When I was pregnant, I stopped drinking alcohol, and I cut back on caffeine. I dutifully followed the guidelines on what foods were considered risky — soft cheeses, bagged salads. My husband took over changing the cats’ litter. I took my prenatal vitamins every day. I went to all my checkups and followed all my doctors’ instructions.
When my son was born, we took him home in a car seat, inspected by my nurse to make sure he was in it properly. We practiced safe-sleep guidelines — on his back, with no blankets, toys, or crib bumpers. We sterilized his bottles. We childproofed our home, plugging the outlets with plastic covers and installing baby-roof locks on cabinets and toilets. We did everything in our power to keep him healthy and safe, just as other parents do every single day around the world.
So why, then, is it dismissed as paranoia when parents take precautions to protect our young, still unvaccinated children from COVID, a virus we’ve only just begun to understand and is continually mutating? The effects on children are often mild and the risk of long-term complications and even death is low, yes, but the reasons why some children never even show symptoms and some die are still unknown. In all the discourse around the statistics, the implication is that there is a number of dead children these critics consider acceptable, and not a thought for those parents who already have faced such an unimaginable loss. Why should I be okay with the possibility of losing my child to an illness I can try my damndest to prevent? Especially considering that my family’s situation, where I work from home and my husband is earning his MBA mostly online, means it’s easy for us to keep our circle small and keep our son out of public places.
As parents, we babyproof our homes and follow our pediatricians’ guidelines with the understanding that much of what we’re doing is temporary — eventually, blankets and stuffed animals will make their way into our children’s beds, the car seat will be unnecessary, and the outlet covers and cabinet locks will be removed. They are not measures intended for or needed far beyond the early years. So, too, is the case with COVID-19 precautions. One day, case numbers will wane, maybe the virus will even weaken, and social distancing and mask wearing will be a relic of a strange, tumultuous time. Our young children will be able to get vaccinated. In the meantime, we should not be criticized or shamed for doing what parents do every day — try to keep our children safe.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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