Lately, I’ve been:
- writing up the story of Daniel’s birth
- making an inventory of all the boy clothes people have given us recently (both new and hand-me-downs, thanks!!)
- trying to take it easy as my body adjusts to breastfeeding and sleepless nights
- soaking up the first few days with a new baby in the house.
But, everything came to a screeching halt late last night as Scott and I realized something awful:
That strange sickness our two older girls have been fighting for the last week or so? It’s almost definitely Herpes Simplex Virus 1. And though just uncomfortable to kids, it can be deadly to new babies. Since this is a primary outbreak for both of them and Caitlyn’s infection looks to have turned into Gingivostomatitis, it’s also highly contagious.
It started out with low fevers and exhaustion, then moved on to swollen, red gums and tender mouths. And just before Daniel’s arrival first Mackenzie and then Caitlyn started to get sores around their mouths.
(The tears and scrape on her chin were from falling just before that photo was taken. You can see a few sores by her mouth in the same shot, though.)
My main concerns before last night were honestly:
1) The sores looked bad for photos with their new baby brother. Bummer.
2) The sore mouths caused a lot of crankiness, particularly from Caitlyn. She wakes up all night crying and cries through every meal. She wants me to hold her all day long, but squirms and cries when I do. Bummer.
Now? I’m wracking my brain trying to think if/when/how often girls have actually kissed Daniel with those sore mouths. I’m trying to think how likely it is that Daniel is already sick… I’m supposed to look for skin abnormalities, lethargy, fussiness… aren’t all of those things just part of the territory with newborns?
With this particular virus, things go from normal to critical in a matter of a day or two. The treatment is hospital admission and 2-3 weeks of IV antibiotics, and if it’s not caught early, the outcome can be fatal.
Scott’s consulted with a neonatalogist and our pediatrician (who in turn consulted with infectious disease specialists at Children’s Hospital) and so far the plan is “watchfulness” and keeping Daniel completely away from his sisters until their sores resolve all the way.
By far and away most cases of HSV in newborns comes from exposure from genital herpes in their mom during delivery. Less than 15% of cases come from exposure after birth, but those odds aren’t too reassuring when you’re looking at your own tiny, helpless little one.
- Kicking myself for not putting two and two together earlier and enforcing a quarantine from the beginning
- Keeping Daniel up and out of breathing/touching/kissing distance
- Washing my hands before touching him, since being tainted with Caitlyn’s toxic drool is pretty much inevitable for me throughout the day
- Watching the lone bump on his cheek to see if it develops into a blister (bad) or stays looking like baby acne
- Praying that this scare passes us by and that Daniel is spared from both an awful illness and the aggressive treatment.