THE NICU EXPERIENCE

The TV series ‘this is us’ recently aired an episode in its latest season where one of the main characters experiences a premature birth at 28 weeks. I’ve not yet been able to watch the episode myself, but I have seen many comments eluding to the fact that it is sadly, wildly inaccurate and does not portray the NICU experience as well as it could have. I can understand though how much of a daunting task this could have been for producers though, so I’ll reserve judgement for when I’ve seen the episode myself.

Thing is though. The NICU is near impossible to describe. Nothing can prepare you for what you experience when you walk in there for the first time. It is terrifying. It’s like bulldozing through a brick wall, in a hazy slow motion, while someone is throwing bricks at you. Blow by blow you keep moving forward one step at a time, you can’t stop, you can’t run for cover, you have no choice but to keep moving forward one step at a time.

Before you even get to see your child for the first time there are ground rules, things to learn, things to do. Learning how to wash your hands, where to leave your phone, what you may and may not wear, what you may not bring in, where you leave your handbag, bottled water, much needed coffee, etc. These are only the beginning and once you’ve navigated your way through washing your hands and ensuring that your clothes are cupboard fresh and not covered in hospital germs, you enter your babies room. Any number of life saving equipment surrounds their incubator, attached to them, keeping them alive. You search in the dark of the incubator for the tiny body that is apparently your baby. When your eyes finally settle on her you are shocked at just how small and fragile she is.

A rare moment when the Giraffe Incubator is open. Charlotte is in there, somewhere.

You are only beginning to comprehend what lies ahead for you and your family. While you are still trying to comprehend what’s happened, your babies nurse gently explains her vitals to you and tries to navigate you through it all. She’s honestly giving you as little information as possible during your first visit. But it feels as though she’s throwing a medical journals worth of information at you in one go. You can hear her, but you can’t really make sense of it all. All you can do is to look at your child. Breaking eye contact is next to impossible, you fear that if you stop looking at them that something will happen to them, that they’ll feel you leaving their side and not want to fight any more. You are trying to hear the nurse, but there are a thousand pieces of equipment humming, pinging and beeping in the background. Just outside the door are more nurses discussing their patients, alarms beep in the background, a radio plays a familiar inappropriately cheerful song in the background. In the corner a mom is reading softly to her baby. You want to ask questions, but your tongue has gone dry. And with every unfamiliar new alarm sounding off suddenly in the background or in your babies room, your heart stops beating, fearing that the alarm is announcing death.

Welcome to the NICU. Your journey is only just beginning. For most babies, their stays will be nothing more than a formality or precaution and a night or two, albeit, these few nights will be understandably terrifying for their parents. For others the stay will be for a few days, perhaps even a week. And for a small percentage, the stay will be months.

It’s a unique world. One that can only be comprehended and understood once you have been unwillingly cast into it. If you were fortunate enough like we were to be part of a small and intimate NICU, you find yourself becoming part of the furniture almost. You sit at your daughters door, confined to her room, her sleeping on your chest finally, or still confined to her incubator, reading out requested nursey rhymes to staff and parents. You share jokes, knit patterns, favourite recipes.

You learn to read the nurses faces in the morning when you arrive, you know when there’s been a new arrival and it’s been touch and go. You learn which paediatrician is on duty, purely from a nurses demeanor when you greet them. You grab coffee for everyone from the staff canteen, you’ve been there so long that people start assuming you are part of the staff content of the hospital. You assist new parents when they are standing by the basin, unable to remember exactly how to wash their hands, terrified that if they do it wrong that they will kill their baby, so they stand there and stare blankly at the basin.

You stare in awe at your baby and wonder when you’ll be able to do more than just hover your hand above her body, her skin so fragile that a simple touch can tear it open. You wonder if she can hear your voice. You are overwhelmed with emotion on the day you walk in and are told you can hold her for the first time. You’ve been yearning to hold her for weeks and the time is finally there. You can’t believe she is yours, how perfectly natural it is to hold her, in spite of the equipment attached to her. And then the shear horror when she is so comfortable that she altogether stops breathing or her heart stops beating while she lies sleeping on your chest. When nurses calmly massage her to get her heart pumping again and when essentially you learn to revive your own child every time it happens again after in the seconds it takes the nurse to get there. You begin to fear that holding her will kill her. You spent weeks aching to hold her but now you are too afraid to do so.

