It’s always such an honor to be recognized by any publication for our family’s efforts to raise awareness around Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). But to be featured by Scary Mommy is kind of like the Chip and Joanna Gaines of mom publications.

I was interviewed by one of Scary Mommy’s staff writers a couple of weeks ago and then our story was published last week while we were on vacation. We are in the height of RSV season, and Adam is actually sick with a respiratory virus as I type this. It’s so pitiful. But to know his story is helping others warms my heart.

I’ve had about a half-dozen moms reach out to me during the last couple of weeks about their child’s recent diagnosis with RSV. They would not have known what to look for if it wasn’t for Adam’s story!!!! I tear up every time I think about the lives our son is saving.

So thank you, thank you, thank YOU from the bottom of my heart for listening to our words and sharing our story.

Here is Scary Mommy’s recent publication:

https://www.scarymommy.com/espiratory-syncytial-virus-rsv/PicMonkey-Image7

I recently posted a picture of my kids making a mess with Play-Doh and captioned it: “Don’t mind the mess, my kids are busy making memories of me yelling at them to clean up their mess.” Obviously, this was in good fun– but it had me thinking. What will my children remember me by during this time of their lives?

Do you worry your kids will remember you by something negative? Be it nagging them to clean their rooms, pick up their dirty socks, or brush their teeth… are these the things that will stick in their brains forever when they think back to age 4, 5, 6 and so forth?

I know the obvious answer to this is, no. But I decided to write out 8 things I hope my children remember me by.

  1. Her life didn’t stop for us, she took us along to enjoy OUR life together: When I was pregnant with Luke, I remember a neighbor of mine in Birmingham who had two very small children. I was still working in the news business and working the evening shift, so I was around every morning until about 1 PM. I remember every single morning that mom waking up and loading up her children to have an adventure. They would go to the library, park, mall. I remember being so inspired by her ability to take her kids with her on daily adventures. I vowed then to do the same. I know many people don’t understand why I take my kids with me to the grocery store, shopping mall or on business errands… but my life doesn’t revolve just around them. It’s important to me that they understand I will do lots of fun things with them, but at the same time, I have a life too. I have things I need to do, and I don’t want to hire a babysitter for those simple things. I want them with me, I want them to learn from our daily outings. My mom worked from home and I would go to the bank, DMV and utility company with her… just like my kids do with me. We can make any errand an adventure!
  2. She had her favorites: Calm down! Let me explain first. I take the time to individually connect with my children so they know they are my favorite. You see, Luke is my favorite big boy and the very best big brother there ever was. Eden is my very favorite girl and the very best sister to her brothers. Adam is my very favorite baby and the very best baby brother. I tell them this. I spend the time to point out amazing qualities each one of them possesses. They like the individual attention, but I also make it a point to let the other children know what makes their sibling so special.
  3. She squeezed us and kissed us multiple times a day: First thing in the morning, each one of my children gets a giant hug and kiss. Throughout the day, I make it a point to set down my phone and give them physical attention. Children need that. They need to feel your love, not just hear the words.
  4. She let us help with everything: I will be the first to tell you, it takes patience. It is so much easier to cook dinner on my own without little ones scampering under my feet, but my daughter loves to cook. She has an apron she pulls out every single afternoon when she knows it’s time to start our meal prep. She looks forward to cracking eggs, grinding meat, and stirring pasta over the stove. YES! She is supervised. Trust me, it would be so much easier to shoo her away, but I want her to develop a love for cooking and I want her to know I will always say ‘yes’ to spending that time with her. Same goes for my older son. He loves helping his dad in the yard, so he is out there once a week pulling weeds and cleaning grass clippings.
  5. She loved to laugh and play: The laughing part is easy. I’m biased, as every mother is, but I think my kids are hilarious tiny humans. The playing part is a bit trickier. My kids are finally getting to an age where they enjoy fun board games and coloring. My sons love sports and my daughter enjoys it when I help her dress her baby dolls. I secretly don’t “love” playing with them every day… but they will never know that.
  6. She was in love with our daddy: Listen, some days I don’t have the energy just like the next person… but it’s so important that our children see my husband and I in a loving, healthy relationship. We speak to one another with love and respect, we spend time with each other away from the children, we have adult conversations while they are around and teach them to not interrupt. It’s important to us they know our relationship matters and takes priority.
  7. She helped others and used her talents to make a difference: Yes, I am a stay at home mom but that doesn’t define me. It also doesn’t mean my life is over for the next 18-20 + years. I write this blog for you. I share my thoughts and experiences to connect with you and hopefully to help others. Even though I live in Suburbia, I want my children to know I utilized my voice and God-given talents every single day of my life. My absolute favorite quote of all time is by Erma Bombeck. (Who also is a personal hero of mine!) “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say: ‘I used everything You gave me.'”  AMEN!
  8. She prayed with us and for us: I pray every single day for my children to grow into amazing humans. I also pray with them. I pray that they live their lives with a loving heart. To be kind and find joy in their day-to-day lives. It is so easy to get wrapped up in things that do not matter. I hope they always stay focused on the important things in life and always love and support one another. And always know how much their mommy loves them.
Shanisty Ireland

Memories in the making…

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I want them to remember most of all their mommy loves them very much. 

