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

Last year at this time I wrote an article asking for mom-friends. It went somewhat viral and was shared hundreds of thousands of times thanks to a republish by Scary Mommy.
The outpouring of comments, positive and some negative, was overwhelming. Believe it or not, I am still receiving emails about that article today. That tells me one thing…this topic is something so many women, especially moms struggle with.
Finding an army, tribe, fellow warriors is so important for a mom. A mom needs a group of women who have blazed the trails before them and those who are just embarking in the scariest hood of all…motherhood.
My blog is a no-judgement zone. The opinions expressed in my article reflect the kind of person who would be my ultimate mom-friend…and it should be noted that I do have a tribe of these beautiful women already.
So here it is…my previous article. I’d love to hear your comments below!

Will You Be My Mom-Friend?

It occurred to me recently that I don’t have a ton of friends. Stick with me here. I have a lot of friends from my past. I have an amazing family who oftentimes double as my best friends. I have former co-workers who are a call or text away. And I live in a kick ass neighborhood with lots of little rug rats zooming around on bikes and scooters.

But as for the ultimate “mom-friend”…I mean, the stick with you in the trenches of blowouts and temper tantrums, I don’t have a ton. Why? I think it’s because I’m picky. Finding a true mom-friend is like dating on steroids….but with the extra baggage of 2-4 ex’s (ie…the needy children).

It got me thinking of a list of characteristics one would need to be a true mom-friend of mine. Remember way back when, when you wrote out your dream guy’s qualities? Here’s my dream mom-friend. See if you fit the mold, or can at least relate.

  • Be real. This is the most important characteristic in my book. Cut the crap. Cut the “look how perfect my children are.” Cut the “#besthusbandever” b.s. Just freaking be real. See this pic I shared with this blog post? I legit didn’t have anyone to take it, so it’s fuzzy. My hair is frazzled. I’m carrying two bottles of wine and a baby, because real life.
  • Be chill, no high energy please. I have enough energy radiating off my three young children on the reg. 
  • Enjoy wine. And if you’re not a wine drinker, please don’t judge me when I go for the 2nd or 3rd glass. Raising kids is hard work.
  • While we’re on the subject of judging, let’s just toss out the white wigs. I judge myself enough already. I don’t need you, as a friend, judging me too.
  • Don’t get upset when I cancel. I’m tired. Like really, REALLY tired.
  • Don’t get upset if I accidentally leave you off an invite. Please know it’s not intentional, I probably just forgot. Because, I am REALLY tired.
  • On the same note, don’t comment about how fun it must’ve been. Or if I suddenly remember to invite you, don’t feel like an afterthought…I legit just forgot, because once again, I haven’t slept in 4 years. 
  • Don’t call. Let’s just text. Unless we set up a phone date and have a bottle of wine to share over the phone. 
  • You post a lot of crap on social media, which I’m cool with. However, I’m gonna pretend like I didn’t see it, because it’s so much more fun to hear it from you. 
  • Likewise, when I post a hilarious story (even if you don’t think it’s funny) just humor me and allow me to tell it again when I see you. I like to make you laugh. 
  • Your husband can’t be a douche. I want to have double dates with you dammit!
  • If my kids are acting horrible, scold them. I’m okay with that. I expect them to respect you.
  • My house isn’t always going to be clean. If yours is, I’ll feel like you’re trying too hard. Let’s just be equals here.
  • I appreciate your hustle. No matter what your job is…even if it’s just chasing the toddlers, I want you to know I support you in your ventures. It’d be cool if you supported me in mine.
  • We can vent, but let’s not fall down the rabbit hole of gossip. Let’s vent and then move on to something more positive…like what it’s going to be like to be empty nesters.
  • Let’s plan a trip together. Or at least a night away at a hotel to eat, drink and be merry. I think we both need that. Don’t make me feel like a bad mother for leaving my children at home. I NEED a break. WE need a break.
  • If we haven’t talked in awhile, shoot me a text. Let’s grab coffee. Let’s not act like it’s been forever…. let’s just catch up right where we left off.

We are an unique group of individuals trying to raise these tiny humans. Support me, and I promise to support you. 

I’d love to hear your qualities for that dream mom-friend. Let’s hear them, ladies!

Will you be my mom-friend?

Will you be my mom-friend?

 

 

Do you remember that Tim McGraw song, Angry All the Time? Even if you’re not a country fan, it’s a great song with a powerful meaning. Some suggest the wife in the song became an alcoholic and her husband couldn’t live with the disease any longer. However, I believe it’s a story of a husband and wife who raised their children and simply grew apart. Perhaps due to guilt, anger and frustration. Perhaps due to mental illness. Perhaps due to life.

