So how HAVE we handled a geriatric pregnancy (I just LOVE that phrase!) during a global pandemic? Two words: very carefully! As a mama-to-be again, there are a lot of unknowns in the last year. The CDC has, at the worst of times, considered pregnant Covid risk to be right up there with the elderly, the morbidly obese, and those with chronic health conditions like copd or heart disease. At the best of times, they say there’s not enough information available so just make “decisions with your doctor.” So…there’s THAT to consider.
I took the pregnancy test on August 27th…the morning of “Sneak Peek” at the girls’ school…which blessedly HAS been offering live, in-person classes for preschool through 8th grade since Day 1. Try as I might, I couldn’t hold back the tears in front of the teachers…I *knew* I couldn’t pull the trigger on school with so many unknowns. Luckily, for a 3 and 5 year old, deciding to “homeschool” wasn’t really THAT big of a deal…but holy moly did it made me SAD. As the oldest, I could see how much B wanted and NEEDED the social interaction with other kids, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was risking one daughter’s definitive development needs for an awfully big IF.
We have tried to make our best of this flexible learning time. Both girls have loved “Daddy School” with Don, and he is amazing when it comes to teaching them in his own way. B might not be able to write a sentence, but she knows the difference between a homonym and a homophone. (For the record, I still do not.) W can’t read, but her vocabulary is RIDICULOUS…she can use words like “Devastated” or “Familiar” properly and in context. Both girls can identify more major pieces of classical music than I can! We’ve hiked and biked and playgrounded and beached as much as we could before the snow flew…so recess was definitely the most popular with ALL of us.
In December, I had a great virtual visit with our pediatrician, who shared with me how infrequently COVID was transmitted among the preschool set. He explained that most littles, quite frankly, don’t have enough lung strength to expectorate the particulate matter to spread the disease…although they CAN catch it. This is consistent with what I’ve read in the literature, and while the risk isn’t zero, it seemed very low to the baby, so we sent B back to class three days a week starting this semester. Our mental bargain was that we wouldn’t let school be the first step down a slippery slope that included play dates, public spaces, or otherwise “risky” behaviors.
This means friends aren’t really in the picture right now, which is crazy-sad. Don was going out a little bit to open-air bars to watch a little football in September, but once October hit and the case counts started to rise, we reeled it in completely. Our pod has consisted of my parents, my sister, and Don’s mom (who is now in Texas for the winter.) Everybody else is left standing on the porch. I haven’t had a pedicure this year or my hair done in months. Prenatal massage…what’s that?
It’s still not perfect quarantine, though. We still have a cleaning lady once a month (down from twice) and we had a contractor and painter work on shelving for our office. I feel like a terribly rude person because we mask up and avoid them as much as we can when they are here, but what else can we do? Also, construction starts on our basement in a few weeks to give us a little more usable space, and I visited four different stores to make selections for THAT, feeling totally naked while out in public every time despite my winter clothes and my double-mask.
At the end of the day, I think the boundaries we’ve established have been critical to our sanity. As a family, we’ve known HOW to make each and every decision, even if we didn’t necessarily like the outcome. But fresh questions are arising that are (blessedly) more complicated now that things are reopening and the vaccine is being distributed. I try really, really hard not to think ahead much (Who will be allowed to see the new baby?) and just focus on what I know TODAY. If I’ve learned ANYTHING from this pandemic, it’s that I can’t plan or predict or protect us with worry, and that focusing on what I know here and now is the only bet worth making.