If lungs were trees

Here it is- summer- some very hot days & some nice days- and the babies are sick.  For about the last week and a half, we have been fighting a viral infection: snotty noses, some coughing, horrendous acidic poop, diaper rashes–and teething.

It’s very hard for me to see the babies sick.  Don’t roll your eyes at me!  I know some of you think I’m overprotective- that I’m silly to be so concerned.  So I felt it was time to do a refresher on the importance of our babies avoiding certain germs/bugs/colds/viruses/etc.

The babies were born at 31weeks and 1 day.  I was very thankful that during my pregnancy, I was able to get vaccinations, as well as a couple rounds of steroids. The steroids were to help boost the babies lungs.

Let’s take a quick look at this:
premature baby lungs

Do you see a slight different in the lungs? The premature lungs have less alveoli. Meaning, the airways in their lungs are smaller.  Also, preemies often don’t have enough surfactant. At least 2 or 3 of my babies had to have surfactant injected into their lungs. What to know what that’s like? It’s painful enough that they gave them a narcotic. I remember that day, walking in and seeing poor little Lily- lethargic.  I still couldn’t even hold her yet. I couldn’t snuggle her and tell her that it’d be ok.  I could only sit in tears and apologize that I couldn’t carry them further.

preemie lungs

Preemies are also at a heightened risk of RSV.  Most people respected our requests when the babies came home that people have their vaccinations and avoid coming over if they so much as thought they might be sick or someone in the house might be sick or they had been around someone who was sick. We appreciate this MORE THAN YOU KNOW!  That gave us time to spend at home, time to grow- and not worry about being in a hospital recovering from sickness.

Prior to the babies coming home, we had to sit through a class where the neonatologist informed us of all the horrible things than can happen if the babies get sick.  I only wish I had a video of his speech.  Let’s just say, it was scary enough that Paul & I both agreed we would have to be strict- no matter how others felt about it.  We refused to let our babies get exposed to something.

Our babies were born just past the cut off for receiving Synagis. That is a very expensive drug that helps prevent preemies from getting RSV.  When I say expensive, I mean like $2000 a shot—and they need about 6 shots total.  Yeh- we don’t have that type of money and insurance says since they were born after 30 weeks and weighed over 1500grams (except samford) they don’t qualify. So this meant Paul & I had the be our own Synagis and be germ cops.

Because not only were the babies’ airways smaller, but they also lacked antibodies.  This is one of the main reasons why I continue to breastfeed. I want them to get as much protection as possible- but even breastfeeding cannot make up for the 9 weeks they missed in utero.

There are a couple things myself (and other moms of preemies) hear:

  • “they need to be exposed”- they have lots of years to be exposed. Being under strict watch the first year or 2 of life is only going to help them.
  • “babies need to get sick.” No baby “needs” to get sick- especially preemies. They need to worry about growing.
  • “but they don’t look or act like preemie”–can you see within to their immune systems? They are still preemie. Preemies are considered preemie until at least 2 years of age- longer for some.
  • “well my baby has been exposed and is ok.” Great. You have your way and I have mine. I prefer not to test it. Again- I have premature quadruplets. If one gets sick, they all get sick. I can’t risk some things.

One last visual:

if lungs were trees

If lungs were trees…plain & simple- preemies don’t have as many leaves—and leaves are how trees breathe.

How can you help us prevent the babies from getting sicK?

Some simple rules/tips:

  • Wash your hands. All the time. If you are around the babies, wash your hands. Wash between holding & changing & feeding. Wash if you wipe your face. Wash, wash, wash.
  • Avoid being around babies if you have a cold or have had a fever. Living in the south, it’s hard to discern between colds & allergies. I like to err on the side of caution. This coming from the Momma who made the babies’ daddy wear a mask because he couldn’t be sure he wasn’t sick.
  • If you, or someone you are in regular contact with (at school, home, or work) is sick, don’t visit.  Erring with caution. Often, we are carriers of colds/viruses long before we know we are sick.
  • Do not smoke before coming into the home or prior to holding the babies. If you smoke, please shower and wash your hair & hands prior to holding a baby.
  • Please do not wear shoes in the home.
  • and read this Isolation isn’t about you.
  • Apply these tips- not just to preemies- but to all new babies.
  • Respect new momma’s wishes…we are just trying to do what WE feel is right for our babies…and no one knows a baby better than it’s own momma

New mommas have enough to worry about without having to worry about their babies getting sick. These are some things that, I admit, I never thought about until our babies were born.

So this is why I’m so cautious….

And this is why I’m kicking myself in the butt that the babies are sick. Not only do I feel horrible that they are sick- but I’m also taking care of them. Anyone else ever take care of 4 infants who are sick & teething (quad moms, you can’t answer that!)  Yeh, it’s not fun.  Everyone wants to be held. I want to hold everyone. The snot is ridiculous. And just when I think I’ve cleaned all the poopy diapers- there’s another.  It’s exhausting.

No, I’m not looking for sympathy- don’t give me any. This is my life. I just want you all to understand why I’m a germ freak with the babies.  I don’t want one or all to get sick to the point that they end up back in the hospital…

Because that is real.

On top of all the devastating news in the quad world, a local triplet family is dealing with a horrible time themselves.  About a week after being home from the hospital, their little guy contracted a serious form of meningtis and is not doing well.  This hits too close to home.  After several strokes, he has been released with hospice to be comfortable with family. I’ve been praying for this family and ask my readers to pray as well. …

EDITED 7/16/15- Today, at 0630hours, little Landon took his final mission and was called home.  Please continue to pray for this family as they cope with the loss of their baby boy.

Preemies are fragile- always. And so are full term babies.  Please, be mindful  of germs…and hug you babies closer tonight and every night.  We are never guaranteed more than this moment.


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