I have joined a local Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group this year. For those who are not familiar with it, it is a group with biweekly meetings for mothers of infant, toddlers, and preschoolers, and those who are expecting. It meets from September to May, and you are assigned a table of 8 to 10 people. There is a theme every year and you sit at that table with the same people throughout the year to discuss topics related to motherhood surrounding the chosen theme. In the beginning of the meeting a scrumptious breakfast spread is provided. And did I mention that there is childcare? The kids get to learn something new with their friends in a safe environment and I get adult time for 2 hours. Before my friend invited me to join, I was hesitant because I feared that given how I became a mother, which I am quite sure is very different from how the majority of women there became a mom, I might not fit into the group. But I was yearning for some face-to-face connection with others who may understand my struggles on a daily basis, I put on my brave face and walked into the hall expecting to be overwhelmed. The end result was a pleasant surprise. I loved my first time there. Even though I didn’t know the mothers at the table, we openly shared our joy and struggles of motherhood. After that meeting, I signed up and happily paid my dues for the whole year (which covers food and childcare). I have been very open about my journey of motherhood and how the twins became my children. The ladies in my group have been very supportive and genuine in getting to know me and my story. I love going. And then COVID-19 happened. We don’t get to meet up anymore. Like the rest of the world, we have resorted to a virtual meeting on Zoom. Our table leader is a lovely lady with two little girls. She looked extremely tired that evening. After 45 minutes of the meeting, I asked her if she was doing okay because she just sounded low energy. Then she said, for those who didn’t know, she is expecting and has been extremely tired. This totally caught me by surprise because I didn’t expect her to be expecting? Then I came to think about it, she is the fourth person in this group who has gotten pregnant in the past year. Three ladies have given birth already. Two of them to their 3rd child and one to her second child. The pregnancy rate is so high given we only have 8 people in the group. It shouldn’t be surprising though, right? This is a group for mothers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Of course the participants are at a childbearing age. Having two kids doesn’t stop them from having another child. Infertility rate is one in eight. I am the one in the group of eight. The rest gets pregnant easily. The good news for me is, I am genuinely happy for them and I am not sad at all for myself. I am done done done and don’t want another child. Period. I was holding one of the ladies’ newborn the other day. The baby smell was intoxicating. It is one of the things I love most about babies. However, it doesn’t make me want to have another baby. No wonder I am no longer jealous about pregnant ladies, pregnancies, or newborn babies. The baby boom is merely an observation. But this observation also shows that I am still infertile. If I were fertile, this baby boom probably wouldn’t even be on my radar.
My life after the shelter in place has taken effect has not been too bad. I am used to being with the kids 24/7 so we just have to get used to not going to our usual places. Bob continues to work from home. It actually has been nice having him home. The kids see a whole lot more of him since he doesn’t have to commute and comes up to see them at lunch and after nap time. When he is done with work at 6pm, the whole family goes out for a stroll around the block once for some fresh air. My anxiety level was up and down and then up again in the last week, but mostly I am grateful for a paycheck, a roof over our heads, and our health. Grocery shopping yesterday did raise my anxiety level as I was imagining coronavirus floating in the air and on surfaces that I touched. I did use gloves and went through the motion of changing clothes, wiping down surfaces, washing the shopping bags, and washing my hands thoroughly after I returned from the supermarket. I think a lot about all the people who are profoundly affected by the shelter in place order: people who lose their jobs or their income, people who are sick and are dying or died, and frontline workers who don’t have enough protective gear. I have also been thinking a lot about people who are in the process of pursuing fertility treatment. My friend just did her last transfer in Southern California the day before the governor told the whole state to stay home. She was a lucky one in that regard. Imagine those people who were in the process of growing follicles. Or those that are waiting for their embryos to be made with donor eggs. Or those that have already been paying the monthly fee for their gestational carrier but have not done a transfer. Or those whose gestational carriers are currently pregnant for them in another state and it’d be unsafe for anyone to travel. Everything comes to a screeching halt. I can only imagine how devastating it must feel to face this tremendous challenge. My friend who just transferred all of a sudden felt very sad and depressed one day wondering when she’d get to transfer again if this cycle didn’t work. I have no answer for her. I know that we will be allowed to do the usual things again. It’s a matter of time. But for a lot of people who want a baby, it already feels like time is slipping away even when COVID-19 didn’t exist. I can only imagine how this adds to the already heightened anxiety for people who are facing infertility. This stop in treatment will last a whole lot longer if people do not do their part by staying home to flatten the curve. I just hope and pray that everyone takes it seriously and not to think that they are invincible. Then there is hope that everyone can resume treatment in a relatively short amount of time.
