Today would have been the day the boys went back to school after spring break so it feels like the first day of our new normal. Although that's not even the right phrase because what is normal right now? We're adjusting day by day. I think that is the new normal: adjusting.
How we're social distancing right now
The situation with the pandemic in the U.S. felt like it became more serious to us with last Friday's announcement that the boys' school would be closed. We're having conversations every day about how we can best be helpers in this situation while also keeping in mind that we have two very energetic kids. Overall we are of the mindset that we won't regret taking a more cautious approach but we could regret not being cautious enough. Here's what we're practicing right now:
+ Not going to the gym. I went to a yoga class on Saturday morning but by Sunday felt that group exercise wasn't smart. I decided to forgo my beloved Monday night High Fitness class and Orange Theory. Orange Theory soon became a moot point because they've since made the decision to close (and I'm glad they did). The rec center where my High Fitness class is held closed on Tuesday.
+ No visitors into our house with the exception of family. My mom arrived from Austin on Sunday and has been coming to our house and she's the only visitor for now. She has a house here as well and is just going back and forth between the houses and running only essential errands (grocery store). Chris's family, who live in town, are being conservative with getting out and about so we'll be figuring out when they might meet the baby once she's here as we assess the situation and talk with our pediatrician. It's hard to think about not putting our new baby in the arms of her grandparents, aunt, and cousins as soon as possible but I'm at least glad we are having time to process that reality and make informed decisions.
+ No non-essential errands/appointments. The grocery store or picking up take-out from local restaurants are basically the errands left that we are okay with and I think I will let Chris or my mom do those. I did go drop off my Democratic primary ballot yesterday since I didn't mail it in time but I was in and out as fast as I could. We've also been talking about switching to grocery pick up or delivery. At my midwife appointment this week they will come to my car to take my blood pressure and said we could do the rest of the appointment over the phone. (I called them yesterday and they went over all the precautions they are taking at the birth center to make it as safe as possible for pregnant/birthing mamas.)
+ The boys can play with friends on our street but only outside. We texted the families on our street to let them know this would be our policy for the time being. Everyone was really receptive and supportive. My spirits feel lifted just thinking of our little neighborhood community. Everyone has been saying, "Let me know if you're running out of anything, we'll drop it off!" One dad is a P.E. teacher and so is home while schools are closed and has been doing a daily outside P.E. class for the kids (with no shared equipment and lots of space between them). Perhaps letting the boys play with friends at all is not being conservative enough. This is one area where we might make adjustments and more restrictions.
+ Playing in open spaces is okay, playgrounds are not. This is something Chris and I just talked about last night and decided to take go ahead and make this restriction (previously we were feeling okay about playgrounds).
In terms of sanitizing we are all washing our hands first thing when we walk in the door. The boys are taking more frequent baths/showers. I'm also doing a nightly wipe down of door handles, faucet handles, fridge door, and light switches with Lysol wipes. We have hand sanitizing spray in the car to use as soon as we get in the car. I also wiped down car door handles, steering wheel, dash buttons, etc. last night and will make a habit of that on any day we use the car.
How I'm feeling
Weird. Anxious. But also hopeful that the actions being taken by businesses, governments, and individuals will help. We should have been swifter to act to be sure and we need more widespread closures and social distancing. I'm also really frustrated that we are so behind on adequate testing but hoping, hoping we are getting our act together. (?) Always the optimist.
What has definitely happened is that this situation is taking up a lot of my brain. So much so that I have been completely forgetting that I'm even pregnant! And then I remember, "Oh my gosh, I'm pregnant!" And then, "Not only am I pregnant but I'm having a baby ANY DAY." I'm sad that this has been taking away from the savoring and anticipating that I was dwelling in so cozily just a week ago. Which is not to say "poor me" because this is a scary and serious situation and we should be thinking about what's happening and how we can help. But I think starting tomorrow I need to make a more concerted effort to disconnect from the news and world outside my house and connect with my baby and this big event that is about to take place. I have a little worry that all of this swirling around in my brain will be a distraction or source of anxiety during my labor and I really need all my physical and mental energy to draw on for that.
In terms of looking to the future, Chris and I are of the mindset that the boys are out of school for the summer. Even though our schools say they will be closed for two weeks I just can't see how that will be true. I'd rather think worst-case (or maybe worst-case is that they don't even start on time in the fall??) and then have the surprise of life going back to normal sooner that we expect rather than feel disappointed when the closure is extended. We're trying to envision that being home and having very limited physical contact with the outside world is how it'll be for the foreseeable future.
A few things that are helping
I recently enjoyed the newest episodes of Happier and of The Mom Hour, both with ideas for keeping spirits up during this time. Amanda, who has been self-quarantined in Beijing for seven weeks with her husband and two young kids, wrote a great blog post with tons of tips that I found helpful from a practical and emotional perspective (just hearing that you CAN do it).
I'm starting to fill an Amazon cart with activities for the boys. I've got kinetic sand and Christmas puffy sticker books (because Christmas is always fun) plus Monopoly Junior and Life Junior.
Houseplants. Might seem kind of weird but this is a slightly new obsession that is bringing me joy right now. More recently I've started accumulating more houseplants mostly because Trader Joe's has had the best selection of small potted plants and I can't resist buying one every time I go to the store. I've also been enjoying chatting with my cousin (hi, Emily!) on Marco Polo about plants. Having more greenery around the house is cheery (just what we need right now!) and I like having a side project of developing my house plant green thumb. I was thinking that I'd be browsing local nurseries over the next few months to add more plants but perhaps I'll order some additional houseplants online? Any favorite online houseplant resources or books? I had just placed a several book request from the library for books on houseplants when our library announced its closure.
More social media. Usually I'm all about disconnecting from social media but right now I am very much enjoying feeling connected. It's comforting to see that we're all in this together and to see others changing their behavior and trying to be the helpers.
The weather. It's perfect. We can leave the doors open all day and get a nice breeze. The mornings and evenings are cool. Our backyard grass is lush and green. I can sit in our backyard, listen to the birds, put my feet in the grass, and take a deep breath. We don't have a big yard but it's big enough for the boys to throw a ball and run around. I'm imagining that soon I'll sit out there holding a sleeping baby or lay her on a blanket to look up at the trees. I'm so thankful we have a little patch of outdoors to call ours.
Baking. Therapeutic and something that lets me take action to create comfort. I've started making some things to put in the freezer for after the baby arrives plus some treats like chocolate banana bread for us to eat now because that just feels right. Yesterday I think I turned over the kitchen (got it dirty, completely cleaned it up, repeat) at least three times between everything I made.
Those are my thoughts for now; it's getting late. Thank you for all your sweet comments and asking how I'm doing. I'm thinking of you too and sending you good thoughts.