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Written by Brandee Foster
Cold and flu season. These four words strike fear into the heart of pretty much every parent I know. Bringing a baby home from the hospital is daunting at any time of the year, but those of us who are parents to fall and winter babies have experienced the joys of trying to keep our new, tiny little people from coming down with the many cough, runny nose and flu-like ailments that seem to plague people pretty steadily between the months of October and April, give or take a few weeks.
When you have just had a preterm baby, though, the thought of bringing that wee babe home and exposing them to the sickness and germ stew that you find in most public places during this time of year is downright terrifying. Having just spent days, weeks, even months in a place where you have to scrub up upon entry and you are taught to wash and sanitize before you touch your own child, the thought of other people's germs can be a tough one to swallow.
My son was born a few days before Thanksgiving 8 years ago. At birth, he weighed 4 pounds and 11 ounces, and was the smallest human being I had ever seen. He wasn't allowed to leave the NICU until he was able to gain enough weight to keep him over the 5 lb mark. He was so tiny, and I was so terrified. Given that he was in the NICU, it wasn't too hard to limit visitors in those first couple of weeks. Once he came home, though, everyone wanted to meet the baby and the visitors started to flood in. I was absolutely terrified that someone would bring their germs around the baby and he would get sick. He was already so small, and had already been through a fight, so the thought of him getting sick made me a bit crazy. In order to preserve my sanity, as well as those around me, I had to find what I was and wasn't comfortable with pretty quickly. Since I didn't know any other NICU parents, though, I was sort of own my own in figuring out what worked and what didn't.
Honestly, it's now 8 years later and these are still a lot of the same cold season coping strategies that I use. I found that once our son started school, he began this seemingly never-ending cycle of fall and winter sickness. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, the germs are out there, but if you use some common sense and follow your gut, you should be just fine.
This post is part of the #HealthyThisWinter Campaign sponsored by AbbVie Canada. The experience and comments listed above are my own.