I’m A Real Mom… and I Really Have COVID

I’m a real mom, and I really have COVID. 

Before I even start this narrative, I need to stress how unbelievably cautious and vigilant our family has been regarding COVID with mask wearing, sanitizing, and remaining “safer at home” since March. Our preschooler is participating in virtual school, and my husband and I are working from home. We’re not going out to public places recreationally, we haven’t been to any restaurants, we wipe down our groceries, and we try to participate in curbside pickup or delivery for anything we may need. 

Which is why, in true mom fashion, I denied I had COVID “warning symptoms” until I woke up and realized, “Crap, I REALLY could have COVID.”

I mean, as a mom, who doesn’t have days where they have a pounding headache that just doesn’t go away? Or a day or two of brain fog so dense you can’t remember what day it is and whether or not you had lunch? Long story short, these symptoms just blended into my daily life so well that I almost didn’t recognize they were there. 

But then came the inexplicable fatigue, muscle aches, GI symptoms, and the (metaphorical) hundred-pound weight that was dropped onto my chest overnight. I truly only went to get tested to be socially responsible, and the doctor could’ve picked my chin up off the floor after I received my positive test result had I not just been classified a public health risk. How had I even managed to get COVID with how careful we had been? It seemed surreal.

I frantically called my husband, made him stop whatever he was doing in his tracks, and get both himself and our daughter tested. Oddly enough — and thankfully — both of them were negative. But… now what?

We sat in separate cars, windows rolled up, as we talked over the phone about what we should do. Going to a hotel for 10 days and ordering room service was out of the question based on cost alone, nevermind not having someone there to make sure I was okay.

It was a logistical nightmare, but in the end we decided the best thing for our family was to have me quarantine in a bedroom in our home and otherwise be outside in the yard as much as possible. Did I mention we only have one bathroom? Yeah, there was a lot of Lysol involved in this plan.

What I didn’t expect, though, was the intense emotional pain of being quarantined from my 4-year-old while living in the same house. 

We had been “safer at home” together — every day — for the 210 days prior. And now we had to rip that Band-Aid off quickly, painfully, and unexpectedly. 

The first three days, my daughter sobbed because she felt unsafe and confused and wanted comfort. I sobbed because I wasn’t allowed to give her any. No hugs, no kisses, no snuggles. She was already struggling with pandemic-related nightmares and hard feelings, and this added to her emotional turmoil tenfold.

To be perfectly transparent, this was, by far, the hardest part. I’m usually the “fixer,” and suddenly I wasn’t able to fix anything. Actually, the roles had reversed — I was the thing that needed to be fixed. It was excruciating. 

COVID-19 itself was another beast I had read plenty about but wasn’t entirely prepared for. As of late, the narratives of people’s experiences with COVID have seemed more cavalier. To be honest, I underestimated the severity of even a mild case. In my experience, it was difficult to breathe, painful to move, and, truthfully, very scary.

A big part that surprised me was how difficult it was to get even basic in-person medical care. After I tested positive for COVID, all doctors visits had to be virtual, or I had to go through the emergency room. 

The doctors at my primary care practice are all over-scheduled and overworked, and getting even a virtual appointment was tricky. 

I was unable to get even a simple steroid without first finding a way to get an X-ray, but I had to find a way to get to a hospital accepting COVID-positive patients to get the X-ray. And even then, that assumed I was well enough to drive myself. 

Finally, for those of us with expensive insurance, going to the emergency room so someone can listen to your lungs and order an X-ray is an extremely costly venture. 

Despite the overwhelming rate at which people recover from their symptoms, as a parent it was terrifying to think about the people who don’t recover. I was worried I wouldn’t. So far, it’s been four weeks, and I still have residual symptoms. The brain fog and exhaustion I’m experiencing are debilitating, and I haven’t been able to shake the occasional piercing pains in my lungs either. I wish I could say I can feel my symptoms going away, but that’s simply not the truth. 

If a fellow mom you know has COVID, consider the things you can do to help. Send a meal, drop off some crafts or a toy, or deliver ibuprofen or a bottle of Gatorade. Text them, and if they don’t respond, text them again — chances are they’re pretty lonely. 

If you or someone you love is showing COVID symptoms, get tested right away. Be safe rather than sorry. There are no-cost drive-through testing sites throughout Massachusetts. Please be cautious — COVID is unpredictable and doesn’t discriminate. 

For more bilingual resources about fighting COVID-19, visit ContraCovid, a nonprofit organization that contains information about COVID, social assistance, and maternal health. You can see their maternal needs resource list here

Chelsey is a Massachusetts girl through and through and currently resides on the North Shore on the New Hampshire line. In her former life, before motherhood, she was a teacher in a local high school, but now she's a stay at home mom who mostly cares for her child with special needs. She finds motherhood to be the hardest job she's ever loved and is very passionate about advocating for and educating people about neurodiverse children that may or may not also have physical or intellectual disabilities. In her "spare time" (which happens almost never) she likes to make hair bows, obsess about Disney, quilt, cook things that aren't dinosaur chicken nuggets and pretend she's good at taking artistic pictures.

2 COMMENTS

  1. How did you contract the virus? You said were being extra careful and diligent but still caught it… Was something overlooked? Were you in contact with someone or at a locale where it had spread?
    Just asking so maybe we your readers can avoid it!

    • My husband had a (necessary) medical appointment that couldn’t be put off any longer, and even though we were both double masked the whole time I must have touched something and not cleaned it properly, or not changed my clothing fast enough, etc. It was the only place I had been that wasn’t curbside pickup for necessary things in that two week period, so that must have been it. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the narrative going around that the hospitals were safe to go back to for appointments was quite accurate 🙁

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