Days Two of Ten Self Quarantine: From Depths of Despair to Such Gratitude and Joy!
Days Two to Ten Self Quarantine! Who would have thought the first week would fly by so fast? Well, it didn’t. Ha! Ha! I have always been a “the cup is half full” person, yet I am analytical and anxious, as well. I never have a problem keeping myself busy as I always have a long list of things to do – so I just never get bored. Never have. Can’t imagine it. And, oddly, I even enjoy my own company quite a bit. Thinking, especially deeper thinking and writing while I think has always been enlightening for me, and even liberating at times. (Read about Day One, my travel day, here.)
Well, I certainly have time for ALL of these things now, but this post will be published the day I actually leave the hotel and go to my daughter’s family. You will be reading and I will be loving up that family and their 3 littles – seeing my grandchildren for the first time in six months! Never before has my time away been longer than 3.5 months, and that was only once. I will be meeting baby Abigail for the first time. I will be so full of joy (and wishing Deda Vanja and Aunty RaeRae and GG could be with me, too).
Day Two of Ten Self Quarantine: Saturday
I did not sleep all night long. Likely due to the intense anxiety of travel day. I tried. Lights were out. TV was off. I tossed. I turned. I imagined. I drank water. I changed sides. I checked the clock – about every 30 minutes, and then I just gave in to the fact that I was completely exhausted and not capable of relaxing. Then I went to sleep from 7 to about 8. Even that little bit felt refreshing.
I called to have the TV in the room fixed the night prior as it didn’t work and was told it would be taken care of by the service provider today. I called, and they worked on it from 9 to noon, but got it fixed. I do like these hotels for this purpose – business and such – but the TV service always needs fixing. Usually, I don’t bother with it as I am just there 1-3 nights, but this time, I needed to get it done. Now, it is done.
Spoke to Lauren. She chatted for a bit about the possibility of me getting a COVID test and I freaked out. It took every ounce of my intelligence (which was waning) to not focus on the possibility that I may have been infected yesterday. I was so strong in my response that we cannot talk about this: “if I get it we’ll all know, but I have to keep my mind completely off that possibility!” …before I understood her purpose of this suggestion was to think about the possibility of me not having to self isolate so long. “If you get tested in a few days and don’t have it, you might be able to leave sooner.” So sweet of her, but my research told me that Day 2 and Day 5 were the critical dates of the likelihood of the symptoms rearing their head if I had the virus – but, it could also happen Day 14. ARG! Thus, the 14-day quarantine. Anyway, we all agreed to not discuss this again, but I can promise you that it was haunting the hallows of my mind more often than I like to admit for these first few days.
I was definitely not hungry. I had a cooking class to host and meetings on my calendar, so I rose and readied. The day passed rather quickly from the first meeting at 9 to the last one ending at 4. Time for a bite to eat! I made the Mac and Cheese I bought at the Marriott Kiosk on my way back from moving the car last night. Not too tasty. I had more cheese to add? Onions had been recalled due to Salmonella. No. Salsa! That’s what it needed. A little zip or sparkle of texture and bright flavour. Yup! That worked! For a minute. Just not that tasty. Arg! Ha! Ha! But, I really wasn’t very hungry anyway.
William called me on Facetime. That was a highlight – and then his Grandma Nan arrived to stay with them just in case the baby came early. He had just drawn a picture of himself with 5 blue balloons and put clothes on his stick figure on his own for the first time. That was a special moment. He can make a lego structure with 1500 pieces on his own with ages 9-12 on the side of the box using the instruction manual without assistance, for the most part, but drawing had not been his forte, until just recently.
I was so proud of him!
After that, I just made some phone calls to mom and Ragan and Vanja and then turned on the TV about 8 pm and made a bag of Kirkland microwave popcorn I’d packed with me and fell asleep fairly early!
Day Three of Ten Self Quarantine: Sunday
This is how memorable Sunday was. I finished the mac and cheese. Not all of it. Threw the rest out. I took my medicine. It was a very, very long day. No Facetime this day as it was Sunday, Nan was there, and so family must have been busy. I don’t like to bother them. I believe there was an answer to my text when I asked how everyone was. I spoke to Vanja and Ragan. I was too tired to read and too full of energy to relax. It took me a while to figure out how to adjust the air conditioning as I had been literally freezing for two days.
