Hi. It’s me. Reporting for duty from quarantine.
I’ve been quarantining at home for 7 days, 20 hours, and 39 minutes. Approximately.
That’s how long ago my eldest child, who is three years old, tested positive for COVID-19.
Of all the hypothetical scenarios I tend to play out in my head, that hadn’t been one of them. Since this insane pandemic began, I assumed me or my husband were most likely to get the virus first. We both work outside the home, we run the necessary errands — it should be us (hypothetically), right?
I don’t think I panicked when the pediatrician told me my son had COVID. For months, I’ve been interviewing various experts about the precautions, the effects, the treatments, the vaccines and the isolation.
But at that moment I learned the coronavirus had hit my family — my mind went blank. Just nothing.
I’m lucky I remembered which pocket I put my car keys in.
I had taken him to the doctor for a low-grade fever. His temperature wasn’t even high enough to qualify as a “real fever,” but it still concerned me. I figured it was an ear infection.
We were sent to the “sick section” of the pediatrician’s office. The doctor came in wearing full PPE and, kind as she could be, asked what was going on. I told her I assumed it was an ear infection (I’m sure doctors just love a mom diagnosis). She said she wanted to check for the flu and then asked if I would like to do a COVID test. I said yes.
It was a nasal swab — the same procedure as the flu test. It wasn’t the notorious COVID test that involves sticking the swab up your nose to nearly tickle your scalp. This was just inside my little guy’s nose. He still hated it.
While we waited for the results, the doctor checked his ears.
Yes, they were both infected. (Score one for a mom diagnosis.)
Then she checked my son’s COVID test result.
She told us there’s no real treatment for children and that all we could do was manage the symptoms. She answered my laundry list of questions and then we headed to the car.
I felt like I was on the phone for hours after that. Calling my husband, my parents, my boss, my coworkers, my son’s school, my babysitter.
Ah, there it was. The panic. It sank in with the reality of spreading the news while praying we hadn’t spread the virus too far.
Did my 8-month-old have it? Did I have it? How could I not have it? My son is three. Saying my eyeballs get sneezed on from time to time is no exaggeration. Did my husband have it?
The next morning we set up appointments at one of the city’s testing sites to get a PCR test as a family.
(Side note about this test: easy peasy. It was a mouth swab — WAY easier than the nasal method. And the wait was short, too.)
It took roughly a day-and-a-half for us to get our results. While we waited, my husband and I did our best to try to keep our kids separated. But I’m sure most parents would agree that’s no easy task. My husband and I also decided to wear masks full-time at home. I set bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the house. I started using disinfectant wipes on every surface that can handle ‘em.
Then I finally got the email that, yes, my son was still positive for COVID. I was negative.
But my husband was positive.
Did he give it to our son? Did our son give it to him? Where did they get it? Who did they get it from?
I still don’t know the answers to any of those questions.
My son’s symptoms mostly subsided the day after his first positive test. He has, so far, only had a mild fever. His pediatrician couldn’t say whether the ear infection was linked to COVID or just a coincidence.
My husband has had no symptoms 7 days, and now 21 hours and 6 minutes, into quarantine. I am so incredibly thankful for that, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me anxious. I keep waiting for him to cough or tell me he feels hot or achy.
And I second guess every twinge or tingle I feel. I have a headache... is it COVID? My back is tight... is it COVID? (Choosing to sleep on the couch away from my husband is not helping.)
Maybe it’s coming. Maybe it’s not. I can’t be sure. Pretty on-theme for this wild year.
But here we are. We’re in it and we’re dealing with it, like countless other families have had to do in 2020.
We are fortunate. My husband and I can both work from home. And my boss has given me extra grace to forego some of my regular duties in order to care for my kids. I’m just now learning to juggle virtual school and parenting and working from home while thousands of other parents have been inside this circus ring for months now.
I don’t know what the coming days will bring, but I do know they could be dramatically different than what we’ve experienced so far. Every day we get closer to the end of quarantine without major symptoms is a blessing for which I say a prayer of thanks. I’m armed with masks, thermometers, fever reducers, fluids and vitamins galore.
Most importantly, I’m reminding myself to think positive through it all.
A different kind of positive is what got us here in the first place.