BRYAN, Texas: Devon Oechsle and her husband were forced to make an unenviable decision this week: risk exposing their three-year old daughter Ellie to the coronavirus or send her away to live with a family friend temporarily with no guaranteed date to see her again.
The parents opted to put their daughter’s safety first.
Oechsle is an ER nurse in Brazos County and her husband is a firefighter and paramedic in Bryan. They both go to work every day with the very real risk of being exposed to the virus. In fact, Oechsle already has been.
“Once I had a confirmed exposure, I was like ‘ok it’s gotta happen, because I don’t want to see my kid sick,'” Oechsle said. “I don’t want to be the cause of my kid getting sick.”
Oechsle and her husband had mulled over the decision lightly for a few weeks but after she found out she had been exposed to the virus, she put in a call to a family friend right away.
“I don’t second-guess my decision at all like, it’s best for her to not be around us right now and that’s a really sad thought,” Oechsle said. “We feel like we can be poison to her basically, just by being around her.”
Oechsle posted on Facebook about her family’s new situation. The post went viral, getting shared over 124,000 times.
Even though Ellie is only a short drive away, the change is taking a toll on her and her parents.
“We FaceTimed every day and it took – actually we FaceTimed that night – before she went to bed, the night we dropped her off and that night she had said she had missed home,” Oechsle said. “So it didn’t take her long.”
In the Facebook post, Oechsle was hoping her and her daughter would only be separated for a month or so and fears what it might do to the family if she has to stay away longer.
“It’d be even worse, yeah, emotionally for us,” Oechsle said. “I mean a lot can happen in two months in terms of like she could grow an inch, you know, she can gain two pounds, like she’s gonna look different when we see her next.”
With overwhelming feedback from her Facebook post, she has been supported by healthcare professionals and mothers from all over the country, praising her for her tough but just decision making.
They know they aren’t alone in this fight.
“We’re just one family,” Oechsle said. “But we’re one family of thousands that are disrupted right now because of this whole pandemic.”
Oechsle says she hopes her daughter can look back on this time in her life and realize her mother made a selfless decision.