Struggling Parents & Caregivers Get Vital Support from CCFH during the Pandemic
Though the economic consequences of the pandemic may be falling more heavily on low-income families, the negative effects of increased isolation are evident in families of all kinds, regardless of how well-resourced they are. Most are cut off from the sources of childcare that made it possible before the pandemic for parents who work to give their jobs the attention they require. With fewer options for activities outside the home, families are not getting the healthy balance of distance and togetherness that helps ease the frictions inevitable in every home. And parents and children alike have experienced a significant decline in the quantity and quality of their social interactions, not only in their strong ties with close friends and extended family but also in casual connections like neighbors or classmates.
Claudia Gonzalez had her first child in July, and, although a research scientist in medicine, she admits that she had no idea what to expect. “It was definitely a deer-in-the-headlights experience for me,” she says. Under normal circumstances, her family and friends would have been on hand to provide comfort and support, but her baby’s arrival at the height of the first wave of the pandemic meant they had to keep their distance. In the hospital, she felt a sense of isolation because of the necessary precautions and contact limitations to prevent possible transmission of COVID-19. And once they brought their baby home, she and her husband truly felt they were on their own.
Beyond the stress and anxiety of isolation, Claudia also was struggling with particular concerns and challenges during those first few weeks. She was having significant pain and discomfort in her delivery recovery. In a brief phone call, her doctor assured her it was normal, but that did little to alleviate her worry. She was also having a hard time breastfeeding. “I just had no idea what I was doing,” Claudia says, “and we never expected things to be so difficult.” So, she was immensely relieved to get a call from Ashley, a nurse with CCFH’s Family Connects Durham program, offering a virtual home visit.
“Ashley was a godsend because I was able to discuss all these things with her,” says Claudia, “and she spent as much time with me as I needed.” In their first virtual visit, Ashley spent two hours with Claudia, assessing her needs and talking through all of her concerns. She then followed up with two phone calls and lots of emails. She offered Claudia reassurance along with practical steps that helped mitigate the problems she was experiencing. As a result, Claudia began to feel much less stress and was able to focus proactively on her health and her baby’s health.