isabel baek-il

Birth Story

Hi friends! So we’re going to start doing something new on the blog. This blog is all about embarking on new adventures, and I just dove into a doozy, motherhood! Food posts will continue, but I’ll be writing posts about #momlife here and there. There might even be a convergence! Or maybe not. We’ll see how this goes…

tia ultrasound
A Miracle
To be honest, I never thought I would be a mom. Plant mom or dog mom, absolutely yes. Baby mom? Definitely not. I was never baby crazy like most of my girlfriends, and for the longest time I thought life was enough with just me, my significant other and possibly a few furry friends. Well, as time went by, babies started to look less annoying and more cute, and miraculously, out of the blue, I was pregnant.

Geriatric Pregnancy
Since I didn’t feel the maternal itch until much later in life, I ended up having a geriatric pregnancy. They consider it geriatric when the mom is 35+, and I’m in the + range. Possibly +++. The terminology is pretty insulting, if you ask me, but as long as you’re healthy and you have access to good healthcare, pregnancy later in life is possible.

Most of my pregnancy was complication-free except a few hiccups…

Gestational Hypertension
Aside from an early nuchal translucency scan that showed the possibility of chromosomal abnormalities (which by the way was negated by a more thorough blood test later on), the majority of my pregnancy was easy. My morning sickness was limited to two days max, and aside from being tired, I still waddled around town, and even went to the gym 3x a week. That changed after the 30th week, when all of sudden I started feeling the additional weight (25lbs total) with every step, and on my next doctor’s visit, I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension.

My whole life I had low blood pressure, so this was a surprise. As a result, the doctor made me come see her more often, and I started having weekly sonograms and non-stress tests to monitor the baby. Unfortunately, my gestational hypertension worsened to mild pre-eclampsia, and after being sent to the hospital 2x because of unsafe blood pressure readings, it was recommended I be induced at 37 weeks.

A Bad Idea
On my 37th week, my doctor had me go to the hospital at 1am because she said that was the best time to deliver as the hospital would be empty then. Let me tell you, that was the worst idea ever! They induced me and I was in labor for 14+ hours before I had to finally have an emergency c-section because we kept losing the baby’s heartbeat. This is an ordeal in itself, but to add lack of sleep on top of this, made it worse. Keep in mind, after giving birth, you’ll be lucky to squeeze in an hour or two the first week, with sleeplessness continuing for about a year after. So to add an extra day when I needed it the most, it was absolutely ridic. If your doctor recommends this, push back!

Isabel was born 4lbs 11oz. She was tiny, but also healthy and perfect. After months of worrying, it was a relief to see her beautiful face. Because of her weight, the hospital considered admitting her into NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), but after monitoring her weight, they decided it wasn’t necessary, and our newly formed family of three left the hospital in 4 days.

mount sinai bill
Healthcare in the US sucks, and I knew having a baby was expensive, but how much I wasn’t sure. Crazily enough, the previous year, I decided to quit my job because of stress even though I had a hunch I was pregnant. Luckily, my husband went full-time at his job so we were covered under his insurance and not my very expensive barebones freelancer insurance at the time of delivery. Even still, I ended up paying around $5K.

The Pandemic
People ask how it was having a pandemic baby, and I can say it’s been crazy. When we left the hospital, everyone was on high alert, but we weren’t in quarantine yet. A week later, the Mayor’s Office was recommending everyone to work from home, and the following week, quarantine or PAUSE officially began. So although having an emergency cesarean wasn’t ideal, it worked out in a way in that I didn’t have to give birth during quarantine. Although I ended up having to wear a mask in labor anyway, mine was an oxygen mask, and I still had the support of my husband in the delivery room. [Soon after quarantine began, private hospitals in New York, including my own (Mount Sinai West), were restricting the delivery room to patient-only.] I can’t imagine going through 14+ hours of labor and worry alone. When people are cutting you open, and your life and your future baby’s life hangs in the balance, moral support outside of strangers is much needed.

After delivery, quarantine has been tough with a baby. Since March, my husband and I have been home with the baby 24/7 with no help. We weren’t planning to hire help, but not even having family or friends visit has been hard, and being sequestered in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment in the East Village has been even harder. Just recently we started going out as a family for short walks to the supermarket or to get takeout, but before then, I was basically wearing a trench in the floor of our railroad-style apartment pacing back and forth all day with the baby in tow. I was safe from COVID, but going mad in the process. I’m glad our apartment faces the street so I could at least see people if not talk to them. Seeing the world, even without contact, helped.

baek-il cake
100 Days
Baek-il (백일), or 100 Days, is a Korean celebration to thank the goddess of birth for protecting the baby and mom the first 100 days. I originally wanted to have a big baek-il party since I didn’t have a baby shower. (After learning about my pre-eclampsia, I didn’t want to jinx the pregnancy with a party before the baby was born.) But unfortunately, a party in 2020 for me or anyone else was not meant to be. So instead, hubby and I celebrated with an iPhone photo shoot, and FaceTime calls with the extended fam. This year, that was enough, and I was happy and grateful we could even do that.

(Note: Food is from Hansol Food in Queens.)

tia & isabel baek-il
Motherhood is an adventure I never thought I’d embark on, but here I am. It’s not easy. There are days, like a few nights ago when the baby refused to sleep, that I feel I’m right on the brink of breaking. Other days, I feel like I’m drowning. All you moms struggling out there, I see and feel you! Anyone on social media who tells you it’s easy, let me tell you now, they’re lying. I’m here to tell you the truth. This is hard af!

But as corny as it sounds, Isabel’s smiles and LOLs make it worth it. She’s my little fighting angel who fought her way out of the womb to complete our family. We’re in this together. Mommy, Daddy and baby.

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  1. Susan

    Hi Tia,

    Just wanted to say congratulations!! I’ve read your original Bionic Bites site for awhile (even won a free fruit basket contest!) and am very glad you have a new site! I can totally commiserate, I had a baby girl 10 months ago. It’s pretty funny, two of my favorite OG food bloggers (you and Robyn Lee) had baby girls around the same time! Best of luck!

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