I know, I know… I’ve broken the number one rule of blogging and haven’t been super consistent. Honestly, I’ve been busy (and a little sick, another post for another day).

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I do, and I know they’re super cheesy and usually fall apart by this time of the year, ahem what’s up with March?! But I still make them and the last two years they’ve stuck. The reason for my absence here isn’t because I made a resolution to cut back on blogging, it’s because I made a resolution to work harder!

Two years ago my goal was to grow my Instagram account. I went from about 2,000 followers to 10k in a year. I know for some that isn’t a huge deal, but I was proud of it because it was organic growth and I didn’t pay for a single follower or like.

Last year my goal was to grow my blog and do more public speaking. If you’re a follower here, you probably noticed I was pumping out 3 blog posts a week last year! Was it annoying to you? Perhaps. But that was my goal and I did it. I also hosted an event last summer, traveled to Washington DC twice to share our RSV story and spoke at several local events. I set my goal and I accomplished it, and I was super proud.

This year I decided to take a different path and grow my business. Did you know I own my own business? Probably not. But I own a digital marketing / social media business, called White Barn Media, that I run out of my home (without a nanny or babysitter, oy!) It’s hard work, but in just three short months I have grown from 2 to 6 clients!

And I love it!!

I know I have been neglecting my blog a bit, due to my workload and that’s no excuse. I miss blogging and connecting with you, so I promise to be more vocal on here in the coming months.

That being said, I am also working on creating an online course for you. I’m calling it The Business of Social, where I will break down everything on the social media front.

  • Are you interested in starting a blog?
  • Do you have dreams of becoming an influencer?
  • Does the idea of working from home running other social media accounts appeal to you?
  • Would you love to quit your day job and earn money on the apps you love?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then The Business of Social is perfect for you. I don’t have a rollout date yet, but I would love to hear from you!

What topics would you like to see me cover in this online course?

I’m excited to get started on my next big resolution / goal in 2019!

Photograph by Autumn Theodore Photography

Sure, in the winter you probably aren’t frequenting the local swimming pool. Especially if you live in the Midwest like we do. Brrrrrr. But there is no doubt it’s still super important to practice winter water safety, if for no other reason… to keep the safety fresh in little swimmer’s minds.

Here are some common myths when it comes to winter water safety, and the facts behind them:

MYTH: It’s cold outside, so we won’t be swimming.

FACT: Just because you won’t be trekking to the outdoor community pool doesn’t mean you won’t encounter the chance to go swimming elsewhere, including:

  • An indoor water park resort. These family-friendly resorts are based on having everyone swim and play in large, heated indoor pools with waterslides, which are very enticing for kids of all ages (regardless of swim ability).
  • Holiday break, winter break, spring break, or visiting family and friends in a tropical locale could definitely mean an opportunity for heading into a pool or the ocean. We’re going to Gatlinburg for Spring Break and there will be access to a pool and hot tub.

MYTH: I don’t let my child go swimming without me, so we’re OK.

FACT: Accidents can happen near ANY body of water, whether or not you are nearby.

MYTH: My baby isn’t even walking yet, so I don’t need to worry about water safety.

FACT: Babies are masters at moving around whether they are walking or not, and they’re also very curious and inquisitive little beings who want to learn and investigate everything they see. Sometimes, that includes bodies of water. By teaching your little one how to swim at a very young age (yes, your baby can start taking swimming lessons before age 1!),  you’ll be giving her the tools she needs should an accident happen in water…because seconds count. Adam will be starting lessons soon!

Goldfish Swim School focuses on water safety

One of the reasons Goldfish Swim School is amazing is because of the emphasis they place during each lesson on water safety, all year long.

*This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School, all opinions are my own.*

It’s been two years since our family was forever changed by Respiratory Syncial Virus (RSV). Two years since I spent 5 days at Nationwide Children’s Hospital clutching to a little boy who was fighting for his life. Two years since I went through every single emotion a mother could possibly experience: anger, guilt, fear, confusion, desperation. Two years since I vowed to myself, and my child that I would do everything in my power to prevent other families from experiencing what we did.

Let’s travel back to December 2016 when our youngest son, Adam, was only six weeks old. (The asterisks I place throughout this article symbolize annotations that I will later explain.)

Like many families, Adam had older siblings who were in preschool. My oldest son, Luke was 3-years old when he came home around Thanksgiving with a nasty cough. He ran a low grade fever, and when I took him to the pediatrician’s office I was told he had a virus and it would pass.

Well, it did pass… down to his younger sister Eden (2-years old). It hit Eden a little harder than Luke. She ran a fever for several days and had vomiting with her congestion. I remember specifically asking about Adam at the pediatrician’s office and I was told to keep breastfeeding him and isolate him as much as possible*1.

