Mini- Profile #lizsinnreichpanitch
“Last summer my family and I moved to South New Rochelle. Many people don’t even know it exists – that was, until March 2nd when our little town came under America’s microscope as the new epicenter of coronavirus in the States. Schools, including my daughter’s preschool, and shuls, including ours, immediately closed.
The day this was announced, I was five days postpartum with my second child.
In a normal world, having a baby is hard. The endless nights, lack of sleep, trying to balance care for multiple children, worry for the newborn’s safety, feeding issues, fear of postpartum depression…it is all very real and extremely taxing. Now try throwing a world pandemic into the mix.
Several years back I was very ill for a long time and have since developed real anxiety and PTSD when it comes to matters related to my health. I was really concerned how this PTSD would present itself postpartum – and then BAM. World epidemic appears, before I hit the one-week mark.
We fled New Rochelle when my son was six days old to my parents in Manhattan thinking it would only be a few days. We haven’t been back since. Little did we know Manhattan would be even worse.
I am immunocompromised – as is my son. Going outside is too big of a risk. We hadn’t left the house since March 4th and living in an apartment in Manhattan, we weren’t privileged to have a backyard or balcony or ability to take leisurely walks on empty streets. Cabin fever was definitely real.
I lived that way for seven weeks and felt like I was literally suffocating. I never saw the sun. Since then, we have come out to a suburban town in New Jersey. When I walked outside on the lawn for the first time I literally got teary-eyed. While my son and I still can’t go anywhere as it is too big of a risk, at least I can see the sky again.
It’s been a challenge – maintaining my mental health, trying to entertain and console my young daughter as she struggles to understand why she can’t go home or back to her normal routine, caring for my newborn son and – believe it or not – I’m still working from home full-time.
It’s a balancing act and I’m not doing it very well.”
“My husband is a physician.
We’ve been really lucky that his schedule has allowed him to do e-consults from home, but when he must go in – it’s terrifying. We plan out his every move – what are the safe routes to walk in the hospital, how much of PPE is enough – and will he have access to it, which door will he enter through when he comes home, how many layers must he remove to safely re-enter, how much disinfectant is enough, where will he sleep, should he wear a mask around me and the kids, should he even come home at all, etc. etc. etc.
He can’t hold our son.
Because he is at risk of contracting the virus, no matter how careful we are, we decided it’s best if he doesn’t hold him for a while. As hard as it is for me because he can’t help in the middle of the night or hold him for a second while I deal with something, I feel like it’s even sadder for him.
The healthcare workers and other frontline personnel are absolute warriors. Their self-sacrifice is incredible. Check up on them. OFTEN.But please – check up on their spouses too. It’s hard enough dealing with this crisis as it is – the quarantine, the cabin fever, the need to entertain children at all hours, the social isolation, the work from home. Don’t forget about them.
We’re trying to deal with everything, one day at a time.”
“Everyone has been trying to find the blessings in all of this. Spending more time with children as well as the ability to “pause” and take stock of what matters most are some of the most common things I hear. I envy these people. I wish I could find an inner blessing in all of this, but I just can’t get there. And that’s OK.
We don’t have to have an epiphany moment in order to get through this. We cry. I’ve cried. A lot. But I’ve laughed too. I have gratitude, especially for my family that is helping me through this. I have the ability to express thanks to Hashem that we are healthy. I can have both emotions.
I decided to take that nervous energy and transform it into something productive. I started a Facebook support group for postpartum and pregnant moms and it has since grown to over 1,900 people. The group is my bloodline right now – it gives me a sense of purpose. The camaraderie and support that people in the group provide to each other is inspiring and it keeps me going.
I am also going to be part of a study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine where they will test my breastmilk for antibodies to help fight the virus. I feel so guilty that I can’t be one of those fearless volunteers that go grocery shopping for the elderly or bring meals to essential workers. But with this study I feel like, in my own small way, I can help make a difference.
So what is my message? Forgive yourself. It’s ok not to be ok. We don’t need to find the hidden blessing in everything. Sometimes it’s not there. But we will get by. We have moments of sadness coupled with moments of joy. We find ways to contribute. We do our part to help humanity. At least, I’m doing my best to try.”
Liz is the Director of programming for the international March is the living, a program that has brought close to 300,000 participants to Poland and Israel. She has a Bachelors’s in architectural history and theory from Barnard and a dual Master’s in museum studies and nonprofit management from Johns Hopkins. She lives in south new Rochelle with her husband and two kids and loves gluten-free and dairy-free baking.