February 5th- Dorothea turns 3! life is normal, we head to Warwick play village to celebrate Dots 3rd Birthday- a delightful Birthday party at home is planned.
All her overexcited, bouncy toddler friends arrive at home for an afternoon of cheesy tunes, bubbles, water-beads, cake and dinosaurs. The lounge is Decorated with an awesome array of balloons and the most delicious, artististic cake is delivered-if only the rest of 2020 was as stunning.
After an exciting few hours: playing and dancing with friends is over: Dot is left exhausted, full of excitement of a new range of low cost cost but massively appreciated gifts; oh and more bubbles. We even managed a post Birthday family trip to Peppa pig world.
In retrospect- reviewing my diary entries on week beginning February 10th brings me to tears- hope and dreams of the year ahead are clear. Dot starts nursery, the car is booked into the garage for service (how very mundane) an theres a note in my diary to cancel the NHS pension for a few months and ‘order a new baby; meaning book into the fertility clinic to commence a FET. A couple of months prior to this we had already arranged repeat blood tests to start the process.
Although in February it was clear international virus concerns may affect us- at this point it still felt a million miles away. So Mummy continued in her NHS nursing role and life was ‘normal’ – albeit a side eye on the international news.; we certainly felt plans for holidays and expanding our family were realistic.
March brought increasing stresses at work for an immunocompromised Mummy- life became very obsessed with the risks of everyday work and life. The biological treatments and medications Mummy took daily weighed so much more on the mind than they ever had in privous months or years. What were described as rare risk factors, suddenly felt as serious risks upon our safety and family life.
An an immunocompromised nurse; working life quickly became comparable with a warzone; returning home meant undressing in the garden, and showering before i could even kiss my family hello/goodnight. Fearing for my own, and my families mortality became a daily concern- sleep was sparse and anxiety was high.
It couldn’t have been much fun for Dorothea living through February/March of 2020- unknowing there was about to be a pandemic; we planned for Dot to commence pre-school shortly after her 3rd Birthday. We carefully reviewed our local options options, and opted for a preschool which had good reviews, and would also support a slow and progressive integration into preschool life. In the weeks running up to her 3rd birthday, we both supported her in her ‘settling in sessions’, involving both Mummy and Daddy and her grandparents too.
Obviously after 3 years of the comfort of home this brought tears and anxiety; but after a few sessions Dorothea settled well, and developed a fledging relationship with her ‘key workers’ Erin and Emily. Even to this day (in September) Dorothea often says she dreams about the lovely ‘Erin and Emily’ and will ask us to ‘role play’ nursery pretending to be them.
Dorothea had only been in preschool, one day a week, for a few weeks, when i received my letter from the government that described me as ‘extremely vulnerable’ and advised me to shield for 12 weeks. This meant my immediate confinement to home, Daddys return fron the office, to ‘working at home’, and us pulling Dorothea from preschool for the immedaite future.
This was hard; we would all be restricted to life within our home/garden for the next few months. Meaning no visits or childcare from Dots loving grandparents, no trips shopping, or out for meals or visits with friends. Luckily in the first few weeks, the weather was on our side- we enjoyed the ‘holiday vibe’, with family meals, garden play and unseasonal sunshine. Following this my workplace arranged a role for me- meaning I quickly had to learn the life of a ‘ working from home Mum.’
I promptly discovered i could get the family up, dressed and an activity planned ( to entertain Dot) ready to start interviewing nurses for the COVID workforce by 9 am – work life was ‘odd’, sometimes in Pjs- apologising to candidates that they may hear a toddler in the background!
The role of recruiting nurses to the frontline was satisfying; ever grateful that those with a ‘duty to care’ were willing to do a role that i could no longer fulfil – discussing their willingness to step forward to help the country battle a ‘war’, and their eagerness to return to a role which they may have left to answer a different calling. I will never forget those conversations with those nurses which had served in wars, or previous pandemics, or returned from retirement; as they felt it was there duty. Its with a degree of guilt i will always regret not joining them in this unprecedented battle.
After a couple of months my role was no longer required. So i no longer had to explain the difference to Dorothea of a ‘work day’ and a ‘non work day’. Even now Dot will role play ‘interviews’- after months of hearing Mummy do these calls or video calls. Its actually really cute, hearing her interviewing her dolls, or teddies- she really did get a unique view of life during that time.
After my ‘recruitment role’ was no longer required, my laptop was returned to the trust and i felt useless, no form of ‘working from home’ was discussed\available and i felt pushed out and unwanted.
Lucky for me a had an excitable and inquisitive toddler in my face at 7.30 each morning. I’m not sure what i would have done without her: she gave me a reason to get my (increasingly soft) arse out of bed. The battle of lockdown for me was a truly mental one; i went from being a sociable being, in an important role (conversing with 40+ people a day), to being isolated at home: with my (busy- business owning husband) and a chatty 3 year old for company!
The purpose of this blog is to explore Dorotheas experience during 2020- so i don’t want to talk too much about me and my ‘shielding’- but having an understand of that predicament clearly helps to understand how ‘growing up’ in 2020 was so different for her.
For me its feels very easy to think about the negatives; but this extended time together did help us achieve /appreciate so much! Things we achieved in 2020;
- Potty training ( see blog)
- sleep training (see blog)
- Dorothea seemed to develop emotionally in a massive way- so much parental involvement surely cannot be a bad thing
- A huge improvement in our marital relationship/ reduction of arguments etc. ( IMO. impossible not to when you spend 24/7 together for 4 months- theres either a homocide- or you get on! – insert laughing emoji)
Things that didn’t happen in 2020:
- i purchased so much paint; thinking id have time to improve the house! didn’t happen- just seems impossible with a toddler constantly attached to your leg
- we thought we’d save money! Actually relying on the safer option of ‘home deliveries’- means you spend more- after all Aldi don’t do home delivery
- Time to get fit/healthy- erm, well- cant really explain this one. After fits and starts of activity i’ve gained huge amounts of weight/fat- alcohol has unfortunately helped me de-stress and gain rest/sleep (this is not ideal- and something i aim to change)
- We thought Dorothea would now be settled in pre-school; the fact that i have extended ‘shielding’ means it would make no sense to send Dot to pre-school (ie. increasing risks to her numerous contacts)
So it’s October 5th- shielding has been paused (extended due to me working in Leicester) and I have 2 weeks annual leave and then I return to work.
We’ll need to get Dot into some sort of routine; workout if and when we’ll get her back in pre-school- and what I want to do long term regarding my job role with COVID hanging over our heads.