Shop the fall collection ➔

As the weight of stay-at-home orders lift around the country, I find my mom guilt getting heavier. I’m an immunocompromised mom of two. There’s no telling when we’ll see any bit of normalcy back in our lives. I have Crohn’s disease and the biologic injection I give myself every two weeks knocks out my immune system, putting me at higher risk for COVID-19.

While my kids and husband are perfectly healthy, I am not.

Parks and playgrounds are starting to re-open. Email after email about summer programs and events for little ones gearing up to begin are filling up my inbox.

I can’t help but worry and wonder how to navigate the weeks and months ahead and not feel a bit selfish that my family will be forced to lay low far longer than most—because of me.

Both sides of my family are getting together in small groups. Everyone but us. We FaceTime so we don’t miss out on the celebratory gatherings, but I feel a pit in my stomach. I already feel like we’re the outcasts and life still isn’t anywhere near where it used to be. Seeing loved ones gathered indoors, together, makes me feel anxious and a bit unhinged.

RELATED: Here’s To the Kids Missing the Little Things

From playdates to anxiously awaiting the start of the school year, there’s no telling what is safe and what is dangerous. One innocent gathering or outing could cause our family harm . . . or be completely harmless. The thought of sending my son to 3-year-old preschool in a couple of months used to make me feel excited; now, it makes me feel numb. The guilt of him possibly missing out from that formative time with his peers hurts my heart. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

I’ve already had to delay my daughter’s 15-month well check-up and vaccines because my pediatrician warned me it would be too risky for even my husband to bring her in at the off chance they were to bring something home to me. I’ve already had to cancel my son’s dentist appointment to minimize the risk of possible exposure. And this is just the beginning.

RELATED: That Anxiety You’re Feeling is Real—There is Zero Shame in Saying You’re Exhausted

These past two-plus months haven’t felt all that bad because the rest of the population was taking the same precautionary measures.

But as quarantine expectations ease and limits are lifted, it puts my family and me between a rock and a hard place.

There’s no telling when we’ll get to see our loved ones again unless they’re six or more feet away from us outdoors. My kids won’t be getting any hugs or kisses from anyone but my husband or me for the foreseeable future. I anticipate this summer will involve invites from friends for hangouts with our little ones, and we’ll have to decline.

RELATED: When Will I Get To Hug My Family Again?

Living through this pandemic is hard on everybody, but it’s especially challenging for those who fall in the high-risk category.

There are so many unknowns. So much fear. It gets to the point where you wonder if you’re taking things to the extreme or if you’re taking necessary action. You wonder how you’re ever going to be able to be in public and be around others without feeling anxious. 

There’s so much judgment. Everyone has an opinion and something to say.

But, as an immunocompromised mom, I’m going to follow my gut and try my best to drown out all the noise. I’m going to continue to trust my instincts and not worry about hurting people’s feelings or being questioned for my actions.

I know the guilt will remain, and it’s so hard to feel secluded and less than, but you need to do what you think is best so you and your family can come out safe and come out strong when this darkness lifts and brighter days remain.

Natalie Hayden

Natalie (Sparacio) Hayden, 36, is a former TV news anchor living in St. Louis. Her mission in life is to be an advocate for those battling inflammatory bowel disease and to show that a chronic illness doesn’t have to dull your sparkle. Natalie was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July 2005. After several hospitalizations, countless medications and flare ups she underwent her first surgery in August 2015. Natalie and her husband have two children, Reid and Sophia.

My Daughter is Almost the Age I Was When My Grandfather First Molested Me

In: Living, Motherhood
Back of little girl's head with braid and ribbon

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse My daughter is swinging, head tilted up to the sky, pondering the shape of the cloud—is it a puppy or a tiger? Or maybe a dragon? She picks a flowering weed from the yard and brings it to me, so proud of her gift for Mama. She sits down and draws one of her imaginary kitty superheroes and the tale of how it saves the day—her lips pursed, then open, then pursed again—concentrating as though it’s the most important story she’ll write in her life. I pull her close, breathe in all of her joy and...

Keep Reading

When Storms Come: How To Help During Hurricane Ian

In: Living
When Waters Rise, You’ll Struggle to Put One Foot in Front of the Other. You’ll Do it Anyway. www.herviewfromhome.com

When waters rise and spirits fall, you’ll listen anxiously to weather reports from your neighborhood. You’ll watch angry waves swirling on the sacred ground of familiar streets. You’ll feel a sickening, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’ll try to grasp fleeting thoughts of hope that maybe, just maybe, they’re all wrong. Surely it won’t be as bad, as devastating as they say. You’ll try to overpower Mother Nature by sheer force of will. But she is a determined and destructive houseguest. You’ll understand futility.  You’ll go through motions, completing necessary tasks in response to catastrophe. You’ll cry,...

