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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

That COVID life

New Orleans is tentatively venturing into Phase II territory (even though the country is clearly heading into another peak...but I digress!) and now is a good time to update the old blog on how our life in pandemic has been!
Let's just go ahead and say it - not exactly easy. I mean, overall, we are very lucky and were minimally impacted. But as anyone with a job or kids can tell you, these last few months were just hard.

One enormously hard thing was having a new baby. The baby was not even eight weeks old when the pandemic hit Louisiana, and I had only been back to work for two weeks. Daycare closed with 24 hours notice, but nothing about my job changed! I still had to go to work every day - and at a hospital, too. It's not like I could bring a baby there. And my job has zero flexibility in hours. It is very hard to find caregivers for a young infant, so we ended up with a combination of nanny and daddy daycare (for two months David watched a tiny baby while working full time from home for two days a week!). Everyone with kids knows that the childcare situation was a problem. But it was also hard to simply NEVER get a break. Let's be real: no mom wants to spend every waking moment with even the best child, especially a tiny baby needing constant care. I would have loved to be able to hand someone else the baby and take some time for myself. Work was complicated and busy, and I was coming home exhausted. But because David was spending so much of the day with the baby already, I took over every night and the entire weekend. It burned us both out!

Another very hard thing was losing social connections. Having just gotten back out after being stuck in with an infant for six weeks, I really took this hard. I like people, crowds, gatherings, guests - all the things we couldn't have. I was lucky that I could continue to work, but I felt very isolated. The first week that we had livestream church it was novel. The next week it was just lonely and weird. We only just returned to church last week, and that with many modifications.

Since the reopening, we have gradually added some much-needed activities and socialization.

Church: We go to both mass (David) and Presbyterian services (all of us). Since masses returned first, we went as a family for a few weeks before our Presbyterian church reopened. After that, baby and I skipped mass, as the mass times don't work well with naps. Our church reopened with fewer songs, masks, assigned seating, and no loitering! But we are very happy to be back under any circumstances. Our Bible study is still meeting via Zoom, which is lame! But it's much harder to think of a safe way to meet in a home compared to a large church.
Running: I was SO glad to be able to get back with my running group when phase 1 allowed it. We had to break into smaller groups, but honestly we would be in pace-based groups to the workouts anyway. As of tonight, we can meet in groups up to 100, so we will be back all together once again! Before we could meet in groups, I was able to do the workouts alone in the park. Audubon park stayed open throughout the stay at home period, for which I am grateful.
Childcare: Supposedly daycare is reopening next week, but since we haven't heard a word from them... who knows? However, I think our nanny is willing to stay on with us for a little longer, since her next job fell through. But the biggest and best thing that changed was getting an hour off every week. Some of my good friends had COVID19 early and - assuming that victims do produce neutralizing antibodies! - we think they're "safe". They have so kindly and graciously taken the baby every Monday evening for the past three weeks. In fact, I drop him off and they hand me a nice bottle of wine and David and I have a date! I like the chance to eat dinner without a baby in my lap, and it's a good opportunity for the baby, who is woefully under-socialized, to see other people besides his parents.
Happy hour at Superior Seafood! 
Restaurants: I missed restaurants so much these past months. I love good food, but I love the whole experience even more! So, while we took advantage of fancy take-out while it was available, I was excited to get back into some restaurants. So far, we've gone to an outdoor brewery for dinner, a baby-less happy hour for wine and raw oysters on Memorial day (thanks to our friends who babysat!), and a really enjoyable dinner at The Mill, a newish restaurant in the Warehouse district. They had a "$6 before 6pm" special and we got an assortment of appetizers and drinks, all of which were very good. Next week, we have reservations for Fathers' Day at Lula, a restaurant/distillery we like. All of these restaurants are fairly baby-friendly and are designed in a way that makes social distancing not too awkward, which is why I chose them. The diners and holes-in-the-wall and fine dining establishments will have to wait!
Socialization: I missed our Friday night dinners so much that I compromised with Friday happy hours now that we are in phase 2. We used to have guests over for dinner every Friday night, and hosting it was one of my favorite things to do. Instead, we set up a socially-distant porch happy hour with chairs six feet apart and a *very* limited "menu" - drinks and tiny personal packets of peanuts! We roll out the bar cart with a bottle of hand sanitizer and plenty of napkins and have a relaxed cocktail with friends. We had over good friends I hadn't seen since they brought us dinner when the baby was born one week, a family from church the next week, and our neighbors the week after. Some running friends are coming this week. We're outdoors, far apart, and not together for long, so it's pretty safe.

That's what we've been up to these days! How are you coping?


  1. Your childcare situation was extra challenging with the age of the baby and your inflexible schedule. I would say it was really challenging for us as well, but it was shorter and Paul is 2 so that is different than a baby - although it presents its own challenges since he needs more entertainment and I can't just 'plunk' him anywhere for any period of time unless a show si on and he is not a good napper... Our struggle was that our jobs are very much dictated by market hours. I had heard of others splitting their day and one partner working 7-12 and the other 12-5 plus time before and after to get their work done and that just doesn't work for us as I need to be available from 7:30-4... thank God we only had to do that for 7 weeks but it was the hardest 7 weeks of my life, I think, and the lack of a break was very very hard.

    We are starting to add back more socialization (all outdoors except we did eat indoors at our friends' house as their kids go to the same daycare so we are all exposed to the same stuff). It felt pretty safe to do that. We also went to the park and beach this past weekend and that was wonderful. I was really struggling with the lack of activities/distractions for Paul. Being able to go to the park on the weekend really breaks up the day and makes life more enjoyable for everyone! We haven't eaten in a restaurant and I don't think we will in 2020. Eating out with a toddler is not very fun and we don't have a babysitter solution so we'll just keep getting weekly take out. Paul goes to bed at 7 each night so we get plenty of time spend with each other which is nice. I know 7 is pretty early for a toddler but daycare just wears him out and he's out the door by 7'ish every morning so his day starts pretty early.

  2. I've said so many times how thankful I am that my "baby" is 16 and self-sufficient so that I could deal with my own work from home situation without needing to be a caregiver to a little one.

    Financially we're probably better off since my husband and I continued to work throughout, he on site as an essential worker and me from home, and no longer having a 1.5-hour round trip to work for me saved us gas $$.

    Being isolated from friends was hard, though. A lot of the joy I find riding bikes is going places with friends. Taking away both places AND friends was rough.

    We've now done a few backyard dinners with friends/extended family, and I took a bike trip to Arkansas...outside almost constantly, so I felt ok about my limited exposure and wore a mask to do my part to not expose others. So things are minimally more normal and feeling ok in our world.

  3. Good reacap. I agree with you on the restaurant thing. Take out is just not the same as being served and having the food warm. I'm finally starting to see some friends again, but it feels like so long!