Being the mom of a premature baby, I found out the hard way that the whole “leaving the hospital with your baby” routine was not going to happen for me, at least not at the very beginning. However, what happens afterwards, the whole freaking out, getting to know your baby, feeling by week three you can actually do this, etc etc, does happen as it does to all those mommies of non-premature babies. Yet, you don’t imagine having to go through some of that a second time, nor do you imagine that a visit to the pediatrician will end up in you leaving the hospital 10 days later.
However, that’s what happened to us with our little one. Our baby boy was diagnosed with something known as the human respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, which can be a very aggressive virus on babies up to one year old. You can say we were lucky we were at the pediatrician’s office because our baby boy suddenly after a round of crying, turned blue and stopped breathing. As any mom can agree, it lasted only seconds but for me it lasted hours. And I felt my own heart just drop to my knees. My husband managed to keep his cool, so did the doctor (thank god!) and after he was able to stimulate him back into breathing, we walked directly to the ER and didn’t leave the hospital ten days later.
My baby had been a bit congested, though he had not presented any fever or any other sign of infection. However, little did we know that this virus would wreak havoc with his lungs and hence give us a couple more scares like the one at the doctor’s office, though at the hospital with nurses and doctors. In more simple terms, this virus causes a really horrible cold, which may make us grown ups feel like crap, but that is really mean with babies. Matias had to be with oxygen and he was submitted to a series of tests to rule out some other thing that may have caused those cyanotic episodes. Luckily, it was just the virus which was the problem. And like any cold, it just needed to run its course, but the time spent at the hospital, the tests, the constant worrying did a number on what had been a slowly growing confidence that I was doing a good job as a mom.
Like other mothers have told me, I am experiencing the classic post-hospital stay syndrome, which has made me vow never to take out my child nor to let him interact with anyone who looks a little but suspicious of getting sick or is already sick. I’m thinking that 2015 might be a good time to expose him again to the outside world, or maybe even 2016 depending on how I feel about it. It’s weird because I didn’t start out like that when Matias first came home from the hospital, but now I am thinking of buying those special gowns that nurses had to wear around him just so anyone who is thinking of coming to visit can wear while being around him.
Obviously, I still feel guilty because maybe I should not have taken my boy outside, though the doctor explained that virus is just in the air and it has nothing to do with how much or how little Matias was out and about. Anyone could have had that virus and could have passed it to me or my husband or anyone around us, family, friends, or just by opening the window of my apartment. So now, the idea of putting my baby boy inside a glass box is not so unappealing.
He is out now, and that trip back from the hospital felt like the weeks before he had been with us, did not happen and we had to start all over again. Not to mention, this time I had accumulated the usual exhaustion from not sleeping due to late night feedings before the hospital, plus those days locked up inside his room, sleeping on a sofa that should be banned from the world and the stress of the whole ordeal did cause me to feel like someone had used my whole body as a punching bag this past Sunday. And now, I must add the mental exhaustion of questioning everything I do with him, so we don’t end up back at the hospital again.
Fortunately, our last visit to the doctor, post-hospital ordeal was a good one. His pediatrician found him well and as if nothing had ever happened. He is back to his old self, discovering what it means to be a two-month old baby. That was another hard thing for us as parents, to celebrate his two months at the hospital, while he had this glass box over his head blowing oxygen 24/7.
So now, it is a matter of building up my confidence and not be worrying if he’ll catch that virus again and get sick again or catch some other thing and get sick. I guess I had to be a mom to understand what mothers say when they feel helpless when their kids get sick and there is nothing that can do to make it all go away fast. I mean, I was starting to understand his cries of hunger, tiredness, but when he was crying because he felt bad, that was the worst because all I could do was step back and let the medicine do its job, or as it happened most of the time, cry with him.