Ashley

5 Things That Having Covid Taught Me

From the moment we went into lockdown in 2020, I’ve taken the Covid pandemic very seriously—not just for my own health, but because I care about how this virus affects other people. So when I started to feel unwell on a Saturday in December, I assumed it was the onset of a cold. A friend who was going through Covid gave me two pieces of advice: Wear a mask and distance yourself from your baby and your husband. Just in case. 

I’m glad I listened, because by the afternoon, I was coughing and feeling much worse. I took a PCR test and isolated myself from Chris and Jupiter while I waited for the results. That night, I could barely sleep. At 2 a.m., I checked my email and the lab results had come in: DETECTED. Suddenly, I was fearful—not for myself, but for my family. My husband has Type 1 diabetes, which makes him more vulnerable to serious illness. And I worried about Jupiter, because although children appear to be less affected by Covid, no mother wants her baby to be sick. All I wanted was for my husband and daughter to remain negative.

The next morning, it was jarring to wake up by myself and to know that I’d remain alone during quarantine. But instead of feeling like a victim, as I had felt in the past when I had any sickness, I felt determined to get through it. Fortunately, I did. While I wouldn’t want to go through that again, I learned a lot of lessons. I’m sharing a few things that this experience taught me, in hopes that it may help others as we continue through this pandemic.

1. A positive outlook matters

When I saw my results, I was upset—for a little while. Then I realized that I didn’t have time to dwell on bad feelings, because my energy needed to focus on getting well. I thought, “I’m going to get through this. Yes, I’m going to feel terrible at times, but what can I do to make myself feel better while I go through it?”

Instead of dwelling on what I couldn’t do during isolation, I looked for opportunities to feel good within the confines of my room. I (virtually) caught up with friends, I caught up on reading, I streamed a few movies, and I consciously chose activities that boosted my mood. I ate foods like bone broth and garlic to fuel my body’s immune system. While having Covid is definitely not fun, taking good care of myself made it way less unpleasant and lonely than it could have been.

2. Rituals are powerful

Even on a regular day, I rely on rituals to help me feel grounded. But while in quarantine, I truly learned how powerful they can be. Every morning, I’d wake up, open a window, and light a candle. I did morning meditations with my yoga teacher on Zoom. I soaked in detox baths. These small but valuable rituals helped me calm anxiety whenever it popped up, and they provided some much-needed structure to my days. 

 3. Vaccination was right for me

I don’t judge anyone’s thoughts on vaccination, but personally, I’m so happy that I chose to be vaccinated. It was definitely the right choice for me. Vaccinated people are far less likely to get seriously ill or die from Covid, so I knew my body had good defenses against the virus. That kept me from fearing the worst-case scenario. In a way, being vaccinated not only kept my body healthier, it helped me maintain my mental health by saving me from deep fear. 

4. Our choices shape our narrative

Although my case was mild, being sick and alone wasn’t easy. Far from it. By the fourth day of quarantine, being separated from Jupiter felt unbearable. Every fiber of my being wanted to hold my baby, and I’d been looking forward to celebrating her first Christmas. On December 25, I was still testing positive, so we couldn’t be in the same room. Definitely not how I’d envisioned our little family’s first Christmas together.

Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But then I reminded myself of why we were apart. Instead of feeling trapped and left out, I realized that I was choosing isolation to protect the health of my family—a decision made out of love. Reframing the situation as a choice stopped me from feeling like a victim, and it kept my husband and baby from contracting the virus.

As it turns out, this Christmas was special in its own way. My family came and sang carols outside of my window. My husband cooked me dinner, which made me feel loved. And since babies can’t read calendars, we celebrated with Jupiter when I tested negative two days later. It’s a Christmas I’ll always remember, even if it happened a little bit later.

5. Our bodies are incredible

Having Covid changed my perspective on so much, but it radically shifted how I treat myself and my body. Before, I had wanted my body to go back to what it was before pregnancy and childbirth. Like so many people, I had no shortage of critiques when I looked in the mirror. 

But alone in that room, I had a revelation: My body is perfect just the way it is. It carried a child. It gave birth to that child. On top of that, it was carrying me through a serious virus. I thought, “Look what my body does for me.” Shortly before testing negative, I stepped outside, hugged myself, and thanked my body for all it does for me. I’m done with picking it apart; I’ve got nothing but love and gratitude for it now. 

Today, I feel incredibly thankful to be fully recovered. I know that so many people haven’t been as fortunate, that others are coping with long Covid, and that our health care workers continue to give their all—so I take nothing for granted. 

Although I wouldn’t have chosen to get sick, I try to find a lesson in everything. What I’ve learned from having Covid is that we all have more inner strength than we might realize. Think about it: We are living through a pandemic! That’s really, incredibly, wildly hard. Still, you’re doing it. Day by day, hour by hour. I hope you can recognize the strength that takes—and that you have a happy and very healthy 2022. 

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 information regarding symptoms, vaccinations, travel mandates, and more visit cdc.gov.

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