chuckles. It lingers in the air, like hot breath on a frigid day.

Here it is, then. The answer. She has done this to her child; her body, her genetics, have caused the Dreaded Something. She cannot take it away. She cannot fix it.

Doesn’t he see how much this hurts? He laughs and says he should create a Frequent Flyer parking spot just for her family. Does he understand she would willingly give her home, her arm, her leg – her life – anything, anything to fix this?

Mother Love equals Mother Guilt.

Sometimes at night, she hears the muffled strains of guitar strings being plucked and closes her eyes, listening, a smile on her lips. Her child has struggled so much; lost so much; grown so much. Still, her child finds beauty in small things; a brightly colored bead, an unusual sunset; a new song.

She hurries dinner in order to make it on time to school conferences. The teacher laughs as the report card is handed over, “If only I had a classroom of kids like this one, I’d be happy to come to work every day!” She feels a warmth, a melting in her icy chest. She straightens her shoulders and takes a deep breath.

Her heart constricts, her chest hurts as she watches the IV insertion. She rubs her child’s back, watches as his eyes follow the hands of the nurse. Alcohol rub, gauze pad, syringe, bandage. He knows the routine; he knows once every item is in its own place, the poke will come. He sits up tall; back and tiny shoulders straight. He does not blink or turn away. He watches with detached curiosity; he holds his breath, scrunches his nose – there, it’s over. All done. He smiles and cracks a joke, his nurse laughs. She kisses his little head and tells him he is brave. She thinks to herself he is stronger than most grown men.

A child is bullied on the playground. A new child, and something about him makes him stand out. Something isn’t quite right. He has a Problem. She watches as her child leaps in front of him, arms outstretched. Chin up, eyes blazing, her child protects him. The bullies back off. Arm slung about the new child’s shoulder, her son offers to play with him, introduce him to some nice kids. Her eyes water with liquid pride. He has endured great pain, but he is such a compassionate boy. The Champion of the Underdog….he will not stand for hateful words or unkind actions.

She looks at the children she is raising. Kind-hearted, compassionate children. Honest, cheerful. Funny. Creative. Loyal. These things are also her fault. She loves them with an intensity that burns the ice.

Mother Love equals Mother Guilt.

Bits and Whatnots

Weight……what?

When I was 17 years old, I thought that I was fat. At just over 5’8” and 120 pounds, I was far from it, but still, that’s what girls did then. We talked about how fat we were as we ate Snickers and pizza flavored Combos at school for lunch, devised plans for being thinner, giggled about boys and made plans for the weekend. It’s just the way it was.

None of the girls I hung out with in high school were actually overweight. Some were tall, some were short, some had a petite frame and others were built with bigger frames, and some were just absolutely average.

But it seemed like the thing to do, bemoan our bodies. It’s what we heard our mothers talking about as they made plans for Weight Watchers meetings while sipping on a pink can of Tab cola, and ordered bizarre weight loss belt machines from catalogs.

It was a topic that cropped up in just about every conversation, because we understood it was really The Most Important Thing. We wanted to be thin so boys would like us and ask us out, we wanted to be thin so other girls would envy us, and we wanted to be thin so we would look totally rad with our tiny waists and gigantic hair and poofy sleeves in our high school dance pictures.

As a result, some of us would go days without food, some of us would use our babysitting money to buy boxes of little red and yellow Dexatrim pills, and some of us stuck our fingers down our throats after eating too much. That was okay, though, because it was the route some of us had to take in order to achieve The Most Important Thing. If that meant we occasionally felt shaky from lack of food, or passed out during cheer practice, so be it, and by the way, oh my gosh!, like isn’t Josh so cute in second hour? I think he likes me!

And it wasn’t every day we did these things, so it wasn’t like it was really bad, and in between the times we thought we were super obese we ate whatever we wanted so it all balanced out…..right?

Time went on, and I left my childhood home to marry my husband, and after a couple of years, we had our first child. I was thrilled to be pregnant, but was constantly cautioned by friends and family and even my physician to not let my weight gain get out of control. Upon learning our happy news, friends would hug me and say, “Congratulations!” followed by a whispered, “How much have you gained?”

