P IN FALLLeaves taking over the yard, walks in the crisp morning air, curling up with a blanket and a cup of coffee. Autumn is my favorite time of year….and I think Peyton feels the same way! This toddler loves to play in the pile of leaves; the crunchy sound guaranteed to produce a giggle. But as much as we love our days outside, it’s time to say, “Sorry Friends, we’re going into hibernation.”

The days of play dates and Target runs will give way to indoor activities and plenty of hand washing. Even though Peyton seems like a healthy little toddler, she’s still considered a “22 weeker”. Her immune system is not like other kids her age. We learned that first hand in September, when Peyton landed in the hospital for a week. Her Nicu doctor thinks P most likely came down with the enterovirus, a nasty respiratory illness that has swept the nation. It turned into pneumonia and Peyton quickly became a hospital patient.

P HOME FROM HOSPITALLast year at this time, Peyton finally came home after a 4 month Nicu stay. We locked up the house and kept most people away. It was extremely difficult to turn friends and family away, especially when our child, who wasn’t expected to survive, arrived at home. After the year we had experienced, Ryan and I wanted to shout “She’s Home” from the rooftops! We were overwhelmed with excitement that our little baby was doing so well. But we also knew the risks she faced: A simple cough could kill her; a cold could land her back in the hospital. So we followed her doctor’s recommendations. We required visitors to get the flu and pertussis vaccines. We kept bottles of antibacterial gel all over the house and a box of medical masks came in handy anytime we felt the hint of an illness. We only allowed close friends to visit; people who had previously visited Parker and Peyton in the Nicu. And we didn’t leave the house with Peyton, unless we were going to a doctor’s appointment or therapy. It’s enough to make you go stir crazy…and I sure did after a few month! But, it worked. Peyton didn’t even come down with a cold. After the flu season ended, we emerged from our cocoon. We began to take Peyton on errands and introduced her to our favorite restaurants and activities. And the amazing thing: It took her 10 1/2 months of being home before she came down with her first illness.

image1Since it worked last year, we are sticking to hibernation for at least one more year. Peyton is doing so well and slowly catching up in size, but her immune system is premature and her lungs are still very weak. So, forgive me if I tell you that we will be skipping your Christmas party. And don’t take it personally if I say that we are not inviting any visitors to our home. We are simply trying to protect our surviving triplet, our precious little cargo. We’re keeping a low profile, away from germs…We will see you all come spring!

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Stacey Skrysak

Stacey Skrysak is a local television news anchor in Illinois, but her proudest role is becoming a mom after years of infertility. Stacey is mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two angels. Even though two of her children were only alive for a short time, her triplets have touched thousands of people around the world. Through her blog, Stacey has become a voice for infertility, premature birth and child loss. These days, she sprinkles in the trials and tribulations of raising a daughter, who was once nicknamed “The Diva of the Nicu.”