Winter isolation is the worst. Us preemie parents generally just dread the long, slow and lonely days that are essential to protecting our babies whose fragile lungs and systems simply cannot handle the germs and viruses that are EVERYWHERE from October to April.
Our first winter was fine. Most of it was spent in the NICU. Heath and I did take precautions to reduce our personal exposure, but generally we were too busy to be in places where we would be exposed anyway. Virginia came home in February and we hibernated until May. It was perfect actually and just what we needed. Long days of snuggling my baby in the peace and privacy of my own home was simply perfect. I had no desire to go anywhere anyway.
Our second winter was a whole different story. We had an active baby. We had met local friends. We had to take a leave of absence from our weekly playgroup. We were generally miserable. I longed for the days where I wouldn't have to worry so much. I was desperately jealous of my friends who were able to bring their baby to the grocery store or out to a family dinner. I didn't even let myself think about the fun we were missing out on by not being able to go to a music class or a swim lesson series. Virginia didn't notice any of this, but it was quite hard on us.
For those of you in the thick of it, I'm sorry. It just plain stinks. Feel free to throw yourselves a pity party with lots of confetti and w(h)ine. It is well deserved. But also don't wish this time away.
This year we have had very few restrictions. I still sanitize like crazy in public places and avoid certain childrens play areas, but generally we have been carrying on like any other family with a young toddler. Restaurants, church, museums, stores, and playdates... ohh my! Its been really great, but also really busy.
Our new found winter freedom also meant that we could travel for the holidays. We embarked on an 11 day holiday roadtrip that spanned half of the east coast. We saw family& friends, went to the movies, went shopping, went on a date, went to 5 holiday celebrations and Virginia was spoiled with countless amounts of generous gifts. On the downside we all got sick, had one urgent care visit (not for V thank goodness), listened to some endless whining in the car (from all of us), and spent the car rides passing a circuit of toys back to V that could make up a small aisle in toys r us. We came home completely exhausted. Happy, thankful, and grateful but completely exhausted.
The truth is that there are moments where I wish for isolation. I long for the simplicity of our little family and our quiet days. I don't mean that I wish to relive it and certainly don't want to downplay the seriousness why we all impose the restrictions, but now that we are on the other side I can see the silver linings of those long, cold and lonely months. There are moments where I miss the simplicity of isolation simply because I wouldn't be in challenging parenting scenarios like I was in at Target tonight where Virginia repeatedly stood up in the front seat of the cart screaming and doing her best Titanic impersonation. Mostly though I am thankful for those long, slow days with few distractions. In those days we read book after book after book, we snuggled longer and I was far more patient. I don't need isolation to be able to do those things but I am thankful that isolation taught me to do those things. I just need to slow down and do them now.
Virginia playing with her cousins... something that was sadly off limits last winter.