Girl thriving after a rough start |

Girl thriving after a rough start

Sara Thompson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune Apryl Nelson holds her 3-year-old daughter Madison, who weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces when she was born prematurely, at their Gardner Mountain home.

When South Lake Tahoe resident Apryl Nelson gave birth to her daughter, Madison, she didn’t get to see her for six hours.

“She was chompin’ at the bit to see her,” said Apryl’s husband, Sam Nelson.

When Apryl finally saw her daughter, she wasn’t allowed to hold her. Little Madison was hooked up to a ventilator, because she was born 15 weeks too early.

That was March 7, 2005.

“You take it for granted that you get to hold and cherish your baby,” Apryl said. “You start to think, ‘Gosh, does this baby know I’m her mommy?’ “

She already had given birth to two sons, Ethan and Logan.

Madison’s status as a premature baby put her at risk for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – a leading cause of infant hospitalization. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of children hospitalized for RSV infection are less than 6 months old.

The virus may be particularly on the minds of new parents this time of year, because RSV tends to be seasonal, starting in November and ending in April or May. Apryl said she saw full-term babies, and even 3-year-olds, hospitalized with RSV when Madison was in the hospital.

When Madison went home from the hospital three months after she was born, she weighed 3 1/2 pounds. Apryl said the baby needed to be kept on oxygen even after she left the hospital.

Apryl and Sam said when they put Madison in her car seat, they had to position her just right so her windpipe wouldn’t become blocked. Apryl said it was frightening to look back and not see her baby breathing.

WIth all of Madison’s health concerns, the Nelsons took precautionary measures to fight RSV.

The shot Synagis provides an infant with antibodies to fight RSV. An infant must receive the shot every 28 to 30 days for it to be effective.

The Nelsons wanted to prevent Madison’s potential hospitalization from RSV, so for the first two winters, she received a shot every month.

Infants prone to RSV include prematures and those with heart disease and weak immune systems, said Dr. Dean Blumberg, an associate professor in pediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis.

Prematures make up the largest group, because their immune systems are immature and their lungs are prone to more problems because their airways are smaller and easier to be stuffed by mucus.

Apryl said she would screen anyone who came over to the house. If someone was sick or had been in contact with someone who was sick, they couldn’t come over. She said they homeschooled Ethan to prevent possible colds.

“I’m a germ freak,” Apryl said. “The hospital makes you that way.”

This winter, Madison didn’t need the vaccinations. She’s in good health, and her brothers treat her as an equal.

“She even plays Transformers,” Ethan said.

As for future medical problems, the doctors told the Nelsons that Madison might get asthma.

“If that’s all she has, that’s nothing,” Sam said.

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