My Family Finally Caught COVID – And I Had All the Emotions

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Two years (and maybe a month, give or take): that’s how long we were COVID-free. That’s if you start counting from the lockdowns for “two weeks” that started back in March 2020.

I remember those early days. We were petrified of getting COVID. My husband worked from home and I was at home, jobless, with our son. We were extremely cautious and rarely left our house unless it was essential. During that time, we saw no one, not even our neighbors, and definitely didn’t go inside anyone’s house. We didn’t even go to playgrounds. We wore masks when we needed to go indoors and kept our distance from other people, even outside. And naturally, we washed our hands a lot.

And then, my husband and I got COVID vaccines, and it was as though we could start living again. There was a sense of being protected despite the new variants being reported in the news, though we still picked and chose our risks. We did a staycation when Delta was running rampant, which involved lots of indoor dining dates, but we opted out of all holiday parties during Omicron’s surge.

The End of a COVID-Free Era

In April, I had just returned from a wedding in Hawaii. My in-laws were still in town, having come in to watch our son while my husband was at work, so we took advantage of the free childcare and went on some dates. One night we took the metro into DC and dined inside; one day we went to two wineries; another day we dined inside for a brunch buffet.

Two days after my in-laws left, I felt like I was having the worst allergy attack I’ve had in years: I felt foggy, I was congested, and I had a cough. But convinced that this was just allergies, I muddled through working from home for two days. In the evening of that second day, both my husband and son had low grade fevers and felt like they had the flu.

Although I didn’t have a fever, my husband and I decided to take tests. They were both positive.

Lots of Emotions

My husband and I were both in denial—how could this have happened?! We had been careful for two-plus years and had avoided contracting COVID…until now. It was as if we had flushed our good health down the drain. We felt like a statistic, and we were.

Moreover, we had likely infected our son. We never gave him a test, but with both of us testing positive and our son exhibiting the same symptoms as my husband, I just didn’t think it was likely he had somehow only gotten the flu. I immediately blamed myself—I had just traveled and was at a wedding (although no one tested positive at the wedding after returning), and my husband and I had gone on dates! Inside!! How could we be so careless?

my family caught COVID
At least he got lots of popsicles while he was sick!

Fellow contributor Tatiana Laborde was interviewed for a Washington Post article last winter, because similarly, she and her family “were careful for so long,” but ended up getting the Omicron variant. In the article, she said she felt “defeated,” and I relate to that so much; it’s as if the past few years of the pandemic spent COVID-free mean nothing because our families ended up getting it anyways. What was the point in being safe? Even Dr. Fauci got COVID eventually.

But also in that article is the realization that we need to reframe what “beating” COVID is. We can still be mad at ourselves, but ultimately, it’s unlikely that everyone will remain COVID-free forever. Instead of viewing beating COVID as never getting it, a doctor suggests that beating the virus now means getting vaccinated and staying in good health to avoid a hospital stay if you do contract it, and asking yourself how sick you got once infected. Had we gotten COVID pre-vaccines, who knows how our health would have fared or if our symptoms would have been as mild as they were. On that front, my family did “beat” COVID.

What Now?

Guidelines from the CDC have also seemed to flip flop since the pandemic began, and we weren’t sure what we could believe either: would we be safe from reinfection for a few months now that we had COVID antibodies? Will we barely feel COVID if we catch it again, or will other strains have different, worse symptoms despite our vaccination?

Only time will tell. As a family, we’ll just need to continue to assess risks with COVID because it’s unlikely we’ll avoid catching it again. We plan on enrolling our son in preschool in the fall, and we know that he could catch it again. And depending on if there are COVID variant surges, we’ll assess how comfortable we feel dining inside or taking trips.

That’s how it is with COVID in the world now—we just have to live with it.

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