Down South Sass Header

Down South Sass Header

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Zika Virus: A Plague on the Only Child

My daughter has been asking for a "Baby Brother" since she could talk. She loves to pretend to change her baby doll's (or Daddy's) diaper and give them a night-night bottle. She lays them down, covers them with her blanket and (forcefully) pats their back-- commanding "Go Sleep! Go Sleep!"
She loves hanging out in the baby room at Daycare-- although I can only imagine how much of that joy comes from just generally terrorizing smaller human beings.

I get asked weekly-- sometimes daily-- "When are you and your husband going to have another one?"
In some cases, I think its just polite small talk. In other cases, people are genuinely delighted with my daughter's pleasant demeanor and they genuinely want to know when another adorable human just like her might be created. And in other cases, my friends and family just want me to keep popping out small adorable snuggle-monsters so they can reap all the benefits from my 9-months of misery.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm not offended when people ask (although that doesn't make it any of their business. Unless they plan to pitch-in with raising and paying for the next one-- in that case, I'm all ears! Ask away!)
But I was on vacation recently when I realized that my answer had taken a dramatic turn.

Up until very recently, our "Baby #2" plans had been centered around life: my military husband leaves often for training so we try to take those dates into consideration (at least the few we're aware of ahead of time), my work schedule, our upcoming "event" schedule (weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, vacations, anniversaries, funerals, etc.)
Basically, over the last 2-years we've discovered something ALWAYS comes up -- allowing those "baby making plans" to get pushed back.
Originally, we wanted to wait a year before I got pregnant again. Then, my husband's job took him away to Missouri for 6 weeks --- so we waited. Then a few of my close friends got engaged and that brings Bridesmaid dresses and Bachelorette parties-- so, once again, we found ourselves pushing our own plan back. Now we were looking at after our daughter turned 2 in early June 2016.
And here we are in early June 2016-- but once again, plans have changed.
But no one new is getting married. My husband isn't deploying. And no, the terrible 2s (and HORRIBLE 3s) haven't scared us away from pro-creating again. 
This time, its something way bigger and out of our control.

Just a week ago my mom asked, "You're not trying to get pregnant right now, are you?"
Normally, I would just chalk that up to my mom being my mom. She's known for speaking her mind. But in this case-- she asked out of concern. She, like many, have just started tuning in to the increased concern over the spread of the Zika virus around the world-- specifically the impact on pregnant women and unborn babies.

6 months ago I was starting to look into a vacation to Mexico with some friends for some summer fun in the sun. After only a week of "searching" I had to ditch the vacation plans altogether because of a little-known virus that had just started causing a buzz south of the border -- and there was already a "travel warning" issued for Pregnant woman, Women trying to get pregnant or Women of child-bearing age.
That's vague, I thought. Child-bearing age is now anywhere from 16 to 40 (and in Janet Jackson's case... 50!)-- so are World Health leaders literally telling ALL WOMEN ages 16 to 40 NOT to travel to these "hot spots"?
The answer: Yes. 
The reason: A scary virus that while generally harmless to adults can be deadly if passed on to unborn babies-- causing serious and potentially deadly birth defects.
And that's reason enough for me.

So, my husband and I talked. And I cried. Because once again my dream of having more kids has been put on the back burner-- and this time, it feels more indefinite.. more uncertain. This time, I don't have a date in mind for when I can start planning to add to our family. This time it is sad because its finally the right time for us and our family... but the wrong circumstances.

In just the past week, I've found myself needing to explain our decision to wait to friends and family.
Some are very understanding. Some have echoed our concerns. While others make me feel like I'm being paranoid or acting TOO cautiously.
But let me tell you something-- if there is anything scarier than your first pregnancy, its the 2nd.
You know what to expect, yes-- but you now know *everything* you can expect--- every "worst case scenario", every terrifying birthing experience and every possible life-hiccup that can impact you and your child's life forever. In a sea of "unknowns"-- and in a world of crazy life ups-and-downs -- if you can manage to keep some control over the circumstances surrounding your baby's health and well-being-- you should.
And in this case, I chose to take control over this situation and say: I will not be having any more children until the risk of the Zika virus is better understood, until the spread of the virus is no longer a growing threat to the entire world's population, and/or until a vaccine is created for mothers and fetuses so the threat of birth defects in infected babies is diminished dramatically.

I will worry constantly for the first 9-months of my next child's life.
Am I eating the right things? Drinking enough water? Taking the right vitamins? Driving safely?
But I cannot, in good conscience, get pregnant with this terrifying virus spreading throughout the world-- and the saddest realization is that this epidemic could make my daughter an only child.

With Love, always.