Whooping Cough Woes

Yesterday, I found out that Hannah and Sabrina have Pertussis. They are doing well, and you really can’t even tell they are sick except for coughing episodes a few times a day. When I found out I tried to think of a way to let other parents know that their kids can get it if they’re immunized, and that the symptoms may not seem that bad. So I sent a message out to my google group.

My email to the group:

Last week my youngest girls had bad coughs so I  took them to the Dr because I knew whooping cough was going around our school.  She said it seemed to be just a virus, but did a test just in case. Today the  lab told me that they are both positive for pertussis. They were in the Sunbeam  and CTR 6 classes in primary yesterday. The older two (age 10 and 12) are not showing symptoms, but will also be on antibiotics this week. Perussis is  very contagious so I thought you might like to know.

My girls were vaccinated and so they have only  mild symptoms (no fever, just coughing spells where it is like they can’t  stop and have to catch their breath after it ends, mostly in the morning and  evening). If you don’t like the sound of your child’s cough you might want to  have them checked too. I hope it doesn’t get to your homes…


I was dumbfounded when I received a phone call a couple hours later from a mother who thought I should know how inconsiderate it was to send my kids to church the day before. She told me all about how vulnerable her kids are, and her words still echo in my head, “how could you do that?” Being that she doesn’t even know if her kids have been infected, I was speechless on the phone. She never asked how my girls were doing, or showed any concern for them. I kept it together on the phone, but after I hung up I burst into tears. Here I am, the mother of two children sick with a disease I thought they were protected against, and I am getting blamed for the potential infection of someone else’s family. If that were fair, I should be tracking down the parents of the child that breathed near mine and gave them pertussis.

I’m on my way to being over it, but I was just amazed and hurt.

Later that evening I got an email from someone who had obviously been talking with Mom #1. She used some of the same phrasing in her message that the first woman used on the phone earlier. This is how her message ended:

“…It just seems to me that the more common sense thing to do would have been to keep a child with a “bad cough” that had been diagnosed at least as viral and potentially as whooping cough at home, rather than exposing them to those who have no choice but to “hopefully” fight it off. It is unfortunate that your children are ill, but I am sure there are a number of us that would appreciate you putting others first and keeping the sick ones at home.”

I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t something I was taking lightly, and decided to send a follow up email to the group so they could see how it had unfolded. Here’s that email:

I’ve had some feedback from the email I sent earlier.  Most has been very kind and supportive, and I really appreciate your concern for my family. Some has been more critical of me bringing my kids to church, and I thought it might help if I gave more details regarding the process I went through with my daughters.

I first noticed that Hannah and Sabrina were having coughing episodes early last week. They didn’t have fevers or runny noses or any other symptoms (and, in fact, still have never developed any other symptoms) so I at first thought it was most likely the start of a cold, especially since it was the start of school and things like that seem to go around this time of year.

Last Tuesday we received a letter from Adobe Bluffs Elementary saying that they had a confirmed case of Pertussis.  Even at this point I debated taking the girls to the doctor since the coughs weren’t anything worse than they’d had before, and all my kids had been immunized.  I decided to take them in just to be sure, and got an appointment with the Pediatrician on Wednesday.

The Pediatrician said Pertussis was very unlikely since the girls were both up to date on their immunizations and she didn’t hear anything unusual in their lungs.  She said a test wasn’t necessary but agreed to do it, as she said, “just so you’ll know for sure.”  They said we would have the results of the test within 24 to 48 hours.

I asked her what I should do while I waited for the results. She said the children should continue to go to school and do what they normally would do. She said there was no reason to keep the kids separated from others. At this point, since the doctor found no other symptoms and the girls were active and healthy in every other respect, and they had been immunized, she said there was no reason to be concerned and a diagnosis of Pertussis seemed remote.

On Friday afternoon I hadn’t heard back from the doctor with the test results so I called her office.  I was told the results weren’t back yet and it would probably be Monday before we heard from the lab.  I asked if there was anything I needed to do over the weekend and was again told there wasn’t.

This morning I got the call from the doctor’s office that the test results came back positive. I was shocked. I’m still shocked. I’m still not sure how you get it when you’ve been immunized.  I went right away and pulled all of my children out of school and our whole family is now on a five day regimen of antibiotics. I talked with the district nurse and she said that the girls should stay home until their antibiotics are finished (five days). Since Hunter and Emma have no symptoms they are ok to return to school once they’re on antibiotics.

I sent out the email to the group in the hopes that other mothers would be able to use the information to get their children care if needed.  I can relate to the article that was sent out earlier today that said how Pertussis is underdiagnosed by many doctors. I actually don’t think our doctor necessarily made a mistake or did anything wrong since all signs pointed against it being Pertussis.

I certainly don’t think that I did everything right and there are things I’d go back and do differently now if I could. However, I feel like I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. I would never knowingly put anyone’s children at risk.  Of course I would have kept my family home from church if, at that point, I had thought Pertussis was a real possibility.  By Sunday even their coughs, their only symptom, had gotten to the point where they were barely there.  In fact, this morning when I picked up Sabrina from school, her teacher said she was quite surprised since she didn’t act sick at all.