Now, I want to put this into perspective for people who are not parents or perhaps have been far from the toddler/baby age. I have a newborn baby and a 3 and a 2-year old who are very sick and want nothing but their mommy. I am sleep deprived and worn to the core from cleaning blowouts, vomit, phlegm. I’m also trying to not to adjust to the new family dynamics of three children. I’m not making excuses, simply trying to paint the picture of a mother trying to survive. I did everything in my power to protect Adam, I need to constantly remind myself of that, because 2-years later… I still feel the guilt.

Adam was diagnosed with RSV at 6 weeks old. He tested positive at the doctor’s office. “Mrs. Ireland, your son has RSV, take him home and watch him.”*2 I stared at the tech, I had never heard of RSV before.

After a long 24 hours at home, Adam wasn’t improving so I rushed him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where we spent 5 terrifying days. I watched my baby fight for his life and felt every single emotion imaginable*3.

Fast forward to today, Adam fully recovered and is a perfectly happy and healthy 2-year old child. He’s full of life and personality. But that’s not the reason why I’m here today. I’m revisiting this scary time of our lives to share what I wish I would have known and what I’ve since learned about RSV.

What I wish I would have known:

  1. *Isolate him as much as possible: When I was at the pediatrician’s office with my older two children, I wish they would have offered more information about possible viruses (like RSV) that could pose a real danger to Adam during that period of time.
  2. * Take him home and watch him: When Adam tested positive for RSV, I was told to go home and watch him. At the time, I had no idea what I was supposed to be watching. There was no explanation. They didn’t show me examples of labored, belly breathing or what a child in distress looks like. There were no visuals, and no real examples provided. I wish I would have known what to watch for. I wish I would have known a trip to the hospital was more than likely in our future. I wish I would have known it wouldn’t be a quick trip to the hospital. I wish I would have known that RSV spikes by day 5-7. I wish I would have known the cough would linger for several weeks, perhaps months. I realize this is not the case for every RSV parent, but my reality was filled with lots of holes.
  3. * Feeling every emotion imaginable: I felt a tremendous amount of fear, anxiety, desperation and guilt with Adam’s diagnosis. How did we go from having a slight cough to being hooked up to machines and oxygen and fighting for our lives in a matter of hours? How did my baby almost lose his life to a virus I had never even heard or before? There was also a small sense of relief when we finally checked into the hospital. Relief that my child was finally going to get the professional help he desperately needed. I tried to go online and look for resources, support groups, ANYTHING…but there was nothing. That’s part of the reason why I’m here today.

What I’ve learned about RSV 2 years later:

  • Since our bout with the Really Scary Virus, I’ve connected with so many wonderful people in the medical community. My journey began with the researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where Adam spent 5 days. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital are working to help develop a vaccine to prevent RSV infections. The team’s research is so promising they have received a $6.75 million grant from The National Institutes of Health. If successful, the vaccine will save the lives of infants and children throughout the world, preventing more than 57,000 hospitalizations and over 2 million medical visits for infants and children each year. There are many other medical institutes, like the research team at The Ohio State University and The University of South Florida that is also working hard to develop an RSV vaccine.
  • I’ve spent some time in Washington, DC connecting with some incredible people at The National Coalition for Infant Health. We are working together to form a sub-coalition for RSV parents. I’m hoping more parents will join our fight to raise awareness for this virus. We can’t do it alone, and if our coalition gets enough traction, we hope to speak with legislators to gain support for this cause. Super exciting!!
  • I’ve connected with a pharmaceutical company that is VERY close to having an RSV vaccine on the market later this year. The vaccine would be administered to pregnant mothers during their 30th week of pregnancy, and the hope is the antibodies would be passed along to the baby through the placenta protecting the child for the first 6 months of life from RSV. This is the most vulnerable time frame, so this could be a huge win. YAY!
  • Currently, the only preventative measure on the market is an FDA-approved prescription, made up of virus-fighting antibodies called Synagis. My child did not receive Synagis, as he was born full-term but I have heard from other RSV parents you have to qualify and the prescription is very expensive. Synagis is not a vaccine, but rather a booster to help protect high-risk infants.
  • RSV can strike anyone! RSV is not a prejudicial virus and it has a potentially deadly effect on anyone despite education, demographics, region, religion, socioeconomic class. In fact, RSV is the #1 cause of hospitalizations for children under the age of 2 in the United States. It is the 2nd leading cause of death for infants worldwide, behind malaria. RSV is real. I am not offering these facts to scare you, I am offering them so you are aware and understand how quickly the virus can manifest in your community.
  • You are NOT alone! I receive messages weekly from RSV parents sharing their stories, their frustrations, their fears. It’s a scary virus that no one should have to experience alone. My hope for the coalition is we can create a solid resource for parents to find answers and support. In the meantime, I am not a medical professional but I am here for moral support and I can help answer any questions you may have. You can always send me a DM on Instagram @shanistyireland or send an email to hello@shesbecomingdomestic.com.

Because no one should have to endure this Really Scary Virus, alone.

Adam at 6 weeks old with RSV.