You learn the palour of her skin and the change of her vitals and know that the paediatrican will be asking for you to sign the umpteenth consent form for a blood transfusion. You stare at her first outfit, neatly folded and waiting beside her nappies, where it’s been for weeks, waiting for her to be strong enough, old enough, big enough to wear her first clothes.

You spend your days at your child’s bedside watching new babies arrive and go home before yours. For every two steps closer to taking your baby home, there is a guaranteed step backward as well. You swell with love and pride when you say goodbye to parents taking their babies home, but your heart aches for yourself, you wonder how it feels, and if you will ever feel it for yourself.

You overhear things naturally through your time there. You find out which babies are terminal, inoperable, made miraculous recoveries, gained weight, successfully transitioned onto breast milk, pulled through NEC, came off ventilation, were going to be discharged and so much more.

You go home every single day wondering if that night is going to be the night that you get a call to go back because something bad happened. You lay awake at night, waiting for the phone to ring. You stare at the ceiling and wonder how you will make it through the next day, but somehow you do. You look over at the calendar on the wall and realize you haven’t marked off yet another day in the NICU, 75 and counting you realize. When will it be our turn to bring our baby home???

Going home is the ultimate goal though isn’t it?! And when you are given the date you are thrilled, overjoyed, overwhelmed, and strangely terrified. You realize that you won’t be able to rely on all the equipment to tell you if your baby has stopped breathing or if her heart forgot to carry on beating. That looking after your baby will be on your shoulders only. After months of relying on the help and guidance of an entire medical team of professionals, you’re now responsible to care for a medically fragile infant. Suddenly you’re not so sure you want to go home after all.

Almost wire free and ready to go home.

Life within those walls is something that can rarely, if ever, be adequately put to words. Daily, you or those around you, are faced with scenarios you never imagined possible. There is no time to process what has happened, you live moment to moment, crisis to crisis, victory to victory. You watch the clock and count the days until you can take your baby home. Because when you walk out those doors, your life will pick up where you left it. The truth is though, that for most, life will never be the same again.

The NICU is an experience that changed me for life. I walked out those doors with my daughter as a different person. I’ve only skimmed the waters edge with some of what I personally experienced and what many other parents experience in their time there. Every babies journey is different, but the fear their parents feel when they know their child will be spending an indefinite amount of time there is universally understood by anyone who has worked or spent time there.

On our way home for the first time, after 91 days in the NICU.

Everything happens for a reason

“Everything happens for a reason”

It is one of those phrases often offered up as reassurance that whatever devastating or stressful circumstance has occurred, is somehow justifiable.  It also happens to be one of the most cruel and senseless sentences offered to someone in situations where lifes injustices just do not make any fathomable sense whatsoever.

I remember hearing these words when we had to terminate our first pregnancy with a D&C surgical procedure.  I was told this when our daughter was born 14 weeks premature. And once even had this sentiment thrown at me when I discussed my daughters survival rates with someone.  “Just remember, everything happens for a reason” As if this is any consolation for our fears and grief.

In a month which honours pregnancy and infant loss I have seen so many posts online where these hollow words have been offered as some form of comfort and solace. Please let it be known, these words do nothing to comfort someone experiencing a loss.  It will stay in our hearts and memories for as long as we live and breathe. It will never make sense.

I knew within days that I was pregnant. I instinctively knew something was different. But I brushed it aside and went on with my life. Until a few weeks later when I knew I had to confirm my suspicions and blood tests confirmed it.  I was beyond terrified and shocked. We didn’t want children. We had never planned a future which included us having to care for a little person.

But we grew excited at the prospect and opened ourselves up to the life we would now be leading. It never occurred to us that something could go wrong. Nobody in our circle of friends ever spoke of miscarriage or infant loss. So at our second ultrasound when there was no heartbeat we were blindsided.  Our baby had stopped growing, but my body had not recognised it’s failure to develop further.

Our elation instantly turned to devastation. The little life we had grown excited for was over, before we had even seen a heartbeat.

The problem with the pregnancy is what is referred to as a Blighted Ovum and is when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall but fails to develop at all, or stops developing in the very early stages.  The body has not recognized the failure of development and the placenta continues to grow whilst all normal pregnancy symptoms are present and HCG counts continuously increase, as would occur in a normal pregnancy.

A blighted ovum accounts for almost 50% of first trimester miscarriages and most women are not even aware that they were pregnant to begin with. While the causes are not completely known, there are studies which suggest this occurs because a woman’s body recognises abnormal chromosomes within the foetus and naturally does not allow the development to continue as the foetus is unlikely to develop into a healthy infant.

