Dear NICU mom,
You’ve probably seen them, those beautiful belfies from the breastfeeding mommy cohort, #Tree of Life (to normalize breastfeeding and to show the bond between mommy and baby), but you are stuck in the NICU with a micro-preemie, preemie, IUGR baby, TTTS (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome) babies, or an otherwise sick and tiny newborn you are not allowed to nurse yet. Or perhaps, you don’t have any milk. Or, you are an exclusive pumper like I was, because you have to fortify for extra calories. Maybe you can bottle feed, maybe your little darling has a feeding tube. Did you know you can create belfies for bottle-fed and tube-fed babies, too? Who says the tree of life needs to come out of a boob? Fed is best, no matter how you feed. Don’t let the breastfeeding mommies steel your thunder. I will show you how it goes; it’s easy! All you need is a smartphone.
Here are the steps to take, before I go into detail with examples:
- Go to the Google Apps Store and download the App, “PicsArt.”
- Click on the pink plus sign, “start editing.”
- Go to “all photos.” If you use Google Photos, they will all be in there, and you can pick the one you want. Otherwise, upload your photo.
- Go to “stickers” and use the magnifying glass to search for “Tree of Life.”
- Pick the tree of life you like best.
- Position this tree of life on your picture by clicking on the rotation sign to turn it the way you need. The root points to the milk source, the crown to the mouth of the child.
- Use the “effects” button.
- Use the “artistic” button first if you want to distort your picture before you apply the “magic.”
- Under the “artistic button,” pick something like “watercolor” or “fattal1” (this one makes dust on the skin, and for some reason, this dirt creates a really cool look. Try for yourself!)
- Remember to click the checkmark in the upper right hand corner; otherwise, your changes are not saved!
- Click on the “effects” button and choose, “magic.”
- Now, it’s up to you; I love “white ice,” “moonlight,” “galaxy,” “midnight,” and “geode.” Get creative!
- Click the checkmark to save your creation.
- Click the download symbol next to the checkmark on top.
- Now, the picture is downloaded to your phone’s gallery. You can email it out, post it on social media networks, etc. If it’s a boob pic, think twice before you publish it for the world to see, but if it’s a bottle picture, no worries if your boss comes across it. PicsArt has a button, “Connect Facebook.”
- There is a function to “share” your belfie. I wouldn’t do it if it’s a boop pic, because the viewers are not restricted if you add it to the database. Just share it with people you know and trust. Protect your child and yourself.
And now in detail. Let’s start:
Download the app called, “PicsArt.” It will tell you that the subscription costs $47.95 per year and will automatically renew, BUT you get a free 7-day trial. If you just want to take the belfie, use up your 7-day free trial and then cancel your subscription. Don’t forget it. If you get hooked by those beautiful possibilities, you can of course keep your subscription. I made mine just to show you where to click on.
After you have downloaded the PicsArt app, create an account. Then, upload the photo you want to use for your picture. I am using this photo of my 1-year-old Lyons Cub (who says it has to be a newborn?):
I chose this pic because of his ice-blue eyes. I just love it. So, the next step is to find one of the many Trees of Life that appeals to you for your picture. Be careful: the root of the tree goes to the milk source (i.e., the boob, the bottle, the feeding tube, the glass, wherever it comes from) and the crown with the leaves goes into the face of your child. You wouldn’t want the face all covered up, so choose a Tree of Life with a big root and a smaller crown, or a crown that is spread so far apart that you can still recognize the face of your child. There are also some cool trees showing hearts, or a mother and child. Here is an example of what kind of trees of life you can pick from (the list is endless):
I chose a very long tree with a tiny root and a narrow crown, because I needed it to fit over a bottle. Look at the different effects. I chose “artistic,” “halftone dots,” and then, I looked at the previews for different kinds of “magic” effects and selected those that appealed to me most:
In retrospect, I think I chose a picture where Lyons Cub had banged his nose. “Oopsie-daisy!” as Lyons Cub would say. Oh well! People might take it for one of those artistic effects 😉 Our next trial is with newborn photos in the NICU. Here is the original picture:
Not the greatest pic, I know. Sucking grumpily on colostrum. But this is how it was. The wires are hanging out of his jumper. I was lucky, for Lyons Cub only had monitors attached to him, no intravenous fluids, oxygen, or a feeding tube. But you can do Tree of Life pictures if your baby is on the vent or CPAP, too. Those pictures are memories for mommy. They are beautiful to her, anyway. And if you’re not satisfied, you can filter the photo or make it watercolor, pastel, comic, grayscale, or something else to distort reality. Here is the artwork:
The “Midnight” version seems to be the most often used one, as far as I can tell from using online forums. I tried it a few times, and those dots are in different places for the same photo all the time! So if you don’t like one dot placement (like, above, it’s in between the eyes), just try it a second time, and the dot will be somewhere else.
Finally, I tried something in the Andy Warhol style, with four differently colored panels, by choosing “Pop Art Colors.” This is the original picture, the first bottle I gave my sweet baby of my own colostrum when he was five days old (he was on donor breast milk before my own one came in). I will always cherish our first time “nursing” together:
He was jaundiced and rather orange, but the effects will get rid of that. I chose an individual Tree of Life for each of the four panels. I chose “cartoonizer” to smoothen the lines.
I guess you’ve seen enough examples now. Thus, get your feeding image, how ever you feed, and pick that Tree of Life.