Melissa Barvels is sharing her traumatic, near-death story in hopes of convincing other people -- especially pregnant women -- to get their flu shot. Barvels was already a mother of one boy and was 25 weeks pregnant with another in December 2013 when she became very sick. Just before Christmas, she woke up one morning running a high fever and barely able to get out of bed. Two days later, there were no improvements and she went to the hospital.
Once there, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, which resulted from a deadly straight of the flu virus. Her last memory was being worried that she wouldn’t be home in time to celebrate Christmas with her older son and husband, Scott.
When she finally woke up, the holidays had passed and she was no longer pregnant. Barvels had been in a medically-induced coma for 45 days, and her baby was born via C-section on Jan. 8. They hadn't yet decided on a name, so her husband named him Scott.
"When I woke up, I somehow knew that the baby had been born," Barvels told CafeMom. "I’m not sure how though or for how long. I don’t think I put much thought into just knowing at the time. Even now, I still have no idea. I wonder how long I knew. Was it the day he was born? Was it from my family telling me every day (or so I’m told they did) that the baby was okay?"
She later learned that she had contracted the H1N1 swine flu.
"Had I known how bad the flu could actually be, I would have gotten the shot," she now says. Barvels is far from alone in skipping vaccination. According to a recent study of 2,100 pregnant women by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 54 percent of them got their flu shot.
Now her son is a healthy five-year-old and Barvels hopes her story encourages others to get their flu shot every year.
"I hope to spare other families from the heartache that mine went through,” she said. "Most times people are very supportive, but there are occasions when my story is posted online that I have received backlash from anti-vaxxers. Someone once posted that my story was fake and that I was paid by pharmaceutical company. I laughed and said I wish that were true, because these last few years have been no picnic!"0comments
Though it was a horrible ordeal, she is more thankful now for the things she does have.
"I think living through such a traumatic event makes me appreciate things in life that much more," she said.