For families all over the world, the pandemic has brought so many challenges and disrupted daily life. We spoke with Nico Wyrobek, one of our Children’s Minnesota foundation board members, about why she and her family are excited for the COVID-19 vaccine to be available for her younger kids.
Wyrobek’s household is full – she and her husband have seven kids who keep them busy. While three are adults who are out of the house and have long since been vaccinated, the family still has four young children who have yet to be eligible for the vaccine.
Missed childhood milestones and memories due to the pandemic
Since the start of the pandemic, the Wyrobek family has gone to great lengths to protect not only their household but their loved ones. Their family has immunocompromised family members – those who because of pre-existing conditions or other issues are not able to be vaccinated or the vaccine is not effective for.
Morgan, born during the pandemic
The family also welcomed their youngest daughter, Morgan, who is now 16 months, in the height of the pandemic. Especially early on when she was an infant, the Wyrobek family knew they had to be extra careful since she hadn’t built up any immunity.
Nico worries about Morgan, who has known nothing but the pandemic since she was born.
“I find that she’s really hesitant to meet new people, and not just in a shy baby way,” Nico said. “I wouldn’t take her with me when I went places, so she didn’t meet people.”
The transition to more normalcy has been particularly hard on her. At 15 months, she finally had her first cold and she’s starting to interact with more people, but she continues to keep a watchful eye rather than embrace social situations.
Alex’s struggles with at-home learning and ADHD
Alex, who is 9 years old, has ADHD and sees a behavioral health specialist at Children’s Minnesota. Because of that, virtual learning was particularly challenging for him. When virtual learning began, the family scrambled to find a school for their son where they’d have the ability to meet in person five days a week.
“The spring of 2020 was catastrophic,” Nico said. “Learning on a screen was really difficult. We wanted him to be in school and be safe, and mom is just not a competent teacher.”
Luckily, the family was able to switch him into a school with a smaller class size that adhered to small pods to limit the spread of the virus. Even with these measures, things became isolating. Alex couldn’t see his old classmates or get to together with his new friends and sports were no longer a social event.
Konnor and Charlotte struggle with social distancing
The family’s other son, Konnor, is 7 years old and has also missed out on a lot because of the pandemic. He was only 5 years old when this all started, and has been limited to brief interactions with friends. Nico says her son’s love language is touch, so it’s been particularly hard.
“This is a kid who loves hugs, but he couldn’t hug grandma and grandpa. He loves snuggles but he can’t because of the pandemic,” said Nico.
As for Charlotte, the Wyrobek’s 5-year-old daughter, she’s missed out on major milestones like hosting her own birthday party for the first time and little things like lunch dates with grandma.
Getting ready for the vaccine
“We’re a house divided politically but we’re pro vaccine throughout,” said Nico of her family.
Her kids are excited to be vaccinated so that they can go back to normal. They’ve all had COVID-19 tests, and would prefer one or two shots rather than constant testing.
“That peace of mind from that extra layer of protection is something we are very excited about as a family,” said Nico. She’s particularly looking forward to going back to a more normal Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and her kids are even more excited.