We tend to joke that moms aren’t allowed to get sick. We generally push ourselves to do and be all things for our kids — even when we’re feeling under the weather. It’s for this reason that the possibility of being infected with the novel coronavirus is particularly distressing for parents of small children who are still unable to do most things for themselves. However, the reality is that, to date, the United States has exceeded 10 million COVID cases and as the colder months draw near that number will only continue to climb. Many parents have been infected and plenty more will be infected. So while an emphasis on prevention is important, it is also necessary to discuss how to deal in the event of a positive diagnosis.
“It started off as a little sniffle, you know like the early onset of a cold and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I didn’t think about myself or the fact that the world had just shut down. All I could think was, ‘I hope I don’t make the baby sick,'” shared Denise, a New York-based mom, and founder of children’s educational subscription company, BE Box, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 along with her newborn at the start of the outbreak last winter.
After a day or two, Denise’s three-month-old son also began to exhibit symptoms. After seeking medical help, Denise and her son received COVID test, which came back positive. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Seek medical attention
The first thing that should be done if you are displaying symptoms of the coronavirus, such as a cough, runny nose, fever, difficulty breathing, or loss of taste and smell, should be to get tested and self-quarantine. Like with many conditions, the first step in the recovery process is knowing your status.
Trust your gut
“I just keep following that gut feeling to just keep nursing him as we awaited our test results and as I nursed him, I found that that was his calmness,” Denise shared of her experience. “He was just at peace so I kept nursing him not knowing that I was actually healing him.”
A nurse would later affirm Denise’s instincts to nurse her newborn through his illness.
“One of the women who came in to administer the test, she was in this big bubble. I asked her, ‘What if it is coronavirus?’ And she said, ‘I know that you’re a new mom, but you’ll know what to do. The best thing that you can do is what you’ve been doing. Be close and intimate with him and whatever you do, continued to breastfeed.’ That moment was very empowering because she was like, ‘You have everything you need.’ I felt empowered to hear a medical professional say this but it was a very scary feeling.”
It’s hard for most moms to get rest even when their children aren’t sick, but it can be even more difficult when your child is under the weather and fussy, and you are too.
“I wasn’t feeling my best but I just pushed past what I was feeling and I was just catering to him, Denise shared. “Honestly, after I left the hospital, the rest of the day he was pretty lethargic. I just nursed him around the clock. Whenever he was fussy, I fed him. But the next day he was just up and bouncy like it never happened. I told my husband that it was so good to see him being his bouncy self. There was no sniffle, no cough. Nothing. I gave him a bath and told my husband to hit Google or do whatever he needed to do because I cannot function. I had just given the baby my all and at that moment, I was just like, ‘Here, take him’ because I felt like I was really given out. He allowed me to lay there for like days are really recover. I used all of the remedies: the ginger, the lemon, the honey. I was able to recover and feel better, but the challenge for me was that it was a long road to feeling like myself again.”
We recognize that not all moms have a partner to support them when they are ill. In instances where a parent is too sick to care for their child, the CDC recommends allowing the child to be cared for by a trusted loved one who does not fall within the high-risk category.
Free yourself of mom guilt
“That mom guilt is real and I had to release it,” Denise confessed. “I had literally done everything in my power to protect him. We have no idea how, when, or where and that’s the challenge. It literally could have been the stroller when we went for a walk and that’s the complicated part of it.”
Know your limitations
It’s also important to note that recovery doesn’t end when the flu-like symptoms disappear.
“After the initial trainwreck passed, I had to learn to manage my breathing and I also suffer from other health challenges. So for me, staying on a schedule, pacing myself, and setting daily limits was very important,” Denise recalled. “I would say, ‘This is my daily capacity. This is how much I can bite off today and knowing my task. So I would say like, I’m answering emails between this hour in this hour, and then that’s it. I’m gonna take care of the baby because literally like we’re fighting for our lives and that’s the new norm.'”