Author: Claire McCarthy

Remembering Aidan 20 years later

My son died 20 years ago last month.

We did our remembrance of him on his birthday earlier in the month, and that brought various condolences from various people. We are so sorry, they said. It must be so sad.

Although the condolences came from kindness, they felt off somehow. It’s not so much about sadness anymore. After 20 years, it’s different.

While Aidan was still alive, after he was diagnosed with a severe, life-limiting disability, I wrote something for Sesame Street Parents Magazine that our priest read at Aidan’s funeral:

All of us, at some point in our lives, are faced with something we didn’t expect and never wanted. What defines us, I think, is what we do with those things that life gives us. Very often, whether we are cursed or blessed is a matter of choosing.

Aidan’s family chooses to be blessed.

That’s how I feel: blessed.

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Why our teens turn us into shrews

mom of teenIt happens each time one of my children enters the teenage years (sometimes a little bit before). I go from having a lovely child and feeling like a reasonably pleasant parent to having a moody houseguest and becoming a shrew.

You’d think, having gone through this now four times, that I’d figure out how to avoid it. Or that I’d expect it. Or not let it bother me so much. Nope. It happened again, it caught me off guard, and I hate it.

To be fair, it’s only natural to be optimistic each time a child of yours moves out of the sweet years. After all, they are such sweet years: the years after diapers and being woken all night, the years when you begin to have real conversations and real fun with them, when they make you laugh and still love to snuggle with you. Sure, they can be messy and maddening, but overall they are so sweet that you think: how bad could the teenage years be?

Pretty bad, of course. Not just because of how teens act, but also because of how we parents end up acting in response. Here’s why turning into a shrew is inevitable:

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Why your children should get the HPV vaccine — and why they should get it early

HPV vaccine recommendationsIf there’s something we can do to prevent our children from getting cancer, we should do it. Plain and simple. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that youth be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus, starting as young as 9 years old.

Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. It can cause other cancers as well in both men and women, and is the cause of genital warts. The vaccine, which is given as three doses over 6 months, is very effective. And yet, some parents don’t want me to give the vaccine, especially when their children aren’t teenagers yet.

Here’s what seem to be the two biggest reasons:

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Get your flu shot—it’s not just about you

Flu shotFlu season is on its way, which means it’s flu shot time.

I see lots of different responses when I talk to families at our clinic about the flu shot. Some are happy to get it. Others are unsure, worried about side effects. Others plain old refuse.

Plain old refusal isn’t an option for me—as a doctor and an employee of Boston Children’s. I need to get it—and I do every year. But even without being told to get it I would have. Because not only do I not want to get the flu (I got it once, and it was no fun), this isn’t just about me.

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