Today’s post comes from Graham’s Foundation preemie parent mentor Jessica – she’s available to talk about preemie feeding challenges, IUGR, g-tube issues, and breathing issues.
My first RSV season with my son was full of learning. Here are the top 3 I learned while waiting for RSV season to end:
1) RSV should stand for Ravenous Super Villain. To be honest, I had never heard of RSV prior to last year when I brought my son home from the NICU. Upon our discharge from the NICU in December, we were strongly encouraged to limit our son’s exposure to others during RSV season, especially since he was coming home on oxygen. They warned us if he were to catch RSV, he would likely end up with another hospital stay… and after having him in the NICU for 4 months, we would do anything in our power for that to not happen! Once home, I started looking into RSV more and more. The deeper we got into RSV season, I began seeing stories circulating on Facebook about children (particularly preemies) dying from RSV. It broke my heart to imagine this virus that I previously knew nothing about rocking the homes of many. I made it my absolute mission to protect my son as best as possible.
2) RSV season shows my slightly OCD crazy, creative side… in a weird way. We essentially traded Christmas cookies and decorations for Purell and Vitamin C. I would get on the CDC’s website weekly to see the RSV trends in our state, and I would shout to my husband “another week inside for us!”. I virtually had people fill out questionnaires in order to visit… not going to lie, if they had been sick within the last few months, I would find an excuse for them to stay far away! I came so incredibly close to purchasing Hazmat suits for my family members as their Christmas gifts, but I had a feeling that it might be taking things too far so I pulled in the reigns on that genius idea. Speaking of genius ideas, I once tried to talk my husband into wearing a Jason mask around our neighborhood while pushing my son in the stroller, so that no one would even think about coming to say hi to us; he wasn’t so keen on that idea because the police would likely be showing up…. I however still think it was brilliant. When not worrying about the germs outside of my house, I worried about the ones inside my house. I sanitized door knobs, remotes, cell phones, and my dogs – all three of them. If someone would touch my son’s hand, I would go right behind them and wipe his hand. I felt like I noticed every cough, sneeze, nose rub, sniffle… it was as if I had a new radar. I remember going to the grocery, and feeling as if I had been exposed to zombies….
3) It’s only a season. In life, there are many different seasons – seasons of joy, rest, sadness, etc. Instead of focusing on the negatives surrounding RSV season, I chose to focus on the positives. Some might have gone crazy being on lock down, but for us, we enjoyed spending the time bundled with our little man. We made it our mission to embrace the new normal. We would drink coffee on the weekend mornings and talk about all of the big plans that were before us. There were also many Hallmark movies and HGTV shows involved as well. We learned to have a lot of grace with family and friends – many of them didn’t understand the big deal with RSV season. Instead of getting frustrated with them, I educated them on the reason why RSV is such a big deal. I kept in mind that I couldn’t change our circumstances or the fact that RSV was rampant, but I could change my view. I could choose thanksgiving and rest during this season. When things look bleak, remember that the flowers will bloom again. In the meantime, stay warm and snuggle (and if your spouse lets you, buy a Jason mask and send me a picture).
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