Saturday, August 6, 2011

the life of a child

My little ones are sick...again. Nothing too serious, just pinkeye, but we still have to keep a close watch to make sure that it clears up. This is especially true for baby Grey, as vision is an important part of his learning to crawl. I was starting to feel sorry for myself--why do MY kids get sick so often?!--when it occurred to me that there were so many positives in our favor that I had no right to complain.

1) I am a stay-at-home-mom with a MA in early childhood education and a hair-trigger mentality for taking the kids to the doctor at the slightest sign of illness. So, they don't go without appropriate care or medical attention...ever.
2) My husband's job provides medical insurance; this was a luxury that I lacked growing up.
3) We have at least a dozen pharmacies within driving distance, some open 24 hours.
4) So far, nothing really serious has happened to my babies. Things might have seemed serious at the time (ear-tube surgery), but nothing life-threatening has happened to them.
5) My kiddos are, for the most part, typically developing, bright, happy little ones. 

We have a little 4-year-old friend who is currently in the hospital. Basically about 3 feet of his small intestine went necrotic and, as he is a non-verbal kiddo, making the diagnosis was arduous. Once the doctors figured it out, he was air-lifted to Children's Hospital and underwent surgery successfully. But since his bowels were leaking inside of his body for goodness-knows-how-long, he isn't out of trouble yet---he will be hospitalized and on super-strong antibiotics for another few days if all goes well. I was talking to a friend about this little guy, and she said that it was a blessing that the little guy didn't die. A blessing? A blessing would be not getting sick in the first place. Having a child come close to death is not a blessing. If you believe in a god that would allow a child become sick, get hurt, or die, then your view of the world, and your god, are really f*ed up.

The thought of a sick child, who could have possibly died, makes my anxiety spike. Death and injury are hard to deal with for loved ones of any age, but when it happens to children it is even more distressing. Children are sweet, innocent creatures who are not in control of their lives; it is our job to protect them. We do our best as parents to keep kids safe, and living in an industrialized nation certainly helps our chances of raising healthy, happy children. As you might have guessed, developing countries have a much higher infant mortality rate and are considered a much worse place to be a mother (Save the Children). What might come as a shock, however, is that we would be better off if we lived in almost any other industrialized country. Yes, the U.S. is consistently one of the worst industrialized countries for infant mortality rates.

Why, you ask? It's a combination of a lack of universal health care, income inequality, and increased premature births. Of course, there is controversy on this topic; some people like to nit-pick about the details, such as exactly how countries define infant mortality (gee, Fox News...big shocker). Regardless, you have to recognize that the death or failure to thrive of any child is a problem.
I keep thinking about news from a few months back stating that more religious states have higher teen pregnancy and infant mortality rates. You can do the math for yourself with these sources:

Basically, the more religious a U.S. state is, the more likely they are to have risky pregnancies. They also have worse socioeconomic indicators (States by Income), but talking about that correlation and why religion is bad for the poor is a post for another time. For now, let's remember that the next generation will be in charge sooner than we realize, and that taking care of their overall health and development will determine how we function as a society.

**Update** August 9th
The little guy has started back on solid foods. Hopefully his system will work properly and he can go home in a few days! :)

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