Katie Chiet (36), Chase (5) and Ian (2)
NY | Miami, FL
Katie shares -
“While I struggle with body image and the softness of my body these days, I am also marveled at how this body carried two children, has nourished and continues to nourish them, and can still do incredible feats like run marathons! My body is strong and capable in ways I never thought possible.
My first postpartum journey was affected by a NICU stay that I should have been expecting, but still blindsided me. We knew to expect some health concerns and so I was scheduled for an induction - we had to throw everything we learned in our Bradley Method class out the window. They took him from me after delivery and when family poured in to my room 30 minutes after Chase entered this world, there was no baby to show off.
Every day for the next 10, we met doctors of all kinds who came to tell us our beautiful baby boy had some serious medical problems. We lived 45 minutes from the hospital; I was expecting to be lying in my own bed with my newborn and instead, we were waking up at 6am to shower and pump, drive, visit all day/pump around the clock, leave at 7pm for rounds, come back at 9, and leave for the night at 10pm. We didn't get to come home until he was 2 weeks old and we had 8 specialists to follow-up with, so it wasn't the bliss I had expected when I was pregnant. I went into automatic/mama bear mode for a long time. At four months old, he had 2 major surgeries - one on his larynx and then open heart surgery - and after that, I finally felt like I could breathe and enjoy him.
When I delivered Ian, my sisters helped advocate for a different experience - the chance to latch him at my breast immediately after birth and to spend some time with him before he was checked out. But because my induction went super quick and I was positive for Group B Strep, I was discharged from the hospital before Ian was. I had a hard time believing I was going to leave the hospital without a baby for a second time, but my midwife was exceptional and was able to allow me to stay an extra night! Ian is the perfect addition to our family - he was a calm, content baby who came everywhere his big brother needed him to go.
After my first delivery, I returned to running quickly - mostly because of pressure I felt from social media that women were supposed to bounce back, but partly because I needed a stress relief from Chase's medical issues. I ran a multi-day event when Chase was 6 months old (5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon) and nursed him on course while I went 26.2. It remains one of my most favorite memories of my journey. I wasn't able to run as long into Ian's pregnancy - I was severely anemic through most of it - but I have some special memories of our active time together and we returned to running, all three of us, once I felt able to.
I am so thankful for a husband who has supported every part of this postpartum journey. He never hesitated when I felt like I needed to quit my job to care for our children and he has more than fully embraced the attachment parenting style that seemed to come naturally for me.
It's OK to change your stance on things. I had heard the adage, "you're never a better parent that when you are expecting your first child," and I am not sure I fully understood it until Chase was in my arms. Everything that I had once said I wouldn't do turned 180 degrees. My sisters co-slept with their babies and I swore I wouldn't ever do it; Chase was born with a complex congenital heart defect and a laryngeal web, which left him with an apnea monitor and the inability to cry or make sound. I thought breastfeeding was gross; I am currently tandem nursing my FIVE and TWO year old sons. I prided myself on my career and ability to care for others; all I want to do these days is stay home and play with my kids. I am a much different person than I was in 2013, but in so many good ways.
ALWAYS trust your mama gut. Every time I felt in my gut that we needed to take a specific action, I have been correct. My mama gut hasn't failed me yet and for that, I will always be grateful!
I chose to participate because my voice matters. I have been fortunate enough to have people advocating for me on life's journey. I am lucky to get to be Chase and Ian's advocate as they grow up to be the people they will be. I hope that some special needs mama out there hears our story and knows that there is so much joy to be found in parenting a child who is differently abled.”