Hello MOMmunization readers! My name is Courtney, and I am delighted to be the new blogger for The Immunization Partnership. What a wonderful organization and a great cause. I look forward to learning more about you as readers, and embarking on this journey together. A little background on myself: I am a first time mom to 8-month-old Stella, and my husband and I reside in Pearland, TX. Recently, immunizations have become an extremely important part of my life.
My journey to parenthood started out like any other – exciting news, fun ultrasounds, and a kicking, wiggly, growing girl. However, at 26 weeks, my water broke unexpectedly, and my life was thrown for a major loop. Stella’s due date was September 30th, but she arrived in the early morning hours of June 28th – 13 weeks premature, and weighing less than 2 pounds. My family was thrust into a world of beeping monitors, rushing nurses, and fragile lives – the Neonatal ICU.
Immediately following delivery, my husband and I were given Tdap vaccines. Honestly, vaccinations were the last thing on my mind that day, but as I prepared to “scrub in” upon entering the NICU for the first time, I noticed a large sign outlining the dangers of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” to these delicate babies. No one was allowed into the unit without a vaccine. And as soon as flu vaccines became available in August, everyone in the NICU got one. No exceptions.
Stella stayed in the hospital for three months, and finally, on October 3rd, we got to take our baby home. Upon discharge, we were told that she should remain in quarantine at home throughout cold and flu season. No outings to public places, and no visitors allowed without their Tdap and flu vaccines. Because of her weak immune system, contracting even a mild cold could send Stella straight back to the hospital. Pertussis or flu could be fatal. So, to say that immunizations became important to me is an understatement.
Today, I am happy to report that Stella is a perfectly healthy, happy baby! Our experience has made me incredibly thankful for advances in modern medicine. It has also prompted me to think about a time when vaccinations were not readily available to families of newborns. How many tiny lives were lost due to (now preventable) diseases?
We are so lucky to live in a world where a quick prick in the arm can literally save a life. If you are planning to be around a baby this year, schedule a time to get immunized against pertussis and flu. I promise the new parents will thank you!