Thursday, September 17, 2009

"THE" RSV Blog Post

Yep, it's time. Time to once again remind everyone that although our children look absolutely normal, their prematurity still stands in the way of them being able to effectively fight a virus such as RSV or the flu. Honestly, last season wasn't too bad. Most people understood what our requirements were w/o a fight. This year, they understand that much better b/c of what we endured w/ Ian in January. It just goes to prove that no matter how careful you are, a virus can be easily transmitted from 1 healthy person & wreak havoc on a small child, especially one born 6 weeks early.

Here is last year's post, revised for this year.

People don't seem to really understand what sick means when we tell them they can't come over if they are "sick". What we mean is if you have the sniffles or the remnants of a cough or even a tickle in your throat, DON'T COME OVER! I'm not trying to be rude but the dr specifically told us that you have to be symptom free to come visit. I'm sorry but we are listening to her over anyone else.

Why is this important? Because our babies are preemies. No, they aren't small anymore nor do they look ill. They actually look like any other 18 mth old toddler at this point BUT their lungs are still underdeveloped & they still have a compromised immune system. This is very important to know b/c there is a virus called RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) which to us or a full-term baby, would not do anything more than just give us a cough & a runny nose, much like the common cold. For our babies, it can mean DEATH.

Why? Our babies lungs look very different from that of a baby the same age that was born after 37 weeks gestation. Let me show you a picture of what our babies' lungs look like compared to that of a regular full-term baby. The 1st 3 pictures are that of our babies' lungs (not actual but you get the idea). The 4th picture is that of a regular baby. Scary to see how much less our babies have compared to them!

This is another good picture to look at. As you can see, they used trees to explain the difference between a normal infant's lungs (left) & a preemie's (right). WOW!

Finally, this is a photo of the airway when affected by RSV. On the left is a normal infant & on the right, a preemie. You can see how much LESS airway is open in the preemie's picture. SCARY!

Once RSV has been passed to one of our babies, hospital stay is an almost certainty. Actually, they would probably end up in the PICU (Pediatric ICU). There is NOTHING they can do to help our babies except to give them O2 via vent (intubated) to help them breathe. Again, something we don't want to experience ESPECIALLY after seeing Ian intubated w/o sedation last year. VERY SCARY!

How do we keep our babies healthy? By staying away from sick people! You may not even know you are carrying RSV & if you come over & infect our babies, you would feel very badly afterward. Sorry if I sound so harsh but I have had to explain over & over again why it is important not to come over.

RSV is contracted through physical contact or vapor droplets in the air. This is why if Todd or I get sick, we will have to wear a mask anytime we are around the babies b/c obviously we can't avoid caring for them. RSV can also live on surfaces for several hours so you better believe I will be Cloroxing all surfaces at least once a day!

A new implementation this year is that people coming from crowded places such as schools, will be required to change clothing. We need to take the extra precautions b/c of what happened to Ian last year. If you would like to read more about what we went through, the link is below.

Ian & Post-Infectious Cerebellitis

Mommies, if you have experienced RSV w/ your little one, I would love for you to leave a comment so others can be educated from a 1st hand experience. I do not want my babies in the hospital. They started their lives there & I would like to keep them out as long as possible!


Steph said...

During our first winter, we repeated what you said in your last line (keeping them out of the hospital) over and over again to our pushy guests and it seemed to get through to most of them (not all, unfortunately. We escaped RSV but not trips to the ER and pedi). I really hope your three have a sick-free winter! Will be sharing this with a friend with newborn preemie twins.

Shely said...

I have been following your blog for a while and I have never commented, but I just wanted to say thank you for that blog. My trio was born 4 weeks ago and I am scared outta my mind about RSV season. I told people the same thing after they were born (if you are sick or think you may be sick, sneezing, coughing, anything please dont come) and they came anyways and I didnt catch it till it was too late and the kid had touched them all and our babies got a cold at 8 days old. I may have to steal your diagrams... I was not even aware at the difference in lung maturity at just 35 weeks vs. 40!

Machelle said...

I wanted to thank you for this post and I will actually refer it to my blog because it is so important for preemies! My twins were born 10 weeks early. The doctor this year said they did not need the RSV shots but to keep them in our house and not expose them to sickness. We will be getting the flu shots but I still worry about RSV. Thank you for this post and I will lead my readers over to you so that they can read this post.

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Triplet Mami said...

What a great reminder about RSV season. My trio was also sick last winter with RSV. It is no fun to have sick babies and much less doing breathing treatments, giving medicine, and keeping things disinfected. That means washing hands, cleaning toys with clorox daily and everything else. Alot of people don't realize that there is so much more involved than just medicine. For our little ones that are preemies, the cure goes far beyond an antibiotic. But we too recite your last words..."The key this winter is staying out of the hospital!"

The holidays are already making me nervous. And it's only September.

the hansens said...

