Gearing Up For RSV Season (7 Ways You Can Help)

Well, here we are folks…gearing up for RSV season again. Last year, we actually welcomed lockdown and isolation! Jax had just gotten home from the hospital and Steve and I were quickly realizing that we were exhausted. I’m not talking about the typical first-time-parents-with-a-new-baby-exhausted (although there was some of that). I’m talking about the kind of exhausted that comes from living with constant terror, stress, and worry for three months straight. I’m talking the kind of exhausted that comes from wondering each day “will our son make it home?”

And there he was. Home. And on oxygen support. And it felt like we hit a brick wall. So, when it was our duty as Jax’s parents to stay home and snuggle up on our couch to keep his immature lungs from being exposed to germs and sickness…oh yes! We liked that!

I only left the house to take Jax to doctor’s appointments. Some days, I didn’t leave the house at all.

And the glorious, comfortable weeks turned into long, lonely months and the months turned into never-ending. And then we were sick of our house and, quite frankly, of each other!

And when spring came around and we got the go ahead from Jax’s doctors to begin socializing him with other kids, we jumped for joy! And this summer? We were living large: parties and school and friends and family…and now it’s sinking in that all that has to stop.

It’s really going to suck.

I’m dreading the cold Minnesota winter. The days and days of 0 degree weather. The snow and ice. But mostly, I’m dreading the thought that poor Jax will be cooped up with me all winter long! We all know how much Jax likes people: he’s going to get lonely. He’s going to get bored. He’s going to miss his cousins and his friends. And I will, too.

But as parents of a former micropreemie with Chronic Lung Disease and bronchomalacia (or “floppy airway”), we know how important isolation is for keeping him safe and sickness-free.

preterm vs term lungs
Image source:

Since Jax was born 17 weeks early, his lungs were not fully formed. He is still trying to “catch up” and grow new, healthy lung tissue. Because of Jax’s conditions and immature lungs, RSV and related illnesses can mean serious trouble and even hospitalization.

So, we have a True HEPA air purifier that removes viruses from the air (thanks Glenda, Carl, and Sarah), we use Norwex cleaning supplies that have built-in antibacterial properties (thanks Sarah and Erin), and we use DoTerra essential oils to help Jax breathe easier (thanks Lois). We are extremely aware and careful and we will definitely be breaking out the giant bottle of hand sanitizer, wearing masks around Jax if we get sick, and be on the look out for sniffly noses.

But thankfully we won’t have as many restrictions as last year because Jax is older and stronger. (In fact, Jax is now in the 90th percentile for weight for full-term kids! WOW!) Jax’s strictest time of isolation will be from December – March. During that time, we will be pretty much loners. But in the meantime, we can take Jax to the grocery store and out to eat if we want. (But we probably won’t!) Jax can continue with school until the beginning of December. (They have a very strict sick-child policy and the other parents know how important it is to follow those rules. I will be bringing a copy of this post to class!)  We can be outside as much as we want so on “nice” days, we can take a walk. Which, come January, will be our only saving grace!

Will you be spending time with a preemie or child with lung problems this winter? Here are some ways you can help keep them safe.

7 Ways You Can Help Kids with Lung Disease Stay Healthy

  1. Wash your hands! (A lot!)
  2. Wash your hands immediately when you walk in the door. And then wash them again after you use the bathroom, touch garbage, blow your nose, or eat. Wash them again before you touch the child.
  3. Visit this website to learn about how to prevent RSV…
  4. Get a flu shot and a Pertussis vaccine. For real.
  5. Don’t visit if you or anyone in your family has been sick (especially runny nose, cough, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea) within the past week. (Also, if you’ve been exposed to someone who has been sick within the last week, please do not visit.)
  6. Please plan to remove your shoes when you visit.
  7. Please do not smoke before visiting, or shower and change your clothes prior to visiting. Third-hand smoke is real and babies with lung disease are extremely sensitive to smoke.

So, we’re ready! We have a Respiratory Action Plan and we know what to do when Jax gets sick. We have all of our friends and family (that’s you!) on board and you all have prevention in mind. We’re gearing up for RSV season – BLAH!

Parents, what are some strategies you use to keep your kids healthy during cold and flu season?