Bringing Up Baby… In a Pandemic

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched the #CallYourPediatrician campaign to encourage parents to schedule check-ups for children of all ages, noting that it is particularly important for parents to stay current with available vaccines even now. “As states begin to open up and families move about in their community, we are afraid that we could see outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and other diseases that can spread very rapidly and be deadly for children,” said AAP President Sally Goza, M.D., FAAP in a statement. We checked in with Nikki Clifford, Fairfax mom of two, who had her daughter Sydney, in early January.

How was the shelter-in-place with a newborn?

It’s one of the most intense situations I’ve ever had to deal with and it’s bringing up so much anxiety. I’m trying to work while also taking care of Sydney’s needs and home-schooling my Kindergartener. I feel like I’m working multiple jobs day and night. Syd obviously can’t wear a mask so we’re trying not to leave the house as much which intensifies the anxiety. Only short walks in the neighborhood and some days we don’t leave at all which makes us all feel trapped. On the other hand, I’m so grateful that I’ve basically gotten more time with her when I would have her in daycare otherwise and I get to spend time with my oldest. It’s somehow also a blessing even though it’s super hard. There are moments that we all laugh and have fun on a family walk on a beautiful weekday and I’m grateful that we’re healthy, safe and together during a crazy uncertain time.

Did your pediatrician advice any precautions?

Yes, she didn’t want us to come into the office during the first few months. I will also be doing a virtual four month well check with the doctor by video and again, delaying the vaccines. I know she’s not being exposed to anything during shelter-in-place, so I’m not too concerned and neither is my pediatrician.

What safe activities have you found help to beat cabin fever with a newborn at home?

We’ve been trying to have outdoor time by putting a blanket on our front yard grass or bring her bassinet on the deck while my oldest plays. Also, short walks through the immediate neighborhood only. We also now have way more indoor baby contraptions and toys than we would have otherwise (swing, bouncy seat, multiple playmats, bassinets). We have babywear around the house for naps or while I stand in my kitchen to work on my laptop. Also, like everyone else, I now make things from scratch that I used to buy like homemade bread, almond milk, cookies, muffins. “There are moments that we all laugh and have fun on a family walk on a beautiful weekday and I’m grateful that we’re healthy, safe and together during a crazy uncertain time,” Clifford says.

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Shannan Younger is a writer living in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband and teen daughter. Originally from Ohio, she received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame. Her essays have been published in several anthologies and her work has been featured on a wide range of websites, from the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop to the BBC. She also blogs about parenting at Between Us Parents.

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