“I will preface our ‘quarantine’ story by saying this: we are lucky. We are lucky our immediate family of four, our extended family, and our friends are all healthy and have not become infected with the coronavirus. We are lucky, for the most part, our jobs have remained in-tact and we have not had to file for unemployment. We are lucky we have a home to shelter-in-place in, and we are lucky we have been able to experience the unexpected positive outcomes of this pandemic. We are so lucky, and we have not taken it for granted once.
For those of you familiar with our story from a previous Love What Matters post, we are a happy, newly formed family of four since both of our children entered our lives in 2019. Barron came to us in June through adoption and we had our biological child, Grace, in November. Since her arrival, we have been navigating life raising two infants five months apart in age. It has been an adventure, to say the least.
Maternity leave was a dream. I was able to receive three months of paid leave and spent it physically recovering from childbirth, establishing myself as a mom of two infants, and watching both babies grow and thrive. It was a sweet and simple time and I will forever be grateful for it.
By the last week in February, it was time to go back to work. I was equal parts ready to return to the office and sad to be leaving my babies. I settled back into my routine of commuting, working from my East Nashville office, and returning home to my kids in the evenings. It was challenging emotionally but by the end of the week, I felt positive with a few more weeks under my belt I would feel back into a normal and healthy routine.
During the night of March 2nd, a terrible tornado ripped through Nashville and destroyed a few northern areas of the metropolitan area, East Nashville is one of them. Luckily my office only suffered minor damage, but with the lack of Wi-Fi and blown-out windows, it was enough to send all of us into ‘work from home’ mode. The plan was to work from home until our Wi-Fi came back on. By the time it did, the coronavirus had made its grand entrance into our daily lives.
I’m grateful my company took a cautious and preliminary approach when it came to the virus. As soon as it became apparent the spread of the virus was going to get worse before it got better, my company took swift action and asked that everyone stop their travel and stop work outside of their home. With orders to work from home for the foreseeable future, I settled into my new life as a mom of two infants with a full-time job and (thank goodness) a husband who had also been asked to work from home.
And that’s where I find myself now as I type this up. I am currently sitting at a children’s table in our playroom while Grace lays on her Boppy Pillow to my left and Barron bangs on our electronic keyboard to my right. I’m grateful right now the only sounds I hear are baby babbles and a very intense piano melody because a lot of the time the noise in our home consists of babies crying, dogs barking, and the occasional adult crying as well.
I commend all of the parents out there who are currently homeschooling while working. I feel incredibly lucky my children are not needing homeschooling and are young enough they aren’t fully aware of the fact we have been isolating ourselves at home for the past month and a half. All of that being said, it has still been quite difficult during this quarantine. My husband Zach and I both have jobs, mine full-time, and his split between real estate and consulting. Zach’s jobs consist of unprecedented phone calls, emails that require an immediate response, and hours’ worth of consulting that need to be done by certain points throughout the day. Combine that with two infants with their own individual unprecedented moments of crying and needing attention and my responsibility to maintain my workload and you have a house of chaos. Zach and I have had to really fine-tune our communication with one another. Usually, at the start of each day, we’ll let each other know what phone calls, Zoom meetings, and other obligations we have so we can mold our childcare schedule around each other’s work schedules. It’s taken a lot of patience and deep breaths to get through each day.
It may be easy to assume infants can be plopped down somewhere and just babble away for an extended period of time. I sometimes wish this were the case because if it were my email responses would come a lot more quickly! Both babies require a lot of attention, and they are not synced up with when they need care. Barron is a quick crawler and so inquisitive. I have turned my back for a moment and found him in the dog crate, in another room, attempting to climb the stairs, and spilling the dogs’ water bowl all over himself. His energy is endless, and I love his adventurous spirit, but it is very hard to keep up with! Grace has not yet mastered sitting up, but she is not a fan of being placed somewhere and left alone, so I have found myself balancing her on one hip with one hand while pulling Barron out of a perilous situation with another hand one too many times. Sometimes Zach and I have to just let both babies cry so we can make their bottles, take a second to eat something, or give each other a hug. I am so very grateful I have Zach to lean on as a partner, fellow parent, and spouse. I cannot comprehend this quarantine-version of life without him.
This life has plenty of stressful and loud moments. But man, does it come with its perks! We have gotten into a wonderful routine of taking a two and a half-mile walk each morning, the kids sitting in our two-seater stroller while Zach and I take turns pushing it up and down all of the hills in our neighborhood. We find ourselves in these precious moments where the four of us are bonding, life distractions, and the stress of the pandemic far away from our minds. We sit in the playroom and just play with the kids. We put them in the bath together and have fun splashing along with them, giggling just as much as they do. We laugh a lot and have thoroughly enjoyed watching Barron and Grace grow and develop right before our very eyes. How lucky are we that we can spend all day every day with our kids while they’re in their most rapidly changing developmental phase of life! We have witnessed Barron learn to crawl and say his first word (doggie), Grace rollover, the kids discover one another and give each other endless amounts of kisses (and face grabs). We’ve been able to spend a lot of time in our yard where Bo has discovered grass, bugs, and pulling leaves off of trees and bushes. We put the kids down to bed each night, and they are surrounded by the smell of the outdoors. For every time they’ve cried, they’ve smiled twice as much. And with each cry and smile, Zach and I have soaked it all in.
We will never regret this gift of time we’ve been given with our children. The entire world has paused, and as the busyness of day-to-day life has washed away the important elements have revealed themselves. Trips have been canceled. Friends have gone un-seen and family has had to stay away. Obligations have been tabled and responsibilities have taken a backseat. What remains is the most precious part of life: uninterrupted time with our family. The simplest things, like sitting on our front lawn playing with grass, have become some of our most cherished moments.
This pandemic has spread a lot of hurt, uncertainty, and fear into the world. As we sit here safely inside of our home, we applaud those who are risking it all on the frontlines of the pandemic. We know they are experiencing the longest and hardest days of their lives so we can stay safe at home and flatten this curve. We know seemingly healthy people have succumbed to the virus and many have lost their lives to it. We mourn them and our hearts ache for their family members. This is a scary time and we know the threat of the virus is still a strong force outside our door.
One day the world will heal. We pray for that daily. As we continue to wait and pray we hold each other close and thank God we have remained healthy enough to live our lives in this beautiful and loud chaos that is our family of four.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jeanette Opheim of Nashville, Tennessee. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read Jeanette’s backstory here:
‘I see you peeking!’ He slowly opened his eyes, blinking up at us. His tiny hand closed around my husband’s finger. Our hearts were forever changed.’: Couple adopts after surprise pregnancy, ‘I welcome every ounce of chaos and noise’
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