Easter is already next weekend which means Mother’s Day is right around the corner. It’s hard to believe how fast spring is moving along this year.

As a child, I always struggled with picking out the perfect gift for my mom and usually settled on a trip to the nursery to help her plant her yearly flower pots. It was something meaningful to her and it shaped years of memories for me. We always chose experiences over presents.

Now that I’m a mom of 3 (almost 4!) my husband seems to struggle with the same problem and usually just asks me what I’d like for Mother’s Day. If you’re reading this and searching for a wonderful gift this year that will surprise mom and tell her how much she means to the family, I may have an unique idea for you!

I recently stumbled upon an awesome company called PatronArt. PatronArt is on a mission to make original and commissioned art accessible to everyone while helping independent artists thrive. PatronArt was built to connect talented artists with passionate art buyers, and make original art accessible to everyone. Their online concept is simple and inviting as it always helps hard-working artists thrive by purchasing their original pieces of art.

A commissioned piece of art would be an amazing gift idea for mom this year! It sort of combines the present and experience idea I always struggled with for my own mother. PatronArt makes it really easy to get in contact with the perfect artist to make your mom’s masterpiece come to life. Turn your mother’s photo into a beautiful custom artwork through PatronArt as hundreds of independent artists are ready to create that once in a lifetime gift for mom.

We all know mom deserves the best this year, so treat her to a thoughtful, creative Mother’s Day gift she’ll cherish forever!

*This post was sponsored by PatronArt, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Mother’s Day gift she’ll cherish forever.

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

Dear Adam,

You turned 2 years old this month, and in typical 3rd child fashion… my birthday letter to you is coming a few weeks late, but that doesn’t reflect my heart.

Adam, you are saving lives. You have impacted more people in your two short years on earth than most people have in a lifetime. You don’t even realize it yet, but one day you will. I hope you are grateful for the work we’re doing.

Adam, we almost lost you during your sixth week with us. You tested positive with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) — a virus none of us had ever heard of before. But you were a fighter and survived with flying colors. I know this is your story to tell, but Adam your mom and dad are so passionate about helping others any way we can so we’ve made it our mission to share our family’s story… your story, in hopes of saving others.

Adam, you are the sweetest. You have the calmest and gentlest disposition. You are perfectly content sitting on our laps and observing the room around you. You are so cuddly, in fact, you can’t fall asleep without touching someone. You are constantly giving us hugs and kisses and we love you for that.

Adam, you adore your sister and look up to your brother. You want to do everything they do. You play sports and board games with Luke and you are patient enough to play “house” with Eden. She calls you her “puppy” and you crawl around on the floor with your tongue hanging out. She loves you more than you love her at this age. She wants to cuddle you and smother you with kisses… you don’t always allow her.

Adam, you look so much like your daddy with your big brown eyes. You also have his temperament, which I’m thankful for.

Your current loves are Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse, balls, cars and trucks. You also are obsessed with the Baby Shark song. Doo doo doo doo doooooo. Your love for Baby Shark has evolved to all sea creatures. When we go to the zoo, the aquarium is your favorite part…you could spend hours observing fish.

Your little personality is really starting to shine. We can’t wait to see what this next year brings you!

Adam, when I found out I was pregnant with you I prayed for a boy. I really wanted Luke to have a baby brother. You have filled our lives with so much joy, love and laughter. We couldn’t imagine our lives without you.

Thank you for being such an inspiration. Thank you for not giving up in the hospital when it would have been so easy to stop breathing. I thank God everyday for you and for the healthy air in your lungs.

Happy 2nd birthday, Adam.

Love,

Mommy

 

Happy 2nd Birthday, Adam!

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For the first time in 3 years, I’m ditching my kids and husband and going on a girls trip. Can we say E X C I T E D!!! I am not sure I can sing it loud enough.

A million thoughts are going through my mind the night before I leave.

  • What on earth do I pack?
  • Do I have to clean the house?
  • What about the laundry?
  • Oh, since the kids are staying at grandma’s while my husband works…I guess I gotta pack their clothes.
  • I always do, but this time I probably shouldn’t forget their toothbrushes.
  • Pack the sunscreen.
  • Stock the fridge with easy dinners.
  • Finish up what work I can, so I don’t have to spend vacay at my laptop.
  • I’ll actually have time to read! That’s a lot of pressure considering I haven’t read a book in a year… what do I choose?
  • Gotta get my nails done, or at least paint them.
  • Don’t forget to shave! Yow.

I’m probably forgetting 9,000 things but I can’t focus due to pure excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and husband but a little ‘girl time’ is good for the soul. So here I am, 10 PM the night before my 6 AM flight about to pack.

A couple of things I’ve noticed:

Trip for 5: start planning 72 hours in advance.
Trip for 1: start about an hour before bed.

Trip for 5: 73 loads of laundry to prepare.
Trip for 1: Everything smells fine, just throw it in the bag.

Trip for 5: largest suitcases in the history of transportation.
Trip for 1: carry-on.

Trip for 5: 10 pairs of shoes, at minimum.
Trip for 1: 5 pairs of shoes…I’m still a girl.

Trip for 5: 5-8 different electronics and chargers.
Trip for 1: the iPhone is all I need.

Trip for 5: bring enough snacks to feed a small army.
Trip for 1: enjoy a hot Starbucks at the airport.

Now excuse me while I throw some things in a bag and catch a few hours of sleep.

Bon voyage!

Bon Voyage!

Isn’t that the truth?!

I see you, Monday.

Coming in here like a freaking hurricane. You aren’t welcome, but you just don’t get the hint. You return week after week like a full-blown stage-5 clinger.

When I was working full-time, I hated you even more. I thought for sure you would be more of a welcome sight as a work from home mom, but I was wrong. Boy, how I was wrong.

Monday, I have to admit though I have found a couple of things that help alleviate your pain.

  1. Coffee.
  2. When coffee doesn’t work, jumper cables do the trick.
  3. Make a list the night before. This one is a GAME CHANGER for me. I plan out my Monday on Sunday evening so when daylight breaks I don’t want to die.
  4. This too shall pass. Monday can’t last forever, right?
  5. Coffee.

In the meantime, just know that we all suffer the Monday blues. Monday is not a prejudice day of the week…she’ll hit you like a wrecking ball know matter what. The good news is, the state of mind is a powerful thing. While we can’t control Monday’s weekly return, we can control how attack it.

Cheers to you, Monday warriors…now go bring me some coffee!

An Ode to Monday

Hiding out from Monday with my homegirls like…