Keep Reading

Things I Wish My Therapist Would Say

In: Living
Little girl looking out window

Things I wish my therapist would say . . .  Welcome. Sit down, have a tea or a big coffee. The latest studies say caffeine does wonders for your anxiety. Now, tell me everything . . .  You’re not crazy. But if you are it’s okay, all the best women in history were crazy. You don’t need medication. But if you do, it’s okay—I can get you some right now. You don’t have to call a thousand pharmacies or drive or wait, here it is. It will work right away and has zero side effects. You don’t have to change...

Keep Reading

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…Jupiter?

In: Living
Boy looking through telescope

It’s a great week to gather the kids and train your eyes on the night sky—the planet Jupiter is bigger and better than ever! Well, at least it’ll look that way this week.   Jupiter reaches what’s termed “opposition” during the final week of September this year, and that makes for some fun stargazing conditions. Quick science lesson time: “opposition” is when a planet is directly opposite the Sun in the sky. And all those orbits out there in space have the Earth sandwiched between Jupiter and the Sun right now too, meaning our Solar System’s gasseous giant is closer to...

Keep Reading

I’ll Find Her Again One Day

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother holding baby at night

It happened again. Took 15 months this time. But I found myself in the same spot I said I’d never be in. Lost, drowning, on the brink of a mental breakdown—however you want to put it. I was gone in motherhood. With the diapers piling up around me, I was getting mad at my husband for nothing, screaming at my oldest son, crying along with the babies, and in a fog. RELATED: To the Woman Who’s Lost Herself in Motherhood I couldn’t do anything—literally—I couldn’t even pee without hearing a demand. When my children were quiet, my house billowed with...

Keep Reading

I Want Friends Who Grow Old with Me

In: Friendship, Living
Friends laughing

When I grow older, I want my friends to come with me. I want us to sit on porches sipping tea and watching the young walk by. I want us to scoot around on our scooters or on golf carts because none of us want to walk back home from the beach. I want us to sit in restaurants and order whatever we want because life has become too short and we know it, so cheesecake it is. RELATE: Life is Too Short for Fake Cheese and Fake Friends I want morning strolls together to get the willies out, and...

Keep Reading

To the Mom In the Trenches: Make Room For Yourself

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach black and white photo

“I need to make room for myself,” I think quietly as I shove toys aside with my foot and toss the dog-hair-covered blankets onto the couch behind me. This endless carousel of shuffling clutter weighs on me, but I try not to dwell on that fact right now. Clearing a space for a quick strength class between Zoom calls requires almost as much effort as the class itself. Plastic play food and melodic baby toys lay strewn about the room (the whole house, really). Scattered LEGOs and Hot Wheels wait to attack unsuspecting bare feet at any moment. To say...

Keep Reading

“Old” Seems Less Old the Older I Get

In: Living
Mother and teen daughter smiling

Growing up, my grandparents hosted birthday parties that involved all of my dad’s aunts and uncles gathering around the kitchen table with a deck of pinochle cards dealt among them. After a few games, a “lunch” of sandwiches, cake, and hot cups of coffee would be served.  I remember looking at the people gathered around that table—wrinkled fingers raking in cards, deep, scratchy voices calling out bids and naming trump, laughter mingled with German words I didn’t understand. The kids were never invited to the table, only allowed to watch from the outskirts.  We were too young. And they were...

Keep Reading

I Love Being a Mom, But I Miss That Party Girl Sometimes

In: Living, Motherhood
Girl at bar in black tank top

It’s 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. Freshly showered and ready to take on whatever the night brings. I’ve just gotten dressed and am finishing up my makeup when the phone rings. “Hey, I’m about to leave in half an hour. Do you want to meet around 8 p.m.?” “Sure! I’m almost ready. I’ll be there at 8!” I say excitedly. I finish my makeup and start working on my hair when a text comes through. “Hey, Ash! Just wanted to let you know we’ll be there around 9 but we’re definitely going to make it! I can’t wait to...

Keep Reading

Christmas + ’90s TV Nostalgia? Yes, Please!

In: Living
Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber Full House friends at wedding

Why is it that the older I get, the more nostalgic I become about the ’90s?  Maybe it’s because it was a simpler time: No social media. The only cell phones we’d ever seen belonged to Zack Morris from Saved By the Bell and Macaulay Caulkin in Richie Rich. The height of cool was owning a hair crimper and that clear corded phone (bonus points if it was connected to a dedicated teen line). And you knew it was going to be a great day when you started the tape recorder in time to get all of MmmBop! on your...

Keep Reading