Zika Virus :: When the Fear of Infection Affects Family Planning
I cried during the Opening Ceremony seeing athlete after athlete represent their countries with broad, proud smiles. I cheered when Katie Ledecky blew her competition out of the water. I was amazed by the women’s gymnastics teams’ strength and composure. I loved the Games, but amidst all of the emotions I was feeling watching the games was the feeling of worry. I kept thinking, “I hope mosquitoes aren’t biting anyone right now.”
My husband and I want to try for another baby sometime next year. Of all the things I worry about – my epidural not working again, affording a third child, disrupting our family dynamic – lately, the thing I think about most often is the Zika virus. If I were to get pregnant early next year, I would be almost 37 when the baby was born. I can’t wait years for a vaccine or to see how the Zika epidemic actually pans out.
Mosquitoes’ Love Affair…With Me
Although it hasn’t spread to New Orleans yet, since the Olympics happened in Brazil, and the fact that I am a mosquito magnet, Zika has been on my mind a lot. I currently have 22 mosquito bites on my arms and legs from the past few days of sitting outside while my son played. I wish I were like my husband. If we go outside to play with our kids, he goes inside without a single bite. I, on the other hand, look like I have Chicken Pox. My poor son takes after me. Mosquitoes just love us. I can spray my entire body with mosquito repellent, clothes and all, and still wind up with bites.
Rational Thinking Out the Window
Some experts believe that the Olympics having been held in Brazil will not greatly accelerate the global spread of the disease, but other experts think that it will. I know the chances of catching it are relatively slim (and also that the chances of giving birth to a child with chromosomal abnormalities increases with age anyway). The media has a tendency to sensationalize things for viewers and clicks so perhaps the situation isn’t as dire as it appears, but I just cannot rid my mind of the fear of contracting the Zika virus while pregnant.
If I am blessed with a third pregnancy, I picture myself becoming a shut in for fear of being bitten by a mosquito. I could also see myself fruitlessly trying to convince my husband to temporarily move to a cooler climate, farther from the Gulf Coast. In a way, I wish I were already pregnant so the baby would hopefully be born before Zika becomes widespread. It would also alleviate some of the guilt I would feel if I were infected since I did not make a conscious decision to get pregnant during the outbreak.
Do pregnant women really need another thing to worry about?
During pregnancy, women have so much to worry about. We worry about miscarriage. We worry about listeria contamination. We worry about how our babies are growing. Now we have to worry about just how much DEET is safe to use when pregnant? (I can guarantee you I would worry about that as I doused myself in it from head to toe daily.) We seriously did not need something else to worry about, especially something that can be so devastating. There is such a long list of things we can’t do when pregnant; never in a million years did I think the list would include going outside.