RSV. Three letters I hate to see together or hear. It’s awful. Especially as a parent. There was a point where I wasn’t sure if one of my girls was actually going to get through it. Yes, it is that awful of a virus. Everyone who is welcoming a new baby needs to know about RSV. Get ready…this is a long one but SO important for parents to newborns and infants.
I’ve had all 4 girls struggle with it as newborns. My first was hospitalized overnight at just 8 weeks, second was hospitalized at 9 weeks, third was hospitalized for almost 3 weeks (read her journey below!) and my youngest was hospitalized for 10 days – all with RSV as the culprit. It’s a terrible little virus and if you’ve never had to battle it before, it is really scary – as you watch your little one fight for their life. So what is RSV? Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) Virus. Even though the symptoms are very similar to the common cold; it can lead to severe complications in a matter of seconds.
While you can research it and Google it a million times I can tell you, I’ve lived through it 4 times and just praying we get lucky with number 5. However, the experience I had with my 3rd daughter was beyond scary and for days I just prayed and prayed for her little life.
Sick littles is anything but sugar coated. And RSV, it’s a devil of a virus. Kennadi Audrey Monroe was born 5 weeks early. She left the hospital weighing 4lbs 12oz but was a happy yet small little bundle of joy. The first few weeks we didn’t have many preemie issues – a little issue with weight gain but after finding out she had acid reflux – rice cereal was added to her diet and she quickly put on the weight.
It wasn’t until she was 11 weeks old we hit a major bump and I hit the hardest chapter in mommywood when Kennadi took her first trip to the ER. A fever of 102 degrees, a non-stop cough, wheezing, struggling to breathe, and just plain miserable. After holding her down for a spinal tap, blood work, urinalysis, and chest x-ray, we all were exhausted before we found out what was going on with her. The worst thing is watching a nurse struggling to put an IV into your baby’s microscopic vein as they wail in pain just to follow with a tube down their nose, breathing treatments and everything else you can imagine.
However, we got a surprise and on the second day the doctor came in and decided that Kennadi was over her peak period for RSV and could now go home. They took her off oxygen and within 15 minutes we were out the door. I couldn’t believe it. One minute we are going to be there for even longer and the next day they seemed to think she was okay to be home. At this point, I was exhausted, mentally and emotionally.
We got into the car and buckled her in and felt free – but something was holding me back, call it mother’s intuition if you will, but I was just nervous as we pulled out of the parking lot — I kept telling my husband, I don’t think she is ready to go home — she still looks like she is struggling. He said, “Let’s just see how she does.” Maybe I am just worrying too much, I told myself and just prayed the whole way home not realizing within a few hours we would only be back where we started.
We got home and within twenty minutes she started to retract again, struggling with each breath – her respiratory rate was 90 (in a newborn her age it should be around 30) — she was breathing way too hard and way too fast for her little body. We had to get back to the hospital and fast — she had taken a turn for the worst. We hadn’t even unpacked the car so we jumped back in and flew around the corner to a good friends house who is a Chief Deputy of our local police office. I told him we needed to get to the hospital and fast. With rush hour traffic we wouldn’t have been able to get there in time and we didn’t want to call 911 because our local hospital doesnt have a good pedicatic center. With no hestitation he jumped in his undercover police car and say come on – I grabbed Kennadi and just prayed with each breathe she took and tried not to notice the fact that I felt like I was on a high speed police chase, dodging cars and going through red lights but that is beside the point. Kennadi kept looking up at with her big blue eyes. Kennadi was getting more and more tuckered out with each breath — I could see it in her eyes, she just wanted to give up, and she did. For about 3 seconds (about an eternity for me) Kennadi stopped breathing. She looked up and closed her eyes and I just said, “Please God, don’t do this to us. I need her to stay strong.” I have never been so terrified in my life. We had to get back to the hospital and fast — she had taken a turn for the worst.
Finally we arrived in the hospital and I flew in like a bat out of hell. The nurses were surprised, but not shocked to see us return. They were surprised we were even discharged — that was just great to hear (hint the sarcasm). Immediately, Kennadi was all plugged back up to oxygen, IV, breathing treatments, etc. all over again. I remember tweeting in desperation for prayers & supports as I thought I may have a nervous breakdown from stress and lack of sleep. A new doctor came in within minutes and knew everything that was going on. He said, “Let’s continue what we were doing and keep a close eye.” I said NO and demanded to be transported to one of the nation’s top hospitals – Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC. They didn’t argue and suggested we should definitely go to extreme measures to get her the care she needed. Five hours later, the NICU team from Children’s Hospital arrived. My poor little one was now being transported in an incubator.
When we arrived at Children’s it was a whirlwind – Kennadi was in complete distress and we had to explain everything to them, the same timeline that I had been replaying in my head for days. Kennadi was placed on a Vaportherm and continued on her IV — but they added heart monitors and a pulse ox to the mix. She had a total of 5 wires hanging from her body that I constantly was getting tangled in. This was a nightmare I wasn’t sure would ever end. But luckily, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
To make a long story short (if that is even possible at this point) Kennadi was in amazing care in the NICU where I never left her side once except for four hours during the 7 day period and I had a friend come sit with her so I could see my first graders play. I had not seen my other girls in 7 days. Minus the set back of picking up a contaminate bug from the previous hospital, her ear infection cleared up as well as her pneumonia. They slowly took her off oxygen and she was watched for a full 12 hours off oxygen before being discharged. And we left on no medication except the Prevacid for her acid reflux. She seemed healthy and happy. Even though she was on contact isolation leaving the hospital, I didn’t care. I was now a complete germaphobe and wasn’t letting anyone near her. I was so relieved to be done with the oxygen, the wires, the blood test, steroids, antibiotics, germs — but most of all I was so blessed to have my Kennadi back.
After ten long days I realized many things sitting there with Kennadi, mostly by myself. Prayer is a powerful thing and my social media network is the best support system a gal could ask for. Without the outpouring of tweets every single day… well. I honestly don’t know how well I would have pulled through. During the moments of pure madness, those moments I just wanted to scream and cry, my twitter gals were there; supporting, praying, emailing, texting, bbm-ing and making #prayforkennadi a trending topic. The tweets now reside in her baby book so she can one day see how loved she really is.
At the end of the day, it is all about faith. Kennadi was the only baby in the NICU unit that season that did not have to be incubated. Out of the many babies admitted with RSV, one didn’t make it. The fact that we came out okay is just amazing. And when you are in a situation like this and you almost lose a child you just have to realize, God works miracles and I thank him everyday for mine.
Head over to my other post to see what 8 things you need to know about RSV - especially as a first time Mom. I hope to help other parents be aware of how a little cold can turn into something more and why the doctors office should be your best friend. Educate yourself too! You can get all the info you need on RSV here.
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Image: Kennadi on her 2nd birthday, Whimsy Baby Photo