I’ve been considering sharing information about Greta’s diagnosis of Pertussis. I see so many people posting information on Facebook and Instagram about RSV, and most often they’re sharing to help other parents recognize symptoms or to remind people to stay home when they’re sick. Surprisingly, I’ve seen very little information about Pertussis other than the big bad woof commercials that urge the public to receive the vaccination booster. Here’s my Public Service Announcement.
At the beginning of August our Greta began coughing. Not just a barking cough, but almost like something was stuck in her throat. Baker and I would look at each other in worry during each coughing spell.
Those coughing spells became more and more frequent. I started to wonder if she may have silent reflux.
That weekend we went to a wedding and took Greta along since she was still sleeping all of the time. During the reception she had a coughing spell. The room full of rowdy wedding guests became absolutely silent. Everyone stopped to stare in worry. I knew then that something was very much wrong.
Baker and I decided to call the pediatrician’s office first thing Monday morning. We expressed our concerns and they told us to come in immediately. I had videoed Greta’s coughing to show the doctor, just in case she didn’t cough while we were there. Thankfully, Greta’s lungs sounded clear and our doctor tested her for RSV and Pertussis. We were sent home with precautionary antibiotics to treat for Pertussis, but thought that the test would most likely be negative since the doctor didn’t seem too worried.
I decided to go home to my parent’s house after Greta’s appointment on Monday. I wasn’t sleeping at night because I was so worried and Greta was sleeping on my chest, not to mention I had two other children to care for. We watched and worried as Greta’s coughing seemed to get worse.
I think it’s worth noting that it takes a lot for me to go to the doctor or hospital (I showed up at the hospital nearly ready to push (8 cm) with my last baby). I’m not one to take my kiddos in for every sickness, as I feel some things need to run their course. But this was scary and we called the pediatrician’s office numerous times after her tests in worry. They’d advise us to take her to the hospital if we felt the coughing was worse, but our nerves would calm as her coughing spell would end, and we’d talk ourselves out of going to the nearest ER.
Late Friday night our pediatrician called. Greta’s culture was positive for Pertussis. Our pediatrician urged us to take her to a hospital for observation. We packed our things and headed for home to take her to a local hospital. Our pediatrician warned us that she may need to be ventilated and possibly flown to a hospital better equipped to care for infants.
We’re so glad to say that after observation, blood work, and x-ray, we were able to take our Greta home. We had treated the best way possible and early with the proper antibiotic. Our family also was treated with the proper antibiotic as a precautionary measure.
Greta could have caught Whooping Cough anywhere, but during her bout with it there was an increase in cases in Northern Kentucky, which we had visited when Greta was just a mere two or three weeks old. The infectious droplets incubate for 7-10 days, so the timing fits and our trip home could have been the source of her illness. After speaking with someone from the local CDC I learned that vaccinated children can still be infected and pass along the illness, and most often mothers pass the illness along to their children. Thankfully I, nor my other children or husband, had any symptoms prior to or after Greta’s diagnosis.
I also learned that pregnant woman should receive the TDAP booster during each pregnancy. My daughters are 22 months apart, and during my last pregnancy I was not given or offered the TDAP booster.
Our story could have ended so differently, as whooping cough can be deadly in infants, especially under 3 months. We dealt with some weight gain issues, as she simply was too tired from all the coughing to eat. Thankfully she has met her developmental milestones, and slowly gained weight.
Here are a few videos of Greta coughing. While they are scary and awful to listen to, I want to share so that other parents can hear and see what Pertussis sounds like in a newborn. Maybe we can help other parents recognize the symptoms.