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grandparenting during pandemic

I am a grandmother to infants (one is 1 and a half, and others are soon to be newborns) and a toddler (2 and a half).
Until just a few months ago I had frequent visits with my grandchildren and often babysat. They are 1.5 and 2.5 years old and have no concept of what is going on, how to "social distance", etc. And there are two more grand-babies due in late summer/fall.

I addition to having RA and being on immune suppressing medication I also have a couple other risk factors including asthma. But I am otherwise healthy (no diabetes or heart disease and I can still at least walk normally on most days).

So in other words, I am one of those people who "look fine" and people have a hard time believing that I even have any real health issues that are serious enough to keep me from working (I' on SSDI). Becoming a grandmother and helping with childcare has brought me a lot of joy along with purpose back into my life.

I miss my grand-babies and have not seen them in a few months (other than pictures and videos). They used to be so excited to come over and visit and I am heartbroken because I know that they don't understand why I haven't been visiting with them.

I've gotten the usual advice "well.. just skype, play computer games with them, and send them letters, etc.." (They are babies and this advice is not helpful right now.)

But even worse are those who suggest that I'm making too big a deal out of this virus and that I could still visit and babysit as long as I'm careful and "teach them to be careful".
The reasoning being that I've raised kids of my own and took care of mine when they had all sorts of bugs.. so why refuse now just because of a different virus that isn't any worse than the flu.

Except that it IS worse than the flu, complications are more likely (especially now that I have RA which I did not have when raising my children), and this virus spreads easily because of the long incubation period and the fact that kids usually have mild symptoms.. and sometimes no symptoms.

You can't "teach" babies and very young children (under 3 or so) how to socially distance. They also are not likely to cover their coughs or sneezes. So the advice for me to simply make sure I don't touch my face while I'm with them is ridiculous.

Even if the babies mothers are staying home with them, the fathers are still working with the public and I have no way of knowing if someone might be infected. It does seem risky.

Unless I'm missing something?
Has anyone been able to *safely* continue spending time with their grandchildren?
Or do some doctors say it's alright with certain precautions?

  1. @happygranny - thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. Your grandkids sound like they bring you so much joy. And that RA (and being immunocompromised) during COVID-19 brings you a lot of anxiety. Those are tough emotions to balance.

    I am happy to share a bit of personal experience. I have a 15 month old daughter and am also Immunocompromised. My husband and I have been very strict about our quarantine life. However, my parents both feel the way you have about missing my daughter and how skype/facetime is not the same thing, at all.

    What we have found comfort in this summer is doing outside visits with my daughter and her grandparents. Her grandparents wear a mask, and wash their hands before holding her or playing with her. She's gotten more used to it as time has progressed, and they're grateful to still spend some time with her in person. Now, I know this is a bit different since neither my husband or I are going to the office, but I wanted to share what has worked with us.

    For what it's worth, I dont think that you are blowing things out of proportion, with the risks or with missing your grandkids.

    I think every part of decision making in this season feels really difficult.

    One thing you could consider is asking the babies parents to get COVID tested before you see them, even if it is outdoors and masked. This would give a little peace of mind once they have negative results. Testing in many areas is easier to obtain now and is free or low cost with insurance.

    Please know we're thinking of you, and holding you in our hearts as this season continues to be so uncertain.

    Warmly,
    Amanda (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

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