A Postpartum Mother: Two Years Later

Re: My firstborn's painting and birth story, NICU survivor

My firstborn just turned 2 on April 24. Even though it took us about 3 weeks to finally write in her birthday book, being busy with two kids has not dulled the memory of my first birthing experience…the one that brought me so much joy and pain that it is worth reposting here, after I had already shared it once on IG, when this painting was on exhibition:

The longest most painful cry I have ever had was the day I was discharged from the hospital after ~60 hours of labor, with no baby to bring home. She had to stay behind in the NICU to be monitored in a glass box, and was forced to be formula fed until I can produce enough breast milk to keep her alive. As I wailed into my husband's arms for this beautiful stranger that I had only met 2 days ago - who depended on me for survival - I knew my life will never be the same.

Throughout her 9-month residence in my womb, she gave me no trouble at all. To this day, I still don't know how morning sickness feels. So, when we were told that our little one will stay in the birthing room with us after delivery, we believed it. When we were instructed on the importance of the first few minutes of skin to skin contact, we expected plenty of it. As I was encouraged to put my baby to breast for this "liquid gold" called colostrum, I intend for her to catch every drop of it. Instead, the few droplets of colostrum I could collect into a syringe wasn't sufficient for the syringe to push into her mouth. Our very first skin to skin contact lasted a blur of a split second, while my body shivered in shock. Then she was immediately relocated to the opposite end of two buildings, which I could only get to because Tom wheelchaired me there - bouncing on my fresh stitches - every opportunity we got to hold her tiny hand through the armholes of her incubator.

I can honestly say that we went through hell to be blessed with our happy, strong, and brilliant baby girl. And we would do it again in a heartbeat for her. We were truly fortunate that she turned out to be the healthiest kid in the NICU.

Every time I think about her life that would've been lost if she were born in a different era, I am reminded of my inability to control what happens to my baby girl. Since I cannot protect her from the world in which we live, my hope is that by giving her a glimpse of the world that I've seen, she may be more equipped to take it on herself. Until then, the beginning of her journey starts in my arms, drinking fully from my breasts.

Written: 2018-10-08

So far, baby #2’s painting only consist of his 3-month-old footprints, stamped the day before he turned 4 months old. I didn’t think I’d have the energy/time to paint another one of these, but it’s funny how perspectives change once your baby starts giving you ample sleep again.

Hallelujah for graduating from the “Parents of Two Under Two” category! …Enter Terrible Twos.

Written: 2020-05-17

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