Mothering monster: the narcissism and cruelty of letting your child get whooping cough

Woman kissing the mirror

Who lets her toddler get whooping cough and then boasts about how she breastfed him though it? A self-absorbed, self aggrandizing narcissistic parent. Someone like Shayla Cherry.

It’s difficult for me to describe the cruelty, stupidity and lack of self-awareness of a mother like Cherry so I’ll let her describe it herself.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The true sign of Shayla Cherry’s narcissism is that she is boasting about the horror that she caused.[/pullquote]

From How Breastfeeding Saw Us Through the 100-Day Cough:

Rye was 18 months old when he contracted pertussis. I can’t begin to imagine how terrifying that would have been if, like nine out of ten babies, he was weaned already…

How terrifying it would have been? It wouldn’t have been terrifying at all if her child had been fully vaccinated because he wouldn’t have gotten whooping cough. But Shayla had “done her research” and is proud of herself for depriving him of that protection.

From The Risks of Routine Vaccination: Why I Don’t Vaccinate My Son:

I discovered that the diseases are less likely to harm my son than the vaccines themselves. Adverse reactions and chronic illnesses are far more common than serious complications from the diseases we vaccinate against.

There is nearly zero risk of an American child catching diphtheria or polio.

Despite all of the fear-mongering around polio, it’s generally asymptomatic. When symptoms do appear, they are usually flu like. Fewer than one percent of people who contract polio experience paralysis.

Whooping cough can be treated with Vitamin C…

Cherry is sublimely confident in her ignorance.

As it was, our bout with whooping cough was brutal, but never dangerous…

The truth is dramatically different.

As the CDC notes:

Before pertussis vaccines became widely available in the 1940s, about 200,000 children got sick with it each year in the United States and about 9,000 died as a result of the infection. Now we see about 10,000 to 40,000 cases reported each year and unfortunately up to 20 deaths.

Whooping cough is not merely dangerous; it’s deadly.

Fortunately, Cherry’s son did not die but he suffered tremendously and unnecessarily.

One week in and my son’s cough was only getting worse. We were up all night as he began coughing every hour, on the hour. He developed a sharp, desperate inhale; a characteristic whoop every mother hopes to never hear. I began researching pertussis with a sinking heart. Little did I know, we were in for a long and exhausting winter.

The next month was spent indoors as whooping cough tore through our home. Our days were filled with movies, cuddled together in our cozy haze. Sometimes when the coughing woke him at night, he was so exhausted that he’d fall back to sleep without nursing…

On our bed propped on an incline, we slept in fifty-minute bursts. We welcomed play at 2am in the dim hallway light when a coughing fit left him wide awake.

The child was desperately and needlessly sick for months and his mother is still focused on herself and the “benefits” she provided him by breastfeeding:

He would have lost every ounce of baby fat. We may have needed to go to urgent care for an IV, and who knows where that would have led — secondary infection, pneumonia, antibiotics…

There’s no reason to believe that breastfeeding did any of that. The baby could have just as easily bottle fed for comfort and nutrition. Breastfeeding didn’t prevent whooping cough in the first place; why should it be counted on in preventing secondary infection?

Cherry’s narcissism hasn’t merely blinded her to the fact that she subjected her toddler to a potentially deadly illness because her ego led her to imagine that she knew more about vaccines than nearly every single medical professional in the entire world.

Her narcissism hasn’t merely made her oblivious to the fact she is the one responsible for son’s suffering, not the one who prevented it.

The true sign of her overweening sense of self regard is that she is boasting about the horror that she caused.

Though I was more tired than I’ve ever been and my own health hasn’t quite recovered, I am immeasurably grateful for the gift of breastmilk. I was able to nourish and protect my son, even in the depths of my exhaustion. So, if you’re nursing a toddler and want to continue, I hope sharing my story helps you to trust your instincts. Do what is right for you and your child, as mothers have done for aeons.

Cherry learned nothing … but then narcissists never do.