Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to Quarantine with Preemie (without losing your mind)

Happy RSV Season (not)!

It is the season of illness and ick, and if you have recently brought a preemie home, or you are expecting a preemie, you are probably dealing with a doctor-recommended quarantine.  Keeping preemies home and away from people helps them stay healthy by limiting the number of germs to which they are exposed.  It's a simple solution, and it works, but it can drive a person crazy.

We only had to quarantine LB for one season (she also got Synagis shots to boost her immune system). She was a 29 weeker born in November and we quarantined until May.  Places LB went during those months: doctor's office (waited in an exam room rather than waiting room), courthouse (for our 2nd parent adoption hearing), and outside for a short walk.  You will note that list is very short.  People who visited LB: a few older family members, very brief visits from our co-workers, some quick hellos with neighbors.  People we avoided most strenuously: children and sick people.

So, what to do with an infant and a few months of your life?  I won't claim that B and I were always happy and gracious about being cooped up in the house, but we did manage to keep ourselves fairly sane.  My suggestions

  • Keep a loose schedule so that one day doesn't just slump into the next
  • Get some exercise, even if it's just stretching in the living room or walking baby around the block
  • Skype with friends and family
  • Make sure you (both of you, if there is a both) get some downtime each day, even if it just a half hour
  • Pretend you're having fun: do a puzzle, play a board game, watch a movie, anything outside of your usual routine
  • Listen to good music
  • Steal some time when baby is asleep, eat together, have desert, a glass of wine, or what have you
  • Have a dance party!  
  • Make a list of things others could do to help you (buy groceries, run errands, bring food), and when people ask what they can do to help, give them a few options from the lists 
  • Ignore anyone who tries to tell you that quarantine is paranoid or over protective
It's stressful to not only have a tiny preemie and never sleep, but also to be trapped in the house and rarely see other people.  I didn't always have a good attitude, but I tried to remember to be positive, and if I was feeling down, to put on some good music, make a cup of tea, and realize it would pass.

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