May 9, 2012
The entire month of April we were quarantined to our home with the chicken pox. Calamine lotion every couple hours and oatmeal baths twice a day had become part of our routine.
On April 1st, I noticed some small red marks (some were fluid filled) on Asher's trunk and face as he was getting ready for church. And then I remembered that two weeks earlier our niece, Elaina, had broken out in chicken pox within 24 hours after we'd seen her. I told Charlie, "I think he has chicken pox!" He thought it was an April Fool's joke.
The joke got old after it plagued all four kids for the entire month. (And L even ended up getting it a SECOND time which is VERY rare and almost never happens. Her first round was very mild, though.) Asher was first. His lasted about 4-5 days from the first sighting until they were scabbed over. Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths help them dry out quicker, I learned. And, though they get itchy at this point, if you stay on top of them, you can really quicken the process.
McKlayne broke out exactly two weeks later, as Asher's were just fading. She probably had them the worst out of everyone, yet is the only one who doesn't have any scars from it. (For the most part, McKlayne really enjoyed all the attention of having the pox. Truly. She wore her pink and white polka-dot Minnie costume with the white gloves for a full five days and colored in her new giant coloring book most of the time "to keep her hands busy so she wouldn't scratch.")
And five days later, as the worst of McKlayne's pox had come to an end, the babies both broke out with their first signs of the pox. Is anyone really surprised? I mean, why wouldn't they start the same day? They share everything. I sewed socks to a couple pairs of the babies' long-sleeve jammies to keep them from scratching while they were sleeping. This really seemed to help.
I was hesitant to even post about this because I know this can be a very controversial topic. And, depending on the which side you fall on...whether to vaccinate for chicken pox or not...both have compelling persuasions. I'd mentioned on facebook, in jest, about having a "pox party" for my other non-vaccinating friends who wanted to expose their children, and it quickly spiraled out of control. I received some ugly comments about it being "child abuse to intentionally expose children to a disease" and even threats about CPS becoming involved. Yikes. The last I'd heard, chicken pox was a virus. Choosing not to vaccinate for chicken pox was a decision that Charlie and I had made in faith, with much prayer and research. (And, as a foster parent, I might be a little more sensitive than the average person about what constitutes child abuse. I want to be gracious, but please, please consider the weight of such words. Whew. I had to tame the Momma Bear rising up in me with all those comments.) Boy, times have changed since we were kids, huh?
I have gotten numerous email about this over the last month, so I'll just answer why we believe it was best, for our generally very healthy kids, to have not received the chicken pox vaccine:
1. The vaccine has the potential to "wear off" in some cases. Mostly, we reached our decision because we were just not comfortable with the "newness"of the vaccine, which came out in 1995. Because of that, the long-tern effects are still unknown. There is potential that the vaccine may not have lifetime immunity, meaning it may "wear off" after a certain number of years. In some cases it has been reported to wear off as early as 6 years after the vaccine. So, wouldn't it be better to let our kids get it the old fashion way when they're young and can have true immunity? We think so.
2. The severity and potential complications of the chicken pox increase with age...including, sterility in men and often times requiring hospitalization as an adult. This was truly one of the main factors that made me leery of vaccinating our sons, especially. We have a friend who had a pretty severe case of the chicken pox when he was 19 years old. Ten years later, after years of his wife unsuccessfully becoming pregnant, he found out he was sterile. While his doctor said he can't be completely certain it's because of the pox, after looking at family history and sibling fertility, they've concluded it's a good chance it is because he had chicken pox as an adult.
3. There's still a chance that you can get shingles, even with the vaccine! One of the main arguments for receiving the varicella vaccine is to prevent chicken pox and shingles, but that's not always the case. We also have a friend who vaccinated her little girl with the chicken pox vaccine and less than a year later, she broke out in shingles at the age of two!! It's nice to know that after a month of enduring chicken pox-ridden children, Char and I were given a month's worth of boosters to help prevent shingles for us, one day.