So today as I was leaving the ward the nurse broke the news that we are to be quarantined. I had been making jokes all day about getting into our white forensic suits and helmets (no idea what they’re called, like the ones in E.T. when the bad guy authorities move in.) It turned out not to be too far from the truth. I had discussed Lucas’s chicken pox with the doctors who took advice from the micro biology team who brought in the consultant and, in spite of having kept him away for nearly ten days we are to be shut in our little room more or less until the end now. They say the risk to the unit and the other babies is 10-23 days at an outside conservative estimate.
Nurses will have to wear masks and aprons and gloves at all times and do minimum handling. G and I are not allowed in the parents room or anywhere else and are to go straight to the room when we arrive, wash our hands and arms regularly and I have to wear a plastic apron and silicone gloves whenever touching the babies. They will provide me with a pump in my room and I will have to hand my milk to a masked nurse to put in the fridge.
On the plus side the nurses will leave us alone a bit. It’s my responsibility to do all the babies’ cares wherever possible now. I prefer to breastfeed in silence and a couple of the younger ones were starting to annoy me. I chucked one out yesterday for chatting and loudly seeing to her Facebook account behind my head when I’d been trying to get Beatrix to latch on for over an hour. So a break from all the chatter and getting sucked into their politics will be a relief. I have definitely been there too long and am getting a bit too close. They gossip and I know everything I say gets passed on from shift to shift.
The negatives are
1) I do, naturally, feel like an outcast, and a total leper.
2) I will have to dig down to my roots to find how deep my resilience goes locked in a small room with only the babies for company for two weeks or more, 12 plus hours a day. Solitary confinement. I quite look forward to the challenge in an odd way and am trying to see it as an opportunity to go into deep meditation. To be in my ‘red tent’ with my children and prepare my mind for what’s to come when we go home. I am not bad at being by myself. A total of ten days in West Mid, a week in Chertsey and two in Paddington is good training. And weeks in between largely alone at home. This is do-able. Think End Game.
3) I’m not actually locked in so can go to the shops and see normal people between feeds so don’t feel too sorry for me! I am being a little dramatic.
The daft thing is I am immune. I’ve had it twice. G’s blood test showed he is too today. There is a tiny risk of bringing some infection in via our clothes but it is small as chicken pox is airborne. I checked and all the nurses are immune as they have shots before they can work on the unit. I am of course concerned about the other babies and my own catching it but I could not have known before I knew if you know what I mean. And we took all the necessary precautions we could have by keeping Lucas away after we knew of the possibility of him being infected.
The marvellous Wikipedia tells me,
‘Resilience in psychology refers to the idea of an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects. A third, more controversial form of resilience is sometimes referred to as ‘posttraumatic growth’ or ‘steeling effects’ where in the experience adversity leads to better functioning (much like an inoculation gives one the capacity to cope well with future exposure to disease). Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.’
I am definitely developing resilience through this process. I feel quite proud of myself. I used to get very stressed at the slightest thing and I feel less like I am blown by every breeze now. Each setback seems less terrible and every bounce back more inevitable. Just riding the wave. A rough one but it will see us to the shore eventually. I did a resilience test at work once and the definition that stuck in my mind was something like the capacity to deal with uncertain outcomes. Well here is the perfect scenario to test that. We have been dealing with a stack of them since I got pregnant in January and it has never ever stopped. Throw one more at me, why not?
My friend Sophie came today and cried when she saw the babies. Only very good, very old friends share your sorrows and hopes and dreams like that. A very welcome and timely visit. Sophie, it meant so much when you are so busy and live far away. Thank you. I felt less alone. Then I went home, bunked off the evening feed and got pissed. Ha.
I think I will download some Pema Chodron mediation tapes tonight to get me started tomorrow. Try her books if you never have. Good life inspiration in times of trouble.
And just for fun here is a resilience questionnaire for you all to play at home. Bouncebackability.