The loss we experienced changed our lives as it does for many.  Over time though I have learnt that this loss is not considered real for others. I recall a woman once saying to me ‘Oh, that’s not a loss, that was a fake pregnancy, why make such a big deal about it’. I didn’t respond, but her comment was cold and cruel beyond any reasonable means.  I recall sometime later that someone asked me about my daughter (who was still in NICU after being born 14 weeks premature) and the very same woman turned around and asked me if my baby was a vegetable.

The world is full of these types of people. As a fellow blogger stated this morning ‘Some people are born with compassion and empathy in their soul, I firmly believe it’s not a skill you can be taught.. it is something you either have or you don’t’  And she is 100% correct in this.  Yes, we sometimes struggle to know what to say or how to offer support, but that is very different to being completely incapable of showing compassion and respect for someone else’s very real loss.

I have spoken and offered support to so many woman who have faced premature birth or infant loss over the last two and a half years and I still struggle to find the right words to offer my love and support. For each and every one of them their journey has been a struggle, many were not able to take their beautiful children home and with each loss experienced I was wracked with heartache, injustice and a terrible guilt knowing that I was one of the lucky few who were blessed with a surviving infant.  I wanted to promised each and every one of them that their stories would end as ours had, but life is not fair. Life flings shit at us that makes absolutely no sense. And none of it ‘happens for a reason’.

So spare a thought this month for loved ones who have loved and lost, be it at 6 weeks, 6 months, full term or after birth. Nothing in this world is promised to us. Nothing is guaranteed.  Much of what happens is beyond our control. But what we can control is our compassion and respect for everyone experiencing a loss.

Preeclampsia, Eclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

Beyonce recently shared some insight into the pregnancy and delivery of her birth (link ). It highlighted her experience with what she referred to as ‘Toxemia’. Toxemia is an ‘out of practice’ name for preeclampsia. It may also be termed as PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) in certain countries.

Preeclampsia affects 5-10% of pregnancies. Most often it occurs late in the third trimester of pregnancy, but it may develop anytime from 20 weeks gestation and in very rare cases, before 20 weeks.

Most cases of preclampsia will result in the birth of a healthy baby because statistically, most pregnant women who develop it will do so in the last few
weeks of pregnancy (34 weeks-40/41 weeks) which is when a foetus is classified as either ‘moderately premature’, ‘late pre-term’ or full term. Their organs and lungs in particular are almost fully developed and they have received much of their required immunities from their mother.

Hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia account for up to 14% of preterm birth (before 36 weeks gestation).

Preeclampsia accounts for almost 13% of maternal deaths worldwide which translates into a resultant maternal death every 12 minutes in the world.

While these statistics are staggering, many expectant women are not made aware of this potentially life threatening illness. The symptoms themselves may often be mistaken for normal pregnancy related side effects and as a result it can be easy to miss or misdiagnose initially.

Most cases of preeclampsia aren’t initially noticeable because many of them are so easily relatable to normal pregnancy side effects, but a combination of
symptoms or persistant issues should have you seeing your gynae for a checkup.

The most common symptoms are
* headaches;
* blurred vision;
* upper abdominal pain;
* dramatic and sudden weight gain; and
* decreased urine output.

If left undiagnosed, cases of preeclampsia can progress into eclampsia, which can result in seizures or strokes.

But what exactly is Preeclampsia? Essentially it is a combination of increased blood pressure and elevated protein levels in your urine. It may also result in low blood clotting factors, kidney and liver complications. It affects the blood flow to the placenta, often leading to smaller or prematurely born babies as a result of slowed or restricted growth, lower than normal birth weights and increased infant mortality rates. Most commonly, an infant born as a result of preeclampsia or eclampsia is often referred to as an IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction) baby because of their smaller size and weight.

Another development of preeclampsia and eclampsia which can occur, as the illness progresses, is HELLP (haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome. Statistically up to 15% of sufferers of preeclampsia will progress into HELLP syndrome. The global mortality rate for HELLP syndrome is a staggering 25%. Typically symptoms of HELLP syndrome are

* Headaches;
* Nausea, vomiting and indigestion with pain after eating;
* Abdominal or chest tenderness at the base of your rib cage (from liver distention);
* Shoulder pain or pain when breathing deeply (fluid builds up in your lungs which creates difficulty in breathing);
* Bleeding;
* Blurred vision; and
* Edema (swlling) in limbs.

Testing blood pressure and protein levels in your urine are methods to test for HELLP syndrome.

