A Mom and Daughter Covid Tale
By Sarah Walla – Sarah is a Mom & a Principal at BumpVitmains.com
Covid-19. Coronavirus. The Rona. This little virus has really dominated our news and thoughts this year. How could it not? With schools, travel, jobs and the economy shutting down… it’s really changed our everyday lives, interactions and joys.
Coming from the healthcare sales industry, I was glued to CDC developments to try and make sense of appropriate precautions I should be taking to protect myself and others. We shouldn’t panic and no need for a mask? Ok. Oh wait, we should wear a mask and avoid crowded places? Ok got it. Now the virus isn’t transmitted on surfaces as much? Argh, ok. It’s so confusing and overwhelming! Months into the pandemic I still didn’t know one person in my circle of family, friends or coworkers that had tested positive.
Then I came down with a fever on a Thursday night.
It’s hard to describe how mentally excruciating it was to come down with body aches, chills, sweats and a fever at the tail end of summer… during a global pandemic. Everything I’ve heard on the news flew out the window. Is this a cold or the flu? Is this something else?
My friend Elizabeth, an ICU nurse in Chicago, bluntly said “When’s the last time you had a fever in the summer? You’ve got Covid”. I was in shock. I’d been so careful! I was the one canceling plans to “stay safer” at home. I was the one not scheduling play dates. I was the one happy to be put on furlough and wear my mask for the greater good of humanity. I was the one sitting at home watching my friends post on social media their fun dinners out or big group camping trips… and I’m the one that catches it?
I called my ex-husband to see if he could keep our 5-year-old daughter, Colette, for extra time while I figured this out. Unfortunately, he was leaving town for the weekend and it was too late to cancel, but he was able to help me pick her up from school, so that I didn’t have to drive and potentially expose anyone.
I am very grateful for all the resources at my disposal, we are truly blessed, but I found myself in a position that I imagine so many other women have found themselves in this past year… I was sick, but I still had a child that needs to be cared for. What choice do I have, but to expose her and hope that what they were saying about Covid not impacting children as severely, was true? It was excruciating to think about it all, but I had no other option at the time.
So my sweet girl was delivered to me Friday afternoon, crying because she knew I was sick. I assured her that I (and we) would be ok… but my brain was flooded with thoughts of doubt. What if I’m one that needs a ventilator? What if I’m one that’s not ok? What if she gets it from me?
I still had a fever and was extremely tired. I could see how frightened my baby was. I made the decision to not wear masks in my small apartment. I guess I chose helping her feel less scared over science. I also felt it was an unrealistic expectation to social distance and wear a mask while caring for a 5-year-old. After getting her settled, I got online and scheduled a Covid test for the next day.
Having recently been laid off… because of Covid-19… my health insurance was a little bit of a mess, so I decided to take advantage of the free testing at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. Colette and I drove over that Saturday morning to get my nose swabbed. I took a picture of the setup as it was so surreal to be in a line of cars with healthcare providers in full hazmat suits testing for a novel virus that has shut down the world. Colette and I sang her favorite songs in the car to make it fun. Then we went back home so I could rest. By Saturday morning my fever was gone and so were the body aches and chills, but I was exhausted… extremely exhausted.
By Monday morning it was no surprise that my test came back positive. I called all the people I’d been in contact with to let them know… my sister and her newborn son, my mom, a couple friends and my financial advisor. The Health Department called me to contact trace and go over symptoms and options. I received a public order to stay isolated for 10 days, otherwise I could receive a $999 fine.
It was all very serious and scary. Looking back, I think I took 2 naps a day that whole week while Colette happily watched movies and TV shows. My daily wins were ordering groceries on Instacart to be delivered no-contact to my door and cooking healthy meals for us. I couldn’t smell or taste anything we cooked together, as the virus killed my smell and taste.
My sister then tested positive and then negative a couple days later and was classified as an “asymptomatic spreader.” So I most likely caught the bug from her while watching her baby… who I was so careful to stay healthy for. Go figure! She apologized, but there was no reason to point fingers or give anger any space, at this point Covid happens!
The Following Monday
A week after feeling my first symptoms, Colette and I both went back to the Pepsi Center for more tests. The following Monday, we got the results that we were both positive. That same day, Collette came down with a low fever and was pretty sleepy. It was as if the test results had manifested it into being. I was of course worried to death, but she seemed fine otherwise. I had seen her much worse during previous ailments. I made sure to update her school nurses. They said she could come back to school 14 days after the fever. That meant that instead of 10 days we were now looking at 24 days of isolation. Holy moly!
Looking back, now that we are all healthy again and life back to “normal,” I have a couple thoughts, but mostly I just feel thankful. On a few occasions, I was more than overwhelmed by the thought of taking care of myself AND my daughter, while sick, with no help. But after going through it all, I realized I had a ton of help.
Thanks to my neighbor friends and Instacart, Colette and I always had good fruits, veggies and proteins to eat. Also, thanks to friends, family and her dad, Colette and I had plenty to do! We received so many Amazon boxes full of fun arts and crafts, games and books to prevent us from going totally stir crazy together. There is glitter in just about every nook and cranny in this apartment, but I don’t care. I have a video of my child laughing hysterically at a fart noise maker her dad brought her and you know what? I’m thankful for it!
I’m thankful that we got this time together to rest and cuddle and play. I’m thankful that my Covid-19 symptoms never reached my respiratory system and Colette only had the minor fever. I’m thankful for the true time-out from life with literally nothing to do but relax and watch a movie. I’m thankful for all the love and support from my people. I’m thankful that we are raising our daughter with knowledge of the world and confidence to ask questions and display emotions. I’m thankful that I get to share my story with people so that they can make better informed choices and know they are not alone. I’m thankful for the strength this experience gave me… if I can survive a 3-week quarantine alone with an energetic 5yo then bring it on world! And I’m thankful to all the scientists and healthcare-workers out there, who are working tirelessly to figure this virus out and beat it!
Like everyone else, I look forward to getting the good ‘ol days back again. In the meantime, I hope my story will help ease the fear for other Moms, who find themselves in a similar situation. Be smart, but not fearful. You will get through this, just like Colette and I did, and just like you have gotten through dozens of other scary moments that come along with being a mom.
Hopefully, like me, the thoughts of how difficult it was at times will take a back seat to the memories of your child laughing uncontrollably and to a feeling of thankfulness for the time you got to spend together. And remember, if you ever feel overwhelmed… just buy your kid a fart-noise maker.