Nearly six years ago I was blessed with the best Christmas gift a woman can ask for. My baby girl. She’s beautiful, loving, smart, silly, full of energy, and has a heart of gold. My life would not be complete without her. Throughout my pregnancy with her I took care of myself. I went to all my prenatal appointments, took it easy on the cleaning and cooking, rested as much as I could. I milked every bit of my pregnancy rights possible. The nature of my body and hereditary genetics however, did not allow me to complete my third trimester.35 weeks into my first pregnancy, my water bag broke! 7 o’clock in the morning (the day after my baby shower and my second day off for maternity leave), my body said no more.
As you can probably imagine, we were worried; my husband more than I. Thank goodness both baby and I were fine. She was in place, my contractions grew quick, and by 6pm she was born weighing 5 pounds even. She stayed with me in the hospital room the first day, but by the next day the pediatrician did not feel she was ready to go home. Her new home for the next nine days were in an incubator in the hospital. Those were the hardest nine days of my life as a new Mama. I cried every night, but as the doctor explained to me, it’s necessary to take these extra precautions because of her still underdeveloped lungs and high levels of bilirubin.
Long story short, (months later) I went back to work, she started daycare at the preschool center I was working at, and from then on she was always sick. As a preschool Teacher myself I understood and knew very well she would get sick. All kids do. Especially in the infant room! But never did I imagine how hard it would be to have and see her sick for so long. Out of the two months she was in daycare, she was well for less than two weeks during that time. Finally after having developed bronchiolitis the doctor informed me about RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and that was my cue to get her out of daycare.
My job was already on the line for having missed so much work to stay home with her, we were tired all the time, she was miserable, I was miserable, and I felt guilty everyday that she was in daycare sick. It was horrible. Each week thereafter, her health improved. And each week that passed was one less albuterol nebulizer treatment. The antibiotics stopped, she started eating better, and she’s never had more than a cold since then. Those first few months in daycare were a wake-up call to how fragile my premature baby was. I underestimated how bad her health would get by not giving her that extra time to develop her lungs and immune system. Three years later, my second baby was born (also premature; born at 34 weeks). I’m still a stay-at-home-mom, and he has only had three colds in 2+ years; and unlike my daughter, he was given a steroid drug while in the NICU to help his lungs develop faster.
The risks of RSV are real and can be devastating to the health of a premature baby. Trust me, you don’t want to take ANY chances that you can control. Learn the facts about RSV and the precautions you need to take, especially for babies born before 37 weeks. I beg you, take care of those babies. Educate others who are unaware if you have to. November 17th is World Prematurity Day and marks the first month of RSV season. If you know anyone having a baby or has recently had a baby, please study the facts below provided by MedImmune and share them.
What is RSV? RSV is a contagious respiratory virus that may infect a persons lungs and breathing passages. It spreads rapidly among children. While most will recover in 1 to 2 weeks, even after recovery, infants and children can continue to spread the virus for 1 to 3 weeks. For premature babies, RSV can lead to serious lung infections such as pneumonia and/or bronchiolitis (swelling of the lower airways).
Key RSV facts:
RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year.
RSV disease is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States, with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and and up to 400 infant deaths per year.
RSV disease is responsible for one of every 13 pediatrician visits and one of every 38 trips to the ER in children under the age of five.
Despite being so common, many parents aren’t aware of RSV; in fact, one third of mothers have never heard of the virus.
How can I help protect my baby from RSV?RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing, and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live on the skin and surfaces for hours. There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical. To help minimize the spread of RSV disease, all parents should:
Wash their hands and ask others to do the same
Keep toys, clothes, blankets and sheets clean
Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
Never let anyone smoke around your baby
Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick
Speak to your child’s pediatrician to determine if your baby is at high risk for RSV disease, and if so, what additional steps may be recommended. For more information about RSV and prevention, visitwww.RSVprotection.com.