A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Hope
Sep 10, 2010

Shot of Prevention would like to thank Felicia Dube for contributing this article.  We admire her courage in sharing her personal story of loss and pain.  We appreciate her determination to save others from the same fate.  And we honor precious baby Carter by emphasizing the importance of lifelong vaccination against pertussis to help save the lives of other children. 

By Felicia Dube,
There are days I want to hide my head and cry.  Then there are the days I want to scream to the Heavens asking why. Why me?  But most days, I just want to hold my precious red headed baby and kiss his face and smell his head. 
You see those days are long gone.  I am one of “those” mothers;  the mothers that wear the “angel baby” hat.  I lost my precious Carter to pertussis on January 28th, 2010.  He was only 7 weeks old. 
Carter was taken from us way too soon due to pertussis, a vaccine preventable disease that is currently on the rise in the US.  Although infants are vaccinated when they are young with Dtap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis), what many people don’t know is that adults need a booster vaccination called Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis).  Parents may not realize that many adults are carrying the disease and may be infecting their own children.  Experts believe that there may be up to one million cases of pertussis in the U.S. every year!  If all adults and adolescents received their Tdap booster to help prevent pertussis, we could protect infants who have yet to receive the vaccines’ protection.
There is a great debate to vaccinate or not vaccinate your children, and realistically everyone has the right to choose.  It is a right given to us because we live in the United States.  But in my opinion, a decision that affects the lives of others shouldn’t be made on an individual basis.  If a parent makes the choice not to vaccinate their children, and then puts them in daycare with other children, they are risking the lives of those children as well.  For instance, many daycares include infants who have yet to receive all their shots.  Also, many mothers tote their infants along to daycare when dropping off older children, which then puts the infants at risk. This isn’t fair. I know in school systems and daycares it is required that children have their shots, but is anyone really checking that? I would bet not. 
It can be debated all day that shots cause autism or shots have side effects, but at the end of the day your child is still alive.  I would take Carter home with autism or anything as long as I was taking him home. Instead, I have an empty nursery full of toys, a swing he loved, a crib he never even slept in, and clothes he never got the chance to wear.  The truth is, I don’t think Carter’s pertussis came from a child, which is the sad part.  I think Carter was probably infected by an adult; an adult that thought they just had a cold and didn’t know they were spreading pertussis.  As his mother, I didn’t do enough to prevent who held him or who gave him a kiss on the head. I didn’t know about the dangers of pertussis and now I want to tell every new mother in the world to protect their babies! 
Now when I want to kiss Carter’s head, I have to kiss a picture.  If I want to remember what Carter smelled like, I have to smell some of his clothes I never washed.  On Sundays we go as a family and visit Carter.   We take him balloons and tell him how much we miss him.   I won’t ever hear Carter’s first words or witness his first steps.  Carter won’t ever experience his first day of school or a high school prom. 
A simple adult booster may have prevented this.  A simple shot in the arm may have allowed us to watch our beautiful baby boy grow up. 
I urge you to get educated.  Ask questions.  Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, have family members that are pregnant, or if you are even thinking of having a baby.  Don’t become a victim of something that you may have been able to prevent.  Although I believe that God had a plan for Carter before he allowed us to have him on earth for 7 short weeks, it still doesn’t make the days any easier. 
You can find more information at Sounds of Pertussis, Every Child By Two and Vaccinate Your Baby.

Photography compliments of Amy Sapp, Frankly Daisy Photography.  

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