Arizona mom Courtney Hayes is always worried for her 18-month-old son, Jude.
The toddler has a heart defect and a genetic disorder that causes him to have a weak immune system.
But still, the family does their best to live a normal life, and on rare occasions, take their son out for some fun.
Last month, Hayes and her husband went to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix with Jude. But not everything went as planned, she wrote in a Facebook post.
The mother explained:
We thought taking him to the children’s museum would be so fun for him. He could explore, be around other children, expand his mind, laugh, play, grow. We were those crazy parents washing his hands every 5 minutes, wiping down everything he touched, not letting him get too close to other children.
That’s when she walked up. A darling little girl who wanted to play with Jude. My heart melted as he looked up and smiled at her. In that moment, she let out the wettest, most mucous-y sounding cough right in his face. I was horrified.
Two days later, Jude woke up extremely ill. Hayes said he was coughing and vomiting mucus.
She said that she wished the child would have stayed at home, where she wouldn’t be a risk to other kids.
The mom said the parents could have made a different choice:
In my mind, because they made that choice to take her and not sit and wait it out a few more days, my son is suffering more than he should.
Now, the mom has a plea for other parents — just wait it out.
Hayes said that parents should wait a few extra days if they believe their child is sick. She wrote:
The pool, the museum, the park, the therapies, the aquarium, the restaurant…I do feel those can be sacrificed for a few more days. It’s not like you will never be able to go again. Just wait a few more days and enjoy these things with a healthy child.
Alongside a photo of her son after heart surgery when he was four days old, the mom explained on Facebook how much a minor illness can affect a child with a low immune system.
She said that keeping a child with a cough home could save the life of a child who has a low immune system. She wrote:
But maybe, just maybe, if you wait it out and let your child recover before taking them out, maybe you will protect a medically complex child that has been through hell and back and just wants to see the world. Just wait…wait until the cold is over. I beg of you.
Hayes told Dearly that her intent is “not to shame anyone,” and she understands it’s sometimes unavoidable to take sick child out of the house.
The mom clarified that she doesn’t expect people to change their lives for her son, but rather “have that thought in the back of their mind about how their choice might affect others.”
She said that she doesn’t blame that little girl’s parents, but that the incident inspired her think deeper about how minor illnesses are handled.
Hayes said she hopes her Facebook post will help “spread awareness” for her son and other children with medical conditions that leave them vulnerable.
“There is no way we can protect our children from everything, but the littlest decisions can make all the difference in the world. It truly could save a life.”