Daily Connector | From Maternity Leave to Quarantine | Alyssa Graber

For me, there was no sudden onset of quarantine. I had been on maternity leave for nearly three months when DeWine announced that the schools were closing. Over those three months I had learned that I felt much better if I got out of the house at least once every day- even if it was just a trip to Target or a coffee date with another new mom. So when we began to quarantine in earnest, it wasn’t a drastic shift from being out of the house for 8+ hours a day to being home all day; instead, it was a very subtle shift of my once daily outing disappearing. Rather than suddenly losing face-to-face interactions with dozens of coworkers and students, I lost face-to-face interactions with the small network of other new mothers that I had built up in the last few months. It felt like someone hit reverse on my maternity leave, and I was returning to the very beginning of leave, where I wasn’t sure when it was appropriate to take the baby out and how to even go about leaving the house with a newborn. 

I mourned the loss of the last couple weeks of my leave. I mourned the canceled visits from my parents and Austin’s parents. I mourned that I would not be returning to the same job I had when I left- a job that I have had for 7 years and love, working with super great kiddos and an amazing team of teachers and therapists.  But I know that I am one of the lucky ones to have a job to return to, even if it’s very different than it was before. My return to work involved learning how to provide virtual music therapy services to children with autism spectrum disorders, rather than the in-person sessions we were all accustomed to. I didn’t know what to expect, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I get to interact with parents much more than I did previously, and seeing the students succeed and have these beautiful moments with their parents is life-giving and even more meaningful when so many other moments feel heavy and hopeless.

The other major life-giving factor in my life, of course, is my daughter. She should have started daycare this month, but instead she’s home with us. Once again, Austin and I are extremely fortunate that we both have jobs that allow us to work around having an infant at home, so it’s mostly been a joy to have her with us always. She just started giggling this week, so we’ve both had plenty of time to go overboard trying to elicit more laughs from her. She is a welcome distraction from the heaviness and anxiety that seeps into my days. I am looking forward to someday telling her all about this defining moment in our lives that she will have no memory of.