2 and a half years ago Lilly got a cough and a runny nose. If you have been a parent any length of time you know that this is extremely common, and usually nothing to worry about. However, my mom had been in Seattle where there had been outbreaks of whooping cough also known as pertussis. She insisted that I take Lilly to the Doctor as soon as she started coughing. I laughed and thought she was being a little over protective and thought to myself, really whooping cough? What the heck is that…isn't it just a cough? But I took her in anyway, and the doctor pretty much laughed at us and said, you would know if she had it, and sent us home. As the week went on she developed the small whooping sound and I took her back in--still sent us home nothing to worry about. A couple days later she got a 104 temp and I took her to the ER. The ER Dr. did a spinal tap, blood draw, urinary catheter, but refused to do a pertussis test on her. They sent her home again. Two nights later Lilly coughed so hard her lips turned blue. I freaked out and took her back in insisting that they test her for whooping cough. They sent us home and told us it would be 5-7 days before they would have the results back. That night Lilly coughed so hard her lips, hands and feet turned blue. We immediately took her back to the ER and admitted her in the hospital. I have a lot of nurse friends, so I am NOT bashing nurses, but I could not believe how NONE of them took her case seriously--because we did not have the results, no one was convinced that she actually had pertussis. At one point her cords came off her foot and her monitor readings "flat lined". It took her nurse 3 minutes to come in and check on her and she was freaking out because it had flat lined. The first two days we would pick her up and just hold her while she would cough--we didn't know what we were doing. I had been awake with her for over 24 hours and Dave wanted me to get some rest so he stayed up with her. This is the night where I know without a shout of a doubt that the Lord's hand was strategically on my Lilly. That night she took a turn for the worse. She coughed and stopped breathing for several minutes. Not only did her face, hands, and feet turn blue--it faded into grey. And that night she just happened to have a retired nurse who was just volunteering for the week assigned to her who just happened to have seen pertussis in an infant before. She immediately grabbed lilly from Dave and sat her straight up opening up her airway, and blasted oxygen in her face, suctioning anything that came up when she coughed. They were seconds away from bagging her and hooking her up to a machine that would breathe for her that would cause her to have to have a feeding tube. But by the grace and mercy of the Lord she caught her breath and breathed! I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it was only the beginning. We spent an entire MONTH watching her around the clock and she would have these "episodes" every 2-3 hours--with every one she would turn blue, and not be breathing for a few minutes but it seemed like an eternity. I wanted to yell at the nurses every time to do something more, With tears and my voice raised I would yell Breathe baby breathe! She would eventually catch her breath and let out the tiniest cry of exhaustion and fall fast asleep. There is nothing more helpless feeling than watching your child not able to do the most natural thing in the world-breathe. I have read so many pertussis stories that start off just like mine, reach the point to where their babies can't breathe on their own, get put on a breathing machine and tube feeding and watch their tiny newborn babies not take a breath and just give up from exhaustion and die.
I am SO blessed that God gave me my stubborn, hard headed, strong willed, determined Lilly. Because she fought at 7 weeks old and kicked that whooping cough in the butt!! But it was a process of being in the hospital for a month, and setting up a home hospital for the next 2 months. Any laugh or cry could set her into an episode.
Now before this, I was on the fence about vaccines. I knew that from history books all of the diseases were bad and wiped out hundreds if not thousands of people--not only that but took people's eye sights, limbs, mobility, hearing, etc. But in all honesty, I hadn't heard of any one in our day and age getting them and had never seen or knew anyone who had any of them. But, seeing first hand up close and personal, I understand why there was a vaccine created. We had Lilly at one of the best hospitals in the city and still most nurses did not know how to take care of her. One nurse came in during an episode, froze up, freaked out and asked ME what to do. I was shocked and immediately took charge--there was no time to explain.
The problem with most of these diseases is they have high incubation periods. Meaning you could have it for a week without showing any symptoms and be highly contagious. And most of these start with a runny nose and a cough--which as a mom doesn't seem very harmful right? I still go to the grocery store if one of my girls has a runny nose. We wouldn't leave our house if I stayed home for every cold or cough. So why vaccinate? Because of infants like my Lilly. At 7 weeks she did not have any of her shots. With the measles that is going around you can't vaccinate until they are 12 months old. I hear people all the time whooping cough is just a bad cough, measles is just a rash--big deal. It IS a big deal in a 7 week old. Measles is a rash with 104 and above temperatures for several days--that is a big deal for an infant. That is a big deal for someone with cancer. And it wiped out thousands of people when they didn't have malls, grocery stores, church every other day, parks, target! Can you imagine if one person had the measles in a church service--because they wouldn't be showing obvious symptoms and have no clue they even had it--sneezed or coughed or touched the door or got coffee how many people that could effect?? Can you imagine if one child got it in the preschool class--not only exposing it to every other preschooler, but their siblings? And them not even knowing for up to two weeks?! Vaccinating is not to protect vaccinated people. It is to protect the elderly, people with weak immune systems who can't be vaccinated, infants who are too young to receive shots, pregnant mommas, and I'm sure more!
Our problem is we have not seen first hand what measles, pertussis, rubella, mumps, polio, diphtheria, etc. really is. So we don't take them seriously. Sure if your 10 year old gets it he probably won't die. But what if because he or she wasn't vaccinated got it and your close friend with a new baby got it? This is why I'm passionate about vaccines. I pray that no one has to go through what we did with Lilly. Maybe if we see more cases of these diseases--which we already are, we will understand that vaccines were created for a reason--they were not created for a money pool, they were created to save lives and to prevent people from having their loved ones endure and suffer through them.
A peak into our journey…
She wasn't able to get out of her crib much, but we let her watch a little cartoon in a bouncer. It only lasted about 15
minutes and she went into an episode.
We had to wear masks the first several days. Everyone close to us had to go on the antibiotics that Lilly received as well--but unfortunately it was too late to have any effect on the severity of her cough.
I didn't get to snuggle her much because of all the things she was hooked up to which made feeding extremely challenging, but she never had to go on a feeding tube!!
Being away from our Gabby girl was one of the most difficult parts, but I'm SO thankful for my mom and sisters who kept her for us!
She is a miracle.