I going to assume anyone reading this is a mother or a father – and whether or not you’ve welcomed a baby during COVID-19, I think we can all agree that welcoming a baby is a life-altering experience.
I’ve had three experiences come out of me: two boys, now ages 4 and 3, and our beautiful baby girl, just 7-months-old and born this spring.
I can promise when my husband and I decided to it was time to complete our family with baby number three – this is not how we expected it to be. Up to this point our life had been CHOAS. Everyone thought we were crazy to have three kids in under four years. But by baby three, we had run out of craps. For us, baby three was supposed to come with wisdom, flexibility, and open arms – not a global pandemic.
But the truth is – while having a baby during a pandemic has been hard, and while missing our family and friends has been hard – while having our routine shaken and stirred has been hard – NOTHING, and I mean nothing, has been harder than when my family and I (my husband, myself, and our three little babies) got COVID earlier this year.
My nightmares, anxieties – my biggest fears came true. And as a mom whose family has lived through a COVID-19 diagnosis, here’s what I need you to know.
YOU CAN’T BE TOO SAFE
I’ll come clean here – during the summer, we saw our families (aka, my children’s grandparents). My heart couldn’t withhold their only granddaughter from them, so we let them visit. And they helped us. But when the numbers started to rise in Burlington, Ontario around Christmas, all of that stopped – and THANK GOD we did. Because despite the fact I was the only one doing the grocery shopping, despite the fact we wore masks when we left the house, despite the fact we sanitized and stayed as safe as possible, we STILL got COVID – and we don’t know how. We haven’t been able to trace our source back to ANYONE or ANYTHING, so all we know is we obtained it through ‘community transmission’ – aka simply being out in public.
The day we got diagnosed was my son’s third birthday. My parents stopped by. We didn’t know we were sick. They stood at our front door for less than 5-minutes to drop-off a gift – I’m forever grateful they didn’t hug us, stay for cake, or come inside for an extended hello. The “what-if” of what could’ve been, well, I’ve hardly been able to sleep since.
YOU NEED TO ASK FOR HELP
By the time my family got COVID, our house should’ve been condemned. Three kids, two parents, NO HELP – and a dog (I always forget about the dog, sorry, Louie) – it was literally a sh*t show in our house. Diapers were scattered everywhere. Have you ever been SO sick that you literally leave a diaper filled with crap on the floor because you can’t make it to a garbage can? ‘Cuz that was us. (Jessi tells me this is a safe place, so I fully expect no judgment and a round of praying hands emojis here).
Thankfully, despite the tower of diapers, tower of plates, and tower of laundry being left in heaps around our home – we were well fed. Not only did we lean on those close to us to help but people who weren’t even in our immediate circle, from our neighbours to my husband’s boss surprised us with homecooked meals. Bags of goodies started to arrive on our porch daily, from more food than we could eat to toys for our boys – we received so much love and we are SO grateful.
YOUR MARRIAGE WILL BE TRIED
Do you remember how tired you were when you welcomed your first baby? Okay, so imagine that. Plus aches. Plus pains. Plus fever. Plus anxiety and panic and worry. PLUS three sick kids – all of them clingy. One of them with a hankering for your boobs.
Now, think of the last time your husband over-reacted when he had a cold.
Are you picturing it? Okay. Now – instead of a cold, he has COVID. And so do you.
Sounds fun right? It was good times, we nearly filed for divorce – luckily we were too tired.
Think you’re feeling burnt out now? Imagine being the sickest you’ve ever been and no one can come into your home to help.
It was hard – but thankfully, the fever gave my husband a shimmering glow I just couldn’t resist – and our marriage made it.
THE MENTAL TOLL IS WORSE THAN THE PHYSICAL
When it came to writing this part of the article – I had a really hard time finding the words. The truth is, I’m not okay. For a good part of my life, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. One of my biggest fears: losing the people I love due to a freak accident or illness. When I got that call that my 6-month-old daughter had tested positive for COVID-19, my biggest fears became my reality, and I’ve been struggling to return to peace since, now I suffer from daily panic attacks.
When I spoke with my doctor about my mental health – because I believe there’s no shame in seeking help – she told me that studies are showing adverse mental health consequences after a COVID-19 diagnosis – whether or not you’ve struggled with your mental health in the past.
So, for now, with the weight of the world still on my shoulders in this lockdown, I’m doing what I can: upping the dosage on my antidepressants and trying my best to remain positive AF.
YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT
I’ve been a mental health advocate for years and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in sharing my story – it’s that there’s always someone who can relate. And in most cases, the people that have related have helped me way more than I’ve helped them (in my opinion).
After appearing on NMWD Live with Jessi, I had numerous people reach out to me. Some thanked me for sharing my experience, others shared their experience with me. To date, it’s her most-watched LIVE show EVER. I think that says a lot. There’s no shame in having COVID. It’s a virus. And I feel like a lot of people are treating it like a cootie – one you get when you don’t play it safe. But the truth is, my family played it hella safe.
With a baby, a toddler with asthma and a history of respiratory illness, and parents in the high-risk category – we played it SO safe. And it still happened to us.
I don’t say this to scare you or to send you bunking in your homes. I say this to let you know you’re not alone.
If you play it safe and you still get COVID, you’re not alone.
If you’re scared, you’re not alone.
If you’re frustrated that some people are over it – you’re not alone.
From me to you – this is hard – but despite that, the end is near and until then, you’re not alone.