Please, if you have any thought that your children might have Pertussis, even if they’ve been immunized, take them in to be tested as soon as you can. It can be serious and I’m grateful that my girls are on the mild end of the spectrum. I pray that they will stay that way until they’re better again. So there it is, the details of our story. I suppose I may be opening myself up to more criticism by sharing it, but I just hope you know that I’m doing the best I can.


Then this morning I got this email from Mom #2:


I need to know the name of your pediatrician and their phone number. If they are advising people with even a hint of suspicion they have a serious disease to “mingle with the population” then they should be immediately reported to the CDC.  Why would they run the Whooping Cough test unless your kids were symptomatic of that. Always assume that any test is a positive until confirmed otherwise. I believe both you and your doctor were beyond negligent in this situation (that is if the doctor really told you to go about your daily activities-which I find highly doubtful).

Regardless, your follow up email only served to gain you more sympathy- congrats to you on that. Good luck with your “sick kids, who aren’t really sick.” (This is in reference to another message a friend sent this morning: “Hope YOU are doing well — nothing worse than kids home from school that are not really sick!!  They drive you a little batty because they want to be out and doing all their regular activities.  Is there anything I can help you with, such as picking up kids from school or errands?  Please let me know.”)

The CDC says kids with a “confirmed positive of Pertussis” should not be brought back into the population until 5 days AFTER STARTING treatment. Try to keep that in mind before re-introducing them. Perhaps you could do some research rather than relying on your own flawed instinct.


I don’t plan to respond to it. Based on my past experiences, it’s obvious she is so worked up that anything I said wouldn’t help the situation anyway. Unless the girls get any worse, they will be finished with their medication and will be at church on Sunday.  In fact, Sabrina is giving a talk and very excited to share it. This all brings me back to one of my favorite quotes, “The way people treat me has more to do with them than me.” I’ll try to get that echoing in my head in place of the mean voices I have there now.

I have had a bunch of supportive emails this morning, and it has lifted my spirits to know that others understand.

I bet Mom #2 is really hating that.


  1. heather
    Sep 21, 2010

    I am dumbfounded that those women would behave in such a way. I am so sorry Amy, you deserved NONE of their venom. I would have done EXACTLY what you did, and I also would have listened to my Dr. had I been in your situation, and done the very same thing with my own children as you did. Shame on those women for going after you. Everything you did was in kindness, you were only trying to get your experience out there so that other families would know that they should be on the lookout for Pertussis, vaccinations or not. A pox on them (as Granny would say).

  2. Kyla
    Sep 21, 2010

    Stop it! Who is this lady? Is she an MD? a DO? an RN? House? Srsly. Maybe next time your kids are sick you should show up on her doorstep and have her diagnose them, since she seems to be the greatest living expert on diagnosing and treating illnesses. Super lame. I’m so sorry they treated you like that. And I hope you did not give her your poor ped’s name. That’s all the ped needs is a witch hunt by a vindictive woman.

  3. Kelly T
    Sep 21, 2010

    That is such CRAP!! I am scared of going into the real world now because we certainly didn’t treat each other that way here. So sorry cuz I know it hurts!

  4. Niki
    Sep 21, 2010

    Wow. I just recently experienced something similar. Being the recipient of somebody’s emotional backlash is so painful! I’m sorry she treated you like that. My best (unasked for) advice is take a good look at your intentions. If they were honorable then just let her behavior slide off. Only you know your heart and she might never understand. So be it. It also helps to make up excuses for her. Bad childhood, chemical imbalance, low self esteem, her husband is mean to her… you get the idea. :} Although I did like the idea of wishing a pox on her. Crazy devil woman!

  5. Tami
    Sep 21, 2010

    So, so, so sorry, Amy. I have a really hard time understanding how some people can be so mean and critical. I hate to see you treated so disrespectfully and unfairly. Love you and miss you!

  6. Amy
    Sep 21, 2010

    Thanks girls! It’s nice to know I have family and friends that back me up. I did have a moment where I thought, “this would not have happened with the OC girls.” I miss you all. However, I have had close to a dozen others here checking in to see if we’re ok. I even had a friend come by with a bag of activities for my girls while they’re stuck at home. I was holding back tears of gratitude. The good outweighs the bad by far… and I like the making excuses for her idea. That’s a good one.

  7. Korby
    Sep 22, 2010

    I am shocked. I am so sorry that you have to deal with miserable people like that. That is a joke. I am so sad the girls got sick but happy to hear it is mild. I am also happy to hear you have been getting support. I would have cried and cried. It is obvious that the they don’t even know you.

