Pertussis Paranoia

postpartum examLet me be perfectly clear about one thing: I’m not a germphobe. I let my kid play in the dirt and I don’t freak if she licks the monkey bars. But whooping cough has me out of my mind terrified lately, seeing’s how there’s an epidemic here in California that’s now claimed 9 babies’ lives. The danger is when a newborn who’s not old enough to have gotten her vaccination comes in contact with an older kid who has the virus. The older kids can still get it even if they’re immunized, but it’s totally dealable and much milder than if they weren’t.

After Penelope was born and was in the NICU for six weeks (she was a 10-week preemie), her pediatrician told me, my husband, and anyone over the age of 12 who was going to come in regular contact with her to get a TDAP booster, which we dutifully did. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is the best way to lower risk.

Abby’s only had the first TDAP shot, so I called my ped’s nurse, who told me eh, just keep her isolated, don’t let other kids handle her, and don’t let Penelope play with anyone snotty particularly a kid with a cough. “Go ahead and ask if the child has had their vaccinations,” she encouraged me. “If they give you the stink-eye, you don’t want to hang out with them anyway.”

Easier said than done. Though I’m almost ridiculously outgoing, this is a tough one for me. My area is rife with non-vaccinators who are passionate about their position, and I’m not interested in getting into a big throwdown with them. Mainly because I’m afraid I’ll just lose my shiznit in their crunchy granola faces.

Anyway, all this to say: Today I had my first confrontation. We were at a local indoor playspace when I noticed another toddler had the most horrendous-sounding cough. She was with two adults who I think were her grandparents (in my nabe, it can be hard to tell have you taken note of my salt-and-pepper tresses?), and I asked, “That’s some cough have you had it checked out?”

The glare I got! It went beyond daggers. I think she was throwing machetes at me with those things. I was treated to a few rapid blinks, a dumbfounded glare, and a snippy “it’s just a cold.”

In other words, the stinkeye.

“Come on, Penelope! Let’s go see the birds!” I said, cheerfully, and we washed hands and went elsewhere. Life is too short and I’m trying not to make it any shorter. Obviously, I felt a bit mortified otherwise, why would I be writing about it here? But dude, it’s one thing to have Penny catch a cold. That’s dealable. And frankly, I don’t take it amiss if people don’t want to play with my sick kid I let them know ahead of time if she has a runny nose so they can cancel if they want, so I don’t know what was up this lady’s ass. But I can’t stand the idea of my little newborn getting such a deadly disease, so if I have to suffer some social awkwardness, I’ll take the hit. Right?

So give it to me straight: would you have given me the stinkeye?

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