HELLP syndome can also present itself in mothers without the presence of preeclampsia or eclampsia, and in rare occurances may even occur after childbirth.

The only known cures for preeclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome is child birth and the removal of the placenta. This is not guaranteed to be an instantaneous cure however, many women still experience issues for weeks, months and sometimes years after the birth of their child.

While the exact cause for developing preeclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome is not yet fully understood, there are certain genetic and environmental factors which likely contribute to the increased of likelihood of developing these or all of these illnesses:

* Your age: teenagers and women over the age of 40 are at greatest risk;
* If you experienced preeclampsia or eclampsia in a previous pregnancy;
* Obesity;
* A history of high blood pressure prior to pregnancy;
* A pregnancy as a result of egg donation or donor sperm insemination;
* Having a mother, sister or close family relative who had preeclampsia;
* Having Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, certain Kidney diseases, sickl     cell disease; and
* Having a multiple gestation (2 or more foetus simultaneously).

There are still many mysteries surrounding the exact causes and contributing factors towards an otherwise healthy pregnancy developing into preeclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, including theories of genetic incompatibilities, the body rejecting the placenta, etc.  It cannot be prevented as yet, and the only known cure is delivery.  It can however be monitored and in certain scenarios, proper management can prevent it escalating at a rate which is life threatening to mother and/or child.

Statistically, our story, is a rare occurrence. Yet, I’ve met so many incredible women who have experienced the same journey. Some have their children in their arms, some of their children gained wings, some were too terrified to ever try again and some were courageous enough to risk it all again for the chance to have another child.

Charlotte for us is our one and only after our journey. I developed HELLP syndrome in the middle of my emergency caesarean. I had a dialysis machine on standby, waiting to be connected up to me to save my life. My daughter weighed 3 weeks behind in her weight and faced insurmountable odds of surviving and being a healthy active child one day. My husband faced the risk of losing his wife and child, or being faced with the prospect of raising a medically complex child on his own.

Would I do this all again? No. The risks for me are far too great. I do not believe my body could handle it all again. I do not want my daughter to grow up without her mother if I can help it at all. I do not want to run the risk of placing another child through the pain and trauma of a premature birth.

The survivors guilt is one which is immense. I don’t for a second regret fighting to save Charlotte. But I have tremendous amounts of guilt for doing so. It’s hard to explain, and believe me, I’ve tried, on numerous occasions. When we were faced with the recommendation to terminate her and ‘move on and try again in a few months’ I was beyond devastated, for many reasons. The decision to keep fighting for her may have appeared to many people to be a brave one, for others I know it was seen as a selfish choice. And here’s the thing, I can see and sympathise with both sides of the coin.

Charlotte is healthy, for all our issues with feeding aside, she is a perfect stereotypical happy and healthy toddler who has met all her milestones. In many aspects she appears to be well ahead of some of her peers. But not all stories end as ours has. Many children do not survive, or they live with lifelong complications resulting from severe premature birth, from lung issues, hypertension, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, heart conditions as adults, minor or severe brain damage and metabolic issues. Charlottes story could have led in so many different directions. I have deep admiration for any parent who has a medically complex child, the road is not paved smoothly, particularly when your childs’ medical complexities are possibly not physically visible to the outside world.

Deciding to fight for her, to give her a fighting chance could have resulted in creating lifelong problems for her. I have days where I feel immense pride in making the right decision to fight for her. There are also days where I remember the look on her face, how tiny and helpless she was, lying in her artificial womb incubator, connected up to dozens of life saving equipment and wondering if I haved saved her, for her, or for my own selfish desires. How much of her pain and suffering was justifiable through my actions and decisions?

It’s a complex thought process, and a dangerous one I think. One which could drive a mother to the brink of insanity. I don’t believe though that there is one simple answer, there is no clear cut right or wrong decision. It’s an impossible decision to make, yet we are faced with having to make it. And either way you look at it, and regardless of the outcome, you will always replay that decision over and over in your mind.

Through all of this though, brave mamma’s across the world face these odds head on, taking any number of risks to fall pregnant and carry their children as far to full term as what is humanly possible.

 

It takes a village

The role of parent is not an easy one.  We are tasked with so much responsibility.  At the end of each evening I find myself questioning my abilities. I run the entire day through my head.  How I could have done things better.  That my daughter deserves someone far more capable than I.  How I’ll cope with the following days challenges.  Am I allowing her enough freedom, or not enough?  Am I giving her the right skill sets to become independent?  Am I too hard on her? Am I too lenient on her?