Last weekend, we surprised the kids with a fun-filled trip to Butler County, Ohio. We packed up their suitcases and picked them up from school. When they asked where we were going, we just kept telling them we were going to dinner. God love them for thinking it was a 2-hour drive to dinner. Ha!

Luckily, the drive was quick and we arrived at our hotel in plenty of time for dinner. After an easy check-in at the Staybridge Suites, we were off to our first stop at Troy’s Cafe.

By now the kids were bursting with excitement as we kept telling them we had so many surprises planned for them. Troy’s Cafe was a quant little restaurant with sandwiches, salads, soups and delicious mac and cheese for the kids. The place was full on a Friday night, which is always a good sign! We enjoyed a wonderful meal and were off again.

After Troy’s we had one more surprise in store before turning in for the night, The Cone. I am so happy we had the chance to experience this remarkable landmark of a shop. The ice cream was delicious, but the experience was even better. The weather was perfect that evening, and we sat outside under the giant ice cream cone while the kids ran around and played on the rides. We were then stuffed and ready to turn in for the night.

The next morning we embarked on the Butler County Donut Trail … which was AMAZING! I think we all gained about 5 pounds that morning. I’ll be sharing a more detailed blog post on the Donut Trail in the coming months, but I highly recommend the trail to anyone looking for something fun and unique to do!

After our sugar high, we hopped on over to Jungle Jim’s. This international supermarket is much more than a grocery store, it is a true destination. With hundreds of thousands of products from over 70 countries, Jungle Jim’s International Market is internationally known. We stopped in the toy store area first and then made our way to the most unique restrooms we’ve ever seen. I’m not even kidding when I say the bathrooms are an experience in themselves. We did a lot more browsing than buying, as we had a full day planned…but this is a place my husband and I would love to come back to sans children.

After Jungle Jim’s we were ready to eat again, hard to believe after all of the donuts, but Lisa’s Kitchen hit the spot. A hometown, casual spot with an even tastier menu. My husband and I both enjoyed the hot subs, while the kids devoured cheeseburgers and french fries.

My youngest was ready for a nap, and he fell asleep in the car on our way to the Niederman Family Farm Fall Festival. The weather was a bit chilly and perfect for jeans and fall attire. The crowds were not that bad, considering a rain storm was on the way. The Niederman Family Farm featured hay rides, pumpkin patches, a bounce pad, games and more. I enjoyed a nice cup of hot cider while the baby napped and the kids played. It was the perfect end to our fall afternoon.

We were all ready for a little R&R after such a busy day, so back to the hotel we went to rest up for dinner at WEB Extreme Entertainment. WEB features the largest laser tag facility in the tri-state area. Unfortunately, our kids were too young for laser tag and the go-carts. BUT, they absolutely loved the arcade games and putt-putt golf. We actually played two rounds as there wasn’t a long line for putt-putt. Dino, glow in the dark putt-putt at that. The kids had the greatest time at WEB!

Back to our hotel to rest for another fun-filled Sunday…. which I will blog about later this month.

Needless to say, we had a fantastic adventure and highly recommend this easy trip for any family looking for something unique to do!

To be continued…

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Dinner at Troy’s Cafe

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Dessert at The Cone

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The kids LOVED this place

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Off to the Butler County Donut Trail

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Jungle Jim’s was quite the entertainment

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Lisa’s Kitchen for lunch

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Family fall fun.

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CUTIES

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Dinner and late night (7 PM) fun at WEB.

Last week I embarked on a new journey, and perhaps one of the most important ones of my life. I was asked to fly to Washington, DC to meet with a pharmaceutical company that’s working hard on developing a vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). I agreed, because sharing our story is something I am extremely passionate about.

If you’re new to my blog, allow me to give you a summary. When our youngest child, Adam, was just 6 weeks old he was diagnosed with RSV and almost lost his life. He had contracted the virus from my older two children who probably picked it up from preschool. We spent 5 days in the hospital, as Adam was hooked up to breathing machines and IVs. It was the scariest days of my life. If it wasn’t for the incredible care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Adam would not be celebrating his 2nd birthday with us this year.

