My second child, Carter Landon Dube, arrived in December 2009 with fire red-hair and a lively spirit to match. My husband and I were thrilled to share our precious gift with our family as we celebrated the joyous holiday season.

Tragic turn

But after the family get-togethers and merriment died down, I knew that something was not quite right with Carter. He had become abnormally fussy and we thought it was just a cold. When his fever spiked above 100 degrees, I brought him to the pediatrician where his breathing rate prompted doctors to rush him to a local children’s hospital.

"Pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease."

Over the course of a week, Carter went from being my healthy, happy infant to an incredibly sick baby fighting for his life. Consequently, my seven-week old son lost his life to a disease called pertussis. 

A preventable disease

At the time, my husband and I knew very little about pertussis, also called whooping cough. We didn’t know that a vaccination could have prevented the disease. I had read all of the mommy books, my baby was born healthy and I followed my doctor’s advice—but no one ever told me about the importance of the adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination to help prevent the spread of this potentially fatal disease to infants.

So in honor of Carter, I hope to give you the gift of knowledge. Pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease. In adults, the milder form is often mistaken for the common cold or bronchitis and can be easily spread.

I urge parents to make sure that anyone who comes in contact with their baby is up to date on their adult Tdap vaccination to help protect themselves and to help stop the spread of the disease to their babies. Be informed to protect your most precious gift, your baby.