A faint band – but a band nonetheless

For the past couple of weeks, we have been ‘nesting’ like mad, buying and preparing all kinds of necessary and not-so-necessary things. This nesting behaviour is important for parents-to-be, I remember from the first time how it was an incredibly powerful aspect of the whole process. Especially for me as a dad this pregnancy was a bit weird, as I was not allowed to join in for any check-ups due to the pandemic. It is hard to describe, but it makes you feel somewhat estranged from your own child. It is already hard to ‘get to know’ the little person growing inside their mother, but this time it was even harder. That fucking pandemic…

Yesterday, we finished some final aspects of our baby preparation craze – like hanging up a small rack to store some baby stuff and finalizing my wife’s creatively made baby swing. After completing these final tasks, we had completed all things ‘baby’ in our house, and with those last tiny things I officially told my wife Heike and our unborn child that all was ready to go.

While I am writing this, there are three more days of work left, before I go on parental leave. Three days! I finished pretty much everything on my to-do list. I will be ready, and in fact, I am already. The baby is due in five days. It is almost a perfect plan.

Until this morning, when a faint band appeared in the small recangular box, under the T, a small distance away from the more evident band that appeared under the C.

Since three weeks, we bring our two-year old son to day care again. We obtained a spot close to home, and on-campus. They offered us to do a month of ‘acclimatizing’ for the little one. We figured it would be good to have this done a bit before the baby would be there, so that we wouldn’t be handing him over just after the baby is born. I don’t know, this just didn’t feel right to me. For seven months, during the highest waves of the pandemic, we have kept our boy at home. It was tough, but we made it through. Nevertheless, the luxury of having child care in the final month of pregnancy was quite alluring. We figured that with the low incidence rates (around 5 per 100.000 in our area at the start of July), and the rise in the number of vaccinated people, the risk of covid-19 was minimal.

It is quite normal for toddlers to drool on everything, including each other. Day cares are notorious for spreading common colds and other rather innocent rubbish. The first two weeks we somehow got lucky. Last night, however, Rafa developed a cough. We didn’t want to bring him to day care without testing – something we have done twice a week with him since the start. Under some protest I swabbed the q-tip through the insides of his cheeks and on the back of his tongue. I placed the q-tip in the solution buffer, shook it gently for a brief period of time, and placed three droplets on the designated spot on the antigen test. We continued our breakfast, and didn’t really mind the test during the ten minutes that followed, until I asked my wife “this test is positive, right?” The band was faint, very faint, but it was certainly a band. I have by now completed 20-or-so self tests and not once have I seen even the faintest of bands. Admittedly, this was a different brand than mine, specifically adapted to young children, and suitable for mouth cavity swabs, but the concept is the same. Previous tests – including one last Wednesday or Thursday – looked clean as a whistle.

We decided to make Rafa more uncomfortable and go for another round of testing with a second self-test. Simultaneously, my wife and I both ran a test of our own. The second test I would pass off as clean, although a very keen eye would see some minor irregularity in the space under the T (for test). My own test was spotless white, with a thick red band under the C (for control). No band, whichever way you looked at it. My wife’s? Not so much so. It wasn’t a thick band, but it was certainly not spotless as was mine. But then again, I am vaccinated – because Germany prioritized future fathers – whereas my wife is not, because Germany does not advise this and we could not find a doctor willing to give Heike the jab regardless.

For the record, for one and a half year, we have hardly met anyone in our private lives. At work, I have met with some people, with regular testing, always FFP2-ed up, and with distance where possible. When we do meet people privately, in these days of lower numbers in Germany, it is still outside, and only with people that are vaccinated. For the longer meetings, such as with family, which have also been vaccinated, we required that all parties tested regularly. The fact that we have worked for seven months with a toddler at home, even though we could have continued to bring him to his day care mother, is testament to the extreme care we have taken throughout this entire pandemic.

And now, at the worst possible timing, five days before our second child is due, we have two, maybe three, faintly positive self tests, and a clean one from the only person that is fully vaccinated.

This sort of shit can ruin your day, that much I can tell you.

Our general practitioner has been wonderfully professional and supportive throughout all this, and within two hours after calling, personally gave us a home-delivery PCR test, and he swabbed us literally on our door step. Calming a toddler from having received a nasal swab that must have tickled his brain stem is probably the saddest thing I have had to do in a long time. But it is for the best.

Now, the way the next couple of days will look like, all depends on the outcome of those three PCR tests, hopefully tomorrow.

If these tests will be positive, seriously, the only viable explanation would be that it came from child care. We have not let our guards down anywhere else.

Fuck!! This was not how this was supposed to go!

I hope for better news tomorrow.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

4 thoughts on “A faint band – but a band nonetheless

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