It was a constant worry, even though hyperemesis meant I could barely keep down any food for the first several months. I was excited to become a mother but terrified of becoming fat, and every follow up at my OB/GYN’s office made me feel shaky and nervous to even get on the scale. “Yikes!” the nurse would say, and laugh. “You’re up by five pounds this month!” and I would feel somehow ashamed.

I weighed 150 pounds when my first child was born, and even though I had an emergency C-section AND a cholecystectomy at the same time, after a week in the hospital and with staples still in my belly, I went home and started trying to squeeze in time for sit-ups so I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who just let herself go.

Because really, beyond the health of my daughter, wasn’t getting back to my original weight The Most Important Thing?

I carried and gave birth to four children in six years, and my body changed. I could lose all the weight I wanted but the fact was that my hips were not quite the same and probably never would be, weight was carried in different ways and in different places and the truth of the matter was that I would never again have a 17-year-old body. I tried hard to accept those changes because life with three little ones and a baby was hectic, and I often felt run down and the house needed to be spotless and the children had so many needs, and I had to do every single thing just right so I wouldn’t somehow screw them up.

I poured over information in magazines about parenting because of course the people who wrote the magazines knew exactly what to do, how to make sure my children were not nutritionally deficient and that they were properly mentally stimulated and how to keep my husband happy and how to “have it all” and how to lose those last pounds of baby weight.

I felt even more pressure when my oldest child started school, because then on top of everything else, I had to make sure I was regularly volunteering in her classroom and was available for every field trip and made the best cookies for every program and took an appropriate amount of pictures of every single thing she did so she could grow up and have good memories and of course make sure she was not only keeping up with the other kids in class but also staying at the top of her class so she would be accepted into a good college later on and (take a breath!) still manage to devote the right amount of time to my 4-year-old because they are only little once and this time needs to be cherished and I mustn’t miss a moment and my toddler needed to be potty trained but not with too much pressure because that could cause problems later in life and we have to be so careful what we do when they are so little and also stopping every two hours to breastfeed the baby because everybody knows that what’s best and check his growth daily because he seems so much smaller than the other kids did at this age and why isn’t he crawling yet and sleep? Who has time for sleep? Not me, I can tell you that much.

As it turned out, there were also some medical issues with my children that hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and these issues for my sons included difficulty breathing due to asthma (doctors don’t like to diagnose it until after the age of two!), and an underdeveloped trachea and larynx and for my youngest boy an underdeveloped left lung. At first, because of his size, they thought it was cystic fibrosis but it turned out that it wasn’t, and once that had been ruled out nobody really had any good ideas about what to do so they sort of threw their hands in the air and sent us off to specialist after specialist until finally we found someone who could diagnose the multiple underlying reasons why my sons were turning blue and randomly unable to breathe.

Of course, once this mess all started, my worries about my weight took a backseat, although through days and nights spent in emergency rooms and pediatric hospital beds I would eat from a vending machine because I didn’t want to walk too far from my child’s sick room and even as I ate the Snickers bars I felt shame and guilt and worry in my gut that I would pile all the “baby weight” back on, but promised myself that if I did, I would lose it all again once things settled down.

Things didn’t settle down, and we had some rough years as the children were being diagnosed and going through more testing and getting sicker and more doctors deciding more things might be wrong and the more testing was done the more issues were found until we finally had some good, solid answers.

And there came a time the weight kept falling off my body without my even trying, and I put it down to stress or whatever and didn’t really care about the why of it all, so long as I looked good and my jeans size kept going down.

Now that my children are older and life is a bit more settled, I can look back at these times and wonder what in the world I was doing. I put such a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to do every single thing exactly right, I’m surprised I didn’t have a nervous breakdown.

Perfectionism comes at a steep price.

I can look back at pictures of myself as a mom of four young kids and a steady weight of 140 pounds, and think DAYUM, I looked good!

I can also see a lot in those pictures that most people wouldn’t.

