We sent the letter below to all our friends and family to explain to them about RSV. The letter is adapted from one that I found online. It got the very important message across that David and I are not willing to do anything to put our babies at risk, even if it does result on us being alone for much of the cold and flu season.
Since sending this letter we have been advised to postpone the babies’ christening until the winter is over.
It is hard putting barriers up the way that we are doing but I know that I would never forgive myself if anything happened to our beautiful babies.
Dear Family and Friends
We’re writing regarding a very important matter: RSV. For those of you who plan to visit us over the next few months, and even if you are not, please take a few minutes to read this letter.
We want to start by saying thank you for the outpouring of support we have received from everyone. So many people have done so much for us, and every bit of help we have received truly is appreciated. We are experiencing the biggest challenge of our lives, and we’re lucky to be surrounded by so many family members and friends who have shown us so much love and support.
If you are not aware of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, you are among the majority. Most people have not heard of RSV, even though nearly every child has had the virus by the age of two. For full-term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for premature babies, the virus can be quite different. Babies born earlier than 36 weeks are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes fatal complications. Our babies were born extremely premature at just 27 weeks, are multiples, and had very low birth weights; these are among the highest risk factors for contracting RSV and developing serious complications. Other high risk factors are chronic lung disease which both Esther and William have and congenital heart defects which William has. This is a very serious matter for our little ones.
Pics of premature babies lungs compared to the lungs of a full-term baby:
Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping our children safe during RSV season (October to April). The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as six hours on hands and up to twelve hours on objects, and it spreads very easily, especially from child to child. Studies have also shown that infants pose an even higher risk of spreading RSV to others.
You may ask, “Can’t they fight it off and build up their immune system? Kids need to get sick, right?” The simple answer is NO. Since our babies were pre-term, they did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection. If they contract RSV, they could be hospitalized and develop serious complications. They will be kept in isolation in Paediatric Intensive Care until the virus is gone. There is nothing that can be done for them apart from providing oxygen support to ease their breathing.
We’ll be asking our visitors to follow a few guidelines to help prevent the babies from contracting RSV or any other illness.
We ask that all visitors do the following:
1. When you arrive, please wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer as needed before touching the babies.
2. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least 5 days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.
3. If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting, as a premature babies lungs are very sensitive to smoke. Most RSV sites recommend against passive smoke exposure.
4. If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season. Sorry.
5. If you work in a school environment please change your clothes before coming to the house.
Unfortunately we will not be attending many events during RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this and the next RSV seasons without the babies contracting RSV or any other serious illness. Their lungs are still very fragile until they are 2-years-old.
The twins christening will provide an opportunity for you to see them and wish them well in January but guests will not be invited to hold the babies, however harsh that may seem. This is a time for David and I to catch up with all of our friends and family and celebrate the birth of the twins. There will be plenty of time for you all to be closer to the twins as they grower older, bigger and stronger.
Please understand that this letter is not meant to offend anyone, just simply to provide an explanation. We hope you understand, and we appreciate your help keeping our babies safe.
Love and best wishes to all!