October is RSV awareness month. While my son never had RSV during his time in the NICU back in 2011 (read about his story here if you missed it), I was amazed at the lack of knowledge of NICU procedures in the general population. People were surprised that we couldn't hold our son when we wanted to, that we had to scrub down every time we went in, that only 1 visitor was allowed in at a time, and that it is a very sterile environment. I'm hoping the below interview with the folks at the Little Lungs Initiative helps educate and spread knowledge, as well as get our crafty hands going for a great cause.
Tanis Gray (TG):What is RSV? As the mom of a preemie, most people don’t know what RSV is and why it can be deadly.
Little Lungs Initiative (LLI): RSV is a virus that can cause severe breathing problems and even lead to hospitalization. In fact, RSV is the #1 reason babies are hospitalized within their first year of life. While most children will get RSV by the age of 2 and will only experience cold-like symptoms, sometimes it can be more serious, especially in vulnerable babies. Premature babies are 2x more likely to be hospitalized with RSV disease. Babies with certain heart and lung conditions are also at higher risk for complications like pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
TG: October is RSV Awareness month! Tell us about your organization and about yourselves.
LLI: We are raising awareness with new and expectant parents and family members so they learn about RSV and can protect their families. We’re doing this through our facebook community, online through other media outlets, and in hospitals across the country. We’re also asking knitters to participate by knitting/crocheting items for preemies that will be delivered to NICUs throughout the country.
TG: I think knitting and crocheting for a good cause is so important. How can we knitters and crocheters get involved?
LLI: We are reaching out to knitters everywhere to lend their time and materials to knit or crochet preemie items – hats, booties, blankets, etc – and send them to us. Knitters are welcome to knit or crochet individually or hold their own “knit-ins” with a group. Knitters should take a picture of their knit-in or creations and post online with the hashtag #LittleLungs. There are also social media badges on our website to take and share on social media platforms/blogs for participating. Then just send us the baby items and we’ll take care of the rest!
TG: What kinds of knitted projects are you looking for and in what materials?
LLI: Knit or crochet infant clothing (blankets, hats, booties, etc) with your friends and family, using peach and/or mint green yarn if you can. Please use machine-washable materials and avoid wool if possible. Consider the smallest pattern size possible for these little babies—some suggestions or ideas for patterns can be found here.
TG: Can non-knitters do anything to help, too?
LLI: Yes! We’re asking everyone to share 2 things out to their social media networks so that we get the word out about RSV:
- Our Knit Bit for Little Lungs initiative – ask your social media network if they would consider knitting or crocheting preemie items and sending to us so they can make their way to NICUs. These items will provide some love and comfort to those vulnerable infants and their families who are spending extra time in the NICU this winter. They can also share this flyer about the initiative that provides all details.
- Our Thunderclap “social media wave” initiative – On October 23, we want our collective Thunderclap message to populate all across social media to help raise awareness for RSV! Please sign up for it here and then share the link on your social media platform of choice so that you can encourage your friends/family to sign up. It’s quick and easy and we need to reach a goal of 500 people in order for it to work, so every supporter counts.
TG: You’ve had crafty folks from 12 states participate in the program so far. What’s your goal?
LLI: Our goal this year is to double our participation across the board. We want knitters from 25 states to participate in our initiative. Last year we received ~250 knitted/crocheted items. This year, our goal is to receive 500 knitted/crocheted items to be able to deliver some love to preemies and their families in NICUs.
TG: I spent about a month in the NICU with my first born who arrived 2 months early. The NICU is a scary place where time stands still and you wait for news. It was the most harrowing time of my life and the people that helped me through it were rock stars. A lot of people didn't realize when they came to visit that they were not allowed in the NICU and all the precautions that are taken both there and when you finally get to come home. That's why this initiative matter to me. Why is RSV near and dear to your hearts?
LLI: RSV is the #1 reason babies are hospitalized within their first year of life, yet most parents don’t know it exists until it happens to them. It can be frightening for parents when they aren’t prepared. The RSV virus is easily spread and lives on surfaces for up to 6 hours. Serious RSV infections have been associated with asthma and wheezing later in life. But there are some simple steps you can take to help protect your family. We want to make sure every new and expectant parent knows what to expect and talks to their healthcare provider about how to protect their baby.
TG: Where can people go to find more info about Little Lungs and RSV?
LLI: Please visit our website here for more information about Little Lungs, RSV, and our Knit Big for Little Lungs initiative. Please join our facebook community here of parents and supporters who raise awareness and education about RSV and also share personal stories and advice.
TG: People can also check Ravelry and find any pattern for preemies to knit and donate. I found some cute options here. Happy knitting and please help spread the word!