Day Four of Ten Self Quarantine: Monday
William called at 8 am to say “Hi Gramsy!” and we had a good long chat about so many important things in life. He was playing in the basement for a minute then came upstairs to the living room and sat on the couch beside Zoe, Grandma Nan’s dog. He propped up beside her and rested his arm on her back, cuddling up to her and said to me, “Hey, Grams, I’m just relaxing here beside Zoe for awhile.” So, we had a conversation about the pets I’d owned in my life, and about how much comfort and love I got from them. I told him how I told my puppies all my troubles and how they comforted me. He grinned. Then I told him about one of my dad’s company summer picnic we went to when we were little with my mom, my sister and some friends that dad worked with. Dad came after work. I told him how we arrived just after the candy scramble. (Then I explained what a candy scramble was). I was so sad as I missed the candy scramble. I had hunted and hunted and hunted and no leftover candy for me! William recalled something similar happened to him one Easter. His little eyes grew as he shared his sad memory and understanding with Gramsy.
I went on. When dad arrived at the picnic, he heard about us missing the candy scramble so he called me over and whispered that he had a surprise for me in the back seat of his car. “It’s a box of Candy,” he said. I was so excited. I could not believe it. My dad would never give me a box of candy, but he told me he had one for me now! William’s eyes grew so big. My dad said I could take my best friend, Sheila, with me to the car, and he gave me the car keys! I was never allowed to have the car keys. This was a very important moment for me.
We both ran to the area of the large grassy field where the cars were parked and found our car. We peeked into the window and saw a very big box in the back seat of the car! we were so excited. I very carefully unlocked the car and because I hadn’t done it before, it took me a few minutes! Then we unlocked the back door of the car from the inside, and unfolded the lid of the large cardboard box to see the candy! Inside of the box, cuddled on a soft red and black plaid wool blanket, lay a tiny little 6-week old puppy that barely fit in the palm of my hand. SO much better than real Candy!
Of course, we called our tiny little puppy Candy. William was grinning from ear to ear. “Can you tell me another story, Gramsy?”
So, I read him the one and the only book I had packed with me. My favourite fairytale from my childhood. I recall feeling such deep empathy when mom read me this story as a child so I had to buy it for them. I could identify with the Ugly Duckling as a little girl and the story made a big impression upon me. He was very focused and his face expressed compassion throughout. I read the last line, he was pensive for about 30 seconds and then said, “Thanks Gramsy. I have to go now.” and off he went.
Those moments are the best part of each of my days.
The remainder of the day was great, as I had meetings booked from 11 in the morning to 8 in the evening. However, Thermomix had a huge promotion starting at 1 pm MDT and the eShop crashed. So much chaos. Then, it was up and the promotion sold out in an hour and a half, before 4 pm MDT. No one would have ever predicted that. So many customers didn’t get to purchase so a good part of the day was upside down responding to customers and consultants, but we did our best, so by 8 pm, when I looked up and realized I was hungry, it was time for a tuna salad.
It was delicious, but I wasn’t hungry. I ate half and then had a popsicle. Little highlights during Days Two to Ten Self Quarantine!
Day Five of Ten Self-Quarantine: Tuesday
Tuesday started with a brief 5-minute good morning call from William, and then he was off! I am always touched by him remembering I am here and wanting to reach out first thing to see how I am and to touch base!
I had booked in a lovely visit with a lifetime friend, Janice Beaton, who recently turned 65. We hadn’t seen one another for a year. Our parents were best friends, and it was just a lovely chat.
I continued with appointments, though not back to back, as usual – through the day ending at 7 pm. In between, I also managed to have a lovely chat with Super Su. Another friend who I never get to catch up with and there’s never enough time to chat… and it just so happened in one of my unbooked hours that we were able to connect. That kind of conversation, like the one earlier with Janice, is so edifying during self-isolation.
I finished the tuna salad in the early afternoon and popped a bag of microwave popcorn at 7. Tried to find something to watch on TV and was very tired.
Lauren then called and told me she was having pains. We had a visit Saturday morning but this was our next nice visit since I had arrived so we had a lovely chat after the kids went to bed. She showed me some of the clothes for her baby. She was worried the baby was going to come early and growing concerned about how she felt and her sporadic pains. I was concerned. I didn’t want to be here when the baby was born.
