Once home we gradually started inviting family and friends in for visits. We had hand sanitizers and asked guests to either wash or sanitize if they were going to hold the babies. If someone was sick we'd ask them to wait to come until they were better. Everyone was very understanding of course.
Baby A was just 6 lbs. when he was discharged, but had come a long way from 2 lbs. 1 oz.! Baby B was about 7 lbs. by the time he was finally discharged (3 weeks after his "little big brother.") He had come from 2 lbs. 4 oz. Most people were too worried or scared to hold the babies, given what they had been through and many thought they would damage them just by holding them! It was funny, yet not funny at the same time. Unfortunately this was an example of how the babies were still somewhat isolated, given that they still weren't being given "free range" to be held by whomever, when ever and such. Either way it was great to finally have them home!
Then fall arrived and winter. Prime time for RSV season. RSV is Respiratory Syncytial Virus. It is a very common virus throughout Fall-Spring and many children will acquire it at some point by the age of two. Unfortunately, for low-birth weight babies, such as preemies and our boys, RSV can be deadly.
RSV can be caught from people who cough/sneeze into the air, haven't cleaned off their hands after doing so and then touching, holding or kissing an uninfected individual...think babies. Take this virus into a daycare and it is very difficult to avoid children coming down with it. It will live on children's toys in daycares and in homes, on any surface people touch. It is impossible for every surface in a home or daycare to be wiped down all of the time, no matter how hard we try.
Premature babies and other "at risk" babies receive a monthly RSV shot to help fend off this illness throughout the "season." Their older siblings most likely do not receive the shot.
Our oldest son was put into daycare as a means to help me out during my days, in which I am running from appointment to appointment, place to place trying to get as many things done one day--just to start them all over the next. It was difficult for me to manage our 2 year old, along with the unrelenting calendar! This is why he went into daycare a couple days a week.
No sooner did he get into daycare and he was bringing home every germ known to man. This was after I thought going to a private home with only 4 other children would help to avoid the "cooties." NOT!! Our first son was never sick until he started daycare. He wound up bringing home coughs, runny noses, throwing up and then pink eye twice! Needless to say, our immunity-challenged babies got more than their fair share of sicknesses this past winter!
So if you happen to know a mom who has had a premature baby or multiples and you haven't seen much of her, don't chalk it up to anti-socialization. More than likely she has been sitting in countless hospital waiting rooms, running from physio session to dietician meeting or protecting her child from germs that can do some serious harm.
Mommyhood--It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it! :)