My Family of 3 Got COVID-19. Here’s What I Want Other Working Moms to Know

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“You know more than you think you do.” Dr. Spock said it years ago, and it is still true today.

My daughters, now 10 and 13, came home from spring break visitation with their father in March, and something was not right. I had already sent my entire company away from the office weeks before and cancelled all company travel, in what I thought was an abundance of caution.

Trust yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. Mother’s instincts are real and valuable.

My youngest child said, “I can’t breathe Mama. It feels like a giant is sitting on my chest.” We didn’t know that when my oldest daughter couldn’t taste my spaghetti, it was a red warning flag. They had a cough, but not a wet, dangerous cough—a weird, coughing-up-a-hairball cough. I did what any mom does: I put my hand to their foreheads, gave them extra fluids and held and cuddled them. The thermometer readings didn’t help. In the morning, it was mildly elevated, but in the evenings, back down to normal. I was concerned I was overreacting. Several days later, I broke down and called our family physician, Dr. D.

Find a family physician you trust who listens to YOU and your child.

My husband teases that I like to call Dr. D because he looks like he could have been cast in Grey’s Anatomy. The truth is, that while it doesn’t hurt, the most attractive thing about Dr. D is he trusts my mother’s intuition when I say something is wrong. “I am concerned the girls have COVID-19.” Instead of laughing at, scoffing or patting me on the head remotely, he listened to their symptoms. He texted back “happy to help” and gave me an appointment, but told me not to come inside. We drove up, and out came Dr. D… at least I thought it was Dr. D? He was dressed in what appeared to be a spacesuit. What I didn’t realize at that time was he had gone to Home Depot and put together a set of homemade PPE. Then we went home and the real work began.

I still had my day job as a CEO of Enseo, a fast-growing technology company, while I was learning my new job of “plays-one-on-TV” nurse and respiratory therapist. I spent my days taking vitals and administering Oxygen, all while feeding my family and being a wife and mother… oh, and managing my company in a crisis. Only God will ever know if the chest pains I experienced were part of my own COVID symptoms or just plain anxiety.

Be prepared. Don’t be ashamed to have that bottle of Tylenol in the cabinet, or the extra pot of chicken soup in the freezer. Scouts have nothing on working mothers!

My family playfully labeled the extra supply box in the pantry the “Zombie Apocalypse Box.” It is also the name of the shelf in the freezer that holds the extra portions of soup. I have never been more grateful for the meals I didn’t have to make when I felt so ill, the extra bottles of Tylenol in the pantry or the pulse oximeter and extra oxygen from the Zombie Apocalypse box. They were there when we needed them the most.

Find a peer group of working moms in similar job positions to whom you can listen and with whom you can be yourself on mom/wife/work issues. It doesn’t have to be lonely. Your community is out there.

I was also thankful to have support when I needed it the most. I called my “forum” of CEO moms and dads, and told them how truly afraid I was. They sanity checked my survival plan to keep the business alive.

Fall has arrived, and we are all still here. I have added distance learning teacher and IT expert to my list of daily chores. My company is still working from home. We have created a handful of new products to help schools and hotels get back to normal—because that is what a working mom does. We fix things. We didn’t know that loss of smell meant something serious, or how to use the Oxygen machine. Next time it might be something completely new. I trust my instincts, and you should trust yours.


Vanessa Ogle is CEO of Enseo and a leader in connected technology, digital safety, security and privacy. A passionate mother, wife, inventor, innovator and musician, she has revolutionized industries with endeavors like being the first to bring Netflix to hotel rooms and developing an employee safety system to protect women and children in hotels and schools. She currently holds 38 US patents. Follow Vanessa and learn more about her journey at www.vanessaogle.com, and on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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