Stars and Stripes and … Spots?!

Back when I was a kid, there was no such thing as the chicken pox vaccine. My mom and her besties had a “pox party” once the first of our group was infected and in no time at all, everyone had been given his/her rite of childhood passage: the chicken pox.

Everyone except me, that is.

While my siblings and friends were all covered head to toe in red spots, I literally had one pock (is that a word?). ONE. My pediatrician told my mom as far as he could tell, that was how mild my case was … but he couldn’t be 100% certain I was completely immune.

I’ve always been suspicious about that lone pock  — especially as I went into both pregnancies — but my OB (with Maya) had said the chances of contracting it were so slim that I didn’t bother to get the blood test to find out if I was, indeed, immune or not. At the time, it seemed like a hassle … one more lab test to endure (I.HATE.BLOOD).

Well, as of this weekend, I am cursing myself for not having gotten the test.

Friday evening, Maya broke out in these suspicious red bumps right after we’d gone out for frozen yogurt. Initially I thought it was from something she ate … but then I went through her meals and there was nothing out of the ordinary. Then I thought maybe they were bug bites, as we’d been outside on the 4th of July for hours on end. ..  but there were far too many. In the car on the way home, she started whining that she felt really itchy, so I ran to Walgreen’s and the pharmacist recommended some oral children’s Benadryl to soothe the itchiness/redness — till not suspecting anything serious.

But then at home, the spots became more prominent. Mother’s intuition kicked in. Maya had been vaccinated, but I just had a nagging feeling it was chicken pox anyway. So I Googled what chicken pox look like and sure enough, her spots looked identical. I knew she needed to get seen by a doctor to confirm my suspicion but because it was after hours, our pediatrician was closed. Fortunately, I spoke to the doctor on call (who happens to be her primary ped.) and he said it did sound like chicken pox; to keep her isolated at home and bring her in first thing in the morning so he could take a look. He said even with the vaccination, it’s only 85% effective against an outbreak. Awesome.

When Luis called to make her appointment this morning, they told him to have us come through the back door–talk about serious business! Once the doctor came in, it didn’t take him long at all to determine that her spots looked like chicken pox but because they haven’t blistered over yet, he couldn’t say with 100% certainty (the outbreak began last night) but for us to keep an eye on it and treat it as chicken pox because he would be shocked if it was anything else.

Which means we are now quarantined at home with her for the next 5-7 days most likely (trading off working from home) … or until all the blisters have popped and no more spots have appeared.

Luis had it as a kid, but my case was so mild it might have been nonexistent. So as soon as we got home, I called my OB in a panic because I knew from the mighty Google last night that pregnancy + chicken pox (for someone who hasn’t had it) can be risky and we aren’t sure if I am immune or not. Only a blood test could confirm, so I ran to the hospital to get labs done right away. Between 13-20 weeks is the riskiest time to contract it (or at the tail end of pregnancy) but still … I won’t have an answer til Monday.

The incubation period for chicken pox is 1-4 weeks … so we have no clue when or where she contracted it. Plus, it’s airborne … so really it could have been anytime/anywhere. I wondered if maybe she got it at school, but daycare is meticulous about giving parents updates about big outbreaks … although there’s a good chance she was one of the earliest cases … who knows.

Bottom line: Maya is itchy and out of school for likely the next week, and I won’t know til Monday if I have immunity. In the meantime, our little monkey is quarantined at home and getting lots of oatmeal baths and snuggles (when she’ll accept them).

Since I’m an eternal optimist, I did find a bright side …  Luis’s birthday is Friday, so hopefully she will be on the mend in time for the weekend, especially since we had to cancel all our plans this weekend!

How about you? How old were you when you got the chicken pox? Did your kids get it?


One thought on “Stars and Stripes and … Spots?!

  1. I was little little.. probably 6 or 7.. my little sister brought it home from daycare and all 3 of us got it. What a nightmare! So when you mention oatmeal baths I know exactly what you mean!

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