You might be a first-time mom, or maybe this is your second (or even third) go round, and I am SO happy for you! We talked and got together until that day you gave birth, but now, I will only be seeing you through Facetime and pictures.

I will NOT come see you. I will NOT be visiting your new baby. I will NOT bring my germs to your newborn. 

Everyone gets so excited when family members or friends have a new baby, and we immediately want to see them. I have done the same. The first question I used to ask each friend who had a baby was, “When can I come meet him/her? What can I bring you? I’ll watch the baby while you sleep!” But, things have changed.

My son got meningitis at 4 weeks old. 

That Tuesday morning started out normally — his older brother was off to daycare, and I was catching up on a few minutes of sleep when my husband put the baby with me in bed and said he felt a little warm. I didn’t think much of it at first. Then I quickly remembered a recent conversation. “You need to call the doctor if your newborn has a fever over 100.3.” I rushed for a thermometer and took his temperature — 100.4. We called the doctor immediately. I was advised to undress the baby, wait a few minutes, and take his temperature again. We stripped him down to his onesie, and we waited. We took his temperature again — 100.5.

Ring ring…

“Take him to the ER.”

I dressed him lightly (it was early April), packed the diaper bag, and made my way out of the house. I couldn’t shake the unsettling feelings of “what if?” On my way to the car, I passed a small box on the porch — his birth announcements. I couldn’t even think about opening them. We were on our way to the hospital. What if? That feeling never left.

The hospital staff was very kind and took us in immediately. They took his temperature, they poked, and they prodded. And he never cried. He just sat there. He was referred to as the baby who didn’t flinch during the spinal tap. My baby didn’t even move when they stuck a large needle in his back.

I was scared. 

As I was waiting for the results from his spinal tap, he napped on me. I sort of felt like I was the patient, lying on the bed with him cuddled against me. It didn’t seem real. Then the nurse came in, “So, you heard the baby has meningitis?” WHAT?! No, no one told me. WHAT?! Meningitis. She immediately apologized and said the doctor would be right in. Cue the tears. I had held it together until those words came out. Meningitis. Then, I lost it. I immediately called my husband and mother. They were on their way. 

The doctor quickly scurried into the room to give me the diagnosis and prognosis. I had a million questions but felt like I could not get even one out. I simply stared and took in the information. It was explained to me that they were doing a lot of tests and did not think he had bacterial meningitis but had a form of viral meningitis that could easily have been caused by any virus going around. 

A virus going around?! And now my newborn has meningitis! It didn’t seem right. But yes, he caught a typical virus, and since he was so little and his immune system was not strong enough, it traveled to his brain and caused meningitis. After a five-day stay in the hospital and high doses of antibiotics, he was released from the hospital.

Thankfully, he has completely recovered, and we just celebrated his second birthday. You would never know what he went through at just 4 weeks old. You would never know, as I never did before that scary hospital stay, just how fragile newborns are. I know it is not possible to put our newborns in a bubble to protect them, but for now, no, I will not be visiting your new baby. I love you and cannot wait to meet that precious little one. But I will wait. I will wait until cold season is over. I will wait to visit when the baby is just a little older and stronger (and I have showered in hand sanitizer before entering your home).

Krystal Avila
Krystal is a Massachusetts native who grew up in the 'burbs and is now loving the city life in Roslindale with her husband and 3 boys (9, 6, and 1). She and her husband met downtown working at a restaurant together, and since then their love of restaurants has kept their date nights exciting as they try out the latest places. Learning Spanish has been something Krystal has loved ever since middle school, and that has become her passion as a Spanish teacher, wife to a Salvadoran, and mother raising her children bilingual. Loves: family, friends, playing with her kids, a comfy hoodie on the beach when the sun goes down, nachos, baking, Christmas movies. Not so much: loud music, putting away laundry, terrible threes, and black pepper.