Amy is a single mom of 3 in NYC. Raising kids can be challenging. Learning to live in the unknown starts to become natural as a single mom.
I'm a single mother in NYC with 3 children.
When NYC was the first epicenter with COVID here in the states, I like the majority of the world was filled with uncertainty, fear, and an overwhelming anxiety.
However, as a 100% single mom, I was already familiar with uncertainty.
It took me back to a time when faced with a health crisis with my children. I was reminded that when thrown into the unknown, as a parent we only have one choice.
That's to not sink ,but swim.
My son, Dylan, suffered from really bad asthma as a baby.
By the end of the summer in 2003, we were living in a run-down, dirty domestic violence shelter in the South Bronx.
The living conditions of roaches, lead paint, and all the other stuff that you have to deal with when living in poverty aggravated his asthma.
His health only got worse before it got better.
He was 15/16 months and I also had since given birth to my daughter, Mya, who was 3 months at this time. She was born in November 2003.
I became a single mom when I was 6 months pregnant with my Mya.
I left their father because the relationship took a turn for the worse and he became very abusive.
For me, it was just easier to part ways and raise them alone instead of dealing with his nonsense. I had gotten myself in the situation of having children with him entirely way too soon.
I was going to make the best of it and find peace elsewhere with my children.
While the shelter living was crappy I knew it wasn’t going to be forever. I just had to suck it up until I was able to get on my feet with now two children.
It was now January of 2004 and NYC winter has hit. Cold weather kept us indoors most of the time.
I had a roommate who also had a 4-year-old daughter. Both her and my son were constantly coughing and had some type of colds that just kept getting passed back and forth.
At this point, my son needed medical attention. I could see his asthma was starting.
I called a cab and took him along with my daughter to Montefiore's children’s hospital, in another area of the Bronx.
We go into the ER, and he is soon seen.
It turns out he had RSV. For those that don’t know it’s a bad virus in the lungs.
Because I was in a domestic violence shelter I was pretty much on my own.
My family wasn’t allowed to watch the kids, and they were not living near me anyway. When I left their father I had to leave everyone and everything I knew behind until I had stable housing.
I was unable to save any money living in NYC with a baby, it was now costly. I left him with maybe $60 in my pocket if that.
It was very difficult for me as someone who was always independent and worked since I was 11 years old.
I had to leave the job I had as well.
I wasn’t familiar with welfare and shelters. I come from a hard-working middle-class family.
My situation with the abuse and high-risk pregnancy; the job and everything else wasn’t going to last much longer. Especially if I had to depend on their abusive father.
The system doesn’t want the abuser to know where you are so they “hide you away” until you get housing.
The roommates are not allowed to watch your kids unless you sign papers and go through this whole big process.
I had no option but to take both babies with me to the hospital.
They admit my son.
I’m allowed to sleep with my daughter on a cot in his room because of our circumstances. I wasn’t an unfit mother, I was just in a difficult unexpected situation.
The following day after he was admitted I notice now my daughter is starting to get sick. RSV is very contagious.
She has shallow breathing now. I tell the nurse as she’s looking at my son. She looks at my daughter and says,” Run her down to the ER. Her breathing is not good.”
I quickly go down and they take her right away.
The nurse is checking Mya’s vitals and she stops breathing. She shakes and taps her chest, not in a bad way, but to alert her and Mya starts breathing again.
Within a few minutes, her breathing stops again, then starts.
On the third time this happens, the nurse grabs her out of my arms. I don’t even remember the exact way things happened.
I just remember everyone freaking out, my daughter is put on the table, code blue being announced.
A whole medical team comes from nowhere. They push me aside and tell me to please sit. The curtain is being closed around my baby and the doctors frantically going to work to try and save her.
That moment was the longest one in my life!!!
I don’t remember how long I sat there in a dream-like state. I was in fear my precious baby girl, that already been through so much since I was pregnant wasn’t going to make it.
I was beyond sleep deprived.
Up until this point, she was difficult to care for.
Constant crying since she was born and a few hospitalizations for other issues. She had a huge hernia on her belly from so much crying.
I was up all day with my son and up all night with her. I only slept 1–2 hours a night if that.
I just sat in that chair and prayed. I was too shocked, scared, and numb to even cry. I had to hold it together for the sake of my sanity and babies.
They got her stable and intubated. She tested positive for RSV as well. Because she was only 3 months it’s a lot more dangerous in infants.
I now have my son with RSV on the other floor and my daughter is admitted to ICU.
Mya is all taped up with tubes going everywhere. I can’t hear her cry because of the intubation she has no voice. I can see her crying and her suffering, but I’m not allowed to hold her or really can’t do much for her because of her conditions.
I never felt so helpless.
We had to allow the medicine and the treatment they were giving her to take its course.
For a little over 2 weeks she stayed like this. My son was on the other floor recovering well. Back and forth I would go between the two.
Then there was the living situation.
While in the hospital because of this health crisis we qualified for a tier 2 apartment out in Brooklyn. It’s still a shelter technically, but it’s our own apartment.
While my kids were in the hospital I had to leave and move our stuff from the Bronx to Brooklyn.
That was a mess within itself. Again limited resources meant long train rides back and forth until I was situated.
We didn’t own much ,but I was dealing with the system. No matter what you're going through they make things difficult as can be.
Until I had more paperwork and signatures I had to go each night to sign in and update the staff etc. They didn’t help with anything. It was just to keep tabs on the residents.
My children were recovering though. At this point, I just did what I had to do to make sure I kept this new living situation secure.
Once again it was only temporary. It was a lot more healthier and stable. One step closer to a better life.
While my daughter was getting better, the doctors noticed she had some delays.
I discussed with them her constant crying and colic.
Again ,because I lacked money and proper care it was difficult to try her out different formulas etc. They told me she also had a weakness on the left side of her body.
On the kid's father's side, he has a nephew that is extremely handicapped. He can’t see, walk, talk, and has many conditions that left him paralyzed.
They told me this may be something genetic she has.
The Doctor’s also said she had torticollis and possibly some neurological issues. She had a prior hospitalization for having spasms while she slept.
I was given a prescription for early intervention. This allowed her to get the services she needed, physical therapy, etc.
Finally, after about 2 weeks, the tubes are taken out of her and she’s no longer suffering from RSV. I remember walking into her room.
Someone had left a get well helium balloon for her. It was floating to the other side of the room and soon deflated.
I took the balloon down and showed my daughter her reflection on the shiny side of it.
After all these weeks and weeks of her constantly crying and almost dying, baby Mya for the first time smiled at her little reflection in that deflated balloon.
I finally broke down and cried.
It was tears of relief and happiness. I knew at that moment she was going to be a strong independent female.
I also knew everything was going to be ok. This was just temporary, like everything in life.
Dylan and Mya are now 18 & 17.
Those days of struggling are long gone. They are amazing, talented, and great siblings to my 3rd daughter I had years later whose now 11.
All of whom turned out healthy, well rounded, down to earth, understanding all-around good people.
Like the struggle I went through with them was temporary I have started to walk through the covid struggle the same.
One day at a time.
We live as safe and cautiously as we can.
Not in complete fear .
We know though that nothing is forever and soon this to shall pass.
As long as we are still alive, there’s still hope to make it through any uncertainty.