So #theRona hit pretty close to home recently. We got a call that my husband would be placed on quarantine leave due to him being exposed to the COVID-19 virus at work, and as a result he couldn't return until he hit 14 days past exposure. During this ordeal he developed only a cough but no other discernible symptoms, and our local testing site refused to test him for lack of symptoms. Keep in mind we have a very spirited and high needs toddler and a newborn that I just got off leave from. How do you manage a household that's used to two active and present parents, in postpartum, with no other familial supports because of social distancing?
I live in an essential household. Both my spouse and I are essential workers, him via transportation (airlines) and me through the health department. While I have the luxury to be able to conduct much of my work from home if I choose, he does not. Every day (night) he works, he puts his life on the line not only for his family, but so that you can get where you need to go. I was looking forward to teleworking because I could start bringing some much needed income back into the house while getting to snuggle my new little for a few more weeks.
Things were looking pretty good and we were beginning to get a little routine down before the call. I was attempting to get into a pump routine that would mimic my schedule once I returned to the office but that got disregarded maybe 3 days later (more on that another day.) Long walks with the family gave me much needed mental clarity and space from the confines of 1296 sq ft. as the isolation orders from the governor dragged on later and later. But the cracks are forming. My two year old doesn't listen, and seems hellbent on doing whatever possible to irritate me. The newborn needed to be held constantly. The husband wants affection and attention. And I'm binge eating mint Oreo's fighting the urge to crawl out of my skin everyday. Thankfully, nursing my newborn seems to not cause any issues.
My two year old doesn't listen, and seems hellbent on doing whatever possible to irritate me.
Nursing has been one of the constants during this pandemic. Regardless of what is going on in the world, my child has to eat. I've noticed that she seems to nurse a few times more since we've been in the shelter- in- place mode (she probably figures I have nowhere else to go, and she's right.) Since my husband was exposed to the 'Rona, IF he indeed had it, we all would have been exposed as well. Breastfeeding would have supplied her fragile immune system with the antibodies created by me. Nursing also forces me to [generally] slow down. While I'm more than capable of nursing in carriers, while standing, cooking dinner, etc. I absolutely love to nurse lying down. It give me a chance to block out the foolishness of the world, ignore the fact my toddler has destroyed my living room and truly connect with my newborn. Sometimes I even sneak a nap. Being that I had to return to work at 8 weeks postpartum (thanks nonexistent paid family leave), I was genuinely concerned as to how my milk supply would adapt to pumping and being away, but in a backhanded way this pandemic had allowed my breastfeeding journey to thrive.
Parenting has been a different struggle. I'll be honest, I was struggling with being a parent of two before the Rona, parenting after has been decidedly MORE stressful. Like I said, my oldest daughter is 2.5, and has been acting every inch of it. Coupled with the transition of becoming a big sister, and now being confined to our home without the physical interaction of some of the people she loves most, I know shes struggling as well. Because of that, I try to be sympathetic and understanding, but girlfriend really be trying my gangsta. I've found the best thing for me to do is let go of most expectations (respect and listening are still non- negotiable), and since I do have the privilege of a present spouse, I deflect to him when I've reached the end of my rope. My husband tends to have more patience with her, and particularly enjoys the toddler phase, where I'm perfectly content with the baby.
Prayer time is a mix of several emotions, and is a way to gauge how shes feeling.
However, that doesn't mean I ignore her or pass her off every chance I get. Bedtime is still primarily my jam, and I can get her settled more easily than my husband. Its part of her old routine that was by far the easiest to keep going. We typically brush teeth, get undressed, read a story and say prayers. Prayer time is a mix of several emotions, and is a way to gauge how shes feeling. Nugget is pretty extroverted right now and thrives off human interaction, and depending on her mood and interactions with you determines who she chooses to pray for that night. If my husband or I have been particularly harsh with her that day- no prayers for mommy and daddy. Relatives that she hasn't seen in weeks have also fallen off the prayer list, so I try to make a point that she talks to them. Technology has been pivotal as it allows her to keep in touch with her family, especially my mom and dad, who she talks to almost everyday.
Things aren't perfect. Potty training has given us some issues, as her inability to effectively communicate/ sheer laziness has led to a few accidents. Yet she has mastered staying dry through naps. She has moments where she refuses to listen, but can be amazing helper to her little sister- grabbing diapers and wipes, or trying to soothe her with the paci ( the latter being entertainingly scary.) Biscuit has grown into a chunky, smiley, happy baby- a far cry from 5.5 lbs of sleepiness. We've started back to going on family walks. Nugget is finally mastering her numbers and colors. We bake cookies.
Things could definitely be worse, but I thank God they're not. I take one day at a time. Sometimes dinner comes from a box. Planning ahead is fruitless right now, and I depend on constants- the kids need me, we all gotta eat, boob is life.
Truly ain't no hood like motherhood.
Download my infographic on breastfeeding in a pandemic here.