What’s A Good Mother To Do?

This blog was originally posted on BlogHer.

I’ve been good mother. I done what I can to keep my children safe. They eat mostly organic fruits and vegetables, and tuna only occasionally. They bike with their helmets and usually with me. School maybe only eight blocks away but I would never let them go alone. They wear

The Good Mother's Reward

shin guards and sunblock. They know our emergency earthquake plan and have memorized their out-of-state relatives’ phone numbers. They don’t have mercury fillings and I try to keep the x-rays down to a minimum. When it was time to vaccinate, I did, but on a much slower schedule to reduce lingering risk.  When they are sick, which is rare because I keep them healthy with regular doses of vitamin C, vitamin D, and a variety of my favorite chinese herbs, I tend to them with the focus of mother lion protecting her cubs. I try not to hover but they tell me they can hear my helicopter even in the dead of night when I insist on leaving their doors open just in case they need me.

But let me tell you, this swine flu thing has me stumped. The news is replete with stories of healthy people who are dying, pregnant mothers who have suffered months in comas, children who suffer needlessly. Just vaccinate we are told and all will be well. Then of course the internet is filled with horror stories of the risks of vaccination. “The manufacturer has not done enough testing.” “The last swine flu vaccination actually killed people.” “It’s a conspiracy!” one email declared. “The government is in cahoots with the pharmaceutical companies in an effort to boost sales.” And by the way, you can’t call it swine flu anymore, its H1N1(the new designation advocated on behalf of the pork industry whose lobbyists worried the negative association would affect their sales: score another one for the conspiracy theorists).

The media has me in a tizzy. Do I vaccinate my children even though the serum has not been fully tested? Do I risk the chance that they will get this horrible disease? And then, I learn there isn’t even enough vaccination to go around. A recent article in the New York Times declared that good mothers vaccinate but limited supplies are rendering we good mothers failures because we can’t properly care for our little angels.

You can imagine my deep anxiety when not one but two of my children recently came home complaining of aches and pains. First, my son showed up one afternoon having skipped his cross country practice declaring he wasn’t “feeling too hot.” He had a fever of 103. I sent him to his room where he spent the next four days battling a high fever, a sore throat, a headache, and a mild cough. He returned to school on the fifth day, fever free but still coughing and weak. His illness reminded me of the flu the entire family had three years before. Horrible, but not life threatening.

A week later, my daughter complained of a sore throat and earache. She was also nauseous and suffered mild diarrhea. She too stayed home for four days. She never had a fever but was uncomfortable. In both cases, the doctor diagnosed H1N1. She told us that it was a waste of time to get a blood test. In 100% of the cases her office had sent to the CDC for testing in the past month, no matter the symptoms, the patients had Swine Flu. “If you are sick right now, you have it,” was our doctor’s conclusion.

Both my son and daughter survived the H1N1. They are weak and tired but they’ll live.   The good news is my youngest son has not gotten sick – yet. Do I vaccinate him now? Do I wait to see if he will get it? What if something really bad happens? What if he is the one in a thousand? Tell me, what’s a good mother to do?


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