A Plea From A Mom Who Has Lost A Child: Please Stay Home

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
mom holding baby's hands
Aditya Romansa/Unsplash

Trigger warning: child loss

There’s a quote circulating around the internet right now that goes like this: “Have you ever seen your child intubated? I have. Trust me, you want to stay home.”

To someone who hasn’t been there, those words might seem terribly harsh, unnecessary, or even cold. And to be honest, they are. I mean, that is the last thing parents want to picture during this time filled with so much horror. But because we are living in this unprecedented season — because there is so much death and sickness in our world right now — these are the things parents need to think about.

Bottom line: If you are refusing to social distance yourself, you are risking the lives of everyone around you.

I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to lose someone I love to the coronavirus, because I don’t — but I do know what it’s like to lose someone I love more than life itself.

Years before this COVID-19 madness even started to surface, my four-month-old daughter didn’t wake up on a Sunday morning. When I found her, she was gray in the face, limp in the body, and before first responders even began to arrive at our home, her hands were growing cold. Between whispered tones of the EMS workers and all of the chaos going on, I remember hearing, “I need a smaller one.” A few seconds would pass by, and again, “I need a smaller one.”

They were talking about the different sizes of intubation trays, the very ones which were left sprawled out across my hardwood floor. They tried intubating her for almost ten minutes before putting her into the ambulance and sending her off to the cold trauma room of an ER. Looking back, I know that they knew, much like I did, that she was already gone. Still, they fought for her life so they would be able to tell my husband and me with a clear conscience, “We did everything that we could.”

Courtesy of Caila Smith

I will live the rest of my life, thousands of lifetimes longer than my daughter ever did, without ever fully healing from her death. I’ve learned how to cope, yes, but this is a cross I will always carry. And make no mistake, it is so unbearably heavy.

I’d give up so many of the things I live for and love just to spare another parent from becoming a part of this crappy child loss club. And right now, perhaps more than ever before, I can’t help but think of how many mothers and fathers are putting their families at risk of living the trauma my family lived through.

Although it was once thought that children weren’t as susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, experts have learned that isn’t the case anymore. According to a recent study, children are just as likely to become infected with the coronavirus as adults, but their symptoms tend to be mild. Even so, COVID-19 poses a particular risk to young children, especially infants.

There are countless children living with compromised immune systems. There are parents doing everything in their power to protect them, only allowing them to go out in public for the absolute essentials (something so many of us could learn a thing or two from). Meanwhile, there are other mothers and fathers still planning playdates with friends’ kids. Parents who are exhausted from fighting with their children all damn day about staying inside, only to throw their hands up at the end of the night and say “go play” with the entire neighborhood outside.

Throughout it all, I can’t help but ask myself, Don’t they know what is going on? Are we living on the same planet? Yes, I’m judging them, and I’m doing it hardcore. Because how self-centered can someone be? Though a healthy child may contract the coronavirus and make a full recovery, why can’t parents realize that not everyone’s child will be so lucky?

I don’t care how cooped up and alone your child feels during the COVID-19 pandemic — you can take them for a walk or utilize Zoom as a way to interact with their peers. I don’t care how tired you are from fighting with your kids about staying inside — you are their parent, and what you say goes. I don’t care if your child “appears” to be healthy when we know that they can be asymptomatic carriers of this disease. Honestly, there isn’t an excuse out there that would be good enough to justify this behavior when people — children — are dying from a virus we know so little about.

Don’t these folks recognize that they are the problem?

Just this past week, an infant and a 17-year-old boy died after becoming infected with COVID-19. There are people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s who are losing the COVID-19 battle every single day, and if staying home to protect their lives isn’t enough, think about the loved ones they will leave behind to forever mourn their loss. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters by the thousands will come out of this pandemic with a life that will never again be whole.

What’s more, the newly bereaved will not receive the closure of their family member having a proper funeral. Instead, they will be left to grieve alone in self-isolation because they were exposed. They don’t get hugs of condolence. They won’t have the support we all need in the early days of grief beyond a glass window or screen on their phone.

So you’re not worried about COVID-19? Good for you. Stay home anyway.

Because there are countless people in this world who are worried about — and at risk of — losing the ones they love.

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