Day Six of Ten Self Quarantine: Welcome Abigail!
I was concerned about the pain Lauren was experiencing the evening prior, and sure enough, Lauren said she was definitely queazy today.
I only had two appointments and one cooking class booked with the whole morning completely free. By now I was down to a daily routine in Days Two to Ten Self Quarantine:
- get up,
- shower or clean up,
- do my hair and makeup,
- get dressed,
- make the bed,
- tidy everywhere and
- wash the dishes from the day before. I had a dishwasher, but there were so few dishes!
The Good Morning Facetime call from William at 7:30 was so welcome! “Hi, Gramsy! It’s my 5 1/2 Birthday today!” He was so excited. What plans do you have? I asked. “I don’t know but it will be a fun day. I am going to find a birthday show on TV now and have a birthday breakfast!” Daddy came down and helped him find his TV show and then he was off to have his breakfast on his happy half birthday. A short call, but always so positive and energetic. I just love that boy!
This day I called to have room service pick up my garbage and replenish some items for me. I had asked for no room service during my Days Two to Ten Self Quarantine so I was excited to have the garbage emptied, new tissues and such to be set aside for a couple of days, then sanitized and used. (Our usual process at home.)
I also looked forward every day to usually two really nice cups of Nespresso in the morning. So happy that we brought our extra machine to Palm Desert last year and had Lauren take it home with them for my stays. It is such a lovely little treat every morning.
I worked on my writing and my blog posts on this day. Very productive. Then, I hosted Cooking with Valza with Elza making a traditional Portuguese Creamy Cod recipe. Definitely on my list to try when I get home!
Just after the class, around dinner time, Lauren said she was getting fairly regular contractions. No pain, but regular. I knew that meant baby would likely come soon. I was full of mixed emotions. And hungry.
I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. I ate some popsicles too.
By 8 pm they were on their way to the hospital.
I was crying. Such turmoil inside of me. So helpless. Was I selfish? Was I worried? I was certainly very, very sad that I was stuck in here when I was supposed to be helping Nan with the kids when L and AA went to the hospital to have the baby. I had looked SO forward to being alone with Nan and the kids while the baby was being born I had such plans! I hadn’t realized how important this time was until I wasn’t going to have it.
When William and Eleanor were born, I had arrived just in time to hold each little one immediately after birth, and being there at such important moments in Lauren’s life is just so important to me. I know during COVID that this is not possible, but being as close as I could be, as helpful as I could be, and a part of the memory of this family moment is so important to me. And now, I will not be there. I will not have that memory, or share that memory, or be a part of their shared memory.
And I realized the stress of isolation had me imagine silly things. I mean, if you have read this far, you are to be commended as this “diary” is so exceedingly boring. You can only imagine what living through these days in a hotel room alone must be like and the games that can play out in one’s head. What if Lauren was not OK? What if something happened to her? What if something happened to the baby? What if something happens to E or W? Oh, my! I am not this kind of a worrier as a rule, but isolation can play tricks with your mind when faced with such unexpected circumstances. I was crying all night. I am crying now remembering the feeling. I am right here. I am minutes away, but I may as well be on another plant.
L and AA started a 3-way chat with Nan and me and the two of them en route. They arrived. They were admitted. They are having a C-section soon. Their doctor is on his way. It will be before midnight. I was praying. Crying. Praying. Crying. And then they went in at 10:35. I knew she should be born about 11. But, no word. OK. Maybe they are taking longer to get her ready. 11:15. No word. OK. I texted our family and said: “11:27 will be my guess”. Ragan said she believed the baby was born already.
11:40 AA texted with photos, “She is here! She is healthy, all is well.” And more crying and gratitude from Gramsy. She was 36 weeks and our little gal had water on her lungs and needed to go to NICU immediately to get the lungs cleared. No holding or touching or even a close peek by mom or dad. She has whisked away immediately. Of course, I then did what I always do. Research. Research. Read. Read. Read. She should be fine. This was fairly routine for a 36-week baby born via C-section.
They are back in their room. Lauren called and it was so lovely to hear her voice and see she was fine. I was filled with gratitude as she spoke. “I want to see my baby!” But they had to wait 4-6 hours til her lungs cleared.