  8. nana
    Sep 22, 2010

    As I was reading my scriptures I came across this passage. 1 Corinthians 8: 1-2
    “…we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” You have been editfied for showing love toward your fellow church members by warning them of the danger. It is sad that these women think they have a knowledge of the gospel but as the scripture says, “knoweth nothing as he ought to know”. They may have worldly knowledge but what they really need to know, is what it truly means to have the love of Christ within you, they have yet to learn. I’m so sorry you have had to go through this but I am so glad you have discovered there are some wonderful, loving, supportive women and men in your ward who have “been spiritually born of God, received His image in their countenance and had a mighty change of heart”. They have the important knowledge the busybodies (see Thessalonians 3:11) have yet to know.

  9. Melly
    Sep 23, 2010

    Your post has enraged all of us here in Logan. WE get all riled up whenever we think about it.

    I hope the girls get better way soon! I love you S and H. You gals are troopers!

    Your a good example to me Amy, if someone treated me like that I would probably react differently. It really made me realize that I need to work on being more Christlike. What would I do in that situation? Would I rise above? Sorry to say I would probably dish out a lot of stink eye to start with. What a great example you are for your kids!!

    I’m sorry that happened to you!

    You are a better woman than I. I probably would have told family of my kids sickness, but you did more (writing that email) than I would have. I could see myself just saying, “oops” to myself…and leave it at that.

    And about the flawed instinct crap. I trust your instinct, I would trust you with my own kids without a second thought. Seriously! Mark and I have talked about what we’d do with our kids if something happened to us and you and Rob are at the top of the list.

  10. Deena Stutts
    Sep 23, 2010

    Amy, don’t beat yourself up over 2 women who have nothing better to than make themselves feel superior to others. I’ve been a mom for 37 years and I would have done the exact same things you did. No fever or other symptoms indicate (usually) no problems. When I take my kids to the dr with a sore throat, I always request a strept test even if the dr doesn’t think it is warranted. Good for you that you follow the Spirit and requested the test anyway. May the Lord truly bless each one of you! Deena

  11. Kezia
    Sep 24, 2010

    I wonder what #2 will do when she has a real problem?

  12. Kim
    Sep 25, 2010

    Mom #1 and #2 are, well, this isn’t my blog so I won’t call them the name I am thinking. Self-righteous comes to mind. I know how serious Pertussis is. A very dear friend of mine lost her 2 month old to Pertussis earlier this year.

    I also know I am a mom, and I have had sick kids and I know what my pediatrician has told me about the contagiousness of my children when they are ill. I hope Mom #2 sits on a very sharp tack. (I am rolling my eyes over here.) Sorry you had to deal with such spiteful people. As if you WANTED to spread a potentially deadly illness to their kids. Hopefully they don’t ever leave their bubble of their home, or heaven forbid touch a shopping cart, or a playground slide, and I sure as heavens hope their kids don’t eat a booger.

    Anyway, don’t know you, but love you!


    A Real Mom

  13. Amy Lawson
    Sep 26, 2010

    Oh, I’m sure the CDC will be RIGHT on that enraged call from number 2!

    I just want to say that I think it’s a riot that she’s ended up with the name ‘Mom Number 2’…since Number 2 also means poop. I’d probably call her ‘Number 2’ for the rest of my life. I’m totally mature like that.

  14. Marea Godard
    Sep 26, 2010

    Oh, Amy I’m so sorry for you! I hate it when things like that happen. It always makes me wonder, where is the compassion? I hope those two moms went to Womens Conference yesterday. 🙂 President Monson had some great things to say!

    My opinion about why people are so critical of others and have the audacity to say such mean things is a direct reflection about how they feel about themselves. Insecure, unhappy, using others to make themselves feel more important….are a few words that come to mind. How sad for the person who says such things to another. They can’t be happy. And it really can affect how others feel.

    Did I ever tell you that someone in “our” old ward said numerous things (over a period of time) to me that really hurt. And one day….I guess you could say….she “yelled” at me. I felt the same way, dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. I never said anything to her. I just went home and cried.

    I’m not sure you ever even knew her since she wasn’t in our ward very long but, it kicked my confidence to the curb and I sort of withdrew from things socially for awhile. Of course, I knew how silly it was for me to react that way but, at the time I was struggling with other things and it was just the straw that broke the camels back. I never had ill feelings for her. I just had so many things going on that I felt like I couldn’t handle one more thing.

    The opposite kind of story: I had another friend, there, tell me little compliments everyday she saw me. She will never know how much those little things meant to me. You never know what a person is going through. I love that quote from Sister Hinckley…”Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

    I hope you know that you are a great mom!! And I hope you feel uplifted by all the comments posted here! 🙂

  15. Jenny
    Oct 17, 2010

    Ugh, this made my stomach hurt to read. I actually felt like you were exceptionally responsible for letting everyone know that they possibly could have been exposed to Pertussis. It boggles my mind how anyone could feel good about a nasty email – especially to someone as well meaning and non-threatening as you are! And you are darn straight – none of that garbage would happen with your girls here. We somehow got the memo that we are better off supporting each other. I miss you!