The title sums it up. But I want to lay this out, because I know I’m not alone here. I know there are countless other families out there in this situation––one partner trusts science and gets the vaccine to protect themselves and their kids, and the other partner refuses for….their own (selfish) reasons.
My husband and I typically align on our major belief systems, so you can imagine my surprise when he announced that he wouldn’t be getting the COVID vaccine because he didn’t trust the government and feels there’s some larger conspiracy at play. I asked him if he believed the conspiracy was orchestrated globally because the virus is literally impacting the entire world, and the available vaccine options are the same for us all. He didn’t have an answer for that, but he was very affronted by my insistence that he:
1. Explain why he was refusing the vaccine, and give me reputable scientific information to back that up.
2. Get the vaccine anyway to protect our four kids, all of whom are too young to receive the vaccine.
He couldn’t justify his reasons for opting out with reputable scientific information, and our pediatrician suggested that he get fully vaccinated as well to protect our kids. His parents also got involved in the conversation and expressed anger that he wasn’t taking the appropriate steps for not only himself, but to protect his kids and older family members. His own great-grandma died from COVID-19 complications before a vaccine was available. His mom was devastated by his selfishness, and his dad was deeply disappointed.
I was a mixture of all of these things, and trying to decide what my next steps were. Did he need to move out? Should we separate? Did I need to take the kids and stay with my parents (or his parents) and give him an ultimatum? Logistically, I needed to think things through and make a plan. I love my husband (and want to be married to him), but this was potentially a dealbreaker. My kids’ safety and wellbeing comes first, and the fact that he seemed to not share that value with me was deeply troubling.
He had to report into his office twice weekly. He was supposed to be masked and distanced, but was he? I couldn’t trust his judgement any longer.
Then, he got a “cold.” And you know the rest of the story.
I forced him to go get a test, and he had COVID-19. His symptoms continued to get steadily worse (high fever, body pain, trouble breathing) and I began to panic about our kids. He isolated, and in my absolute rage, I still had to call the pediatrician, call my doctor, get the kids tested, get myself tested, pick up his medications, and call our family. Doing all of this with four small kids, whom I didn’t want to take out of the house, but also couldn’t get childcare for given the level of exposure was a stressful nightmare to say the least.
All of our kids have since tested positive and/or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. I am currently not showing symptoms or testing positive, though I am awaiting the results of another PCR test to see if I have an asymptomatic breakthrough case. I am exhausted to the bone, but that could very well be from being the sole caretaker for a very sick husband and 4 kids, with the weight of the world on my shoulders hoping I can keep my little ones out of the hospital.
My husband has been to the ER twice, for many hours each time, and I have had to navigate that transport. For now, he’s home because the hospitals are maxed out, and we are doing daily virtual check-ins with his doctor. If there are any changes, we go back to the hospital immediately. It’s truly a touch and go situation.
Not only am I furious that he is putting us through this dangerous hellscape, I am also worried sick that he’s going to end up on a ventilator (a real possibility) or die alone. I have to push these images out of my head to care for my kids.
Kid 1, 10 years old: He seems to be handling it well, all things considered, and the COVID-19 symptoms are presenting as a bad cold. He’s having trouble sleeping because of congestion and coughing, and his body is hurting “from head to toe.”
Kid 2, 8 years old: His symptoms are respiratory, and I’m watching him like a hawk. For now, his doctors say it’s best to keep him at home, and keep a close eye on his symptoms, but we are an eagle-eye on his fever, breathing, and hydration. I sleep next to him. His coughs wrack his whole body and make his ribs feel like they are breaking. I feel so helpless and wish I could take it away.
Kid 3, 6.5 years old: Similar to Kid 1, but more intense sinus issues that prevent her from being able to sleep or hydrate appropriately. Her fever has been spiking randomly and making her lethargic, which sends me into a tailspin of worry. Again, keeping a close eye on her and in close communication with our doctors.
Kid 4, 3 years old: He is presenting with a combo of all the things we are seeing in my older kids. Cough, congestion, fever, body pain. He has been to the doctor several times after an in-person visit was warranted after our daily virtual check-ins. He struggles to communicate his feelings as well as the older kids, obviously, so we need to make sure his lungs sound okay. He’s had oxygen and IV fluids. He sleeps on the other side of me, propped up, and I just toss and turn between him and his older brother (Kid 2) every night.
We have a pulse ox, and I use it religiously, and write down the time and results each time. I measure their water intake in ounces, and watch their urine output. I literally listen to their heart and lungs. I check temperatures constantly. I am a mess of anxiety and fear.
And I am also so fucking ANGRY. My unvaccinated husband brought this virus into our house. I asked him to get the vaccine, and he refused, and he did this. I have kept my kids home from school, isolated from their friends, turned down countless playdates and invitations, and juggled working full-time with their care and schooling for over 18 months. I have worked tirelessly to keep them safe. And I am shocked by not only my husband’s decision, but I am am enraged that his decision has brought all of this onto our family.
If something were to happen to one of my kids, I can’t even tell you what I would do. He’d wish he had never been born, I can tell you that.
I will bring him water, and make sure he has his meds, and check on his temp and breathing, but I can’t even look at his face without being filled with resentment and anger right now. Sympathy and love have not entered the chat. I don’t wish him harm and I want him to get better, but my compassion and gentleness is reserved for my babies. They didn’t ask for this, and one of their parents failed to protect them. He failed them, and he failed me.
I haven’t thought about what will happen when we are on the other side of this. I am living minute by minute right now making sure my kids are taken care of, safe, and on the mend. I’m literally part of their medical team right now, working alongside of their doctors to make sure we prioritize their safety.
I can’t think of what this will mean for the future of our marriage yet. But I can tell you that I know for sure that my trust has been broken. I feel betrayed. He knowingly put our kids in harm’s way, and now they are suffering for it. I will never be able to unsee this. He can’t buy me presents or send me on a ‘momcation’ to soften me up. He could have cheated on me, drained our bank account, and disappeared and I would be less mad than I am right now.
So yeah, it’s not good. And I don’t know if it will ever be good again.
He says now, of course, that he wishes he would have just gotten the vaccine. And listen, he’s in the doghouse, but it may not be too late for some of you. I hope folks out there learn from our experience, and act now to prevent this from happening to their family. And their marriage.
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