As a family, we have not had a COVID-free year. We lost jobs and two very important family members and have had a difficult year, all due to the coronavirus. I honestly thought as a family we had endured enough through this pandemic, and with the vaccine coming in the near future I was hopeful we could continue to be diligent about our masks and handwashing and we could move right through this.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My 3-year-old son was exposed.
We were notified by daycare that someone had tested positive for COVID, and we immediately sought out testing. After many calls, it was 7:30 p.m. and we headed to an urgent care that offered rapid tests.
After discussing with the nurse, we decided it was best to do the rapid test and the PCR test, which wouldn’t have results for a few days but was much more accurate. I was nervous about the actual testing for him, but he was a champ. He even laughed and said the swabs tickled.
We were in and out of urgent care in 20 minutes and didn’t really think much of it. Could he really have COVID?
Yes. The answer was yes.
Less than 15 minutes after leaving urgent care, I received a phone call from the PA with a less than desirable diagnosis: My 3-year-old had COVID.
My heart sank. And my mind raced.
I had a million questions and concerns. What should we do? Do we need to wear masks indoors? Where should he sleep? He can’t share with his older brother. How do we disinfect? How long would he be contagious? How do we keep my compromised husband safe? So many questions, and honestly, not as many answers as I wanted.
So, we did our best based on research and advice.
The next day, my husband, my other son, my mother, and I all got tested. We have included my mother in our bubble and thought it was best that she also be tested so we could figure out a quarantine situation between her house and ours.
We also wore masks in the house. All of us. And it was hard.
In less than 24 hours, we had results. All negative. We decided it was best for my husband and older son to head to my mom’s to stay away from an actual COVID case.
That left me and my asymptomatic son. I consider us lucky in that sense. He did not experience any symptoms connected to COVID. Even though I questioned every sneeze, took his temperature multiple times a day and night, checked him, asked him questions, and worried about everything, he did not show any symptoms. He was eating, sleeping, drinking, and seemed fine.
In between monitoring potential symptoms, I had to notify anyone we had been in contact with. I felt guilt, shame, and, above all, responsible. I know we are in a pandemic, and people make choices, but I did not want to be responsible for getting my husband’s aunt sick, who we’d had lunch with recently. Or my friend and her baby, who we’d taken a walk with and sat with outside at a brewery and had a beer. This part of the diagnosis also kept me up at night.
As the hours of his 10-day isolation dragged on, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Still no symptoms. Those close contacts tested negative, and, miraculously, I was still negative after getting re-tested a week later.
I am not sure how the rest of the family was spared and my son remained asymptomatic, but I am very thankful for that. We will continue to be diligent about mask-wearing, handwashing, and limiting contacts — because COVID is still out there, and it does not discriminate.
So if you haven’t already learned these lessons the hard way, learn them from us: Keep it small, stay vigilant, and be safe!