I knew about RSV when I was a first time mom. But I certainly was not nearly afraid of it as I was with my second babe.
Our first run in with RSV was when my oldest son was 26 months old — so he was a little over 2. He started with a cough, then a low grade fever, then a positive swab for RSV. He was sick but not SUPER sick. It wasn’t until the third night or so that the breathing really became affected.
Because of some stridor and because we were first time parents, we ended up in the ER on Christmas Eve. By the way — the ER on Christmas Eve is PACKED.
We did some breathing treatments, got some antibiotics for an ear infection that had presented itself since the positive swab for RSV, and celebrated Christmas. We did not do a single breathing treatment at home. And to be honest, I think we went to on celebrate Christmas with our families like nothing had happened. Yikes.
When I was pregnant with our third baby after losing our second baby, everything changed. I blame Facebook, but I was much more aware and seriously afraid of RSV.
Loss changes you. And so does experience.
The idea that it could just be a cold in an older kid or an adult shook me to my core. Because there is a large portion of the year that it seems everyone walks around with some kind of snot. You can blame allergies and sinuses all you want — but how does a mama protect a newborn from a something that looks like a cold when everyone has one?
Anxiety was super high.
We decided that no one was going to hold our newborn in the hospital, and that was a great decision. It made hospital visits easier on me, as the mama. I wanted to hold him forever anyway.
When we got home, I remember being in my room pumping when my in-laws visited. I could hear in my father-in-law’s voice that he had some congestion. It was likely just regular old seasonal congestion. But how was I supposed to know?
How was I supposed to protect my baby from RSV when it could look like just a cold?
We asked my father-in-law not to hold him. People did not love some of our decisions. But looking back, I wish I had asked my mother-in-law not to hold him, too. Because she certainly could have passed on the germs.
Some of you are reading this with wide eyes.
And they will get wider as I tell you that fewer than 10 people held this rainbow baby when he was a newborn — especially before his first shots.
But — we did what we had to do. We did what we thought — what we knew — to be best.
Fast forward two years —
That little rainbow baby gets RSV. He is 2.5.
Started with a cough, then a low grade fever. None of it was terrible. None of it was terrible until about the third day in the middle of the night. So much coughing. Coughing until puking.
Because I have done this before — I pulled out the nebulizer and we did some albuterol breathing treatments.
But as I sit here, it has been 5 miserable nights.
He has woken up coughing and crying and puking and getting junk out for 5 nights in a row. It is painful to watch. We soothe him and talk to him as he coughs so hard to get the junk up.
And my husband and I look at each other reading whether the other one is freaking out enough for an on call doc call or even an ER run. Each night, every single overprotective measure we took when he was a newborn is validated. Every single time we made someone angry because we told them they couldn’t hold our baby or every single eye roll we got because we asked people to wash their hands — yes, again!
It was all validated.
And for each night after, it was validated over and over again. Because if we were up and worried with our 2.5 year old who can talk and cough and communicate, can you freaking imagine what that would look like on a newborn? No. You can’t. I can’t. And I do not want to. It is horribly helpless and scary to watch your 2.5 year old strong and healthy baby struggle. It would kill me to watch my newborn struggle. Full on kill me. It is literally a tick for me in the con column for having another baby. I do not want to go through that fight again of trying to protect a little package that is so incredibly difficult to get healthy Earthside.
So all this to say — RSV is no freaking joke.
And it is not “easily preventable” because a cold is a cold and because people do not know the harm a simple cold can cause a newborn. So be protective as you need to be. Call me. I’ll send video of my 2.5 year old struggling to your people who want to be around your newborn with a cold. You can send it to your people.