AA kept Nan and I informed regularly, but we all went to sleep about 1:30. Sort of. At 4 I woke up and madly reached for my phone. She was in the room. Her lungs were cleared and Lauren had her skin-to-skin time with more photos. More gratitude, more texting and then an attempt to get some rest.
The baby was born and there was still no baby name. A list. A few lists. William had decided (strongly) that her name should be Abigail, and because she was born on his 5 and 1/2 birthday they decided he could name her! I was so pleased for him. What an honour and what meaning this will have all their lives.
We were all up all night, but little Abigail Marie was healthy and thriving. We were all so grateful.
Day Seven of Ten Self-Quarantine: Thursday
Thursday I stayed in bed all day. William called first thing in the morning, briefly, after mommy and daddy had told him and Eleanor about his new baby sister. I spoke to him about this honour bestowed upon him to name his baby sister. He didn’t understand honour, but we talked about it. He wasn’t connecting the dots or really relating to the reality that his sister was born. He ran to play.
This was the first day that I didn’t rise, get dressed, or have coffee. But did I eat! So, so tired, and so, so hungry. All this day I ate. Of course, I didn’t have much variety, but I managed to have more food on this day than any other.
I started with a bagel with cream cheese very early as I hadn’t eaten much the day prior and woke famished. It was an odd day.
I did get another longer Facetime with William around 2:45 in the afternoon and read him The Ugly Duckling again, well, most of it. He was distracted at the end when he and Eleanor had a little tussle. She wanted to play with his lego and he was listening to my story and playing a bit with his lego. I think she just missed her mommy and daddy and needed a little attention from big brother. He was loving and kind to her a moment before, but when she whomped him playfully in the back with her feet and accidentally dumped over all of his lego, he had a momentary meltdown. Of course, Nan lept to the rescue and worked to resolve the issues between the littles. Cyber Gramsy also chimed in and tried to support Nan and provide encouragement to William. After a brief time out with him on the stairs and a reprieve in his bedroom with his “other lego”, he brought his chicken walker and starship down for a little play at the bottom of the stairs on the main floor. By then, Eleanor was back to watching TV and had forgotten her interest in his lego.
He decided to go downstairs to have “some privacy” and watch TV for a bit. He asked Nan to come with him as he was afraid to go alone. “Gramsy is with you, William. She’ll make sure you are safe.” He wasn’t so sure of Gramsy’s superpowers inside of the iPad, but he went downstairs talking to me the whole while. “Ok, we’re going downstairs. It’s dark in here, Gramsy! Hey! I turned on the light!” He yelled up to Nan. He felt safe with the light on, and turned on the TV and propped me up beside him and said, “I’ll put you here, Gramsy, so you can see everything. Is that good?” He always considered my vantage point. It was like I was his little personal doll tucked under his arm in the form of the iPad. He grinned at me.
Just then, I heard, “I’m coming, too, William! I’m coming to play with you!” and down the stair came Eleanor. He was just in the process of building himself a little fort. One of his favourite pastimes and places to be when watching TV. Pillows propped around him on all sides and blanket on top for warmth and security. William, will you build me a fort, too? “You can do it yourself, Eleanor!” he answered as he was just about to get cozy. “Eleanor, William will help you!” Gramsy chimed. William, Eleanor will help you, too. Eleanor, help William, OK?” She was so eager! “Okay, William. I will help you!” I could not see anything, but I could hear her passing him pillows and saying, “Here you go, William and here you go, William!” and he was up assisting and answering, “Thank you, Eleanor, thank you, Eleanor! We just need one more, there you go, now lay down here!” Did you forget her blanket, William? Gramsy asked. “Oh, Gramsy! Silly me! Here you go, Eleanor!” And she loved him up, “You’re the best brother ever, William.” and he took the iPad and showed me Eleanor cuddled into her little fort space they’d built together. She looked up and said, “Hi Gramsy! My back is getting better!” That is her line to me when I get to see her and she speaks to me. I treasure her little hellos. They then decided upon a channel they both agreed upon, and he propped me up to watch with them. What a moment.
