How one mom is coping with not being able to protect her preemie daughter from germs.
True
Healthy Essentials

As the thermometer drops outside and the bare trees begin to collect snow, I take a deep breath.

Despite the beautiful winter landscape, the first thing that comes to my mind is that we are officially in cold and flu season.

A little over three years ago, I gave birth to our daughter, who was more than 17 weeks premature. Our surviving triplet spent nearly four months in the neonatal intensive care unit, and when she finally came home, on oxygen, we avoided germs like it was our job.


Image by Stacey Skrysak, used with permission.

Being a micro-preemie, our daughter is more susceptible to getting sick, so we spent the first few years of her life avoiding illnesses. Giant bottles of hand sanitizer and a sign that our daughter is more susceptible to illnesses greeted guests when they entered our home, we kindly said “no” to friends who were not vaccinated, and our daughter only left the house for doctor appointments. The doctors had warned us that a simple cold or the flu could land my daughter in the hospital or, even worse, could kill her.

After essentially living in a bubble for more than three years, our daughter started preschool this past fall.

Image via iStock.

The days of isolation suddenly turned into a jam-packed adventure filled with recess, music, and crafts. But with the excitement came fear, on my part — the school setting is a cesspool of germs. I could no longer shelter my daughter.

It was a learning curve for this first-time mom. But rather than be a paranoid parent, I decided to be proactive.

I realized that the classroom setting, coupled with coughing kids, would create a cycle of illnesses. Once my daughter came down with a virus, it would most likely pass over to me, then to my husband. Once we all felt 100% healthy, the next virus would soon plague our family and start the whole cycle all over again.

Image via iStock.

After a few weeks of never-ending sickness, I learned my lesson — and took action.

  • In anticipation of future colds, I printed out our trusty medicine dosage chart from the makers of Children's TYLENOL®, hung it inside our cabinet, and bookmarked the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS Program® page.
  • The thermometer went front and center in our daughter’s room, and boxes of tissues began appearing throughout the house.
  • We all received our flu shots, and we make sure to wash our hands often, especially when my daughter first gets home from preschool.

I also found ways to help my child better understand different ailments.

She loves her pretend doctor’s kit, complete with BAND-AID® Bandages and pink sparkly tools. We introduced the kit over a year ago, when she was constantly being poked and prodded by doctors. Many kids have a fear of needles and of the doctor’s office as a whole, so this is one way to help ease the nerves. By spending countless hours checking our blood pressure and heart, my daughter has no fear of going to the real doctor. Plus, she’s more in tune with her body and can tell me when her ears hurt or if she's struggling with her breathing.

Above all, I learned the best way to help my daughter is to watch for signs and trust my instincts.

Each time she comes down with a cold, I know that sleep, a humidifier, and a box of tissues is the best remedy. If she’s wheezing or acting lethargic, or if I have any other questions or concerns, then I know it’s time to call her doctor. Every child is different, but the more you can read into their symptoms, the easier it may be to treat them.

Image by Stacey Skrysak, used with permission.

As I stare outside at the cold and dreary day, I’m ready — bring on flu and cold season! We got this.

We’re loaded with all the health and wellness products we need, and even if an illness knocks us down, you won’t see me complaining.  A day home from school to cuddle and hold my daughter sounds good to me. She won’t stay little forever. I need to cherish these precious moments, for some day, those hugs will be few and far between.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

Keep Reading Show less
True

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

Keep Reading Show less