Well, here we are in February 2022 still talking about COVID. So it's time for another pandemic check in. In this update I'll share our family's experience with getting COVID and how returning to quarantine was. And I'll talk about what our current practices are for staying healthy and the ways that COVID does and does not still impact our everyday life.
Our experience getting COVID
The biggest news is that in mid-January the boys and I tested positive for COVID. Chris and Maeve were tested multiple times across several days and always tested negative. The boys were completely asymptomatic the entire time. I was so surprised when the boys' PCR tests confirmed the COVID diagnosis since they seemed completely healthy. My symptoms were that at first I had sensitivity off and on at the very top of my throat, like I might get a sore throat but I never did. Then I had a couple of days of feeling like I had a bad cold: congestion, body aches, and generally feeling tired and blah. I slept over 9 hours for two nights in a row and on the second morning woke up feeling much better. From there I felt better and better each day and with a couple of Advil on those days felt nearly 100%.
With the confirmation that some of us had COVID, our plans for the week ahead changed in an instant. Instead of a second full week in the new year of the school and daycare routine, we started mentally preparing to be home...all day...with everyone. We reached out to people that we had been around in the days prior to let them know. Those are not fun texts to send but everyone was understanding and supportive. We emailed the school nurse to get guidance on having the boys stay home and when they could return. Currently our school's policy is that children who are vaccinated and test positive for COVID must stay home for five days with the day of the test counting as day 0. On day 5, if there are no symptoms or fever for at least 24 hours prior, then the student can return to school and wear a mask for the next five days (since our schools do not require masks). Maeve needed to be home for the full 10 days and test negative for COVID prior to returning to daycare.
I had many emotions upon learning that we had COVID. Unlike in March of 2020, when our abrupt quarantine felt like an abyss of anxiety and uncertainty, this time I knew the finite number of days we'd have to be home. I also didn't feel very worried about Chris, myself, or the boys getting severely sick since the boys had no symptoms plus Chris, the boys, and I are vaccinated. Chris and I also had our booster shots in December. I did feel some worry about Maeve getting sick but I kept reminding myself that we would be ready to take her to the doctor if she showed any worrisome signs of illness – and she never did! I also took comfort in thinking that Maeve might still have some COVID antibodies from me since she was nursing until early January. For the first few days of our quarantine while I felt symptoms we had everyone except Maeve wear a mask and Chris slept separately from me.
On our first day of quarantine I re-listened to The Lazy Genius podcast episode about her family's COVID quarantine. The episode gave me some good ideas and calmed my mind a bit. Throughout our time at home I sometimes felt optimistic knowing that we were getting through quarantine one day at a time. I distinctly noticed that the boys are nearly two years older now than when we were staying at home initially in 2020. They are more cooperative and independent which helped us find truly pleasant time all together. I remember a couple of mornings where I sat at the breakfast table with all three kids doing play-dough and kinetic sand while listening to an audiobook. Every morning I tried to get all three kids out for a walk to play at the park which helped.
At other times I would feel the same stress and anxiety that I felt for so much of 2020 and 2021. I thought, "Ohhhh I remember this feeling. And I do not like it." I described to Chris that with all three kids home every day I feel like someone always needs something, I can never complete even the simplest of tasks, and the house gets messier by the second. I start to feel desperate for some alone time and a chance to just get a few things done so that I can feel productive.
But we did get through our quarantine, day by day, and really it was fine. Honestly I feel some relief at having mild cases of COVID because it was starting to feel nearly inevitable that we would get it. Once the boys went back to school I had a few very sweet and enjoyable days with Maeve at home. So all in all our COVID experience was mild and manageable. I'm very thankful that our first experience getting COVID was after most of us were able to be vaccinated. I'm hopeful that we all got a little COVID immunity boost from the experience.
Our current COVID practices
Currently we practice a mixture of masking and not masking. Honestly I feel confusion over masking at this point. I'm happy to wear a mask any time it is required and even when it's not to protect others or to put others more at ease. But with the exception of medical settings I am in the significant minority when I wear a mask. I'm not sure if my masking practices even make ssense and a lack of logic always bothers me.
Here are my current masking practices...
Places I wear my mask: the grocery store, Target, etc.; inside the boys' school although when I gave a presentation in Cedric's classroom I took my mask off (of the classroom including the teachers only one student wore a mask), anywhere it's required of course like airports/airplanes, medical settings, and at Maeve's daycare.
Places I don't wear a mask: to exercise at High Fitness and Orange Theory (the coaches now wear masks again but they have not asked members to wear masks and no one does), any outdoor setting like soccer practice, games, and park play dates, getting together with my book club, getting together with Erica to podcast (although we record virtually if we or anyone in our household has any mild cold symptoms), other (infrequent) small-group social settings. I've also been out to a few restaurants where I've sat both inside and outside unmasked.
When we visit Universal Studios this month we have to show our vaccination cards and wear masks while we're at the park. I'm glad they have those practices in place. I'm also thankful that at Maeve's daycare the teachers, staff, and all parents wear masks.
It's possible (likely even) that our practice of not masking everywhere, especially exercising, lead to our family getting COVID although I don't know for sure where we picked it up. Given that we had mild cases, my opinion is that the benefit of our being out in the world and exercising at gyms outweighs the risk of COVID for our family. On the other hand if we had gotten very sick, especially Maeve who is unvaccinated, then I would likely feel differently and could regret our practices. Which is all to say that COVID is still making decisions feel confusing and fraught but ultimately we're doing the best we can...I think?
So, where do we go from here? That's what I'm hearing from everyone I know, both the friends who have been very COVID-conservative as well as the friends who have never been very worried and who are not vaccinated.
It's interesting to me to think about how the community we live in is affecting our COVID practices. Among our friends locally I would say that for much of the pandemic we have been on the more COVID-conservative side although just about all of our friends practiced staying at home, masking, and have been vaccinated. But to others it may seem that our current practices are too risky. Honestly I don't know what's right! And that feels frustrating. I feel like we are doing the best we can in terms of balancing our risk of getting seriously ill from and spreading COVID with engaging in the activities that are best for our family.
As I think ahead to potential travel and activities this year I have a low-level of fret wondering if and how we should plan for things. Summer camps? A trip to Austin? Planning indoor summer play dates? I'm pretty sure all these things will be okay if COVID does not get worse but who knows!
There is also talk about "learning to live with COVID." But what does that mean? Ideally, I picture COVID being downgraded to seasonal flu; we get vaccinated for the flu every year but otherwise don't worry about it. I can live with that. Also, if the people at restaurants who prepare my food and everyone in medical settings continue to wear masks I would welcome that. But I hope that learning to live with COVID does not mean living long-term with weighing everyday decisions around COVID. What I hope we move towards this year is not having to think about COVID on a daily basis.
I do understand that for anyone with underlying medication conditions or compromised immune systems that COVID continues to pose a serious risk. I think keeping those people as safe as possible is a community obligation which includes getting vaccinated. I also feel so much sympathy for people working on the COVID front lines like healthcare workers, pharmacists, teachers, and anyone who interacts with the public for their job. I consider getting vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask in many settings to be things that I am doing to help people at-risk of severe COVID and front-line workers. Is it enough? I hope so but I'm not sure. But I feel uncertain what else I'm supposed to do at this point.
I would be curious to hear what your current COVID practices are and how you're feeling.
Pandemic check in #7 | Stay at home check in #6 | Stay at home check in #5 | Stay at home check in #4 | Stay at home check in #3 | Stay at home check in #2 | Stay at home check in #1 | One week down... | Adjusting | How are you?