The twins turned 2 1/2 yesterday. Time just keeps on moving.
We are practicing social distancing as of this moment. That means no going out with friends. No hanging out with family members who don’t live in the same house. No taking the kids to the mall, restaurants, or grocery stores. Bob has been working from home since last week in our little office space so he doesn’t get distracted by the kids. I have been taking the kids out on different hiking trails when the weather is good.
Yesterday started with pouring rain. I was a little bummed that we didn’t get to go out with the kids on their 2.5 birthday because of the rain. The rain stopped but the sky was still gray at 9:30. Bob and I took our chance with the weather and took the kids out on a trail facing the Pacific Ocean.
I am so glad we decided to take them out. They had such a blast. There were water and mud puddles around and the kids enjoyed themselves so much jumping in these puddles. I’ve got to say that as a parent I have relaxed so much more in regards to dirt. I myself would not have jumped in those puddles even if I were wearing protective gear. But kids are kids. They do not care about dirt. I figure we could always take off their rain boots and rain coats and let them go pantless on the ride home. That was exactly what we did. Bob was a bit squeamish when it came to the muddy dirt on the kids’ boots and pants. But when he saw how relaxed I was, he was okay with it. The smiles on the kids’ faces and their laughter were so worth the hassle to clean them and the rain gear up.
Here we are. In six months, we will have three year olds. I hope by then everything will be back to normal and that social distancing is a thing in the past so we will be able to have a birthday party for them with all of our loved ones.
Concerns of coronavirus are getting more serious in my area. Many companies enact a temporary policy for workers to work from home. My husband was told he could choose to work from home last Friday but he was already at the bus stop, so he just went to work. Our church service was canceled because the city issued an advisory to cancel non-essential large community events for the next two weeks. Of course it makes me think about what to do with the kids. We usually go out every single morning to classes, library story time, dim sum restaurant with my mom, bible study, and indoor gym. The situation with the virus is so fluid that everyday I evaluate where to go with the kids. We still went to the library last week. Prior to the coronavirus scare, I used to clean their hands after the library by hand sanitizer and wipes. Last week after they played, read books, and touched stuff, I herded them both to the bathroom to wash their hands. Let me just tell you that washing two toddlers’ hands and keeping them from touching things AFTER hand washing was such a monumental task. It required a lot of yelling on my part because honestly the kids do not listen to me when I gently tell them not to touch something. And I had to do it after we borrowed the books so I had a big backpack, my crossbody purse, and a bag of books ON me while holding one kid up to the sink and keeping my eyes on the other kid’s hands. The end result was everyone’s clothes getting wet. But we accomplished hand washing without any excessive touching of surfaces in the bathroom. I was quite proud of myself. I took them to bible study and the dentist’s office but skipped the indoor gym. I don’t trust this city-run gym would sanitize their equipments and want to err on the side of caution. Fortunately, my kids are flexible enough and don’t fuss if we don’t go to the indoor play gym. Instead of going indoor, we ventured outdoors. There is a trail that my dad and I took the kids on when he was here last time. They were about two years old and I felt at that time they were not listening as well and weren’t walking as well. We had to push a stroller because the kids wanted the freedom to walk around but got tired quite easily. They also would run off to two different directions and it would be hard for me to watch them both all by myself. Fast forward six months. The kids are so much better with their physical strength, stamina, and the ability to listen. I mean, they do not listen to 100% of the time, but I can trust that I can get them to go in the same direction if I try. I also feel better for them to touch dirt and trees and grass than indoor surfaces. So I have been taking them on a walk on the trail. I mean, it’s a joke to call it a walk for myself because honestly I get no benefit of an exercise when I go with them. We don’t push a stroller anymore. They love to walk and run and stop and move backwards and even sit on the ground. They jump in the grass and talk and joke with each other. Often times after “walking” down the trail for 15 minutes, I would have to turn them back because somehow the way back takes even longer. But I have to say that the kids have taught me to be more relax. There is no agenda in nature. We are not rushing to go anywhere. If they want to watch the birds, talk about the airplanes over our heads, look at berries and flowers, touch the trees, and comment on runners and walkers, I just stand back and watch. We breathe in fresh air and have a great bonding time. It is quite funny that on this trail there are so many Cantonese speaking people walking or running. They often stop to marvel at the twins being able to speak Cantonese and ask me and the kids questions. We get stopped at least 4 to 5 times each time we go. I am thankful for the easy access to parks and trails so we are not trapped at home during this critical public health time. I need to explore new trails that I feel safe taking them myself so the kids don’t get too bored.