We are the caregivers for a future generation. It’s not a role to be taken lightly.  It rests in our hands to raise these little people the right way.  Ensuring that we have given them the right set of skills, in order for them to have the best possible outcome to start a life on their own one day.  We need to ensure that we raise healthy, compassionate, confident, happy and well-developed people.  But raising a child takes more than a parent or two or three doesn’t it?!  It takes a village really.  Family, friends, caregivers, mentors, teachers, tutors, neighbours and even strangers.  We all play a pivotal role in creating successful future generations of functional adults.  As a society in entirety, we are responsible for ensuring that future generations are looked after.

We have shared much of our daughters’ and our story to create awareness for others.  One such story occurred this past week. Charlotte grew very ill, very quickly.  One listen to her lungs by her paediatrician and we were immediately admitted to the isolation ward in paediatrics.  She had contracted pneumonia in both lungs.  Very bad for a former micro preemie with a history of chronic lung disease.  Further tests also confirmed that she had contract ‘RSV’, which was likely the outlying cause of her contracting pneumonia as a secondary infection.  With confirmation of her diagnosis I opted to re-share a prior post I had made in sharing awareness and preventative measures surrounding ‘RSV’.

So many wonderful and amazing members of our village offered love, support and encouragement. Many more shared the post to create further awareness, which in itself is amazing support and love.  And as I wondered through the comments made on various shared posts I noticed a handful of interesting comments.

One comment noted that the poster couldn’t see what the big deal was. It is after all just a common cold, one which all children will have at some point.  She’s not wrong with that statement, but it is a fairly naive and narrow-minded one if I’m honest. Another which struck me hard in the feels was one which stated that as Charlottes’ mother, it was my sole responsibility to ensure that she is protected from germs.  Yes, thank you for pointing out that I failed my daughter.  Let me add however, that while it is indeed my responsibility to protect Charlotte, it is equally your responsibility to prevent the spread of your and your little ones germs.

The comments got me thinking though.  Had the objective of my original post not been clear?  So I went back and read through it a few more times to see what I had missed.  What I noted at the end of the exercise was that I was encouraging nothing more than basic hygiene etiquette from general functional and rational members of society, whom I presume to be capable of logical thought.

A lot of the original post focused on prevention. How to best prevent the spread of this horrible virus. Simple, basic tasks such as:

  • Washing your hands regularly, especially after being in contact with known germs, viruses and bacteria.
  • To cough or sneeze into the small of your elbow or into a tissue to prevent airborne particles.
  • To wipe down surfaces you may touch in public spaces, that others will be in contact with.
  • To teach your children to cough with a hand in front of their mouth.
  • To keep sick children at home as far as possible. Yes, we all know it’s difficult and sometimes impossible. But again, revert back to basic hygiene 101, clean surfaces they come in contact with.
  • By wiping your hands before you pick up a dozen different bags of pasta to see which one floats your boat for dinner.
  • By confining your sick child to a baby wrap, sling or even a trolley instead of allowing them to run amock down all the aisles.
  • By wiping down your trolley when leaving the store.
  • By not taking your sick child to school, childrens parties, play areas and parks or to the local Spur play area on a Friday evening.

None of these are overly complicated and impossible to achieve, and all are  respectful and mindful of the basic hygienic rights of all members of our villages.

So yes, as you so wisely pointed out, as much as it is my responsibility to protect my daughter, it is equally my responsibility to ensure that if she or I are ill, that I prevent the spread of those germs to you. And we expect the same respect, courtesy and effort in return. It is also my responsibility to nurture my daughters development in its entirety, this includes so much more than just her health. It includes her social development with society, her friends, class mates, adults and strangers.  I have to find the right balance between her health and well being to ensure that all aspects of her development are nurtured.  In order for me and for any other parent to fulfil this task successfully we need to work together to ensure that we are offering all of our children, safe environments in which to develop.

So while my daughter remains highly contagious for the next few weeks you will likely see very little of me out and about. But, if you do happen to see a crazy lady with a pile of sanitizing wipes in the store, frantically wiping down her hands, trolley, milk bottles, blocks of cheese and bags of pasta, wave your own sanitizing wipe in my direction and say hi!

You are the people who I want in our village!

If you would like to read up more on RSV please do click on the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/RaisingCharlottePE/photos/a.1688358448096619.1073741827.1688213771444420/2010252569240537/?type=3&theater

Much love from the hand sanitizer queen to all of you!!!

