“It was definitely an emotional roller coaster.”
May Shin was a busy wife, mother to an eight-year-old daughter and an athletic apparel designer in Los Angeles when an infection caused her to deliver her son, Ethan, by emergency C-section at 26 weeks. Her world turned upside down and she had to put clothing design aside to care for her son in NICU during his three and a half month stay.
I’ve enjoyed connecting with May over Instagram at her account @26weeksandkicking where she shares beautiful images of her designs alongside her adorable family of four. She’s honest about balancing work and home life stating in one post, “It’s not easy being a mom 24 hours a day!”
Can anyone else relate?
Here’s May’s colorful story.
How was your pregnancy leading up to Ethan’s premature birth? Any warning signs?
I had no health issues prior to Ethan’s birth. I was told later on that I had an infection that cause my water to break. Luckily, he was healthy for his age at birth.
You had a full-term daughter nine years prior. How was the experience different with Ethan?
Having a preemie after having had my daughter was definitely different. I didn’t get to see Ethan until the second day because I was highly medicated due to the C-section. It was a week after he was born before I could hold him. And of course I couldn’t take him home when I left the hospital. I couldn’t breastfeed. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster.
What was the most difficult part of having a baby born premature?
Not knowing what’s going to happen and leaving my baby to all the NICU nurses and the doctors.
What got you through the tough times?
We prayed to God every day. We didn’t know anyone who had gone through this. It was really hard. I just kind of kept it to my husband and I.
What kinds of things did you do to feel more like a “regular” mom?
I used my hobby, knitting, to pass the time. I started knitting Ethan hats and blankets everyday thinking he could use them. I also pumped. I tried pumping three times a day but to be honest it really didn’t help me feel like a regular mom. It just reminded me that my baby was in the hospital.
How did you balance having your daughter at home and Ethan in NICU? .
My daughter was sad and didn’t understand why Ethan was there for so long. She would asked why can’t we take him home or is it time for him to come home. It was hard to explain these things to her. Her schedule was busy so it was mainly on the weekends. But we spent the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s at the NICU. Our dinner was basically in the cafeteria.
How did you balance work and a child in NICU?
I took the year off from work. It was too difficult to work knowing he was in NICU.
Was there anything anyone did for you that helped make the NICU stay easier?
All the nurses at the NICU were so nice. They were so helpful and made the stay at the NICU easier.
What would you tell a mom who has a preemie baby in NICU right now?
It might look dark at the end of the tunnel right now but soon you’ll start seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel and little by little that light will become really bright.
How is your Ethan today?
Today Ethan is healthy. He knows who his parents are. He’s started on solid food. He’s growing up right before my eyes just like a full-term baby and that’s all I could asked for.
I always say preemie moms deserve a merit badge. What merit badge do you think you have earned?The patient merit badge. I really learned how to be patient in order to cope with everything that was coming at me.