Parenting in the Pandemic: Leaving the house is terrifying

We recently had to bring our son to the pediatrician. He wasn’t sick or anything, but he hadn’t been to his pediatrician in two years, and he was behind on vaccinations.

The pediatrician’s assistant had messaged us several times, and we had actually made appointments months ago. But various quarantine restrictions were in place, and we didn’t feel safe going to the hospital with Lucas.

Finally, it felt like we couldn’t delay anymore. One Tuesday in August, I took a day off, we left the house early, and we went to the hospital.

We were all anxious. Oneal and I were worried about catching COVID at the hospital. Lucas didn’t want to get vaccinated, and he didn’t even want to go inside the hospital. I was worried he would run here and there, touch everything, breathe in God-knows-what. To limit his contact with, well, anything, we put him in the carrier and I carried him on my back. We all wore double masks–one surgical and one cloth. We all wore our face shields. We sprayed alcohol on our hands every ten minutes. We parked in the basement, took the elevator straight to the pediatrician’s floor, and went right back to the basement when we were done. I tried to hold Lucas’ hands so that he wouldn’t touch anybody or anything, especially in the elevator.

It was so stressful. I couldn’t sleep the night before. When I finally did fall asleep, I woke up early to make breakfast. We prepared our bags, our clothes, the carrier.

Photo by Artem Podrez on

We had tried to prepare Lucas for the visit to the doctor, and we warned him about the vaccinations. We knew he was afraid of injections, but we managed to convince him that it was for his health. Still, when we were in the basement parking, and we were trying to enter the hospital, he cried and said, over and over, “I don’t want to go inside!” It took me quite a while to convince him that he would be okay.

At the pedia, it was hard to even get him on the weighing scale, or to agree to the temperature check. Oneal and I had to get weighed and checked first, so that he would be okay with it. But when it was our turn to see the doctor, Lucas was friendly and conversational, and our pedia said Lucas was doing just fine.

He got his jabs, one in each arm, a hepatitis shot and a flu shot. Oh boy did he cry, but he recovered quickly, and was quite pleased with the Play-Doh he got from the pedia. Afterwards we hurriedly left the hospital, grabbing lunch at a nearby drive-thru. Fries and ice cream made him happy.

I wish it were as easy to calm our own fears, but no such luck. Oneal and I were so worried about catching COVID-19 from the hospital. We were so worried about exposing Lucas. When we got home, I got a migraine. Thank goodness I was on leave that day.

Going out is so stressful to begin with, but having to go out with Lucas is ten times more terrifying. We keep imagining the worst.

Still, it’s not all bad. Our pedia said so many of her patients gained weight, because they were at home, eating better and sleeping more. They were less stressed because they didn’t have to wake up so early to go to school, and they didn’t need to endure traffic on a daily basis. It seemed, among her patients at least, that fewer kids were getting sick, because they were much less exposed to allergens and germs and viruses. She said she saw a lot of pregnancies too.

At least there’s some silver lining.

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