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.
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?