We never finished the story but what a lovely afternoon I had. “William, will you get me a snack, please?” “Sure I will sister!’ and he popped up and went into the little storage room. I didn’t see what he got, but a big container of something and he told her they would have to share. She said, “No problem!” and so they munched and watched TV. It was about 5:15 by now. Of course, Nan had been back and forth and nearby the whole while, likely more exhausted than me as she had to be up so early with these kiddos, but it was so wonderful for me to have this time. Nothing much was said more about their new baby sister as it seemed difficult for them to grasp the reality of it, yet it provided a foundation of meaning for my day. Daddy was going to come home in a while to put them to bed, and they were excited about that. Then the iPad went dead.
I don’t recall the order of these foods, but know that throughout the day I ate the bagel with cream cheese, a peanut butter sandwich, a bag of microwave popcorn, tore into the ziplock bag of gummy bears I brought for the kids and had a couple of popsicles. Bad Gramsy.
Vanja called on his way home from work later in the evening and I was too tired to talk. Lauren called 10 minutes later while AA was home helping Nan put the kiddos to bed and I forced myself to sit up to talk and we had a lovely chat about everything that had happened so far which was so satisfying.
Finally, I was able to sleep.
Day Eight of Ten Self-Quarantine: Friday
I woke up famished again. What? But no. I am not giving in to this today. Coffee. Lovely. Very short Good Morning call from William. I was hosting Cooking with Gramsy with Mom and Ragan making a Fresh Tomato Tart but worked on my writing and blog posts until then.
Had a can of smoked mussels for lunch just before the 1 pm class and had a couple of appointments immediately after. Was quite tired in the late afternoon, and so gave in to the urge (which I usually resist) to have a little nap.
Made scrambled eggs with cheese for supper which was a first. Two meals in one day. Usually, I just had a bite or two. Maybe a mini-sausage with cheese (the Costco packs) and my one meal each day with a popsicle. But, today, I was hungry and had the mussels and then the eggs with cheese. I forced myself to continue my writing throughout the evening until my post about my travel day was complete and would be posted on my site newsletter in the morning.
Also, a lovely visit with Lauren while Aaron went home to help Nan with the littles at bedtime. They called Ragan and told her that baby Abigail’s middle name would be Marie, after Aunty Ragan. What an honour. I was so happy for her when they told me, earlier. She cried. I cried. Such joy. William’s middle name in honour of his Great Grandfather. Eleanor’s middle name is in honour of her Great Grandmother. Abigail’s is in honour of her Aunty Ragan: the only aunty without children. Such kindness and love.
Felt a small sense of accomplishment after finishing my work and then went to sleep.
Days Nine of Ten Self Quarantine: Saturday
Look at that beautiful mama with her beautiful baby girl. Oh, my! Proud papa is taking the photo. The three of them had a couple of days of long overdue and needed alone time in the Hospital Maternity “hotel”. There has been nothing but stress in this household since Little Eleanor’s back issues and the joy of this new birth coupled with some alone time for mama and papa (albeit very little sleep) was certainly a gift for the two and three of them, I am sure.
I had not been out of this room for over a week now. No fresh air. Nothing. It was getting to me. Really. I had to really work to control my emotions. I had a cooking class to host at 11. William called at 7:30 or 8:00 and rescued me from myself and we had a nice long time together reading the Ugly Duckling again (Eleanor peering over his shoulder now and then as she just was not into Facetime with Gramsy these days.)
We had a lovely visit until about 10 when the iPad went dead or he had to go. I don’t recall, but I had to get ready for my class.
Lauren had mentioned the night before that they may be coming home today. I was emotional all over again as I would not be there. Every one of these little rites of passage with baby Abigail I wanted to be there for, as Gramsy. That’s what Gramsy’s are supposed to do. I was so happy for Lauren to be in her own bed, for AA to get some rest and for the kiddos to see their baby sister, yet deeply sad that I would not be a part of that moment, There will never be another like it and though I am “here’ I am not “there”. My emotional state (cabin fever?) and this monumental moment found me to be quite emotionally fragile around noon after the cooking class had ended and the long empty day lay ahead.
What a precious moment. Mama, Dada and baby Abigail smiling for the camera! Hahaha! These two parents deserve the joy they are experiencing and Abigail is so blessed to be born into this family.
