I can’t believe my luck! I contracted chicken pox.. When I am 20 weeks pregnant! It’s one of those things that you usually go, “Aiyah, it will never happen to me one lah.. Where got so suay (unlucky)?” Yes, I’m so suay.
For 2 days, I was having cough and sore throat, which I dismissed as common flu. But when it worsened and I started spotting blisters on my face and feet, I started to suspect I had chicken pox. I was in denial for a while, because nobody I know of has chicken pox and I have no idea how I could have contracted it (I still don’t). I did what everyone these days would do.. I googled ‘chickenpox symptoms in adults’. Seriously, when it comes to anything medical related, the Internet is NOT your friend. It’s like how as parents, we would go and google about every medication that our baby is prescribed and scare ourselves silly by reading all the possible side effects? (C’mon, I’m sure you do that.) In this case, on top of gruesome pictures and horror statistics of people dying and getting hospitalised when they contract chicken pox at adulthood, every page I visited started off by saying:
If you are an adult and have not contracted chicken pox before, get vaccinated.. ESPECIALLY if you are planning to get pregnant.
Great.. NOW you tell me. Why didn’t anyone warn me BEFORE I got pregnant? And it turns out, once you are pregnant, you can’t get vaccinated anymore. As I went on reading, there will definitely be a line that says:
Seek medical help IMMEDIATELY if you are pregnant.
Okay.. So I did what any pregnant women in my situation would do next.. Instead of seeing a doctor, I googled ‘chickenpox when pregnant’. And I repeat: The Internet is NOT your friend. The list of possible complications and effects that the virus could have on the baby really freaked me out.
I quickly went to see the nearest doctor. The moment she looked at me, she confirmed it: I had chicken pox.
Now.. All mummies out there know how it sucks to get sick when you’re pregnant (or breastfeeding for that matter). There is a whole list of medications you cannot take. In fact, there is only a short list of medications that the doctors are allowed to prescribe to you (which IMO are kids medicine that do not work for adults). So when the doctor confirmed I had chickenpox, she couldn’t give me anything to bring down the virus. All I could do was apply calamine for the itch, take panadol for the fever and wait for the virus to run its full course.
However, the doctor tried to comfort me when she saw that I wanted to cry. She said at 20 weeks, it is the least risky time to get chicken pox (“But that’s not what the Internet said!” I wanted to wail).. Apparently if you catch it at the start of the pregnancy when the baby is developing, or at the end just before you deliver, the risks are much higher. So I guess I’m not THAT suay after all?
I tried calling my gynae to verify (I have decided to abandon the Internet by then) but kept getting the answering machine. I contemplated calling the emergency number, but figured chicken pox is not an emergency. After all, I have already gotten the virus, what’s there that can be done? Turning up at the gynae’s clinic is even more ridiculous as I would just pass the virus to other pregnant women.. So I decided to just wait till my next appointment and see what my gynae says.
The first few days of the chickenpox ordeal were TORTUROUS. I don’t know who says that chicken pox itches. Mine didn’t itch.. It was simply PAINFUL. My GOSH! My whole face felt hot and swollen and I worried that I would be disfigured for life. The spots on the scalp were so hard and painful that it hurt to even lie down on a pillow, causing me a few sleepless nights. The spots in the mouth made it painful to eat.
For those few days, I had two best friends: Panadol and YouTube. I was in bed all day popping panadol (which relieved the pain somewhat and made the fever go away for a few hours) and watching Ellen Degeneres on YouTube (she’s so funny! I laughed so hard and forgot my misery for a while.)
Oh, if you are wondering where MF was all these while, he spent a few days in another room with my hubby. Thankfully the chickenpox stretched over the weekend and hubby managed to get 2 days off his reservist to stay at home to look after MF.
And so.. By day 6, I was feeling much better and hubby had to go back for his reservist. You know, with the National Conversation going on and all the talk about wanting to boost birth rate, I think I’m going to suggest that they excuse all males with young children from reservist. So here I am, back to taking care of MF all by myself. Since we were quarantined at home, I found myself a new best friend: Home delivery. I hope I didn’t freak out too many delivery men with my chicken pox-infested face.
Well.. It’s now day 8 and I am perky enough to sit at my computer and blog about my chicken pox ordeal. I still have NO idea whether or not it will affect my baby (I will tell you 20 weeks later) and whether or not I have passed the virus to MF (we will find out in a week or two.. MF has been vaccinated, but I heard from my not-so-good friend, the Internet, that kids can still get chicken pox even though they are vaccinated). I honestly don’t care whether or not I’m disfigured, I just hope my kids are well and healthy. Ah well, mothers… You always think of your kids before you think of yourself.
To end off, I will never underestimate the importance of vaccinations again. Before this, I would always complain every time I had to bring MF for jabs and complain even more when he developed fever after the jab. But really.. a day or two of fever is nothing compared to the viruses they protect the kids from. The past few days, I was so glad that I had brought MF for chicken pox vaccination. After this, I am going to get myself vaccinated from whatever rubbish there is out there.. Such as shingles (which I read is very common among adults who contract chickenpox and causes a pain worse than childbirth) and Hep B (which my gynae highlighted that I wasn’t immune to during my pregnancy blood test). No more deluding myself that “it won’t happen to me”.