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As if taking a perfectly healthy newborn baby out in public wasn’t nerve wrecking enough, add a weak immune system to a newborn baby that just had open heart surgery. An immune system so fragile, that the simplest of colds can land you in the hospital for weeks because of low oxygen levels, respiratory infections, and feeding issues.
Being careful of your Heart Warriors surroundings are just one of the many things heart parents have to contend with when bringing your baby home after the first surgery, and let’s be honest, even after that, too.
The interstage between the Hybrid/Norwood and the Glenn is such a delicate time period. The mortality rate is the highest between these two surgeries and you have to watch your Heart Warrior so closely. Getting to that Glenn surgery is really a feat in itself.
Your family and friends will think you’re over reacting. They might even think that exposing them so outside germs will “boost their immune system”.
Do not let anyone tell you that you are over reacting when it comes to making sure your child makes it to six months of life.
That being said, what are you supposed to do? Be a hermit and not go outside? You could.
There are precautions you can take when going outside.
I didn’t stay cooped up in the house the entire time. 1, we had too many doctors appointments to do that, and 2, we didn’t have air conditioning and I wasn’t about to keep my son in an almost 90 degree house.
One thing that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE is this car seat tag. It is straight and to the point about “don’t touch me” and it’s adorable. I apologize for the blurry picture, but it reads:
“Heart Warrior on board
please take care,
your germs are more
than my heart can bear.”
I will never understand why people think it’s okay to just go up and touch a baby, but they do. Personal space goes out the window and it leaves a very uncomfortable mama who now is worried for the next few days their baby is going to get sick.
When I would go grocery shopping, I would leave my son in his infant car seat, handle up, and the “don’t touch me” tag showing and I rarely had a problem with people trying to touch him. I also got very good at telling people “please don’t touch,” when I thought they were getting too close. The first few times I felt bad about it, but then I remembered the reason why and I got over it.
That leads me to another option. Random people are less likely to invade your space and get to your newborn if you are wearing them in a baby carrier. My son never liked his carrier so I was never able to try this way but I know A LOT of other moms, heart moms and not, that loved carrying their babies for this exact reason.
Other things you can do, be crazy with hand sanitizer. I had hand sanitizer in every room of my house during the interstage period. I also had a small bottle in my diaper bag and one in my car in the center console for when I was doing things like pumping gas or getting Starbucks.
-If you live in a hot climate and are going to the park, lake, or even just the outdoor mall, keep a small ice chest, thermal lunch bag, anything you can keep a few ice packs in and a washcloth or two to cool down your Heart Warrior.
-If you are having people over, or going to friends/family’s houses, ask if they have been ill in the last two weeks. This will be a deal breaker for you in allowing your Heart Warrior around.
-If you do not want to risk taking your Heart Warrior to the grocery store and other errands, ask a grandparent or trusted friend to babysit while you do your errands. This will also help you clear your head, get a good cry in (because let’s face it, we’re holding back tears most of the time), and just have some good alone time.
-At family gatherings, don’t play pass the baby unless you KNOW that person has not been ill and has washed or sanitized their hands.
-If you have older kids, make sure they change their clothes and wash their hands when they get home from school. Yes, this will result in extra laundry but that is a small price to pay to help keep germs at bay.
What did you do to keep your Heart Warrior safe during your interstage period? I’d love to hear some more tips!