I see the rings under my eyes from sleepless nights, worrying over whether or not the slight sniffle I heard from the boys’ bedroom two hours before means somebody is getting sick, and should I get the nebulizer ready just in case, and is there enough gas in the vehicle to get to the ER if we need to go?

I see my ghostly white skin even in summer pictures, because I didn’t know I was anemic, and I thought every mom felt this tired and like my mother always taught, you have to push, push, PUSH yourself.

I see a woman whose hands shook almost constantly throughout the day, and who, when faced with any extended amount of time sitting down would fidget and bounce her legs with anxiety.

I see a young woman trying so incredibly hard to be everything for everyone, she wasn’t taking care of herself at all.

I see a young mother who was at her physician’s office at least every other month, receiving steroid shots for the hives she constantly was breaking out in, as a result of stress.

I see a woman who was probably so thin because she didn’t take time to eat breakfast, or lunch, or sometimes even dinner, and who often experienced such a violent crashing together of migraines and anxiety she would spend the night vomiting and crying.

I see pictures of ME, but a different me. I see myself not having a voice, because at that time in my life, every minute of every day was spent swallowed up in the goings on around me.

Over the last eight years or so, so much has changed in my life. There have been some heavy blows. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been strong. And I’ve begun to remember the person inside, the person who was sometimes lost in living for everyone else. As those things have changed, so has my body. I have gained weight. I have lost it. I have gained it back.

I have realized that I cannot teach my children to chase their dreams, if I don’t make an effort to chase my own.

And I have realized the things I once thought so important…..just aren’t.

Nobody dies if my house is messy.

Nothing really changes if my kids don’t make an A on every single project or report card.

It’s good for them to learn to lose as gracefully as they have learned to win.

I can’t be every single thing for every single person.

I matter.

I cannot change their medical conditions, so I cannot allow the stress of chronic illness overrun my life.

When life is slower, I enjoy more.

My weight is not The Most Important Thing.

My weight is a part of my life, yes. My weight matters, yes.

There are a lot of things in my life that matter. I cannot focus solely on my weight.

I feel like once I realized this, I felt as though I could give myself permission to let go of some of the other things that once seemed so important.

The unhappiest people I know seem to take one thing and focus their entire life around that.

But life is so much more than just one thing.

There is grief. There is sorrow. There is pain. There is weeping. There is hardship.

There is laughter. There is love. There is music. There is beauty. There is faith.

There is not just one Most Important Thing.

I decided quite some time ago that I needed to remove some of the plates I was trying to juggle and really focus on what was Most Important.

My marriage. I cherish my marriage, and a solid one does not come easily. It’s work. It deserves my attention.

My children. I cherish their individuality, and the time I have with them. I need to focus on being present, because the time they will be living
at home is becoming shorter by the day. They deserve my attention: not the attention that is left over after pleasing everyone else. Not what’s left after a difficult day. They deserve my full and focused attention.

Healing. In the last four years, I’ve lost my father and my sister. It’s okay to grieve. Grieving takes time. Healing takes time.

Relationships. Focusing on the ones that matter, and releasing the ones that hurt me. I don’t have to always be the person who kept hanging on. I can be the one that lets go.

Deciding to not constantly worry about my weight sometimes still makes me feel guilty. It’s just something that has been such a constant in my life, it seems odd to let it go.

Do I realize I need to lose weight? Yes. I am aware. Do I make effort toward this goal? Yes, I do.

I sit here and consider my life and my joys and my talents and my deficits and my hurts and those things that really make me, ME….the uncontrollably curly hair, the freckles, the fact that nobody will ever believe my dyed hair is any natural color because I can never just stick with one choice, that I love to read and find magic in writing words, that I love costuming and designing creative projects that challenge me, that I love Renaissance Festivals and loud, bouncy music, that I surprised myself by becoming so attached to my two dogs that I didn’t really want in the first place, that I fail at math, the joy vibrant colors bring to me, how much I enjoy the different seasons in Michigan, a deep and abiding fascination with all things Johnny Depp, the love for my family that is sometimes so overpowering it catches my breath.

