I’m sure there are many more from many other women.

They wheel me down the hospital passageway. 

It’s during level 5 lockdown, right at the pandemic’s start. I have to give birth to my son via c-section and somehow survive the next few weeks without outside assistance.

Luckily, my husband is allowed in the room with me. We are both wearing masks. I’ve never been so stressed in my life. I just keep praying, over and over. 

Afterwards, my husband is allowed to stay with us for two hours. The nurses watch the clock and make sure he doesn’t leave a minute later.

I feel so alone.

Our son is so tiny. I am afraid to hold him because I’m terrified I might hurt him. I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m not used to feeling incompetent. The fear and uncertainty paralyse me.

I try to breastfeed my baby, and the nurses try to help. In the process, they really – really – hurt me. And, I think, they unintentionally set me up for failure. 

The paediatrician arrives and tells me my son has jaundice. It’s not usually a big problem, she assures me. But we have to stay for another few days for observation.

“Another few days?” I ask, almost crying because I want to go home. I hate being alone when all I want is comfort and reassurance from my husband. Anyone.

We go home with a warning to make sure the yellow sheen leaves my son’s face within a day or two. Otherwise, she tells me, I have to take him for a checkup.

Of course, he’s still yellow a few days on. But the joke is, we can’t take him for a checkup.

The hospital where he was birthed tells me they only do the birth and don’t check up on the baby after they’ve discharged us.

I can’t go to a different hospital without a valid doctor’s note, which I don’t have. I can’t take him for a blood test because the labs also need a doctor’s note. 

And the paediatrician that told me to take him for a checkup? She has left on holiday.

Are you freaking kidding me?? It’s terrible to feel so powerless. And so worried, because what if the jaundice is severe?

Thank God the jaundice passes on its own. But a week later, a nurse is allowed to do a quick checkup on my son. 

He has lost a lot of weight, almost an entire kg from his birth weight.

My world comes crashing down. I now feel so insecure about my ability to care for my son. I’m devastated. I thought I’d been (breast)feeding him when in reality, he hadn’t taken much sustenance from me at all.

I feel like such a failure.

In a word, to be a new mom during the pandemic is traumatic.

I’m desperate for help. No one is allowed to visit, sit with me, or talk with me. Give me breastfeeding advice. 

I cry more than I’ve ever cried in my life. But I keep on searching for help. 

I find this online breastfeeding program. The midwife who teaches it has been practising for years. She teaches me about my rights, and she teaches me how to care for my baby. 

But, most importantly, she teaches me to trust myself.

I breastfeed my son for the first time since his birth without experiencing any pain. 

It’s a revelation. 

I realise I can do this. I have done this. 

I just need to trust myself more.


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