Hey new mom friend,
Ashley here. Jackson’s mom — yes, that Jackson. The one with the trach, the one with the CHD (congenital heart disease), and the one your little one just invited over to play. Or maybe we set up the time to meet. Either way, I’m super excited to be getting together. Play dates are the best, right? Or is it the wine? Whatever — I’m pumped.
You see, Jackson spent a lot of time in a hospital. A lot of time being poked and prodded. A lot of time being a patient instead of a baby. So getting to do these kinds of things with him is amazing. And, it’s great for me, too. My husband and I spent a lot of time in that hospital, and we were so looking forward to the day when we could take him home and let him meet the world head on.
But, I have a question to ask you, and it may be a little personal.
Is your child vaccinated?
Ah, the “v” word — a word that is almost as emotionally charged as the last election. A word that a lot of people tend not to talk about because they believe “it’s personal” or “it’s a choice.” That it’s something that isn’t anyone else’s business — a family decision that affects their family and their children alone. But for us — it’s not.
Jackson was born full-term, but that doesn’t mean he was quite ready for the world just yet. Born at 38 weeks, Jackson weighed in at about 5 pounds, not even hitting the first percentile on the growth curve. That’s OK, though, a lot of babies are born his size. But that wasn’t his only issue — he had a jaw that was too small and a heart that wasn’t whole and a belly that didn’t quite make it all the way to complete when it was forming. He was born with a lot of challenges — challenges we met with as much strength and grace as we could muster, but they were challenges nonetheless.
Along with these challenges came compromises, concessions that had to be made to allow him to grow and develop. He had a tracheostomy, bowel resection and open-heart surgery before 4 months of age, and all the while, we battled infections and illnesses, treating them the best we could, throwing high doses of very powerful antibiotics his way and stressing his system in ways that a baby shouldn’t have to be stressed.
We had to make another big compromise too. We had always planned to get Jackson vaccinated. My husband and I have done the research and understand the studies. We know the risks and we know the benefits and we know that preventing diseases that can be prevented isn’t even a question for us, especially after seeing the aftermath of the ones we can’t prevent. The issue, though, is that vaccines aren’t always top on the list in a hospital setting. When it comes down to the question of “life-saving surgery” or “hepatitis B shot,” it can be easy to understand how one is chosen over the other. Plus, his immune system, already compromised from being in the hospital and having his little body opened up so many times, just isn’t quite ready to take on the vaccines just yet.
Sure, we’ll get there. We’ve talked to his doctors and have a plan to catch him up, but it won’t happen overnight. So, in the mean time, he’ll be susceptible to those preventable diseases we talked about before.