William called at 1. “Gramsy! Mommy wants me to wear these ugly clothes for when baby sister comes home and I don’t want to wear them!” He showed me a lovely little summer short outfit with a comfy T-shirt and a dress for Eleanor with matching colours. Of course, we had a discussion about why he didn’t want to wear them. About how he was feeling. About how he would feel if he actually put them on. About why it was important to Mommy and the pictures and videos they would take meeting the baby that would be Abigail’s keepsakes forever. He wasn’t as defiant when the call ended, but said, “Ok, Gramsy. I have to go now.” I wasn’t sure if that was because he’d had enough of me trying to convince him to wear those clothes.
Oh, my heart. Did you ever see such joy? And this is just the beginning. The tender touches and loving cooes and excitement every morning and throughout the day as William and Eleanor begin to understand the magnitude of the love that opens one’s heart when a new sibling is born. It is a miracle.
I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. Nan had said she expected them around 2-2:30. At 3:10 I texted Lauren, “When are you heading home?” And she texted back, “Almost there.” I burst into tears. About 4:45 a flood of images and videos came in through iMessage. I watched these tender magical moments through a blur of tears. I was delighted, excited and heart-broken all at once. I knew better, but I simply felt like a puddle of a child blathering away as I was right here, only minutes away, yet missing such monumental moments. I wasn’t there, not even on the iPad tucked under William’s arm. I was euphoric and in despair all at once.
I was able to speak to Lauren much later in the evening on this day, around 7 pm after nursing, showering and settling. It brought me peace and I was thankful for that.
Day Ten of Ten Self Quarantine: Sunday
The next morning, William called me bright and early! “Gramsy! Baby sister is here! You have to see her! She is very, very, very… 15 very’s… afraid of….” and he had bopped up the stairs and opened his mom’s bedroom door. Daddy greeted him and told him he couldn’t come in, baby was nursing. Awwww. Tears and plopped onto the floor of his bedroom. What is she very afraid of, William? “Oh, I wanted you to see her so badly, but Daddy said no! Gramsy, you won’t believe it. She is So so so afraid of getting her diaper changed. She cries and cries so loud and it is so so sad!” Oh my. My beloved William. We had a lovely little visit about other things. Eleanor popped in to say, Hi. I love those moments.
Then, down for breakfast. He was hungry. We had the most lovely discussion about names. I asked him if he knew Abigail’s middle name. Eyes grew big. NO! I could tell he was surprised about that. I told him she was named Marie after Auntie RaeRae (Ragan Marie) in honour of her. He nodded and said, “Ohhhh!” Then I explained again, what an honour that was for her and how both she and I had cried when mommy and daddy told her. Then I asked if he remembered who he was named after. “Tell me.” He said. Grandma Nan was just entering the kitchen and said, “William, you know who you are named after?” So then I said, “Do you remember who Dugan is?” He was pensive. “It is Grandma Nan’s father, your daddy’s grandfather and your great grandfather. That’s who you are named after. “Oh! Yes! I remember!” Big proud smile.
Do you know who Eleanor is named after? “Tell me.” Well, GIGI’s middle name is Rose and Eleanor was named Eleanor Rose after her Great Grandmother like you were named William Dugan after your great-grandfather. His eyes grew big “OHHH!” And now, Abigail is named after Aunty RaeRae. He nodded. Bopped off his chair, and was gone.
Lauren sent this video to our Family Chat later in the day. What a blast. William is now the protector and taking his role very seriously. We all laughed until it hurt.
I brought a preserved lemon with me as I LOVE the cream cheese preserved lemon dip here. So I made it by hand, mincing the lemon, a half batch, without a blender, with 2 big garlic cloves emulsified in salt, instead of green onion. To. Die. For. Yup. Happy I brought that with me. Nothing else I ate in these two weeks was to die for.
Lovely chat with Lauren after lunch with the baby. Really sweet visit. Made my day and though my Sunday’s here are long, I manage to keep busy so when the family called for our ZOOM Sunday Supper, I didn’t realize it was so late.
We had a lovely visit for 1/2 hour and then my evening was free to relax, watch TV (but really nothing of worth to watch) read the internet news, play CandyCrush (did I just admit that?) and dream of next Saturday!!!!
Yup, only 6 more sleeps.