I had no idea what RSV was. I am not a medical professional. I am an average mom with three kids.
Like most kids, mine get the sniffles and sneezes during cold and flu season. They are up to date on their vaccinations and interact with other children on a semi-regular basis at playdates, playgrounds, and the grocery store. I’ve never kept my children in a bubble.
We had our third child in November. Adam was healthy and weighed a whopping nine pounds, eight ounces. Right before Thanksgiving, my older son started to show signs of a nasty cough. He never ran a fever, and after about a week, the virus had run its course. As in most families with multiple children, the virus was passed down to my two-year-old daughter.
It hit her much harder. She ran a high-grade fever for four days and nights. The nasty cough caused her to vomit. She wasn’t eating and felt extremely lethargic. Finally, the doctor prescribed an antibiotic for my daughter’s ear infection, and she started to show signs of life again. These two illnesses brought us to the pediatrician seven times in two weeks.
Nevertheless, I was extremely naive when it came to my newborn. I thought since I was breastfeeding, he would have extra immunities against the nasty virus my older kids were passing back and forth. I was stupid. And I regret it.
On a visit to my parents’ house one Saturday evening, my dad was holding Adam when he called me into the living room. “Adam is really sick,” he said. I kind of laughed it off, in a complete sleep-deprived stupor. I didn’t want to believe him because I didn’t think I could handle one more sick child.
That evening, Adam took a turn for the worse. He was coughing phlegm. The next few days were kind of a blur. I took him back to the pediatrician twice. The second time, they swabbed his nose, and he tested positive for RSV and bronchiolitis.
“What is RSV?” I asked a tech. She couldn’t tell me, and just said to watch him closely. I should have pressed the pediatrician’s office more, but I felt kind of dumb. This was my ninth visit in two weeks. So I left.
That Wednesday night, Adam started running a low-grade fever. What I didn’t know was that even a low-grade fever is dangerous for a newborn. Stupid, like I said. He vomited after every feeding. The next morning, he’d gone a full 12 hours without a wet diaper, so I called the pediatrician’s office again. Instead of setting up a tenth appointment, they told me to take him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital immediately.
Adam spent four days and three nights hooked up to oxygen, IVs, fluids, and antibiotics. He had multiple tests, chest X-rays, breathing treatments, nose aspirations. His care and treatment at Nationwide Children’s was first class. I can’t rave enough about the hospital and staff. But I never want to go back there again.
In the past few days, I’ve seen multiple articles about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) pop up on my news feed. I’m sharing our story because I want other parents to know what I didn’t know.
Watch their breathing
Take your child’s shirt off and see if you can see his rib cage as he tries to breathe. There’s a tiny V shape under your child’s neck. If that V is exposed when he inhales, he’s working too hard to breathe. Lastly, does his head bob when he breathes? Another sign he’s working too hard.