December 8, 2022

Real Story featuring Maria

Becoming a mom for the second time was busy from the start—with a 13-month-old daughter, Norah, already at home, welcoming Grace into our family was joyful, exhausting and a very precious time for my husband and me. We had experience under our belts to know the essentials and feel comfortable with managing sleepless nights, diaper changes, and extra laundry. Making time for both our baby girls was a challenge, but we embraced each day with gratitude, extra coffee, and a sense of humor.

While not a stranger to illness in these early years, what happened to Grace when she was nearly 2 months old was unlike anything we could have imagined or prepared for up until then. She started experiencing cold-like symptoms, which became progressively worse. One night, we noticed Grace was breathing heavily (her stomach looked like it was caving inwards). When we took her to the doctor first thing in the morning, she tested positive for RSV. We were told to go straight to the ER.

Grace was hospitalized for four long days—the scariest days we have lived through since becoming parents. We sat there helplessly with broken hearts while our little girl struggled to breathe. Days three and four were the worst as she had no appetite and needed an IV, which was extremely painful to watch.

We are so grateful to the care team who worked diligently to help bring Grace back home. A year since her diagnosis, she is a healthy, active toddler with no long-term complications from RSV. However, we realize not every family who is affected by RSV is as lucky as we were with Grace.

We suspect RSV passed from Norah to Grace through the daycare that Norah attends. I hope other families will learn from our experience about the need to help prevent the spread of germs as best we can, by handwashing, avoiding kissing young babies, and other small steps. While I knew about RSV when we first had Norah, I didn’t have a real understanding of how sick it could make a small child or someone of any age.

Maria, a patient advocate, lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children, Norah and Grace.

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