As the coronavirus continues its march closer and closer to our front doors, I want to share with you a story that is personal to me. This comes from a fellow mama and a sorority sister of mine (Alpha Delta Pi forever!) who has been on a mission for some time advocating for her immune compromised daughter.
Social distancing has been part of their lives since the day little Sylvie was born. Please listen to Stephanie’s story — written in her own words. Please heed the CDC’s warnings. Do it for your parents, your grandparents, yourself, and for children like Sylvie.
Sylvie was born via emergency C-section at 31 weeks. Although she had both her kidneys at her 20 week anatomy scan, she was unexpectedly born with only one small and barely functioning kidney.
Diagnosed with renal failure and in need of lifesaving intervention, Sylvie was life-flighted from Pensacola, Florida, to Birmingham’s Children’s of Alabama where she’d undergo multiple surgeries during her 60+ days in the NICU. After months in the NICU and more than a year on dialysis, she received a life-saving kidney transplant from a woman she’d never met named Whitney.
Sylvie turns three soon and is happy, healthy, and as spirited as they come. Her mom would like to keep her that way (although we really could dial down the sass from time to time)! Her name Sylvie means, “In the woods/forest,” and her middle name (Annmarie) means, “God has favored me.”
This Week . . . and the Coronavirus
I recently took Sylvie to Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham for her monthly post-kidney transplant check-up.
* we wore masks
* we threw away any toys that hit the floor
* we touched nothing
* we sanitized obsessively
* we brought our own pen from home
* we wiped down the exam room upon entering
* we shook no hands
* we ran out of there like the building was on fire
* we changed clothes in the parking lot before entering our car
* we bagged our shoes in a Target sack as we slipped into our seats
* we sanitized hands again
* we didn’t make any stops for food, coffee, or anything–just one stop for gas
* we wore a glove to pump gas
* we sanitized again
* we got home four hours later and showered immediately
* we laundered our clothes, three days later with sanitizing wash
And you know what was different about this appointment than others before it?
Please let that sink in.
Our regular life during a regular cold/flu season is the same as a global pandemic.
Wow. That hangs in the air for me, too.
In fact, what I’ve learned through this recent experience is that there’s a name for how we’ve been living for three entire years: Social Isolation. Quarantine, even. (Sheesh!) I’ve also learned that apparently how we live is deeply concerning to other people when they are forced to live it.
Two days in.
Five days in.
Seven days in.
So much complaining about staying home, missing trips, canceling birthday parties, not getting to see grandparents. Wondering what to do with their children when they can’t leave the house. Missing “normal life” for them. Honestly, it’s hard for me to hear. It’s even harder for me to process that this is, in fact, my family’s normal.
Welcome to Our World
The only word that repeatedly comes to mind is: welcome.
Welcome to the land of stocking hand sanitizer and keeping it in every door of your car. Welcome to looking at the cart handle and shared keypads at checkout like they can kill your family. Welcome to hearing someone cough just down the aisle and feeling that ping of nervousness. Welcome to, God forbid, seeing a fever on a thermometer and fearfully wondering if it’s a “normal cold” or something much, much worse. Welcome to the world that the parents of chronically ill and medically complex children live. Every. Single. Day.
It’s Okay To Mourn
What you’re feeling now is grief, dear friends. And as someone who first joined this club three years ago, I can assure you that the grief is real, and it’s okay to mourn the life you had. It’s perfectly fine to admit how scary–and hard–and limiting–and unfair–and uncertain this all feels. I can also assure you that through this season of suffering, there will be goodness. There will be personal refinement, a return to simplicity, and lots of opportunity for love and compassion.
Remember Those Who Will Stay Here
But, my biggest hope of all?
That when we get to the other side of this–and we will–that you remember those of us who will stay here. Remember those of us who will remain in our “normal” socially isolated lives in protection of our littlest miracles. And in that moment, decide to call in sick to work when you’re symptomatic, keep your kid home from school when he has a runny nose, err on the side of caution when you feel it’s “just allergies,” and certainly not push the three to seven day contagious window on the flu because you were experiencing “cabin fever.”
Because Sylvie’s life depends on your selflessness then, just as it does now.
Our deepest appreciation to you for staying home and staying well. And much love and prayers to us all during this uncertain time.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your story with the moms of Birmingham. May we remember Sylvie and your family as we try to keep our own families safe in this time of pandemic.