This year marks my second Mother’s Day. Last year’s came upon my very quickly- my daughter was exactly one month old on Mother’s Day. My husband gave me the sweetest card, which brought tears to my eyes. It may have actually just been hormones, and not the card, that caused the tears, but we’ll still give him credit for it. He deserves it.
This Mother’s Day, I’ve had a lot more time to think. I’ve been able to think about how incredibly, insanely lucky I am. I have the most amazing daughter. Everything about her is perfect. She’s sweet, loving, smart, beautiful, an amazing snuggler, and independent. But that’s not what makes me consider myself lucky. I’m lucky because I live in this era. I live in a time with vaccines and antibiotics and a strong (albeit imperfect) understanding of the human body. These make me happy. While preparing for my new job teaching microbiology to nursing students, I stumbled across a terrifying fact: in the early 1900s, 1 out 3 children died from infectious disease by the age of 5.
One. Out of three. From infectious disease. There are three people in my home, currently. That statistic implies that one of us would not have survived to our 5th birthday, barring any other potential cause of death, like impalement on a tractor. Very not cool. After meeting my daughter, I couldn’t imagine the horror of losing a child. I know some very amazing women who had to go through that heartbreak. Watching them bury their sons was hell enough; I couldn’t stand burying my own.
One out of fuckin’ three. It still hits me like a sack of bricks coated in lead surrounding a black hole. You know what, though? That’s not a problem anymore. We have vaccines that save lives by the millions. We have antibiotics and other medical technology. I am, without a doubt, the luckiest Mother to ever live.
So thank you, Louis Pasteur. Thank you, Drs. Sabin and Saulk. Thank you every scientist who has contributed to protecting my daughter from these tiny pests.