July 30, 2020

COVID-19 story featuring Kate

Good thing it was my shift that night.

I’m sweaty and grumpy. In full PPE (gown, mask, face shield, gloves) for the past five hours. Every time I exhale, my glasses and face shield fog up. I just taste stale air from breathing in and out through my mask.

I get a call. The getting a call is usual, as the shelter gets calls all the time for new admissions for people experiencing homelessness who are positive for COVID-19 and need a safe place to recover. But the content of the call was unusual. A new mom and her two-week-old baby with COVID-19 are on their way to the shelter. We’ve not had children come yet, let alone an infant. We mostly have men, and most of them have been on the streets or in the shelter system for a long time.

What am I going to do with a baby? My NFP (Nurse Family Partnership, a home visiting program for new parents and babies) training kicks in, and I start going through a checklist of what we’ll need and how to get it: a pack-n-play for sure, probably some clothes and blankets, is she breastfeeding? Better have some formula in case. Haul a cot to a room that is set aside from the men’s area. Oh god, she just had a baby two weeks ago; how can I make this more comfortable for her? She’ll need towels, toiletries, and let me get some snacks together too … chocolate, she’ll need lots of chocolate. I think we’re ready, or as ready as we can be in these circumstances. Man, I’m hot and sweaty now, these plastic gowns are SO hot!

I greet her and the baby at the taxi, help carry the car seat and diaper bag and get them settled in their room. Then I listen to their story: a C-section, discharge home, fight with the baby’s father, leave to go stay with an aunt, the baby is running a 105 degree fever, take her to the ER. She has COVID-19, how did she get it? Stay at the hospital for three days, aunt won’t take them back when it’s time to leave, can’t go back to the father of the baby, either.

So now she’s here, and I just want to gather her in my arms, but I can’t because of this virus. Instead, I listen and reflect. Praise her grace and strength. Tell her she’s a good mama for taking care of her baby and doing what she needed to do, despite really challenging circumstances.

Acquired from StoryCenter

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