Encouragement & Endurance in a Time of Social Distance: Lessons Learned from a Life of Quarantine before COVID-19

Hi friends, my name is Chelsea. It’s been a while since I’ve written something here, so I will give a quick background. I have been (mostly 😉 ) happily married to Scott for almost 10 years and a mom to three awesome kids, Davy (5), Noah (2.5) and Corrie (1). I went to THE University of Texas (Hook ‘Em), graduated from the business school and worked for a number of nonprofits before settling into stay at home motherhood and life with a critically ill child. 

I’ll share a little of our story below, but with all that’s going on, I wanted to write something that I hope can serve as an encouragement to others. 

A few people know our story, but isolation/quarantine was something I never imagined being a part of my life much less become my only way of life for an indefinite period of time. I will try to summarize a very long and arduous experience in a few sentences, but you can find a video of Davy’s story below.

Our Journey Into Quarantine

Our firstborn, Davy, was born with a diaphragmatic hernia. At birth, Davy was immediately intubated and would be until she was three months of age. She would be in the NICU until she came home at 4.5 months of age. At discharge, we were given grave instructions, some of which included:

  • Davy was to stay home outside of doctor appointments (no grocery stores, no Target runs, no errands of any sort, and definitely no play dates) 
  • hands washed frequently throughout the day
  • change of clothes upon coming home from really anywhere (ie. work for Scott) before touching Davy
  • disinfect anything we thought may have come in contact with anything outside that could come in contact with Davy
  • if any visitors only a few at a time with zero sign of illness or allergies

Sound familiar? Their reasoning? If Davy caught anything, and I truly mean anything, she would be right back into the hospital when we had just fought 4.5 months to get her home.

At first, the cost of adopting these “rules” as our way of life didn’t cross our minds because we were relieved our girl was home. She was worth it. Her being home was worth it. Hands down. I would have done anything for that. But as time went on the reality of it all started to sink in.

A New Normal

This new way of life meant I didn’t see friends as freely as I used to. I couldn’t join in on all the “first time mom” stuff. I couldn’t be a part of the church community as I knew it. I couldn’t join Scott in the ministry God had him leading at the time. I couldn’t partake in social events, go out with Scott, get to the gym. Again, you get the idea. I was isolated, quarantined, with no clear pathway of knowing when or how it would end.

It’s definitely worth mentioning here we had an amazing group of friends and church community around us. They didn’t let us drown but were by far the rope to our lifesaver. They entered into our life in all the ways they could, were creative, generous (financially and with their lives), patient and more than words can do justice. I don’t in any way want to minimize all they did. My hope is to paint more of a picture of the drastic change that came to our life in the day to day.

This is what I hope to speak from, an experience in quarantine, that caught me off guard. I didn’t know how to “thrive” or maintain good spiritual, emotion or physical health but I see how the Lord provided and what we learned along the way. However, I want to offer some thoughts on how to endure this season in a sustainable way.

Lessons Learned & Wisdom Gained

Ask yourself what you need to be as healthy of a parent, friend, spouse, daughter, son, roommate, co-worker, citizen you can be at this time?There is no ideal right now but what do you need to maintain stability, or as close as you can get to it? For me it’s 7ish hours of sleep a night and making healthy food choices. I need to read the bible regularly (and learning I need more quiet/head space for prayer before my kids are up). Working out is a good outlet for me, along with a cold brew coffee in the afternoon (thank you Chameleon coffee concentrate!) and getting outside as much as we can. 

What is it for you? If you haven’t already, set aside time to answer this question this week. For my internal processors, schedule 15 minutes in your week to journal/think through this. For my external processors, ask a friend, spouse, parent, sibling to talk about what these things are for you.

*If you need help answering this question, I’ve listed some examples below to get your wheels turning. 

Then, make a plan. How can you include 1-2 things from that list over the next three days? If you need to, ask a friend to help you do this. It’s ok if we need that support. If you are in a shared role of care giving (children, grandparent, loved one), support one another. Ask for help to incorporate your needs, and ask how you can help meet their needs?

Once you are able to do those 1-2 things more consistently (at least for a week or two), add 1-2 others. The idea isn’t to try to setup the perfect scenario or ideal day/week under the circumstances but to try take care of yourself in a time that is stressful (to say the least), scary, unknown and when others will (or already do) need you. 

Confession: Something I fell into in the early days of Davy was to let go of my self care. I was so focused on taking care of her, enduring the day, thinking “it’s just a season” that I didn’t see how my small letting go of things lead to a very tired, emotionally exhausted, unhealthy momma, wife and human. Please hear me friends. In the immediate, your friends, spouse, neighbor, children, need you. They need you to reach out to them, feed, clothe them, pray for them, to share and show them the love of Christ. At the same time, my kids need me to be investing in self (and soul) care so I have the capacity to meet their needs, in a challenging and unchartered time.

In the near and distant future, we don’t know what our world will hold but I know what it will need. I believe it will need men and women who come out of this storm as emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy as possible so when the dust settles, and the damage is starting to be assessed, we are able to pour out for the needs of others.

Recommendations & Resources

  • Bible & prayer (I try to read on a bible reading app before the kids are up, pray through personal prayer cards or specific things for my community, church or the world)
  • sleep (a hard one for me!)
  • hydration/healthy diet (give us all the fruits, vegetables and water!)
  • social interaction with a friends that encourage me (zoom, FT or Marco Polo)
  • exercise (I use the Nike training app)
  • get outside/in the sun (yard work, water play with the kids, lots of walks)
  • treat yo’ self (Parks & Rec anyone?? Coffee stops, sweets, ordering take out, mani/pedi at home, a tv show, etc. Think of things you might allow a little more than usual considering everything and needing some personal pick me ups)
  • friend(s) to turn to in the hard (to text the honest, real hard things about the struggle)
  • rhythms for the day (schedule something to look forward to!) 
  • limited time on social media (we all know why)

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