This powerful photo of a breastfeeding ICU nurse in PPE reminds us how essential working moms really are

ICU nurse Mandi Tuhro snapped this photo of herself during a much-needed break.

ICU nurse breastfeeding baby in PPE
Mandi Tuhro

The love and joy that comes with motherhood is an indescribable feeling; and so is the guilt, emotional turmoil, hormonal roller coaster, and sleep deprivation. At that moment, I tried to capture my life in one photo. The good, the bad, and the ugly of being a working mom.

This is me in this moment. This mom is exhausted—her baby doesn't go down drowsy but awake. She doesn't let him cry it out. She's embarrassed she still says no when people ask if her son is sleeping through the night. She remembers the sting of the painful latch of breastfeeding that lingered for months. The pandemic prevented a lactation consultant from helping in person and she just couldn't get it right, so she just kept trying.


She wonders how many hours were spent bouncing on this very ball, trying to soothe this precious baby. She wonders what it would have been like to have had family and friends around to help out if she weren't living in a pandemic.

This mom was terrified to go back to work. You see, before she had this beautiful baby, she worked in the ICU and took great pride in her career. But now, she is returning to an unfamiliar and scary place. She has been deemed a healthcare hero. She is taking care of the sickest patients she has ever seen and has been present for more tragedy and death than she cares to speak about. She must find time to pump milk for her baby while she's there—in between taking on and off full PPE gear and trying to keep her head above water.

This mom isn't sure how she can give another ounce of herself to someone else when she feels so empty—but then the call light goes off or the baby cries and she gets up and does what needs to be done. She just doesn't feel like herself. When she is home, she can't shake the baggage that seems to have followed her home from work. When she's at work, she is desperate to be home.

She loves this life more than she ever thought imaginable but struggling to figure out how everyone else balances being a Mom, a wife, and a career woman and makes it seem so easy. "Am I the only one?" she wonders.

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