The author, Karina Giglio, her bump, her husband Lou, and her kids Anthony and Mia. (Photo: Karina Giglio)
Today should have been the first day of my babymoon in balmy Cabo San Lucas, where my swollen feet planned to burrow in warm, white sand for five blissful days. It was perfect timing after digging out of three feet of snow where I live in Virginia.
It was going to be the first time my husband and I were leaving our two kids for a few days. And the last time we’d be leaving for another few years with the baby coming.
Yet here I sit, gazing out at snow plows as I overhear my son threaten my daughter that he’ll chop off Rapunzel’s hair in retaliation for a busted lego truck.
Thank you, tiny Aedes mosquito.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (Photo: AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
About a month ago, I first read about the Zika virus and the dramatic spike in birth defects it had caused in Brazil. The virus was linked with miscarriage and a dangerous birth defect called microcephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head and brain leading to developmental delays. So concerning was the impact on fetuses that the Brazilian government urged women to postpone conception until they could figure out how to get a handle on it. Within weeks, the CDC urged pregnant women to “consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmissions were ongoing.”
One of the 24 countries and territories included in the travel advisory was Mexico. Now, I’m neurotic by nature. I had already spent many nights wide awake at 3 a.m., obsessing about all of the things that could happen while we were gone, not the least of which was a freak earthquake that would cause my son’s new bunk bed to collapse, trapping him below — all while we were laughing and hand-holding over romantic late-night dinners on the beach instead of being there to save him. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know I’m not kidding; the hormones alone can pretty much render you a permanent resident of crazy town.
But, I reasoned with myself, I was in my third trimester — 32 weeks by the time we would have jetted off, to be exact. The baby was almost 5 pounds, he was almost fully developed. I would douse myself with bug spray (organic, of course). Could the virus really damage him?
The author, Karina Giglio, and her husband, who is currently in Mexico without her. (Photo: Karina Giglio)
After all, I had finally made peace with maternity swimwear and images of myself gallivanting on the beach with an extra 45 pounds, completely sober. It had been so long since my husband and I had more than date nights that lasted a few hours. It had been much, much longer since we had shared a bed without a child in it, or had awoken to each other instead of an accidental kick to the kidneys from a deceptively strong 6-year-old. This would have been our first babymoon because, let’s be honest — our entire life was a babymoon before our first. And I barely got the second off the breast in time to get pregnant with the third.
No Cabo for you! (Thinkstock)
Even this vacation — a reward trip my husband had earned at work — was originally planned to include the kids, until he found out it wasn’t exactly appropriate to bring them. He had to go with or without me, and it was too late to find some other sunny getaway because my travel cutoff was the day following our return.
I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled and was certain he would downplay the looming crisis for someone in my advanced state of pregnancy. But, given that I’m wearing Uggs at this very moment, that’s not how the story ends. “This is a very serious virus in any trimester,” Dr. Basil Maghak MD, FACOG, warned us. “You have numerous agencies from the CDC to WHO [World Health Organization] to ACOG [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] warning against travel because the birth defects are numerous, including mental retardation. El Salvador is telling women to avoid conceiving until 2018! It’s a big risk.”
“I guess you won’t be drinking piña coladas with no alcohol,” our son piped up, cheerfully.
A close friend always tells me, don’t ask the question if you don’t really want to know the answer. But of course, when it comes to the health of your baby, suspension of disbelief is not a viable option. In the days leading up to my doctor’s advice, I read numerous postings on soon-to-be-mommy boards about not worrying too much about it as long as you take proper precautions to protect yourself and are late in the game. At any point in my life, I’d like to think I would heed the warning and give up something I want in the moment for something I really, really, really want forever. But at this particular point, there was no question: I’ve experienced miscarriages that were messy and painful emotionally, physically, and in every other way imaginable. And at almost 41, this baby is my reproductive swan song.
A couple of days after my appointment, WHO health officials announced that the Zika outbreak could pose a bigger threat to global health than the Ebola virus. So, this morning, I sent my husband off on his babymoon. Hopefully, he won’t have a hot date with the Aedes. As for me, I finagled a few spa days out of it once he returns (with many a tear, I might add). On the bright side, at least I won’t be sleeping alone while he’s gone.
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