22 Aug
Parenting during COVID

Be Safe First. 

Once you bring a baby home, or two babies in our case, it's likely that everyone wants to see them. I was fortunate that all of our friends and family were sending us their wishes - but via text or phone, and not asking to come hold the babies. If you are having a baby during a pandemic, please put you and your family first. Your cousin or neighbor who just really wants to hold the baby for a while can absolutely do so - once they agree to strictly self-isolate for two weeks, or whatever it is you feel comfortable with. Please don't let anyone pressure you into meeting your new baby on their terms instead of yours.

Learn Your Risk Tolerances.

My favorite economist Dr. Emily Oster (okay she is the only economist I know by name who isn't a high ranking cabinet official) has an amazingly helpful newsletter and she co-authored a website, CovidExplained. She also has a helpful newsletter that covers both general parenting topics, as well as Covid specific topics as it relates to pregnancy and parents. I really appreciate her ways of looking at risk levels as it relates to Covid and childcare.

Dr. Oster's Risks and Benefits Matrix I found to be very helpful in thinking through what I am comfortable with. So in my case,we go on lots of walks in parks with the kids (but avoid popular ones on weekends), and I go to Starbucks regularly to pick up mobile orders, but we don't go out to eat, and we also don't go grocery shopping. For me, it's easy to get groceries delivered or do a curbside pickup, so why risk going indoors where a bunch of other people are? I know for most people they are still going grocery shopping, but for us, it didn't seem worth the risk. We do still go to doctor's appointments and dentists visits. Others might not feel comfortable doing this. That's fine - everyone will have different risk tolerances, and may perceive different benefits from the same activities.

Our L&D Experience

Fifteen hours into my induction, someone called our nurse, who was about to do a cervical check, and asked if she was fitted for an N-95 mask. She said yes, and they explained that the other nurses on shift on our wing weren't fitted yet, and they needed her in a certain room. Earlier, we had asked a previous nurse if they had Covid patients on the floor, and while she didn't confirm or deny, we certainly had the feeling that there were individuals with Covid or suspected of Covid in the L&D unit. So at this point, we were pretty sure she had to go check a L&D patient who may or may not have Covid. She came back to our room, and headed straight for me ready to do her cervical check. I asked her to stop, and asked if she had just been with a patient who had suspected Covid. She was flustered, and said she couldn't share that information. I explained (hopefully nicely) that I knew she was just doing her job, but I'd prefer another nurse. She seemed pretty agitated and told me that it probably wasn't possible, but I asked her to check anyway. Back then - at the end of March, we knew much less about it and how it spread, and I didn't want a cervical check from someone who was wearing the same clothes in a room with a possible Covid patient. It took an hour, but we did get another nurse. By the time I got the cervical check when the nurse came in, we went straight to the OR for delivery. (Multiples births often happen in an operating room, even for a vaginal delivery. They want to be prepared in case something goes wrong). This story is why my twins were born on April 1st instead of March 31st. 

Other things that were different this time around due to Covid was you had to wear a mask if you left the room. We were lucky that we could even leave the room - other hospitals required both parents to stay in the room the entire time. So my husband could go home and come back to check on our toddler and get some sleep. The nursery was also closed - which I was really planning to use to get some sleep. The nurses were amazing and were extra helpful at night. We also weren't allowed any visitors, but I appreciated that, since I wouldn't have wanted a bunch of other people coming to the L&D unit unnecessarily and increasing the risk of spreading Covid on the floor. 

Self-Isolation Once We Were Home
Our toddler was staying with my in-laws while we were in the hospital, and when we talked to our pediatrician and mentioned the Covid story, she suggested that ideally, we should self-isolate from my daughter and my in-laws for two weeks to ensure we didn't catch it or pass it on to them. It was horrible. At first, maybe it was nice to just bond with the babies, but I missed my daughter so much! And with postpartum mood swings and the hormones, I was a mess. I remember that when we'd video chat I'd almost always break down in tears and had to hand the phone to someone else so she wouldn't see me. She did pretty well there, but it was getting to her too, and I think at ten days we gave up and had her come home. We then continued to isolate from my in-laws (and everyone else in the world) for another week or so to be sure none of us were sick. I don't think I can give a suggestion here on what you may want to do - it's a horrible decision and one I hope we don't have to make much longer.

Creating a Pod.

Have you heard of Covid pods? I first heard of the term in a Washington Post article about the Canadian government encouraging families to join with one other family to create a "pod." I thought this was brilliant. We were already in a pod, although we didn't have a name for it - with my in-laws. We were seeing them regularly, as my mother-in-law was coming over in the mornings to help with the kids so we could get some sleep (for months after the twins were born I got all my good sleep between 7am and 12pm when someone else was watching my kids). However, this prompted us to have a discussion if my in-laws would be open to use asking someone else to join. I had concerns about my daughter's social development. It had been months she she had interacted with another child, and he insistence that "PJ Masks are my friends" was getting a little creepy and sad. I ended up calling the parents of Anais's closest friend (a couple I met in one of my online bumper groups!) and asked if they wanted to be in an exclusive relationship with us. Now I was probably the creepy one. I knew they had a similar risk tolerance (meaning quite conservative) and I trusted them to be honest about any risks with us. So our pod was born! This means Anais now has one friend that she can play with regularly this summer, and it's amazing. If you are doing your best to maintain social distance, and want to have some social interaction, but in a safe way, I think a pod is the way to go.


One thing that has kept me sane through all of this is our borondos. We learned the word from a friend from Cail, Colombia and it's like a road trip, that often involves going to drink somewhere. So when the kids are fussy, or we are bored, or just need something to do, we are constantly loading all three kids in the car, usually grabbing Starbucks, and going for a long road trip. The beautiful thing about a borondo is that all three kids are usually quiet in the car. The twins fall asleep, and Anais sings to herself or often falls alseep herself. So we get quiet time without crying, which is really really nice. All of our borondos have been in the DC area, but we've gone to places like Shenandoah National Park (this was not a planned trip, we were just driving west on I-66 and found we weren't too far so we just kept going), Purcellville, Alexandria (multiple times- there is an amazing neighborhood mid-century modern houses that is wonderful to drive through), and DC, as well as Anacostia. Also, if the babies are horrifically fussy at night, we've also done a borondo to try to get them to fall asleep - with mixed success. If you are looking to get out more, check out my blog post on how we get out of the house.

Anyway, if you are struggling from being inside all day, and seeing the same walls over and over, I can't recommend a long road trip enough. Just be ready to pee on the side of the road. 

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