- How a Bout of Rotavirus Made Me Appreciate Vaccines
When my first baby was about 11 months of age, she got rotavirus. There was not a vaccine on the schedule in 2003. She went to play at a city recreation center for toddlers and ended up being part of a large outbreak of this horrible virus, diagnosed by her doctor. She was incredibly sick for 10 days. She reverted to exclusive breastfeeding and refused everything else, including popsicles or Pedialyte. She would only breastfeed, which was comforting for her as well as life saving. She had a very bad case of rotavirus, with diarrhea and vomiting at least 10 times each a day for 10 days. It was pure hell for me as I barely slept for ten days. And I worried non–stop that she would die from dehydration and organ failure.
Two weeks later, she got it again. Even though I keep a clean house, in my attempt to keep a healthy house I did not realize I had not actually killed the rotavirus. It can live for ten days on hard surfaces and for weeks on wet surfaces. The healthy, ‘green’ cleaners that smell good do not kill it. Vinegar does not kill it. Bleach kills it but I was not using bleach as I thought it was toxic. And, I had not washed the stuffed animals.
When she got it again, it was just as bad as the first time. This time, I also took her to a local naturopath, thinking she might have some ideas about how to help my poor baby. She recommended two things: probiotics and bleach. Probiotic powder [End Page 161] on my nipples during nursing eased the tummy troubles. Bleach solution cleaned and killed the virus. I washed and cleaned literally every thing in my house, from Duplos to stuffed animals to the window blinds. Every thing got a wash down with a mild bleach solution, the kind daycare centers use to clean surfaces. Thankfully, I have never experienced another tummy bug with any of my kids ever again. Twelve years later, I still consider this one of the worst experiences of my life. I commiserate with other rotavirus moms since they are the only ones who truly understand the experience.
This experience made me realize how fragile our babies can be. In olden days, the infant mortality rate was very high not only because of sanitation and nutrition issues, but because babies are fragile and can die easily from diseases. Even after we had clean water and good food in the USA, babies still died or suffered greatly from these diseases. I am very thankful for modern medicine.
In 2004, I discovered the online world of parenting groups. These groups can help you connect with other people during the day. But, they also bring up a lot of issues for you to stress about which may not be issues with busier moms. Not that busy moms are negligent but stay at home moms have more time to worry about little things that may or may not be important. I have found that only other mothers who have been through having a child with rotavirus understand how awful this experience can be. With chatting online came questions about vaccines. I was a teacher before becoming a mom yet I had never heard of anyone not vaccinating. I was completely unaware, before children, of the extent to the antivax movement.
I studied social networking in college years ago, long before online social networking was even a dream. The principles of connecting people together via social groups are very interesting and I really appreciate how amazing it can be to connect with like–minded people from all over the world. When you are parenting alone, because your partner is working and your friends are working and your mom is far away, then online chatting is a real blessing. I have learned a lot from all the chat forums I joined over the years: Mothering, Babycenter, Pregnancy, Diaperswappers, and many others. I learned about and practiced attachment parenting, baby wearing, cloth diapering, co–sleeping, home birth, and making health choices in the...