A week and a half ago, Bunny started coughing and having a runny nose. The next day I noticed that her breathing was much faster than usual, about 52 breaths per minute. Luckily I had her twin brother as a guide for what normal breathing pattern should be for a two-year-old. His breath count was half of hers. She didn’t look uncomfortable, but I wanted to be cautious and called the nurse line just in case she should be seen on that day. I got a call back within the next hour and was told by the nurse to bring Bunny in for a visit due to her shortness of breath. Our regular doctor and his clinic’s other pediatricians were all booked up. She found an appointment in about an hour at a different clinic location 25 minutes drive from our house. Of course I took it. Thanks to my mom who could stay home with Okra, I quickly packed things up and loaded Bunny in the minivan for her appointment. Due to COVID-19, clinics are super cautious with patients who show respiratory symptoms. Bunny was given a little Mickey Mouse mask to wear because of her cough, which she refused to put on initially. I held her in my lap in the waiting room and wouldn’t let her touch anything else. Germs in a clinic are the exact reason why I didn’t want Okra to come with. We were quickly called back to an exam room. The doctor was so wonderful. He was so good with Bunny and put her at ease. He checked her oxygen level and listened to her breathing. Her oxygen level was tiny bit low at 95 to 96. He could hear wheezing. The nurse set up Albuterol on the nebulizer for her. I held the mouth piece for Bunny while she watched a video on my phone. After the 15 minute treatment, the doctor listened to her and said she sounded much better. It was amazing how the medicine opened up the airway so quickly. Bunny was sent across the street to the hospital building for a chest x-ray because the doctor wanted to rule out pneumonia. I was actually surprised at the recommendation because I didn’t even think that it could be this serious? On the other hand, I was just glad that I followed my instinct to call the clinic for help. I was also very glad that we got sent to this clinic which was just right next to the radiology department vs. our usual clinic location which was no where close to an x-ray machine. Off we went to the other building. I again tried my best to keep Bunny’s hands away from any surfaces by keeping her on me. I was also impressed with how calm she was. If it was Okra, he would have fussed maybe five times already. She was totally chill and just read a book and had her snack despite it being her usual lunch time. After waiting for 30 minutes, we were finally in the room. There was a little chest x-ray machine low toward the ground. The technician put a lead apron on me and a tiny one around her waist. Again, I have to praise Bunny because at 2 years 5 months, she just followed directions and did whatever the tech told her without fussing. Two images were taken. We returned to the clinic and waited for further directions. We received a nebulizer for home use. The X-Ray results showed that Bunny had bronchiolitis and not a full blown pneumonia. The doctor said that sometimes the virus just infected the lower part of the chest which caused the wheezing. We were to give her treatment every four hours and have a follow-up visit at her usual clinic close to home the next day. I could still tell that she was breathing fast but the doctor said the wheezing was much better. The doctor visit next day was with someone that we hadn’t seen before as well. She was in and out, no nonsense, and told me to keep Bunny on the Albuterol treatment for a whole week at least three times a day to keep the airway open. Since we let her and her brother watch nursery rhymes on TV during her nebulizer treatment, Bunny loved to do it. She is so funny. Sometimes when it wasn’t time for her treatment yet, she would pretend to cough and say “Mama, I am not feeling well” because she wanted her TV time. Since when did she become so big and expressive, and know how to pretend to get what she wants? After one week of treatment, I am happy to report that her regular pediatrician didn’t hear any wheezing at all at our follow up visit. In fact he said that he wouldn’t have guessed that she was sick if we didn’t tell him. He said that sometimes wheezing could take two to three weeks to clear, so he was glad that she was well so quickly. Before he left the exam room, he advised me to wash her hands before she left so she wouldn’t be sick from visiting him. Interestingly, and fortunately, Okra who usually would be sick 2.5 days after Bunny was not sick at all this time. With the COVID-19 scare and Bunny being sick, I haven’t taken the kids to the indoor play gym that they’d go to on a weekly basis. I think I will still take them since we had already gone back to Bible Study class and Sunday school. I will just be more vigilant with washing their hands even though herding them to the bathroom is a monumental task at times. Hopefully we won’t be sick again before the winter season ends.