Sunday, January 6, 2013
life in the grey zone
We are in the midst of cold, flu and RSV season and one of the most challenging things for us has been navigating the grey zone that we seem to fall in. Last year Virginia came home towards the end of the season and we were obviously SUPER cautious and extra vigilant with sanitizing, hand washing, limiting visitors and until early May we only left the house for doctor appointments. This year she is much bigger and stronger, doesn't qualify for synagis, and has been off oxygen and diuretics for nearly a year. No one has given us specific instructions for this cold & flu season, as we seem to fall in that grey zone where "better safe than sorry" is said more than "don't even think about it."
Virginia still has never been in a grocery cart, has never touched a community bin of toys, has never been passed around at a large family function, has never had full freedom to play with her young cousins and has never visited the local aquarium, children's museum or zoo. These are all things that are off-limits for us this winter but it is the other things, the less risky things that we struggle with as we sit in the grey zone of a former micro preemie. We struggled with whether to travel to Maryland for the holidays. We were careful to constantly be sanitizing and asking others to wash their hands, but it was risky to be around so many people. A risk that left my stomach in a pit as the holidays wrapped up. I started to second guess our decision as I heard of RSV and flu outbreaks and as we learned of babies that we know being admitted to the hospital for RSV. There was no taking back our decision and thankfully Virginia remained healthy, but it was a risk.
We take other risks too. I occasionally take Virginia out for lunch, we occasionally go to small gatherings (after ensuring that everyone is healthy), and we occasionally host a playdate (again after ensuring everyone is healthy). None of these decisions are taken lightly and I do often wonder if it would be easier to be in super lockdown than navigating this grey zone. I doubt it....
By anyone standards Virginia appears to be a very healthy and active baby emerging into toddlerhood. What we do know though is less than a year ago her lungs were in poor condition. Some people use the example of trees. A full term baby's lungs are like a big oak tree in full summer bloom while a a preemie's lungs are like that same oak in late fall, not nearly as full of the important healthy bronchioles that help babies breath through a respiratory infection.
What I know is that we are following our gut, we are doing what we feel is best for our family, and we are reserving our right to make decisions and change them at any given moment for any reason. This stuff is hard, as many things in parenting seem to be. I'm not wishing these winter days away but I sure will be glad to see spring arrive and we already have a bucket list of things that I can't wait to do with Virginia outside the confines of our little house.