Tag Archive | isolation

Welcome to Cold/Flu/RSV season! 

It’s October, and you know what that means! Cooler temps, pumpkin spice everything, and the onset of cold/flu/RSV season! If you haven’t scheduled your yearly flu shot, you really should, especially if you have contact with young children or the elderly. Herd immunity is so important to protect our most vulnerable populations. As you should know if you are a reader of this blog, preemies in particular are incredibly susceptible to illness, but especially RSV. Most babies get RSV by the time they are two years old and it manifests as a bad cold. Not so for preemies. RSV can cause pneumonia, bronchiolitis, even death. 

This year will be Little Miss Minion’s second Cold/flu/RSV season, and her first without the monthly Synagis shots. In case you’ve forgotten, Synagis is a shot of antibodies given to the most vulnerable preemies to try and boost their immune systems to fight off RSV. LMM doesn’t qualify for the shots anymore, so she will be facing this season on her own. That means that the Minion household will be extra vigilant about germs–not that we aren’t already. 

This concludes my annual plea to get yourself and your family a flu shot this year. Help protect babies like Little Miss Minion, who can get severely ill from something as simple as the flu. Stay home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough. Keep your germs to yourself!

Baby Goes Shopping!

Huge milestone today: Little Miss Minion came with us when we went grocery shopping! This is the 8th place she has ever been in her whole life. 

She held on to the front of the basket to keep her balance, and she seemed to really like looking around at all the colors and people. Definitely needs to wear pants next time-we had her in a onesie and she seemed cold. And some older lady got a little too close and asked us how old LMM is. She guessed six months, and when we told her she was a year old, the lady smiled and awkwardly walked away. Fine by me. 

Weekend grocery trips are going to be so much easier. I think I’ll get her a shirt that says NO TOUCHING and we’ll be good.

Slow and Steady

Little Miss Minion had her (almost) 12 month checkup this afternoon. She’s technically only 11 months, but close enough. She is now a whopping 16 pounds, 2.2 ounces, which is 8.6 times her birth weight, and 25 inches long. Her pediatrician said that she’s one of the happiest and social babies she sees, and that she’s very happy with her progress. She went over Little Miss Minion’s stats with me, as always, and she’s right on track. She’s on the regular growth chart now! Usually, we use the preemie growth chart because it adjusts for the slower growth and lower beginning weight of preemies, comparing them to each other instead of full term babies. But this time, we compared her to the chart for full term babies born on her birthday, and she’s at 6.6%! Her head circumference is perfect, which is good news for both brain development and hydrocephalus concerns. Stable head growth is good. 

Upcoming adventures include a March of Dimes walk in a couple of weeks, orthotics, and another neurosurgeon follow up and MRI. The March of Dimes walk will be her first real contact with The Public aka Germ Central. The good news is that the event is outside and the team I’m walking with is her NICU team, mostly nurses, who know all about Preemie Protocol. One of my coworkers and her husband are walking with us, plus my sister is coming! I’m touched that other people want to walk in support of LMM, and for all of the donations we’ve raised for the cause. 

Other than that, not too much else going on in the Minion household. 

11 Months Old

It’s hard to believe that Little Miss Minion is already 11 months old. In the past couple of weeks, she’s said her first word (Mama), pulled herself up from sitting, started to crawl, and has tried lots of new foods. Current weight is 15 pounds, 8.6 ounces. She’s outgrowing most of her 3 month clothes and starting to fill in her 6 month outfits. In one month, we can start taking her places in public. We will still need to carefully monitor the germ situation, since her lungs are still catching up, but her immune system should be significantly stronger, although since she’s still just a baby, it still won’t be as strong as yours or mine. And it still won’t be caught up with her chronological age, but it will be strong enough that we can expose her, with extreme caution. Lots of Lysol and hand sanitizer, but she will be out in the world!

Are we there yet?

Two more months until we can start bringing Little Miss Minion around other people. It’s going to be so strange to be able to go grocery shopping without putting it on a calendar, or being able to run into the store for something without having to plan on someone watching her.

I know she’ll probably be sick all summer from being out among the general population. We will still do our best to prevent that since her lungs won’t have caught up yet, but her immune system will be so much stronger than it was that time last year.

