Struggling with COVID

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cheyenne Lewis
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Starting late 2019, I was told to worry about the coronavirus. There wasn’t a vaccine yet and face masks were our primary form of protection. I, however, was unbothered by the pandemic and was simply bothered I couldn’t find toilet paper.

I didn’t wear a mask unless it was mandatory. Even then, I usually had to be reminded to put it on. I never quarantined unless it was mandatory. I hated the feeling of alcohol drying out my hands, therefore I didn’t sanitize or wash my hands excessively like I was expected to.

You could say I was playing with fire. My husband and I are both healthy with nothing making us high-risk and there wasn’t anyone high-risk in our life, meaning we weren’t concerned even if we did get COVID-19.

Fast forward to the end of 2020, when I became pregnant with our first child. Suddenly, I started to worry about contracting the disease. My doctor made me aware that pregnant people are at a higher risk, and at this time, the vaccine wasn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so my doctor wasn’t recommending it.

From that point forward, my husband and I wore masks everywhere. We had disinfecting wipes in our cars and at our desks. We sanitized our hands constantly. I went as far as putting hand sanitizer around our home and using it even if I had just washed my hands. I became extremely concerned about it.

We knew multiple people who had gotten COVID-19 at this point and we had still somehow avoided it.

The last month of my pregnancy, I worked from home and hardly went anywhere. The only time I left my house was for groceries and even that was a curbside pickup. Now this was primarily out of laziness because pregnancy is not a fun time. It was also to ensure I didn’t get sick as we approached the due date.

In August 2021, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy. We were overjoyed. I had never experienced the happiness I get now every time I look at my son. We left the hospital overjoyed and in seemingly perfect health.

Now at this point, most women are concerned about things like postpartum healing, breast feeding if they choose to, and crazy sleep schedules, but I had other concerns.

About three days after leaving the hospital, I started to have a fever and a few other symptoms that led me to believe I had an infection. There are various kinds of infections that are very common after having a child. I made an appointment with my doctor. I had minor symptoms but felt mostly fine by this time. Nonetheless, my doctor asked me to take a COVID-19 test just to be safe.

Well wouldn’t you know, I had COVID-19. I managed to go this long without contracting the disease just to get it from the hospital while delivering my son. I started to panic. He’s so young. He’s so fragile. He didn’t even have an immune system yet. I asked my doctor, the pediatrician and every other medical professional I came in contact with for advice on how to make sure I didn’t get him sick. Most of them had no advice. One doctor googled my question and then told me to continue breast feeding. Another doctor suggested a wear a mask around him.

I came up with a game plan. I started wearing a face mask in my own home. My husband thankfully tested negative, but was told to work from home while I was positive. He totally took over parental duties. My only job was to pump breast milk. I chose to pump immediately to limit how much contact I had with my son. My husband did everything else.

Yes, my symptoms got worse and I hated having COVID-19. But physically having the disease was the easy part. The hard part was being a new mom who couldn’t hold her baby. It was seeing my son cry, knowing I could soothe him, but instead sitting in the corner and watching my husband struggle to work from home full-time and take care of our newborn by himself.

After a couple of days with our new household dynamic and me being mostly useless, I started to struggle. My body was recovering from so much, but the hardest part was mental. There’s an intense need to care for your child and I had to fight that urge. He would cry, do something adorable or need to be fed. All things I wanted to be a part of and I couldn’t. I would literally sit in the corner in a chair I designated as my pumping station and just cry. I couldn’t hold my baby and my husband couldn’t hold me. For someone who was physically a very affectionate person, this became my worst nightmare.

I’m very thankful I recovered from COVID-19 after about three weeks without my son getting sick. I’m grateful to my husband for picking up the extra work. After catching a glimpse of what postpartum depression feels like, I’m glad mine was temporary and stopped once I was able to care for my baby as normal.

There’s many women who struggle mentally after having a child and many women who have contracted COVID-19. Whether you’re dealing with one of these issues, or both, don’t be too proud to ask for help. All I thought about was my child’s health, all my doctor asked about was my physical health, but looking back, I wish I reached out to someone about my mental health.