Well, it happened. My household finally fell to the inevitable. Last Wednesday I got home from having my first ever filling (the dentist did not apologize for his staff having chipped it in the first place, but then I most likely gave him COVID, so it all comes out) to find our nanny waiting with her mask on. Her husband had just tested positive; she ran out and texted me that she was positive shortly thereafter.
At first, other than feeling badly for her and her family, I was mostly just concerned about juggling Edith with my job because I really didn’t want to take off for a week, having just taken a week’s vacation. I’d always wondered how people work with small children at home and on Thursday I found out: not well! Edith tolerated the two calls I had that day and that was about it. And I use “tolerate” very loosely: on one call, she got out her banjo and began banging it festively as she marched around the kitchen island where I was on a Zoom; on another, she climbed onto a kitchen chair over my shoulder and well in the shot, and from there onto the kitchen table where she began to investigate jumping off. I was only half aware of this because I was concentrating and it didn’t really click for me until I saw everyone on the Zoom tensing up. I caught her just before she leapt.
But otherwise, we had a nice day together and I was feeling good about things as we went to bed. Then, at nearly midnight she woke up crying and I found that she had vomited all over her crib and was searing hot to the touch. I darted around half-awake, panicking and trying to do a million things at once. Somewhere in there, I took her temperature and it was nearly 105 and then I force-fed her children’s Tylenol and she immediately threw it up all over the bathroom. Finally I got us both to the emergency room– or, well, an emergency room. In my panic and confusion I took us to some sort of strip mall walk-in emergency room across the interstate from the real hospital and I await the staggering bill from what is undoubtedly some sort of no-insurance money trap any day now.
They brought her fever down and confirmed it was COVID, and once we went home, she ran a fever for about a day and a half and was during that time the most knocked-out I’d ever seen her. She lay in bed with me all day, which is not something I ever thought I’d see from Edith and was very droopy-eyed and low energy, except when it came time to give her fever reducer every four hours, at which points she fought like a bag of cats. Now she has a lingering night cough. I feel really guilty that I didn’t work harder to get her vaccinated promptly. I find the Moderna results much more compelling than the Pfizer for her age group, and her pediatrician only has Pfizer. The youngest I could find a pharmacy to do it is 18 months. I was going to see if they’d take her with a prescription but since she doesn’t go to daycare, it didn’t seem that urgent, and now I feel like a horrible mother.
I got COVID about 24 hours after she did and it was not too bad for me (vaccinated, one booster). I was very miserable for a night and the next morning until about noon, and then I felt regular sick. Then, I got the Paxlovid. The worst thing about my having COVID was that Edith really didn’t anymore, and I couldn’t take her out and about or do much and she was NOT understanding about this.
Our nanny was able to return on Tuesday (she and her husband had fortunately been less sick than we were), and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see anyone in my entire life. I felt like I’d just crawled through the desert and spotted an oasis. Meanwhile, work had piled up, the house was a disaster zone, we’d eaten nothing but bread and fruit pouches for four days, everything needed washing and disinfecting, and I’d had to cancel multiple appointments which all now had to be rescheduled. I have learned that my life works and runs very efficiently as long as it all goes as planned, but dropping the to-do list for four days turns me into Lucy at the chocolate factory.
Additionally, while I wouldn’t say she enjoyed being sick, there were a few accommodations that Edith became accustomed to during her ordeal: sleeping in my bed, unlimited access to my phone, having me immediately do whatever she wanted me to do, 24/7 hovering and dedicated focus from Mom. She was not giving any of this up without a fight and this week has been a lengthy trial of ongoing screaming tantrums and sleepless nights as we reestablish boundaries.
While all of this was unpleasant and I’d rather have avoided it, I was conscious throughout of how immensely fortunate I am. I work for a company that gives me no grief about taking off as much time as I need for things like this (even if I’d just taken a week’s vacation), I have a very comfortable house with all necessary indoor appliances and a private outdoor space, I’m able to afford delivery of food and medications, and I have very good health insurance so I don’t have to think twice about going to the emergency room or whether a doctor will be available to give advice and/or call in a prescription for me or Edith. Everyone deserves the sort of security that I enjoy and very few people have it, and I am never more aware of my luck than at times when everything is going wrong and yet nothing goes that wrong. It’s horrible to think that for so many Americans — maybe most Americans — they would have the stress of crucial income loss on top of all of this, among many other problems. And in a nation this wealthy, it’s really unforgivable.