CMV – The Silent Virus That All Parents Need To Know About…

This month is CMV awareness month, but let’s be honest, how many of us have ever heard of it or actually know what it is? According to the Nationl CMV Foundation, 91% of mothers are unaware of it. despite the fact that all pregnant women are at risk of acquiring this serious viral infection.

Catrin Phillips has experienced it, and she emailed us at Mam Cymru to ask if she could contribute an article to share her own terrifying experience in order to raise awareness of this silent virus.

I remember walking into a small room with the doctors after discovering an abnormality in my 38 week growth scan. We were told that out baby had contracted CMV (cytomegalovirus) in the womb. What did this mean? Was our baby ok? We hadn’t heard about this before. I remember seeing the doctors sympathetic face as she told us that out baby may be born with disabilities, deafness, blindness or worse case scenario, he may be still born. I don’t actually remember much after that until he was born 2 days later after an emergency induction was decided as the best course of action.

Twm Alun Phillips was born on the 18th of Sep 2011 and he weighed 5.14oz. He was tiny and very yellow but so cute. We held him briefly before he was taken by the doctors and cared for in the Special Care Unit for the next 3 weeks. He had many problems including an enlarged spleen, low platelets, a red rash over his body and jaundice. He looked so small and helpless in the huge incubator and there were wires and tubes everywhere. Those first weeks and months were tough. I moved into a room at the end of the Special care unit and we plodded along in a blur.

After the initial shock we were eager to find out what had actually happened to our son. And we discovered how little people actually knew about CMV – even some of the doctors were a little clueless. Luckily for us, living in Cardiff , there was a wonderful doctor who was extremely knowledgable on the subject and could inform us what had happened. She told us that when I was pregnant with Twm I had contracted CMV – which is just like any common cold, but if passed to the baby in the womb it could be fatal.

A plan of medication and treatment was put in place for Twm but we were warned that the future may be a difficult one for our little boy and only time would tell.

I think i cried almost every day for the first few months, between googling other CMV cases and going back and forth to the hospital. It was the not knowing that was the hardest and starting every day weary that something was going to happen. But week by week and month by month, Twm proved to be a little fighter. He would reach his mile stones, albeit a little later and with a little help, but he would get there.

Its hard to believe that was 6 years ago and last week we were so happy to see him being discharged from paediatrics. One of the main symptoms of CMV is hearing loss and Twm is profoundly deaf in one ear, but again, this is something that he is learning to adapt to. He is wonderfully caring little boy with a zest for life. He loves going to school and playing football and is a fantastic older brother to Caio and Sion. We are so immensely proud of him and how far he has come.

We had never heard of this ‘silent virus’ before and thats what made it so hard. June is CMV awareness month and it is imperative that people are aware of it, especially pregnant women.  Here are some facts for you :

CMV is the most common virus transmitted from pregnant women to her unborn child.

1 in 3 pregnant women who catch CMV will pass the virus to the baby.

CMV causes more disabilities than Down Syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and spina bifida.

CMV is spread through bodily fluids so remember to wash you hands especially if you work with small children.

There is a lot more information on www.nationalcmv.org

As for our experience, well it has certainly made us all stronger. Twm is doing amazingly and we are blessed and very lucky to have him in our lives. Now, every day is an adventure for him and we cant wait to see what the future holds.

Mam Cymru would like to thank Catrin Phillips for sharing her difficult experience with our readers, and we send her and the lovely Twm a massive cwtsh and a high five! Please share this story to help us raise awareness of this silent virus, it’s really important that the stats are changed and that more mothers are made aware of it.

If you have a story to share, please email us at mam@mamcymru.wales

By Heulwen Davies.

Copyright: Mam Cymru

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