Premmie isolation during winter is NO JOKE
Premmie isolation during winter is no joke. Believe it or not, we don’t stay home during winter and send ourselves stir crazy for the fun of it. But here ARE some fun facts for you: Your 'little cold' could seriously harm a premature child or newborn. Your cough that you think is no longer contagious could actually be deadly. Despite your misguided assumptions, it is not important to expose these little beings to germs when their immune system is virtually non-existent. So...when we politely decline a catch up (even if it’s ‘just a cold’), we’re actually not trying to be rude. When we put signs on our pram asking you 'please don't touch', we're actually not trying to be dramatic. We’re not being over-cautious or unreasonable, we are being cautious and reasonable. We understand that some things are unavoidable, but we’re just trying to keep our babies safe…and alive. But please, feel free roll your eyes and judge us, because despite what you may think, it actually won't make us risk the safety of our child. And if you’re still not convinced, please read this story:
Addison was born at 28+4 and spent 8 weeks in NICU/SCN. Apart from a few small hiccups she had a pretty smooth journey throughout her time there. Addison came home and was doing great, feeding well and settling into the family.
We took all the precautions we thought would help keep her safe. We have a sign on our door asking people to wash and sanitise their hands and not to visit if they have been around anyone unwell. We have hand sanitiser throughout the house and all of our kids know to wash their hands before touching their little sister. Being that she came home in winter, I basically gave up a normal life and hibernated at home to keep her safe.
Addison was home for 4 weeks when her 5 year old sister came home with a cold. Unfortunately we still had to do the school and kindy drop off and pick up which is unavoidable. I'm a very quiet person and even though every fibre of my being wanted to scream at people touching my baby, I didn't know how to tell them to stop. Teachers, kids and parents touched her without washing their hands, without asking me, without taking any precautions. I got out of there as quickly as I could each time...but it was too late.
Each of my kids got sick one by one. My 2 year old (ex 33-weeker) got quite bad and Addison followed…she was only 4 days old corrected. We went straight to the GP who swabbed them, and sure enough they were both RSV positive. We went home to keep an eye on them both. The next day Addison had two apnoea's (pauses in breathing) in my lap. We went straight to emergency and within a few hours she went from just being monitored, to low flow oxygen, to highflow, to bubble CPAP and getting transferred by medstar to a bigger hospital to being intubated. Addy wasn't breathing at all. Her heart rate was sitting in the 20's and she was requiring continuous resuscitation. She was needing to be paralysed on top of the sedation because her body would splint which resulted in them not being able to establish an airway.
For 15 days she was ventilated and had multiple code blues called on her. The little cold my 5 year old had from school turned into bronchiolitis and pneumonia with lots of complications. We very nearly lost our little girl. She has been home 3 weeks now and I'm petrified to leave the house. Every sneeze or cough scares me. A lot of people have no idea how common illnesses can affect newborns especially premature ones who have immature lungs.
I'm not scared to ask people politely to not touch my daughter now. Miracle Mumma’s sign that I have for the pram is a huge help because it stops people just reaching in. I still feel like I'm in a blur and don't have normality yet since her birth, she's 4 months old but most of that has been spent in hospital. Every day I am so thankful. I'll happily hear her cry at 1 am because I'm so grateful to have her here <3
- Becky Anne, Mum to Addison
I know I don't generally get this worked up, but this is (clearly) something I'm extremely passionate about. You may think we are on the other side of this, but I'm still living the effects of my 30 weekers immature lungs at the age of two! This is our third winter, and I was told that his lungs would have matured and developed by now, but unfortunately, the longest he has been 'well' this winter is a little over a week. Just two weeks ago he overcame pneumonia, and today he has developed that same cough & is requiring frequent ventolin for his increased work of breathing. Yes, kids get sick, but his 'sick' often requires oxygen or admission. Yes, he may 'seem' well and we may downplay it now, but this is just a reminder that premature birth can affect children beyond those NICU walls.
Thankyou Becky for sharing your story and helping me raise awareness of something so extremely important. I really hope it can save just one child and family from going through the trauma you have recently endured. You are brave, strong and a bloody good Mumma - don't you ever forget it.
This is not a joke. Let's keep these vulnerable children safe.