You can do everything right for months on end, and your family still get struck by coronavirus. Masks, social distancing, no visitors, only essential trips to the store, grocery pick-up, contactless take-out orders, no dining out, remote working, virtual school, frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer and still a member of our household tested positive for coronavirus.
Let me preface the following by saying I 100% believe coronavirus is a global pandemic that we must take very precaution to limit the spread of the virus. I share our story in an effort to advocate for the vigilance everyone must take as well as process the anxiety and mom guilt that has been ever-present but multiplied a thousand-fold this week.
For those who don't know, when this pandemic began last March I was 6 months pregnant with our third child, a little girl due in June. It was scary, when so much was unknown about how the virus affected pregnant women, It was stressful, a couple weeks later when Safer at Home orders went into place and our two older sons (then 7 and 3) were now home from school and daycare while I transitioned to remote working from home full-time. I am the finance manager for a Fire Department of a mid-size City, and for us the work would not ease up, frantically sourcing personal protective equipment, applying for grant funding, facing potential furloughs and layoffs in the midst of a severe budget shortfall.
Yet we persevered. I channeled my anxiety over the virus into using my ample fabric stash to make face masks to protect essential workers and those vulnerable in our community. I joined the admin team of our local mask making group, and together we sewed, sourced supplies and donations to contribute over 23,000 facemasks. Thank you to any of you reading who donated through this site and received facemasks from me.
Our healthy baby girl was born in early June. I wore a mask all through a 9 hour labor and delivery until the COVID test they gave me shortly after arriving at the hospital came back negative. It wasn't how I envisioned my last pregnancy ending. My husband was able to be in the room for her birth and had the option to stay overnight. Instead we went home to be with our sons who would have to wait a few days to meet their new baby sister.
As the summer began the boys started back at daycare and summer camp to give me a little break in caring for a newborn. Our daycare had very strict reopening guidelines in place to protect the children, the caregivers and all the families. This included daily temperature checks for the children at drop off, increased cleaning procedures, outside pick-up/drop-off, mandatory masks for the staff , parents and older children and a family pact to observe all of the social distancing guidelines to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
In July mask mandates were put in place in our state, although we'd been wearing masks in public and indoors since March. We continued to observe all our county public health guidelines and continued with online ordering and contactless pickup for groceries and other needs. While cases never truly declined in our area we began to get used to this new normal. We celebrated the boys birthdays' (now 4 and 8) at home, sans friends and extended family.
By September my 12 weeks of maternity leave were over and we sent our baby girl off to daycare so I could return to remote working full time (although I'd already worked hours totally up 5 of my 12 weeks off). Our oldest returned home with mom to begin 3rd grade via virtual school. And our now preschooler continued at daycare with his little sister in the 4k program. It was a challenge for all but once again we persevered and believed we were taking every precaution we could... until this week.
Wednesday afternoon I got a call from daycare that the preschooler was now running a fever and complaining of a headache and sore throat. Their protocol was if 2 or more COVID symptoms are present the child cannot return until a negative test is obtained or they are quarantined for 10 days. Panic and disbelief set in. Surely it's only strep throat or something else.
I called his pediatrician on the way to pick him and his sister up and was transferred to the COVID triage nurse. She rattled off the same questions I'd heard at every pre-natal appointment and infant well child visit the past six months, only now the answer was yes to those COVID symptoms questions. We setup test for the following afternoon, thinking it would come back negative and all would be well. That evening his fever peaked at 102, you could tell he felt miserable, and still complained of a headache and sore throat.
The following day he still was a little under weather but in good spirits. I took his baby sister into daycare thinking that if he did have strep I didn't want him around her and it would make it easier to go to his COVID test appointment without her in tow. We sat both boys down and explained that the preschooler might be sick and that they needed to keep their distance from each other (yay, no fighting for once). That afternoon I drove him to the drive-thru testing facility and got his COVID test done. A few tears were shed as that nasal swab isn't comfortable for a 4year old, much less anyone. But at least is wasn't the 6" swab I had to hold in my nasal cavity for one minute like the test I took when his sister was born. We drove off with the message that they'd call in 24hours if positive or would post the negative result to his online health chart.
The next morning the preschooler was back to his normal self, no symptoms to be accounted for. I thought we were nearly out of the woods and my anxiety would settle later that day when the negative result was posted. Nearly out the door with the baby and headed to drop her at daycare, my phone rang. It was the clinic, the preschooler's COVID test was positive.
My heart sank.
Ten days isolation at home for him, followed by 14 day quarantine for anyone in close contact (read - the rest of the household; mom, dad, 8yr old brother and 4 month sister). I called my husband to report the news. He had just gotten in to work, told his supervisors and came right back home.
Next I called daycare. They were in as much shock as I was. We were all expecting a negative test and just a few days out of school until he'd return to his 4k classroom. Instead they made the decision to immediately close the center, contact parents for pickup, and do a thorough deep clean of the entire building. Enter mom guilt.
I was excluded from those initial emails to parents as my kids were already home. But I could just imagine what other parents must have thought Friday morning after having just dropped their children off, to return for pick a short while later and a possible coronavirus exposure.
'Who was this family that put the rest of us at risk?'
'Don't they take this seriously?'
'Ugh, now I have to quarantine my preschooler because of some other family's recklessness.'
Well that family is us.
We followed every rule, observed every guideline, took every precaution. We had just as much at stake as anyone else or even more so, with a new baby in the house and other underlying health conditions (asthma). And still the virus caught up with us.
So here we are. My husband has a test scheduled for Sunday, and I plan to take our older son and myself to the public testing site then too. My husband and I have some mild cold symptoms but still can't tell if its just in out head. The preschooler feels fine, but he may still be contagious for several days. Its a waiting game.
Our 4 month old daughter has had a few coughs and sneezes. Its nearly impossible to keep everyone contained to their bedrooms so we let the boys out with the instruction that they keep their distance from each other. My thought now is we are all at risk of getting the virus. I can only keep it contained to our own home.
If you read this far, thanks for listening to my catharsis. Out of an abundance of caution I've taken down any physical products from my shops, only digital patterns are available for the time being. I hope to re-open my store later after October 14th.
Stay healthy, stay safe! Wear a mask, stay home if you are sick, we are in this together!