Zika Virus :: When the Fear of Infection Affects Family Planning

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.

zika virusMosquitoes’ 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.

Has the fear of Zika affected your family planning decisions?

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Marie is the owner of Little Hometown, a company specializing in locally themed baby swaddles and apparel. Prior to opening her business, Marie was a professional event planner turned stay-at-home mom. She spent nearly a decade living in New York City, where she met her husband, Jeff (a New England native). Early in their relationship, Marie told Jeff that New Orleans is the only place where she would want to raise her children. As soon as she got pregnant, they started shopping for houses. They moved back in December of 2012, welcomed their son in 2013 and their daughter in 2015. Marie now spends her days entertaining her kids with silly songs, desperately attempting to stay organized, and balance her life as a work-at-home mom.

2 COMMENTS

  1. We have had a lot of luck this summer using the citronella candles from Lowes while outside in our backyard. I highly recommend you try them. We’ve only gotten very few mosquito bites!

  2. We are the same way! We were ready to try for baby #2 before summer but now have decided to wait until… not sure when… The zika virus is the reason why we are waiting to conceive because the New Orleans area has mosquitoes pretty much all year round and now that it has locally spread in Miami, we are afraid Louisiana is next. There is just not enough information out there about the zika virus and because of the possibility of it being locally transmitted in New Orleans, we’d rather wait than risk it. I struggle with this so much because being 31, I have been ready for another baby! And we just bought a house in Metairie so we are not moving. 🙁

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