Hey ya'll!! So Zika. I mean it's a HOT, HOT topic for us pregnant women and those planning to conceive, much more, the general public. I mean, it is crazy. That said, God indefinitely has a plan for Zika and keeping faith in that will keep your heart (and your mind) right!
I wanted to share my story regarding what I faced with Zika - traveling abroad to a Zika designated area and the testing that proceeded. My story is far less heartbreaking than what millions of people are facing at the moment, but information is empowering and I hope that this story can help you - if considering getting pregnant during this "risky" time.
Ryan and I traveled to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate me graduating from business school at Georgetown. My parents had graciously booked this trip for us (way in advance) and on top of it we were meeting some friends out there, as well. I had talked to my sister-in-law, an infectious disease doctor, about the risks of traveling to Mexico when hoping to get pregnant in the coming months. She told me that if we want to be 100% safe, to cancel the trip. That said, she informed us that our chances of contracting the disease was extremely low, but there was a chance. With that information, we proceeded to travel to Cabo. Let me note, also, that while Mexico is designated as a Zika territory, Cabo San Lucas has had zero indigenous cases of Zika being contracted.
June 15th (ish)
Ryan and I likely conceived a baby around these dates, given the date of the first day of my last period. However, given that the doctor says the baby is measuring slightly small, our conception date could be closer to June 20th.
Took a pregnancy test and got a positive result.
Date of my first prenatal appointment, or 8-week appointment. Doctor told my husband RYAN that he needed to get tested for ZIKA after we informed her that we traveled to Mexico - regardless that it was Cabo San Lucas. We contacted Infectious Disease Department to schedule an appointment that day for Ryan. Ryan met with the ID doctor, who told him that the CDC/Department of Health would NOT approve getting a test for Ryan, but that they would likely approve ME getting tested. Back story - I am no doctor, but what I understand and understood before traveling to Mexico, is that if a man contracts Zika, Zika is thought to stay in a man's semen for a long period of time - I think up to 4 months. If a man has sex with and impregnates his partner, there is a likelihood he can transfer the virus to his partner and potentially the fetus. Women can get Zika too, but it stays in their system for a significantly shorter period of time.
What we knew, is that our chances of getting Zika in Cabo were low - but at the time we found out that we were pregnant, we were scared out of our minds for being so reckless, so we wanted to get tested. That said, the CDC/Department of Health has to "approve" your case to even get tested - aka not just anyone can get tested. My sister-in-law seems to think that they are not just testing any old person so as to not flood the healthcare system. Long story short, my case (not Ryan's) was approved to be tested for Zika.
I'll note that aside from being tested for Zika, my doctor recommended the following during the remaining duration of my pregnancy:
The Department of Health called me and asked me several questions to "confirm" my Zika case. This included the dates and place of travel, how far along I am, etc. The woman confirmed I could get tested and also proceeded to educate me about Zika locally in Washington, DC. She said that they have been testing mosquitos and have not found that Zika exists in the area, despite the fact that DC does have that Aedes aegypti mosquitos (just not ones WITH Zika).
I had a blood test done at Georgetown University Hospital. They drew a lot of blood, and were planning on testing via both a DNA test and an Antibody test. I was informed that I would get the results back sooner than we thought - in a few weeks rather than months (what we were originally told).
The Infectious Disease Doctor called us, informing us that both the Antibody and the DNA test came back negative, meaning I did NOT have Zika in my system. Praise God!
My overall thoughts on the situation are seriously mixed. I mean the fact that doctors are recommending we wear long pants and sleeves and cover ourselves in DEET seemed a little extreme at first - especially since DC has had NO cases of Zika - even reported to me by the Department of Health. I mean what is the better of the two - dousing yourself in chemicals (DEET) and potentially harming your baby? Or getting potentially bit by a Zika-carrying mosquito and potentially REALLY HARMING your baby? The doctors communicate that the benefits of wearing DEET heavily outweigh the risks. BUT, as a holistic hippie, it is still a tough pill to swallow. A friend of mind recommended an organic mosquito repellent called "Fit Organic", which honestly, is the spray (over DEET) that I use when I go outside, even in Colorado where there aren't any Aedes aegypti mosquitos. I will say that I do have a friend in California (a more likely Zika territory than DC considering it's proximity to Zika countries), who is pregnant with her second child, due a month after me, and she says her doctor is not concerned at all about Zika being transmitted in California.
Traveling to a Zika territory when pregnant or planning to conceive is a HUGE no-no (in my book), especially if there have been locally transmitted cases. If you travel to a place, like Cabo, with zero cases (but still is in Mexico - a Zika territory) - you are traveling at your own risk, as we did. As a result, you have to go along with all of the testing and worry that comes with it. In the end, Ryan and I ended up with a positive experience throughout what is now considered a devastating worldly catastrophe. My strongest advice is to put your baby ahead of your own needs (yes, I need to swallow my own medicine on this one), but also, at the same time, you need to live your life. Just take precautions, be smart and act with your baby's best interest at heart.
Good luck mamas and prayers out to fight this brutal virus!