Coming Out of the COVID Closet

When I first heard about COVID-19, it was a horrific issue but “over there”. So much has changed since January. As someone who had it and survived it, this is what I’ve learned.


I realize when I tell you I had it, you might take a mental step back from me. I would too. I am pregnant and with two small children and I never wanted to endanger them.

Author Ashley Crookham in covid-19 ppe

We went through the normal steps getting used to the pandemic: The life-changing grocery store visit with scary bare shelves where I couldn’t find baby detergent and didn’t know what to do for my child with eczema. This is not the world I’m used to, one where I can get anything I want at any time.

The library’s story time was just a story and they closed the imagination station.

Restaurants posted their struggles to survive without full dining rooms.

Every business I ever subscribed to sent me e-mails to let me know they cared most about safety.

The car seat specialist cancelled our appointment the same day as the baby dentist.

We had our last trip to the store with the me and the kids. I wore one child and kept the other in the cart chair and got mad when an older man touched her leg.

Life continued. The kids got used to hearing “the zoo is closed”, “the slide is dirty”, “the guest room has to stay empty”. The weather improved and we took walks whenever we could.


Unlike many people, I know the date I got it. I work in a psychiatric hospital. We found out a co-worker tested positive and our managers told us how to get tested for free. I did so on a Friday. The next day, I went into work for a half day and found out at the end of the day most of the patients tested positive or were showing symptoms. I called my doctor who recommended I isolate myself and my family. The first test from before my exposure came back negative. I got tested again the following Friday and it came back positive. Actually, it said “detected”.

I still worry about the fate of those patients. Although I got it and had no symptoms, a nurse co-worker was not so lucky. She died in the hospital after a few days of battling COVID-19.


So what does a positive test mean for my family?

I knew that the placenta does a good job of protecting the baby from viruses but they just don’t know everything when it comes to pregnancy and COVID-19. I knew as a pregnant woman my immune system was more susceptible which is probably how I got it while wearing an N-95 mask, gloves, and washing my hands appropriately.

Work knew we were isolating, daycare knew I was being cautious and pulling the kids, I cancelled newly rescheduled appointments for places opening back up. We told our families to pause their plans brewing to visit the grandchildren they haven’t seen all year.

In short, we lost what we had been accumulating back.

Since I wasn’t having symptoms, it was less likely I would give it to my family. However we needed to extend our quarantine to see if any of them got it. We needed to wake up every day, take our small children’s temperatures, and just hope they didn’t get sick. For another 12 days.

No one in our family got symptoms. My husband got tested after being cleared back to work and that came back negative as another peace of mind.

For our unborn baby, it meant I needed a special ultrasound with a fetal maternal specialist. This came back so well that the doctor didn’t even see us. He sent in his nurse practitioner to tell us our baby is perfect and they don’t want to follow up.

For the future, the Department of Health is tracking us, especially me as a pregnant woman. They will probably test me again before I give birth in a hospital (and not at a birth center this time). The positive reading can take months to go away after it is first detected. They also don’t know if you can contract it more than once.


I am thankful not to have had symptoms. I am thankful I immediately isolated and didn’t pass it on. I am hopeful about antibodies and that maybe our youngest will be immune or less susceptible. I am hopeful I will no longer be showing positive before the delivery and that my first hospital delivery will not be too bad.


How will this will affect my writing? You might be thinking I’ve had so much more time for it. However I spent a lot of time worrying, cleaning, and worrying about not enough cleaning. Keeping the kids occupied while we were keeping away from others took a lot of thought, especially without making money from work to spend on them or without the ability to go to stores. We picked up groceries after ordering online.

I can’t say that a world changed by COVID-19 won’t make an appearance in my future works. It seems to me as indelible as a world war and would be stranger to ignore. I can’t even read lately without thinking, “What if this had been written after 2020?”


How do you think this pandemic will affect your reading and writing?

What I Miss About Working

Maternity leave is time you use to adjust to adding another person to your family. It’s also a great time to commit to daily writing or editing, and I’ll be blogging about that next month. However, there are things I miss about working:

  1. Goals. Housework is an ever populated list directed by yourself. Work work is an directed by another’s expectations and to me that is refreshing. My company decides my work budget, minimum requirements, and gives approval to me when it is complete. I get to do activities, which I love, and creatively employ my solutions.
  2. Ideas. More than one novel idea I have involves the geriatric population and dementia. My work gives me access to people and situations that provoke ideas. Also, when trying to describe things I see, I come away with great lines like “stomped vegetable nose”.
  3. Income. It will take money to make money as an author, and working provides that resource. Also having a paycheck means I can afford traveling and other experiences that will enrich my stories.

Since I really do enjoy being an activity director, it’s difficult for me to imagine not being around seniors. Perhaps if I do need to give up traditional work in the future I can still volunteer to get my old people fix. My blog A Smile Among Wrinkles can tell you a little more about that part of my life.


What do/would you miss about working?


Elaty Riaf interview

Dr. Dale A Grove took time from writing his latest novel Outlier Revolutions to interview Ashley about her soon-to-be-published short story.

Here is a little more information about Dale:

“Dr. Dale A. Grove is a product developer by day and a writer by night. He has worked for such firms as Owens Corning, Johns Manville, LNP Engineering Plastics, Tekni-Plex, and US Silica. He possesses a vivid imagination in creating new stories and new products with over ten US patents.

In his spare time, Dr. Grove has written four books in the science fiction genre entitled, Gray Maneuvers, Gray Extraction, ELIZA, and most recently Loose Strings. His next book entitled Outlier Revolutions will be coming out in 2017. It’s the story of a mentally deranged, yet gifted female transporter that battles for evolutionary dominance on a frigid ice world.

For further information on these and other short stories check out his website, or go to or and search for books by Dr. Dale A. Grove.”


Interview 11/27/16

  • Dale: What inspired you to write the story Elaty Riaf?

Ashley: One day, as I navigated the oceans of online dating, I thought about how much easier it would be if fairy godmothers were real. Then I had a pessimistic thought about the usefulness of magical godparents. That became the crux of this story.


  • Dale: How did you come up with the name Elaty Riaf?

Ashley: Read her name from end to beginning.


  • Dale: Why did you choose the occupation that Elaty Riaf has? Did you do research on it or have you personally experienced it?

Ashley: I have personally experienced the role of activities director and saw no reason Elaty couldn’t be in the same position. My passion for this story comes from the life lessons taught to me by the elderly people I’ve worked for.


  • Dale: The dating conversations were particularly humorous, especially how they tied into the rest of the Fairy Tale. How did you come up with those lines?

Ashley: That was the most fun part of writing this. Some of the lines were straight out of my dating inbox. I just altered them with fairy tale references. A good use for some of those negative experiences. One I couldn’t fit in was “I want to sniff your glass slipper”.


  • Dale: I understand that the author of Elaty Riaf is working on a full length novel. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Ashley: I took time from editing Gender Chasm to write “Elaty Riaf”. My novel is a new adult fiction about a girl named Frieda who tries to save her brother. The theme is Men’s Rights. In their world, the nation has been divided into two sides: one ruled by Men, and one ruled by Women.


  • Dale: Do you believe in the happily ever after ending?

Ashley: Yes. You can live ever happily if you find someone who loves you for you. You both need to want to be besotted. If you have those things, and the same life goals, I believe all dragons can be defeated.

Ashley Crookham in a castle

A Smile Among Wrinkles

Most of my writing time since April has gone into work and my activities blog. You can catch up with my life as an activities director here:

My fairy tale short story is coming along though. If I don’t finish editing before the anthology gets submitted, I will post it for free.

Love, Ashley (Crookham)