 

 

Our first illness

This sums up our past week.  C contracted Roseola, aka Baby Measles.  It has taken a lot out of her.  She’s conquered the high fevers, is covered in a light rash that has extended up into her face, is battling and is having to contend with a very tender throat, massively reduced apetite and tires very quickly.

That she caught this was inevitible actually.  Most babies contract this between the ages of 6 months to 2 years of age.  It is a relatively harmless virus in comparison to it’s name sakes of Measles and German Measles. Because it is a virus and not a bacteria it is not treatable, other than providing relief for their sore throats, managing the fever and keeping them adequately hydrated and nourished.  It subsides normally within a few days to a week from when the fever started.

For ‘normal’ children these illnesses are not serious, and as much as I love to try and think of C as a normal child, the reality is that she is, but on the same token she is not. She is after all a surviving micro prem, and as such has an immune system with a massive deficit in comparison to her full term friends.  Her body is building, growing and developing her immune system, but mild illnesses like Roseola, can take a lot more toll on her fragile system than it would under normal circumstances.  Which is why prevention has been critical to us for at least the first year of her life.  As a result of this recent episode we’ve had to postone her very important 9 month vaccinations.

While I cannot contain her in a protective bubble for her entire life, much as I would like to, we do go to incredible lengths to ensure that our daughter is safely guarded from potentially threatening illnesses that could compromise her health and impede her development.  We take great care in ensuring that anything we bring home from public spaces is wiped down and cleaned, we religiously ensure that we have access to hand sanitizer to keep our own hands clean before touching her after being in public spaces, we do not allow anyone who is ill to enter our home, environment or be in contact with her.  Our close friends and family know to inform us if mutual guests at a function are ill or if they are ill themselves.  I socialise with a group of moms who are aware of our circumstances and respect our relentless need to keep C from harmful illnesses.  I have gone as far as interrogating venues about their cleaning regimes for their soft play areas.  I. AM. THAT. MOTHER.

So, when my child contracted a virus that she should not have been exposed to yet, I got raging mad.  Roseola is highly contagious, particularly in children with poor immune systems and is predominantly spread through direct contact. When one considers that 90% of babies who contract Roseola show a visible rash, have high fevers and exhibit symptoms of being ill, then I would assume the parents are aware that their child is ill.  The virus is also only contagious once symptoms have exhibited themselves.  Yet somehow they saw fit to allow their child to socialise with other children, without divulging their childs health status.

All too often I’m reminded that children need to be exposed to germs, and I don’t disagree one bit.  But when you have been placed in the position of having an immune compromised child you quickly learn that an immune system is something which is built up slowly over time and age, not only exposure.  How and when they are exposed is something we don’t always have control over, but where we can we need to protect them, particularly in the first few months of their young lives.  Some children take longer for various reasons, this is why some react worse to certain illnesses than others. Their bodies need to time to strengthen and learn to cope over time with the introduction of bacteria, germs and various viruses.

So, when your darling seems to handle a cold, flu, virus or bacterial infection like a champion, don’t be so naive as to think that all other children will cope as well as yours did, or that you are doing them a favour by helping other children by exposing them to germs to build their immune system (as I’ve heard one mother justify herself).  Consider the remote possibility, that amongst the sea of fresh faced smiling tots in the play park or kiddies party, that there are a few who might not be equipped to handle that bug as well as your darling did.  That amongst those kids are a handful who have weakened, sensitive systems and who will not sail smoothly through the ‘little bug’ that you knowingly passed on.

I’m a mom, I know how difficult it is to keep a sick child indoors, away from public spaces and other children, it is hard, sometimes downright impossible. But you know what you do in the event of having to go into public?  You ensure that you carry sanitiser with you, you ensure that whatever you or your child has touched is wiped down for the sake of the next person who touches it, you disclose your childs health status in the event of anyone wanting physical contact with them.  We had to do just this right after our visit to the paed where we were told she had Roseola, we had to buy Charlottes special formula from the only store in PE that had stock left of it (thanks again for that Nestle rep), I made sure to strap that child to my chest so that she could touch nothing and nobody. Anyone who wanted to touch or interact was told she was ill and contagious by touch, I damn near felt like a leper towards the end of our shopping but you know what, I made sure to make the best out of a bad situation and ensured that we did not spread the virus.

Please moms, the next time your precious is ill, think a little further than your own nose and realise that there are so many children out there who do not have rockstar immune systems like your child does, do the right thing, stay home or disclose their health status immediately and give the rest of us a chance to decide if we want to expose our children or not.