I heard that song again recently and I cried. Like big, fat, ugly, can’t stop tears. I do not want to be that wife. I do not want to have that life. I do not want to be angry all the time.

Present day, I’m sitting on the couch in our living room.

My 5-year old is begging for attention in new ways. His dad is working a lot, so he’s entered this “feel sorry for me phase” because he wants me to coddle him. It’s challenging.

My 3-year old is begging for attention in her same temper tantrum ways. The tantrums are lasting longer and getting louder.

My 1-year old is weaning. He also has a bacterial infection in his eye and an ear infection. My boobs feel like bruised beached whales and it hurts to hold him but he’s begging for my attention by crying louder and louder.

Suddenly, I screamed. At the top of my lungs. As loud as I possibly could. I didn’t say anything, I just screamed. Louder than my 3-year old and louder than my crying baby which is impressive. I’m crying as I type this out of embarrassment. Also, my throat hurts. I’m not even kidding. I screamed that loud.

Let’s assess:

  1. I realize I probably need help with childcare. But that’s just not an option for us right now.
  2. I realize the kids probably need their dad to be home more. But we are going through a season, and that’s just not an option for us right now.
  3. I realize I definitely need a break. I get small ones, but a long break is just not an option for us right now.

I do not consider myself an angry person. I’m actually quite bubbly and funny… at least I think I am. I also do not consider myself type-A either. I think I have a pretty good ability to go-with-the-flow when things don’t work out. But there are trigger moments throughout my day that make me want to scream, and this week…I did.

I am sharing them with you for two reasons.

  • I want to be held accountable for the changes I am about to undergo as I seek a happier mom life.
  • Perhaps, you can relate. I realized recently I sometimes am an angry mom because I started to feel it from the kids. My 5-year old will say things, like “Are you mad, mommy?” “I’m scared to tell you what happened.” or “Can you just smile?” That last one rips my heart, soul and gut out. He knows it brings an immediate smile to my face so he uses it frequently…but he shouldn’t have to.

Here are some reasons I get angry. The first step is to admit your faults, so I can work toward being a less angry mama:

  1. They don’t listen to me. If you’re going to judge me, go elsewhere. I don’t need it. I instill discipline with them, but sometimes that makes me feel even angrier or meaner, so it’s something I struggle with. My husband tells me they don’t respect me. That hurts. But he’s also rarely here. Don’t judge him either. He’s working toward something for our family like millions of Americans are doing.
  2. My expectations are too high. Oh, this is especially true with my oldest. Almost every single day I get frustrated with him for one reason or another and I quite literally have to step back and say: “he’s only 5.” I was an only child, so while my parent’s expectations were also high, I was also their only child so all attention was on me.
  3. It’s hard for me to put myself in their shoes. But, I’m trying. I’m reading books like Siblings Without Rivalries to better understand how their brains work. I didn’t have siblings, so it’s hard for me to relate. I’m not using this as an excuse, but there are many times I completely forget they are just babies. These children are my life, my best friends, my entourage, my hood-rats….I often forget they are also just little kids.
  4. I have guilt. We all do. Whether we work from home, work away from home, don’t work at all, etc. But my guilt lies at the end of the day. When they are all tucked into bed. I feel guilty for my frustrated I LOVE YOU TOO! when they say goodnight to me for the 37th time. Recently, my husband was a little frustrated with how the nighttime routine was being prolonged and I overheard him get stern with our 5-year-old. I waited about 5 minutes and went upstairs and my son was sobbing, and my heart shattered. NEVER EVER EVER do I EVER want to put my children to bed scared, sad or mad. I understand some life un-expectancies are inevitable, but not something like this. My husband didn’t even realize there was a harshness in his tone. He joined me in our son’s room shortly after and laid with our son in bed all night long.
  5. I need an outlet. We all do! Whether it’s a night out with friends, or reading a book and a bubble bath…we all need an outlet to let go of our anger so it doesn’t boil over on our children. For me, it’s this blog. It’s the words you are reading right now. The truth. The rawness. The embarrassment. The hardcore facts of our life full of challenges and triumphs.

So back to the couch…

After a screamed, all the kids looked up at me like baby deer in headlights. They were scared, and they didn’t know what to do. So I laughed. I laughed so hard my bruised, beached whale boobs were throbbing. And you know what? They started laughing too. We all sat there for about 5 minutes making each other laugh louder than the next, and it was genuine. It was 100% true love.

Smile. Laugh. Hold them. Take a deep breath. Breathe them in. These days are fleeting, and I refuse to let them remember me as an angry mama.

