During times of transition and new adventures, artist Joy Hwang has always turned to her sketchbook. So when she became a mother, she started documenting the experience with illustrations and sharing them with friends and family on social media.
Now, Hwang posts her art on Instagram and Facebook under the account “Mom Is Drawing.” While her drawings cover topics ranging from pregnancy to traveling with a baby to bedtime struggles, many of her most powerful illustrations focus on one particularly emotional aspect of motherhood: breastfeeding.
“One of the hardest assignments I received as a new mom was to keep my baby alive with my boobs (breastfeed),” Hwang told The Huffington Post. “I’ve always imagined it would come naturally and magically, but it was quite the opposite.”
Hwang struggled with supply issues and tried many different methods to produce enough milk for her baby ― from tea, cookies and pills to eating her placenta to nursing and pumping every three hours “and falling off the chair while pump-sleeping.” The process was exhausting.
“I remember times when my baby and I both cried all night because I couldn’t produce enough milk,” the mom told HuffPost. “I wanted to breastfeed because I wanted to give my baby the most natural food designed just for her from my own body. Then I found out my milk was set back from traumatic birth, and I was starving her. I was so grateful that formula was there for my baby, and it had my back.”
Eventually, Hwang’s supply came in, and she continues to nurse her now 18-month-old daughter, though she said she may wean soon. The mom is grateful for the bonding experience that breastfeeding has given her.
“I’m not excited to admit that my connection to my daughter did not happened in an instant when she was born,” said Hwang. “I remember meeting her for the first time and feeling as if we were on an awkward first date, rather than destined soulmates as many mothers and media have described.”
The new mom was filled with guilt and anxiety, especially as she struggled to breastfeed. “Mom Is Drawing” helped with her negative postpartum feelings.
“It helped me to connect with my baby through the only way I knew how,” she explained. “Drawing her and sharing the art online has helped me find my tribe at my fingertips during the stretch of days when I feel isolated from the world I knew before my baby was born. Even on days filled with my amateur mom struggles, I had more inspiration to draw about them.”
Today, Hwang says that her daughter is her “favorite person in the whole world.” She believes art helped her foster such a strong relationship and continues to do so.
The mom hopes that her illustrations inspire her fellow parents. “I want my drawings to reflect every mom’s journey as well as mine,” she said. “My highest hope is to empower moms and challenge the taboo of breastfeeding and pumping in public and on social media, through sometimes silly or too-honest drawings. I want to open up these conversations and support one another.”
Keep scrolling and check out “Mom Is Drawing” for more illustrations about parenthood.
H/T The Stir