Thanks so much for posting!! I follow your blog, and this one is so informative and helpful. We have family members who think I'm overprotective and no matter how nicely I try to remind they want to believe the babies will just be ok. It's so hard for me to see why people want to ignore the severity of the situation. I'm soooo scared, my littlest one was in the hospital for 10 days when she was born and I cried all the time. Two seasons to go ... take care, I hope we all stay germ free!

Kalra said...

Last winter one of my triplets ended up with RSV at 5 months old. We had one family gathering for Christmas with one sick kid present(it was just a cold so they said) and low and behold...RSV. It was awful. 2 ER visits, lots of sleepless nights, breathing treatments for months afterwards and worry galore. Thank God she is ok now but it was a very scary time. My extended family just didn't get it.

Angela said...

OK! I have to say THANKS for the post early in the season. I've been so much more lax this summer and hearing other moms already buckling down has made me rethink our plan for this winter. With older kids in school the change of clothes is GREAT!!! Thanks. And since one of our trips ended up in hospital this summer after one day of sniffles w/ pneumonia proved how immature their lungs still are. Thank you thank you thank you! I got the message!

BethE said...

My foster son got RSV last year. He was a full term baby, but he's very sick in general. Thankfully we avoided the hospital, but we were on strict every 4 hours neb treatments and I slept in his room because I wanted to be sure I'd hear if his breathing changed. He was wheezing so badly to breathe it was scarey! RSV is NOT a simple little thing to get over either. He had it all winter basically. He coughed ALL winter and anytime he got the slightest cold again, it'd go straight to his lungs. So if it is that bad with my full term child, don't even try it with a preemie. (My daughter received the synagis shots for the first two years of her life... but we avoided ALL crowds during the season those two years too.)

Anna said...

Thanks Astrid for this post. It's so informative and the pics are easy to understand. As much as we triplet mommy convey our message to visitors, sometimes people still don't get it. I will refer my visitors to this blog. Great work!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog sinece the beginning, but this is my first time comenting. I don't have premies or multiples, but I do have 2 kids with asthma. When my youngest was 4 months old, he caught RSV and had a severe case. It contributed to him developing severe persistent asthma. He still suffers from it to this day and he is 8.

Stacey said...

Hi Astrid, I have read your blog for a long time but I just wanted to leave a little note to let you know that I copied this blog post and sent it to a brand new trip mom with two babies home and the other one hopefully in the next few days. If it is a problem please leave me a message on my blog. Your babies are beautiful and you are doing a awsome job!

Sadia said...

My twins were born 7 weeks early. I work full time and my husband is in the army, and the kids attend group daycare. Their first winter, they were eligible for Synagis shots (RSV antibodies) because RSV would have been so dangerous for them. A shot a month for 7 months, at a cost of $2000 each to our insurance company. Thankfully, we didn't have to pay a penny. One of their classmates actually had RSV, but they didn't catch it.

Their second winter, they weren't eligible for the Synagis shots. Both the girls caught RSV, about four days apart. We were enormously fortunate that neither 18-month-old needed hospitalization, but it was awful nonetheless. Have you ever watched your child struggle for breath? Both your children? Given nebulizer treatments every two hours, each, around the clock? When there's only one of you and your husband is in Iraq?

I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It took me 7 months to make up in overtime all the leave I had to take after I'd exhausted all my sick leave and vacation. Fortunately, I had an amazingly understanding boss and team.

My girls still have lung problems. They're now 3 and a half. Perhaps those lung issues are completely attributable to prematurity. In my heart of hearts, though, I am certain that the RSV is in part to blame for the fact that every sniffle turns into full-blown bronchiolitis. ESPECIALLY during the H1N1 scare (a coworker just passed away from this year's flu) KEEP YOUR CHILDREN SAFE!

Our pediatrician, the ER staff, and my neighbours were amazingly supportive during Melly and Jessie's RSV, and for that I will always be grateful.

Yamin said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Amy Juhasz said...

I came across your blog while googling RSV. We are in the hospital with our one month daughter who has RSV right now, she caught it from her 2 year old sister. When she first got here she wasn't eating well because of the heavy congestion and her oxygen level was low. We've been here 4 nights and finally get to take her home today. She's had breathing every 4 hours since we got here and has been on oxygen. Lucky for us, she is still nursing, but often times newborns end up with IVs because they won't eat. We'll be going home today but she has to stay on oxygen and continue breathing treatments.

You can never be too cautious with your little ones, especially during RSV season. It's a nasty little bug to fight off and I heard this season is one of the worst in a long time!

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Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Nadia P. said...

My baby girl was born at 24 weeks she is 7 months today but she is still in the hospital because she caught rsv. She got through it but still has almost like congestion on her chest when she breathes and has been intubated since then. But she getting better day by day. Your blog was very useful. Thank you.