ER nurse Devon Oechsleon and her firefighter/medic husband had to make an impossible decision this week about their 3.5-year-old daughter—to let her live (for now) with a good friend of theirs while they do their part in combating the coronavirus at work. They, along with thousands of other concerned parents who work in healthcare, are scared they could infect their child(ren)—so they are moving out or relocating their family in order to keep them safe.
They're doing the impossible. And it's heartbreaking.
They're taking their oaths to heart and are bravely going into work to protect our communities—including their children.
Nicole wrote, in a post accompanied by a tearful photo, how she doesn't feel as though she deserves any special accolades for the work she is currently doing: "My job as an ER nurse is just that, my job." But even if she doesn't think she deserves it—she's getting it (deservedly so).
Her Facebook post has received thousands of messages of support and gratitude including one Facebook user who wrote, "You're protecting your child. No comment necessary. Thank you for doing what you do and hope you and your husband stay safe. You've done the right thing."
"This is my current situation.
"Jason and I just had to have a very hard conversation to send Ellie away tonight for maybe a month... to stay with my amazing friend Anita, who did not even hesitate to keep her for us. And Ellie loves 'Miss Nita.'
"This is the face of someone who feels punished for trying to be the 'good guy.' My job as an ER nurse is just that, my job, I don't ever feel like it's anything crazy or special or deserving of accolades. Jason feels the same way as a ff/medic.
"But, our jobs are important right now and unlike many, we are still required to work. And that work carries a high risk of being infected, or spreading this damn virus. I have already been in contact with +covid patients, and the last thing we want to do is have Ellie surrounded by the potential virus we could carry home.
"So, I feel punished for having to be the 'good guy.' I have to send my 3.5yo child away. I won't get to visit her. I won't get to hug her. I won't get to tuck her in at night. We have FaceTime, and that's it. For up to a month, or who knows how long...and many of my coworkers have had to do the same.
"So, if you've read this far and you are having to stay home with your kids all day, consider it a blessing and absolutely NOTHING less.
"And for heaven's sake, everyone, STAY.AT.HOME. The sooner this crap is over the quicker my kid can come home
"Edit: since this has gone viral somehow, let me just set one thing straight. Don't you DARE come at me for "getting rid of my child" and saying "you made a choice, there were other options" and "no job is worth sending my kid to a stranger to raise."
"1. Sure would be a crappy day for you if all the staff in your ER weren't there because they all quit their jobs to stay at home with their kids
"2. Tell me what other options I had since you are so in my shoes?
"3. She is 15min down the road, staying with someone she loves and who loves her. We didn't just wake up and decide to leave her with a stranger.
"All the keyboard warriors can just sit down ."
But not all comments have been those of praise and understanding—despite the intense and difficult circumstances. Nicole added another post this afternoon to make sure her message was clear after getting some negative feedback from her now-viral original post.
"Making a public post to make something clear.
"Having to split up our household and send Ellie away wasn't just something WE decided had to happen. THOUSANDS of healthcare families have been split up for fear of protecting family members from what we may bring home.
"So, while we have have been overwhelmed with support and kind words, just know that it is not just us. People in your own town at your own hospital are likely isolating themselves from family, or having to send their kids away.
"So, when you go gallivanting around town because you think this will never effect you and you're invincible...know the longer you don't stay at home, the greater the risk of this virus to keep spreading, and the longer families are split up.
STAY. AT. HOME."
Her message, and tears, hit the mark. We all have to do our part to fight COVID-19, and for a lot of us, that simply means staying home. I know it's not easy, not being able to leave the house with antsy kids who want to be out and about—but right now it's necessary.
This is how we rise up—together. And rise up, we will.