My original blog post can be viewed here: https://shesbecomingdomestic.com/2017/01/17/rsv-changed-the-way-i-parent/

Other places you can learn about our story:

Today Show, Scary Mommy, Motherly, CBS News, US News and World Report.

Podcasts and other videos:

Alliance for Patient Access 

National Coalition for Infant Health Summit

A new baby is such an exciting time for the entire family. My older two children were 3 and 2 years old when Adam was born, so while they may not have fully understood the entire pregnancy journey… they were thrilled to have a new sibling coming home from the hospital!

Adam was born full-term and weighed a whopping 9 lbs. 8 oz. at birth. We thought everything with him was perfectly normal, until he was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) at 6 weeks old.

It was a terrifying time for our entire family as Adam was admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for several days. He was hooked up to breathing machines and oxygen as he fought for his little life.

During that time, Luke and Eden didn’t visit him at the hospital. We made that decision because we knew Adam would be coming home soon and seeing him in the hospital would be such a difficult thing to explain to them. I fully understand that is not reality for all families, as the older children will spend a lot of time in the ICU or NICU.

Many of the questions we were faced with: Why is our baby brother in the hospital again? What’s wrong with him? When will he come home? When can we hold him again? Am I as important as the baby?

I wish there was a simple way to explain what was happening to Adam, but my husband and I had to rely on simple conversation to try to answer their questions to our best ability.

I recently attended a summit with the National Coalition for Infant Health in Washington, DC where parents, physicians, researchers and other advocates gathered to discuss all aspects of infant health. A lot of the conversations spotlighted preemies and what life is like in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

It’s at this summit that I learned about a wonderful organization that is working hard on providing resources for families, teachers and parenting professions. Platypus Media‘s goals are relatively simple. They are educating adults and children about the world around them. They publish books that foster warmth, closeness, literacy, curiosity, and an openness to other cultures. Specifically, they have two products to support siblings of children in the NICU–both are coloring books, a format that keeps young kids involved while they learn. One of the coloring books my children love: Come Home Soon Baby Brother/Sister!

The coloring book does a fantastic job explaining to older siblings why their baby brother or sister is in the NICU. The short story follows an older sibling’s journey at the hospital as he explains to the reader what is happening to his baby brother/sister. The child then encourages the reader to draw a picture of him/her for the baby at the NICU. It challenges the reader to think outside of the box and focus on the health and safety of their baby sibling. It’s also important for the older children to know they are just as important and just as loved as the sick baby, even though mom and dad are spending a lot of time at the hospital.

I really wish I had these coloring books when Adam was in the ICU at Children’s Hospital. Even though the books focus on the NICU, I think they are extremely valuable resources for any family with a small child in the hospital.

You can purchase any of Platypus’s Books on their website, here! They are also available in Spanish.

*The post is sponsored by Platypus Media. All opinions are my own.*

Come Home Soon, Baby Brother! (Platypus Media)

We are are stuck in snowy, cold Ohio this winter. Ugh. The forecast this week will be in the single digits… brrrr! Our weekly “tropical” escape is always Goldfish Swim School.

If you’re taking a winter vacation this year, I’m jealous!! But seriously… it’s always a good idea to brush up on some water safety with your kids before taking the family to the beach or a hotel with a pool. Especially for families who live in colder climates.

Staying Safe at Hotel Pools

Swimming in a hotel pool can be a bit different than swimming at an outdoor community pool in the summer, when there are tons of other kids and families in the pool — and lifeguards on duty.

Staying safe at an indoor pool means following a few tips. Since hotel pools generally don’t have lifeguards, it’s important kids always swim with a buddy and have an adult present. If your child needs a life jacket, be sure to ask the hotel concierge before you travel to see if the hotel has any for guests to use … if not, be sure to bring your own.

Swimming in the Ocean

Even if lifeguards are present on the beach, the ocean can be tricky, even for seasoned swimmers. Never swim alone (this goes for adults too!) and make sure little ones understand to stick close to an adult when near the water.

The ocean can change in the blink of an eye, so have life jackets nearby. And remember that drowning doesn’t always look as dramatic as it does in the movies, so learn the signs of drowning and what to do to stay safe.

Instructors at Goldfish Swim School use integrity, compassion and trust to teach families lifesaving swim skills — skills that can be used to stay safe while on vacation at the ocean.

Keeping children enrolled in year-round swim lessons means you can have some peace of mind, because instructors talk about water safety during each and every lesson!

Luke and Eden are approaching their second full year of weekly lessons which allows them to continue practicing new swim skills, work on getting stronger at the skills they already know, and reinforce how to stay safer in and around the water. YAY.

To sign up, visit Goldfish Swim School today!

*This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All opinions are my own.*

Weekly swim lessons allows them to continue practicing new swim skills, work on getting stronger at the skills they already know, and reinforce how to stay safer in and around the water.
Going on a winter vacation? If you live in colder climates, it’s wise to brush up on some basic swim safety first!