It's alright mama, I'm angry too.

It’s alright mama, I’m angry too.

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Dear Husband,

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I’m sure you’re scrambling, last-minute to come up with something really special for the woman in your life. You know, the one who takes care of you, your children, your household, without thinking of herself. Yes, that amazing lady in your life will be celebrated tomorrow and you’re probably thinking….. crap! I procrastinated, again.

Fear not, dear husbands. Because I have the most epic solution for you. In fact, you will be a hero … dare I say legendary … if you follow my free advice.

Are you ready for it?

Just leave your wife the hell alone.

That goes for your children too. Tell them to get lost.

Brutal? Perhaps. Stunning? Maybe. Confused? Probably.

Allow me to spell it out for you. I’m not trying to talk down to you the way I speak with my 1-year-old, I just want to make sure I paint this picture clearly.

Here are 15 reasons why Moms want to be left the hell alone on Mother’s Day.

  1. Moms want to use the bathroom in peace.
  2. Moms want to not have to make 5 different breakfasts, only to clean up and make way for lunch.
  3. Moms don’t want to change diapers. News flash, I know.
  4. Moms want to watch a 1 hour Netflix show in less than 6 hours. That means no interruptions.
  5. Moms want to walk through the house without silently whispering to herself: WTF HAPPENED IN HERE!?
  6. Moms want to take a bubble bath without an audience.
  7. Moms might want to have a mimosa at 10 AM or a coke or whatever her potion.
  8. Moms don’t want to have to referee the screaming, hitting, fighting and whining.
  9. Moms want to go to Target without an entourage of hood rats running down the aisles, hiding in clothes racks, screaming at the top of their lungs about bodily functions. Moms want to go to Target A L O N E.
  10. Moms want a clean house. Sure, they may clean up the house the night before Mother’s Day but since you and the children are leaving her the hell alone she won’t have to pick up another Lego, Barbie shoe or your dirty smelly socks for the rest of the day.
  11. Moms want to lounge in their yoga pants without judgement. Or maybe a mom wants to get dressed up without the glaring eyes of a child followed by: “whoa! mom! you got dressed nice, where are we going?!”
  12. Moms want to binge on candy without hiding in the closet.
  13. Moms want to sleep. Not sleep like a baby, because moms know babies don’t sleep. Moms want to sleep like their husbands.
  14. Moms don’t want to have to spend 2.5 hours trying to get the kids to bed. Moms don’t like it when the “I love you too” sounds angry and frustrated.
  15. Moms don’t want to feel the guilt. That means if you’re going to give the lucky lady in your life this day of luxury, don’t make her feel as though she owes you until the kids are 18.

So there you have it, dear husband. The simplest, greatest gift you could give the amazing mom in your life. And think of it this way, you and the children can enjoy a wonderful day together. I’m sure the children will obey and not make crazy demands and not fight and not scream and be the perfect little angels that they are.

After all, mom knows best.

mother's day

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

I was recently watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood without my children. They had lost interest and after a full 20 minute show, I realized I was the only person still in the room completely zoned, yet entranced by Daniel’s mother. How is this tigress able to communicate with her children so eloquently? How is she able to keep her cool with Daniel’s frustrations. He’s always frustrated about something. She’s really no different than any other parent on a children’s program. The parents never show emotion besides compassion and understanding for their children’s feelings. Are children’s shows painting an unrealistic portrait of the modern-day, real-life parent?

I think so.

It got me thinking about my own parenting style. The more realistic, unanimated version. While there are many ways to parent I wish I was better at, the reality is I’m not. And that’s okay!

Here are 10 examples:

  • I cook wholesome, healthy meals for my children each and every day… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I keep my cool and have an abundance of patience for my children in every  situation possible… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I read stories to my children every night before bedtime… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I take time for myself, drink lots of water, exercise, get 8 hours of peaceful sleep… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I wake up rested before my children, get dressed, and am able to get some work finished before they wake up… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I clean my house (including toilets) regularly and without complaining… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I am able to constructively criticize my children when they are doing something wrong and teach them a lesson along the way… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I am compassionate and coddling to the children when they are hurt, angry, frustrated, mad, temperamental, irrational, or sad… but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I step away from my work, cleaning, and cooking when they ask for help with something…but sometimes, I don’t.
  • I feel beautiful and completely confident in my parenting… but sometimes, I don’t.

So raise your glass, from water to wine, and let’s have a toast to all the real-life parents out there.

Keep in mind, for the times you feel as though “sometimes you don’t”, it only means: most of the time, you actually… DO!

Are you a "sometimes, I don't" parent?

Are you a “sometimes, I don’t” parent?