Stories of HopeMother's Day 2021: "Being there for family"

Posted on: May 05, 2021

Jezelle's perspective on the difficulties of raising a newborn in COVID, missing out on milestones, and always trying to be there for family. Originally submitted to the AWHF as part of the Mother's Day 2021 campaign.

The following was originally submitted directly to the AWHF via the story submission form, and originally published here on the AWHF websiteMinor grammatical edits have been made for the sake of clarity and accuracy.

This story is from Jezelle from Sherwood Park, posted with her permission.

Mother’s Day 2021: “Being there for family”

I’ve always been very close to my parents and three sisters—they have been my absolute saviours since I gave birth to my firstborn.

They’re always ready to come over to help watch my daughter while I nap after a sleepless night, or watch her while I shower or try to get some house work done. The best is when they have food cooked and ready for me and my husband when we both can’t remember when we’ve eaten last—especially helpful in the newborn phase.

My daughter was three months old when COVID hit.

The first two weeks of the lockdown was hard. She still wasn’t sleeping well but there was no one to come help me while my husband had already returned to work. We were adjusting and trying to keep in touch through FaceTime and phone calls.

However, the hardest moment for me of all this pandemic chaos that I will not forget to this day was one afternoon, my daughter had a first major milestone when she started rolling over. I was FaceTiming with my mom and we were all so excited and my mom said, “Oh she’s growing up so fast, I’m missing all the fun stuff!” (as we hadn’t seen her in three weeks).

I still remember having to get off the phone and just breaking down in tears in front of my husband that it’s true—there are firsts she might miss because of COVID.

When the restrictions eased up by the summer, it was back to happy times and getting to hang out together again as a cohort. Preparing for my daughter’s first birthday was a big deal. I had stayed optimistic throughout the pandemic and hoped that it would all change by her first birthday in November. The venue was booked months in advance, the cake, the decor all ordered and set.

The Monday before her birthday on Sunday, the 29th, the government announced restrictions of no indoor gatherings, meaning we had to cancel her first birthday party. It was the second time my heart was broken so badly from COVID. I’m sure every mom dreams of how to celebrate their child’s birthday and as a Filipino, a child’s first birthday is celebrated very lavishly in our culture. It was so heartbreaking not to be able to celebrate her birthday with family and friends the way I had been planning it from the moment she was born.

Life changed again for us when my sister ended up giving birth to a 33-week preemie at the Royal Alex hospital, my nephew, and he had to stay in the NICU for weeks.

It was so tough not being able to be there for her the same way she was for me. It was a happy time when my nephew was released from the NICU before Christmas but with no indoor gathering, we didn’t get to celebrate his first Christmas as a family. It was difficult trying to meet my nephew with the restrictions and winter cold weather outside.

I feel like I’ve missed being a good help to my sister while she tried to handle having a preemie born during COVID. I consider her the toughest out of all this. She’s been through so much as a new mom but she’s made it through, and my nephew is as healthy as can be.

We’re staying optimistic with the vaccines coming out and hoping that the government is able to best balance the restrictions with people’s mental health needs.

Hopefully one day soon, we get to celebrate our babies properly for their upcoming birthdays too.

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