The Delta Variant, pregnancy with a toddler, and the Texas 6-week abortion ban
Welcome to meteorological fall!
From the break that I took writing over the summer, you can tell that we worked on getting out of the house for the first time with a toddler during a pandemic. Things felt safer once Matt and I were both vaccinated, so we traveled out of state to see (mostly vaccinated) family between Memorial Day and the end of July.
Then, as the Delta variant spread and we started learning about friends with breakthrough Covid cases, we decided to start locking down again since Toddler H is unvaccinated and I am once again pregnant!
So yes, we will end up with two pandemic babies, hopefully bookmarking the start and end of everything (or at least the beginning of the endemic phase of the current pandemic).
The Texas Six-Week Abortion Ban
Today, a new state law goes into effect in Texas that effectively bans abortions after 6 weeks gestation, which is just two weeks after a missed period (assuming a normal 28-day cycle with no irregularities) and before many women even think to take a pregnancy test.
Additionally, it rewards private citizens for reporting anyone involved with helping a woman obtain an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, from the person giving the pregnant person a ride to a clinic to the receptionist checking the pregnant person in at the clinic. The “bounty” for a report like this (essentially, a private citizen suing another private citizen for aiding an abortion) is up to $10,000.
For those of us who got pregnant with the help of a fertility clinic (my first and second pregnancies were assisted with Letrozole medication while this third was a “spontaneous” conception), it was still unlikely that we had our first ultrasound before 6 weeks gestation, since, as they tell you, there’s not much to see before 6 weeks.
Additionally, I experienced a miscarriage of my first pregnancy at 8 weeks after a heartbeat was already found at 6 weeks. Under this new law, I would likely have been investigated for losing this very wanted pregnancy and would have had trouble removing the remaining “products of conception” via surgery after failing to pass everything on my own. I wrote in detail about this on a thread of Twitter (click to see the full thread).
This is a difficult day for all women and people with a uterus, as even doing everything “right” could still land you in hot water.
The Delta Variant (And Others)
Schools around the country have begun in-person classes again while we await vaccination approval for those under 12. While this did not seem to be as much of a problem with the original strain and Alpha/Beta variants, the Delta variant has hospitalized and even killed many children.
Statistically speaking, yes, children are at lower risk of having a severe case of Covid, but we are still uncertain what type of long-term impacts the disease will have on their development (or on adults, for that matter).
Thankfully, vaccinations decrease your likelihood of catching a “breakthrough” Covid infection, and those that do occur are less likely to result in hospitalization. Those who have caught these cases, however, will tell you that they do not want to catch another case! “Mild” Covid in the clinical sense may not feel very mild when you are experiencing it.
So how about our unprotected children?
At the time I am writing this, it looks like we are still at least a couple of months away from approving EUA on a vaccine for those aged 5-12, while those under 5 will likely not have a vaccine available until 2022. In the meantime, Covid is still spreading and mutating (largely among the unvaccinated) into additional variants that may eventually be able to evade our vaccines.
In one scary instance, an infected teacher took off her mask to read aloud to her class and infected many of the students in her classroom (the study also suggests there were other opportunities for her to infect the students before she got tested). There was also a high-quality HEPA filter being run in the classroom and windows were open, which indicates the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant as well (compared to the original strains of the virus).
So what can we do?
Get vaccinated, first of all.
As adults, we should continue masking, vaccinated or not, to prevent spreading the virus to vulnerable communities that cannot be vaccinated (which includes many immunocompromised people in addition to children) or that are too young to wear masks (under 2).
For children who are able to wear masks, some places are beginning to make better quality child-sized KN95s and KF94s (the South Korean equivalent to the Chinese KN95) that protect both the wearer and those around them when worn properly.
We are likely beyond the point in the pandemic that cloth masks alone are worth using. Invest in higher-quality masks to protect yourself as well as others.
One website that I have successfully gotten quality masks from is BeHealthyUSA, since there are now fake masks popping up on Amazon that do not have the correct filtration in place to protect you.
This has the potential to be a difficult fall and winter…again. Stay informed, stay updated, and get a booster Covid shot when it becomes available to you.