8 Moms Share The Profound Lessons They Learned While On the COVID-19 Frontlines

Being a healthcare worker and a mother during the pandemic came with a set of unique challenges — and a new perspective on life.

Throughout the pandemic, these eight women have been all in on the fight, serving as doctors and nurses to COVID-19 patients, caring for folks at nursing homes, and volunteering as EMTs. And it's made them shift their outlook on their lives and their family.

Here, the moms share the most valuable lessons learned over the last year and a half.

Katie Maniatis, R.N., Pediatric Oncology Nurse In San Francisco

"I was one of a handful on our team who agreed to work with our COVID-19 patients. I felt it was my duty as a nurse to put my fears aside and care for them. The pandemic has taught me to slow down. The time I have with my three adolescent children is stolen time — time we would never have had in the house together. I hope we can hold on to being grateful in the moment and for one another."

Rhonda Acholonu, M.D., Pediatrician In New Rochelle, New York

Rhonda Acholonu, M.D.
Rhonda Acholonu, M.D. Courtesy of Rhonda Acholonu

"In March 2020, I joined my fellow pediatric hospital workers to do overnight shifts caring for adults infected with COVID-19. When you're one of the last faces someone sees before they get intubated, it stresses the importance of the quality of the interactions over the quantity. I no longer look at a few minutes or hours as not enough time to plan something. I used to think that I needed to create big adventures to give my kids [ages 5, 6, and 8] a great time, but now I take so much more joy in doing little things with them."

Denyce Nichols, M.D., Observation Medical Director In Winter Park, Florida

"At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter. Taking care of acutely ill COVID-19 patients required a fast learning curve. At times you could feel defeated, as you tried every remedy available. Presently, I simply live each day because tomorrow is not promised. I hug and kiss my daughters every morning and night and tell them I love them because I know that I take a risk when I work." (Related: 10 Black Essential Workers Share How They're Practicing Self-Care During the Pandemic)

Dawn Monahan, Medical Assistant and Volunteer EMT In Port Jefferson Station, New York

Dawn Monahan
Dawn Monahan. Courtesy of Dawn Monahan

"Some days, my children [ages 7, 12, and 15] have seen me come home from work and strip on my front porch before I come in. They were scared at first. But as terrible as the pandemic has been, it has brought us together as a family. I just remind my children to continue to be compassionate to everyone. I have also become more vocal about my feelings rather than hide them. Talking to family and friends truly is the best medicine." (Related: How to Identify Your Feelings with a Wheel of Emotions — and Why You Should)

Carissa Quinn, R.N., Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist In Rochester, Minnesota

"It's been jarring to care for patients — often in their final moments — without their family members present to support them. Going through the last year has made me reevaluate what really brings me happiness. Instead of packing as much as I can into my free time, I am more selective about how we spend our time with our 2-year-old twins. I've also taken this moment to evaluate my goals and start on them now instead of waiting for the elusive someday."

Jacqueline Corvino, Physician Assistant at an Urgent Care Facility In Manorville, New York

Jacqueline Corvino
Jacqueline Corvino. Courtesy of Jacqueline Corvino

"As the gravity of the situation began to unfold and take its toll, I had to incorporate several practices to avoid emotional and physical depletion. I concentrated on a more nutritionally sound diet, established a regular exercise routine, practiced meditation, listened to audiotapes, and read material that inspired me as a mother and a provider. I included my 3-year-old daughter in many of these, since I hope to model that happiness and fulfillment is an everyday practice of patience, presence, gratitude, strength, and balance."

Tracey Pantano, Physical Therapist Assistant at a Nursing Home In West Babylon, New York

"If anything, the pandemic has enhanced my belief in living happily with no regrets. Say 'I love you' to someone every day, even if it's yourself. As COVID-19 spread like wildfire at the facility, my job quickly shifted. I was doing my best to hold it together for families when patients were dying at a rapid rate. It was physically and mentally draining, but my fiancé and I didn't want our sons to feel the stress. Our motto at home is, 'Together we win.' And we did."

Emma Olson, D.O., Resident Physician In Philadelphia

Emma Olson, D.O. with daughter Grace
Emma Olson, D.O. with daughter Grace. Courtesy of Emma Olson

"My daughter just turned 1. At the height of the pandemic, it was incredibly difficult to feel good about work, so looking at her was an important beginning and end to my day. Balancing this with being a new mother was very difficult, but I am lucky that my spouse shares my vocation. Having a support system is the most important thing you can do for self-care."

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