I’m looking forward to showing her off. Hey everyone, look at my warrior baby and see how big and strong she is! See her shunts and know what she has been through. Receive a smile and know that you witness a miracle. Try to touch her and I will rain hell fire down upon you. 🙂  No reason to tempt fate.

2 Months Adjusted

Today marks two months after my original due date, August 6. Little Miss Minion is 2 months adjusted today, and she has learned so many new things since 1 month adjusted. She smiles on her own at Mr Minion and I. She smiles when we smile at her. She grasps toys, bats at the hanging toys on her play gym, and laughs. She rolled over twice yesterday–very impressive. And she will sit almost unsupported, just with light support around her waist. She weighed 9 pounds 7 ounces a couple of weeks ago at her last pediatrician appointment, so I am sure that she is into double digits by now. She’s outgrowing some of her newborn outfits (mostly onesies), and is into 0-3 months now. She’s still taking about the same amount of milk-right around 100-110 mls, which is 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 ounces. She’s starting to finish them completely, so we’ll probably bump her up to 120 mls, or 4 ounces, in the next couple of weeks.

Our other big milestone this month (besides her 5 month birthday on the 14th) is her first Synagis injection. Synagis is a shot that is given to at-risk babies to help reduce the severity of RSV, should they acquire it. You can read more about it HERE. She qualifies based on her birth weight and will get one shot every month for five months. What’s the big deal, you might ask. All babies get sick, after all. How else will they build their immune systems? The reason is simple. Preemies didn’t get the chance to build their immune systems in utero and therefore are much more likely to get sick than full term babies. Preemies (or any baby born before about 37 weeks) will have underdeveloped lungs. A baby born at 40 weeks had 3 full months of extra time to soak up antibodies than Little Miss Minion did. It is of vital importance that she gets the chance to build her immune system without the challange of being sick. Below are some images that might help you to picture the differences.

Keep in mind with the Lung Capacity image that the smaller set of lungs is representative of a baby born at 34 weeks. This is 6 weeks older than Little Miss Minion was at her birth. Preemies who get sick with RSV can end up in the hospital and can require ventilators, or breathing machines. Their airways are too narrow, and with the inflammation of something like the cold, flu, or RSV, they quickly become unable to breathe on their own. I’ve seen Little Miss Minion on a ventilator and it is not something I care to experience again.

My final word on isolation (for today, at least) is this letter, written by the parents of a 23-weeker. I’ve copied the first part of the text below, but http://anearlystartblog.com/2014/01/07/isolation-isnt-about-you/ is the link to the full version of the original letter and website. Many, many thanks to Andrea M for allowing me to link it here.

Dear Extended Family,

Isolation isn’t about you. Let me explain…

Babies who are born prematurely are different than full-term babies. First, premature babies have under-developed lungs and often require life-support and breathing tubes for days, weeks and even months. An important goal for every premature baby is to breathe on their own. Unfortunately for some preemies this doesn’t happen. Some preemies come home on oxygen support or on a ventilator. Their tiny lungs are not capable of keeping them alive without the help of a machine.

Happy Cold & Flu Season!

October 1st is the unofficial start of cold and flu season. For Preemie families, this marks the start of the most anxiety-ridden part of the year. Since preemies have underdeveloped lungs when they are born, and since they are generally lacking in antibodies, they are very susceptible to any kind of illness or infection. Further, their airways are generally narrower than full term babies, making them more likely to have breathing problems as a result of illness. 

Isolation is the best medicine for cold and flu (and soon, RSV) season. No exposure means no germs. People have told me that she needs to have SOME exposure in order to build her immune system, and that we can’t keep her in the bubble forever. These would both be true, if she was full term. She needs to have time to build up her immune system through antibodies in breastmilk. She needs to have time for her lungs to continue to develop. She needs time to get bigger and stronger. She needs the bubble because she can’t fight things off quite yet. 

Her Synagis shot (to help prevent severe RSV) should be coming at the end of this month. She’ll get this shot once a month for 5 months. Most babies get RSV by age 2, and build immunity quickly. It’s usually just a case of sniffles, maybe a cough. For a preemie, RSV can easily require hospitalization, supplemental oxygen, even a respirator. Adults can be carriers and feel perfectly fine. RSV is one reason the isolation is so important. 

My public service announcement: get your flu shot. Not only will you be protecting yourself, you’ll be protecting vulnerable populations (like babies) who can’t get the vaccine yet, but who are at highest risk of complications.