Do you know, none of those things have ever changed when my weight fluctuated? Despite the number on the tag of my jeans, my core, my soul, has remained the same.

My weight is only one part of my life, and there are so, so many others.

I think about life as if it’s a box I found in my grandmother’s attic. Pull off the top….feel excited to see what’s inside.

An old journal. A handful of marbles. Ribbons. Old coins. Love letters. Discarded buttons. An odd earring or three.

Each item has worth. Each item has a story. Each item has a reason it is there.

But at different times, I might be more interested in the love letters, or the old coins. I might completely bypass the marbles, and twenty years later realize they had a fantastic story behind them.

Each item is not The Most Important Thing.

The Most Important Thing is the whole.

My weight is NOT the whole. It’s one of many valuable parts of my life.

And now I feel like I laugh more. I feel more content. I take time to really listen to the stories my children tell me about their day. I hold my husband’s hand more often. The opinions of others matter less and less to me as years go by.

There are things that are important to ME, and it’s okay if I spend time doing those things.

And if there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that my daughters will never have a memory of me jiggling in an olive green weight loss belt machine, so help me God.

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Chronic Illness

Don’t Kill Ben.

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I love this meme so much. Many people do not realize how their decision to not vaccinate may impact those who have no choice but to remain unvaccinated. In fact, through a multitude of conversations and readings, I have found many people assume the only illness that could weaken an immune system in such a way that an individual could actually die from easily prevented (through vaccination) diseases is HIV/AIDS. Thousands upon thousands of people in our country live with a form of primary immunodeficiency. Primary immunodeficiency means the body lacks or is deficient in the part of the immune system that fights bacteria, which also means the body cannot produce antibodies to an illness or vaccination.

Simply put…if YOU came down with strep throat, your body would rally a defense, you would fight it, get better, and then, say, a week later you were near someone else who had strep, your body would recognize it and you would not get it again because you now have antibodies against it.

My kids get strep throat, take weeks of antibiotics, miss weeks of school, finally get better, encounter someone else with strep, get it again, and again, and again, and again. This goes for anything…..stomach flu, influenza, upper respiratory infections. Every illness they struggle through weakens the body further, leaving them vulnerable to any bacteria or virus out there.

Now imagine what could happen to them if they caught….chicken pox. Measles. Mumps. Polio. Whooping cough. We could be talking about lung collapse. Sepsis. Death.

Now, I’ve heard the old argument, “I had measles back before there were vaccinations, and I was perfectly fine.”

Whoop-de-do for you. You were fortunate to be born with a healthy immune system. Not every one is. Luck of the draw, buddy. You can’t assume that because you were fine, everyone else would be fine, too.

And I’ve heard it stated, “I don’t care about anyone else. I only care about me and my family and I don’t want to vaccinate.”

Isn’t it great you get that choice? Wow. Some of us don’t get a choice. But hey, very thoughtful of you to risk the lives of others because you are selfish. Bet you are raising some nice kids over there. Obviously, the only lives that matter are the ones under your roof.

But we all share a planet. We should try to help each other. Can you really sleep well at night knowing you may have caused the death of someone else’s child? A child whose parents love them just as much as you love your children?

Our family and other families like ours rely on the “herd immunity”…..that other people are vaccinated and thus form a protective circle around the people who can’t be. The more people that choose to not vaccinate, the more people with primary immunodeficiency seriously affected by that choice.

There is no cure for immunodeficiency. The only treatment is a monthly or weekly infusion of a plasma by-product called IVIG. IVIG contains the antibodies from thousands of donations of blood and plasma, boiled down and put into one little bottle. This infusion gives my kids a sort of “temporary immune system” that lasts a few weeks, until we have to do it again.

Hypothetically, if this trend to not vaccinate continues, there could come a day when there aren’t enough antibodies in the pool of donated blood and plasma to create the IVIG that we rely on for survival.

There is no other treatment for primary immunodeficiency.

There is no cure.

If such a day ever came……….what would we do?

Families like mine don’t get a choice.

But YOU do.

What will you choose?