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I recently went nearly 21 days without hugging my kids. But with certainty I will say that I feel incredibly lucky.
When my husband told me he was feeling off and was going to bed about a month ago, I immediately texted him and told him to stay there. I don’t know why, we hadn’t left the house for much in weeks, but I just had this feeling. Sure enough we found out the next day he had been exposed to COVID-19. Two days later he received a positive test result.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. As most of you know, I have spent the last nine months doing everything in my power to prevent this virus from coming into my house. My family has been so incredibly careful. No indoor playdates, no carpools, definitely no sleepovers. We’ve worn masks. We’ve stayed distant. No hugs with anyone outside of our house. We were among the last to “come out and play” last spring. When the numbers were way down this summer, we opened up our bubble a bit. But as soon as the numbers went up this fall, we closed it right back up. I went for a masked walk with my best friend on my birthday in November. This was the extent of my celebration.
Many of you may not know, but I also lost both of my grandparents within the last nine months. Having delivered my final goodbyes as the nurse held the phone to my grandma’s ear, and having missed her funeral, I refused to let the same happen for my grandfather. Yet, our family has been so careful that I made two one-day, nine hour round trip drives to Detroit: one to say goodbye and one for my grandpa’s burial. I didn’t even eat a meal with my extended family before heading back to Chicago, and they didn’t eat one with each other. Even though my grandparents didn’t die of COVID, COVID killed them. This reason, among many others, is why I have been so cautious.
If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
The first question everyone has asked me was if we were able to identify where my husband was exposed, and luckily the answer is yes. Because we knew he was exposed (and he was feeling off beforehand), he was able to isolate early. Likely, this helped slow the spread in my house.
My husband went to play tennis and as it became cold outside, they moved the game indoors. The club where they were playing didn’t have a mask mandate once you got on the court. The next day, someone there he had been exposed to got sick.
My husband was already isolating when we got the news, and once this happened the rest of us put on masks. We also started to distance. As hard as it was, we really tried hard to stay 6-10 feet minimum a part from each other (which meant no hugs), even if we were in the same room. The reason for this is because if one of us had it, we didn’t want to be unknowingly exposing the others. I only took my mask off in the guest room where I was sleeping and in my office. Having a seven and ten year old, and navigating virtual learning, I am sure you can imagine the logistical hell this created.
Other than feeling a little tired and having a slight headache, my husband’s only other symptom was that he felt like he was starting to get a cold. But, he never actually did. Had we not known he had been exposed, we never would have known he had COVID-19, and likely our whole house would have gotten a positive result.
The rest of us (me, my kids and my au pair) tested later that week. Both my au pair and I had rapid and PCR* tests that came back negative. My kids’ rapid tests came back negative, but two days later I was called: my youngest had a positive PCR.
She immediately went up to her room to isolate. She was able to join my husband, but at first, she was terrified that he was going to “make her more sick.” Hearing her worry about something bad happening to her because she caught COVID, was one of the lowest points of this entire episode of events. It simply broke my heart. My seven-year-old shouldn’t be worrying about getting sick, or possibly worse, from this virus. She should be outside playing with her friends and going to school.
Eventually the doctors convinced her it was ok to be with my husband, and they teamed up, providing each other support, company and a dinner date every night. One which I prepared and left outside on a tray at the doorway to my bedroom. My daughter also had one symptom: a very bad headache for about a day and a half.
That was it.
The rest of us? We never tested positive. My other daughter and au pair had four tests each and I had five. These were combinations between rapid and PCR tests. (NOTE: If your family does get COVID-19, this is a very helpful resource, the “Caring for COVID at Home” toolkit from the American College of Emergency Physicians.)
During the three weeks following my husband’s exposure and our quarantine, I experienced every emotion possible.
I was angry: at first at him (as horrible and unfair as that sounds, I was) and then at the situation. We had been so careful, and to me, it felt and still does feel terribly unfair.
I was terrified: how sick were they going to get? Were the rest of us going to get sick? How bad would it be? The unknowns with this virus is one of the scariest realizations once it is within your four walls.
I felt terrible for my husband and my daughter that they had to go through this—to have to isolate and to worry. When my daughter got sick, I also felt horrible for my husband. When it was just him who was sick it was one thing, but now he felt incredibly guilty that it had impacted our children as well. This was a horrible burden for a person to carry, especially while being sick.
I was sad. I felt alone. I was anxious. And eventually as we were coming out of it: relieved, grateful, and over the moon to have my babies back in my arms.
It took me awhile to share this story because I wanted to make sure that we were all ok before I actually did . It was important to devote my attention to my family during this time. Like I said, we were so incredibly lucky, and I know that. But as I share this, I can’t help but think of the nearly 320K people who have not been so lucky. I know firsthand from conversations with friends, some seemingly healthy, young parents, who contracted COVID-19 and didn’t do so well with it. I also know that the hospitals are at max capacity right now, especially after Thanksgiving.
I will tell you this: You don’t want COVID-19 in your house. Period. Despite how lucky we were with mild cases in ours, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I wouldn’t wish the mental anguish, I wouldn’t wish your kids worrying that something awful is going to happen to your family, I wouldn’t wish the emotional toll that is a large part of this awful virus. When you let your guard down, you’re simply rolling the dice. The workout, the meal, the airplane ride, the playdate, the holiday gathering. I can tell you right now, in the long run: it’s just not worth it.
NOTE: Here are the definitions and differences between a PCR and Antigen (rapid) COVID-19 test:
There have been so many takeaways from having COVID-19 enter my home. Please take a minute to read those as I think that there is a lot our community can utilize to keep your own families safe as we ride out what is left of the pandemic.
Follow BCB’s Founder, Lindsay Pinchuk, on Instagram for more on her daily life as a entrepreneur and business woman, mom and wife.
THE CONVERSATION NEVER STOPS AT BUMP CLUB AND BEYOND! We’ve been supporting the BCB Community through COVID-19 since the start. Check out our COVID-19 resource channel. Make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook for more ideas as we navigate both COVID-19 AND parenthood together.