So last week, I had the incredible opportunity to meet with some intelligent, talented individuals who explained their efforts in creating the first RSV vaccination. It was fascinating and truly enlightening to listen to them speak about the virus and how it has evolved. There have been so many failed efforts over the last 50 years in creating a vaccine that would protect infants from the second leading killer worldwide, behind malaria. The amount of the time, effort, money and passion that’s gone into making the RSV vaccine is beyond comprehension.

Friday morning, I stood in front of a room of about 300 people from the pharmaceutical company. Many were doctors, scientists and researchers – all were working together on this vaccine. I stood in that room and opened up my heart. I opened up about our story, Adam’s story, in hopes that he serves as an inspiration. I let them view the short 15 second video of his extreme labored breathing. Every single time I watch it, I tear up, as many others did in that room.

While it was an emotional morning, it was so inspiring for me. You see, this is only the beginning. I’m making it my mission to continue the conversation. To further the awareness and the education. I look forward to watching this particular company make headway as the final clinical trial results come in. There is still such a long road ahead for the company, but they are on a fast track for sure.

My closing message for the amazing people I met with was simple. I know how hard it is when you’re in the trenches. When you’re working on something every single day, it becomes mundane, you almost become numb to it. Millions of dollars have been poured into this work and many people feel as though they have given their lives to the RSV vaccine.

As I stood in front of that room, I wiped my tears away, thanked them and said: this IS absolutely something worth giving their lives for.

#ProtectLittleLungs

You can read our full RSV story here: How RSV Changed the Way I Parent

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Adam at 6 weeks old with RSV.

 

 

I haven’t blogged in a bit, and I’m sorry for that. School started a few weeks ago for both my older children. With school started soccer, ballet, tap and a boatload of new germs.

Last week, we spent two days at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with my oldest son who contracted a scary Respiratory Virus. If you’re a parent, you probably hate the word “virus” as much as I do. You already understand when a doctor utters the first syllable it means there really isn’t an easy treatment for your child. Luckily, and unluckily that wasn’t the case for Luke last week.

Our family went to our local swimming pool along with every other family in the entire city on Labor Day. That evening we went to my parent’s house for a cookout and Luke played golf with his dad…. all was perfectly fine!

Around 4 AM, Luke came to my room complaining he couldn’t breathe and he felt like he was going to throw up. I took him to the bathroom, he seemed fine, so I went back to bed with him. I didn’t notice labored breathing then… it was 4 AM, dark and we were both groggy.

The next day Luke spent his time on the couch watching movies and napping, which is very unlike him. I noticed his breathing was fast and labored, so I called his doctor. The after-hours clinic asked us to come into a children’s urgent care where his breathing was monitored. The physician there advised us to rush him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital… or he was going to call a squad. I’m awake now!

After a very long and quite uncomfortable wait in the ER waiting room, we were finally seen by doctors around 2:30 AM. He was immediately hooked up to an IV, injected with steroids and the breathing treatments began. Doctors decided to move him to a room and admit him after his breathing wasn’t slowing down and his heart rate was through the roof. It was pretty frightening, if I’m being completely honest.

Luke underwent several breathing treatments, every 2 hours and then every 4 hours the entire next day. The doctors were sure he would need to stay another night, but Luke started to improve rapidly and was reacting great to the treatments so we were able to go home the next evening. Armed with medicine and breathing treatments.

A week later, Luke is completely back to normal. He has been in school all week, had swimming last night and a soccer game this weekend. Back to normal for us all, and keeping our fingers crossed we can skip out on a couple of rounds of sickness in our near future.

Here are some things I learned:

  • A child’s breathing should be anywhere between 20-30 breaths per minute to be considered normal. Luke was at 72 breaths per minute.
  • Follow your mama gut. I should have taken him to the doctor much earlier in the day to avoid urgent-care and perhaps crazy long waits in the ER, but I didn’t. I should have listened to my mama gut much earlier.
  • Respiratory season is starting early this year. The doctors at the hospital told me when school started, the school bus basically dropped off busloads of children to the hospital for respiratory viruses.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS! I make my children wash their hands first thing when they get home or get in the car from school. Even if it’s using anti-bacterial soap as we drive down the road.
  • If your child is sick, please keep them at home. I completely understand this is super easy for a stay at home mom (or work from home mom) to say, but some children (like my boys) are very prone to contracting respiratory viruses and it’s dangerous for them. I know there are millions of other children like mine, and children who even fair even worse than a couple of nights at the hospital.

*special thanks for the wonderful team of doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for taking care of our Luke.*

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