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

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.