When we have people visit, we ask that anyone coming to the house have recently showered and be wearing clean clothes that they have not worn in a public place. For example, when I leave the house, I put on “outside clothes” when I leave the house then change out of these clothes when I come back home. We also have a bunch of men’s button down shirts for people to put on over their clothes when they come into the house. Your first stop after petting the pugs when you walk in is to wash and sanitize your hands.
When we have people who come off an airplane or come from a hospital or school, we ask that they shower then put on clean clothes before they come over or right when they arrive if coming off the plane. Rich does this as well every Thursday night before he even touches the babies.
If you have been sick or around anyone sick in the last 72 hours we ask that you wait a week before coming over to the house. This includes anyone who has allergies or been around someone with allergies. The request about allergies came directly from our pediatrician because she said that people may get a cold but think it is due to allergies or vice versa and this way there is no question about the etiology of the sniffles.
Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-shul) virus (RSV) is a very common virus. RSV usually causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults and children. But premature babies or those with lung or heart problems have a high risk of getting very sick if they catch RSV early in life. This is because premature babies do not have fully developed lungs. Also, because they were born early, they may not have received virus-fighting substances (called antibodies) from their mothers that help them fight off RSV and other viruses.
Each year, an estimated 125,000 infants in the United States are hospitalized with severe RSV, the leading cause of infant hospitalization. Severe RSV infections may cause up to 500 infants deaths annually in the United States. RSV may also cause more long-term health problems, such as asthma.
FLU- swine and otherwise
Anyone who comes in contact with the babies should have gotten a regular flu shot and the H1N1 when it is available. I know this is a concern for some people who normally do not get the flu shot but we are asking that at least this year, everyone who will be coming in contact with babies get one.
Because of the H1N1 virology in the community combined with RSV, our pediatrician has asked that I don’t go back to work at the hospital because of the risk of bringing home H1N1 to the babies. But, after clearing it with an infectious disease doctor, I can go back for a few hours a week if it helps with my mental health. (Yes, it will.)
Our babies qualified for the monthly Synergis shots which are immune boosting shots that lessen the severity of the symptoms if they were to get RSV. The pediatric pulmonologist scheduled their first shots for October 15th, the exact day of insurance approval if that gives you an indication of how serious they are about RSV.
I've heard preemie families live in fear of RSV season because of the limitations on activities. I would guess this year will be a little easier than next when they are toddlers and running around but I know it is going to be difficult. This means no trip to Austin for the marathon in February, no flying to WI for Christmas, no trips to Neiman Marcus to sit on Santa’s lap, no TX vs. OU football parties or any of things I thought we would be doing with babies in their first year. I'm disappointed that we can't do these things until after the age of two but the importance of any one of these activities pales in comparison to the importance of their health.
So all of this explains why we have not invited anyone over to see the babies and why they (not me) are in relative seclusion until April. We can still go for walks and do things outdoors which will be my lifesaver. I promise, after April I’m going to haul these little critters all over so they can see the big wonderful world that exists outside of our house.
These babies have virtually no immune system at this point and these restrictions are their only protection. Yes, they are now the weight of full term infants but their immune systems and lungs will not be caught up to a baby born at full term until they are approximately 2 years old. We, along with everyone who has given us gifts of their time, thoughts, and prayers have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to bring these babies into the world healthy and we will do everything we can to keep them that way. We appreciate everyone’s continued help to keep them growing and healthy, happy and beautiful.