New Year, New Hope

The New Year is here and 2021 already seems promising. After the intense year 2020 was for all of us, I feel like there’s nowhere to go but up now. I never really believed in making resolutions, but I surely made determinations. For the most part, I made it all happen in one way or another. The thing about determinations is that they’re a deep shift in your life. It’s more than just “I want lose that extra weight”, or “Get the promotion”, or “Find love”. In my nearly 20 years of practicing Nichiren Buddhism I’ve learned that it’s about an inner revolution that will attract those things in your life. 2020 was possibly the most challenging year of my life, but I also gained plenty. Though my goal with this post is to look forward to my 2021 determinations, I want to share some personal things that I’ve been through to provide some insight towards this new hope.

In a YouTube update video I posted last Summer, I shared my struggles with trying to conceive and how after a year and a half of trying, my husband and I had decided let go of all expectations and just take care of each other when the Pandemic closures started, I got pregnant immediately. The moment I found out, just about one month after the lockdowns started in March, I was more terrified than happy. I honestly cried mostly out of panic. I was happy because it felt like a miracle, don’t get me wrong, but the fear of the unknown during a time of extreme uncertainty drove me into what felt like a panic attack. What would my pregnancy be like during a Pandemic? What were my OB/GYN appointments going to be like if my husband couldn’t join me? Would I get sick? Could my baby get sick? Could I lose my pregnancy? All of these questions rushed through my head as soon as I saw that positive pregnancy test and I just bawled. My husband just held me in bed that morning as I attempted to process what I was feeling. And a mere 5 weeks later, my worst fear came true.

I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks of pregnancy. It had stopped forming at about 6 weeks, but my doctor wanted to wait to see if she was off by a few weeks as it can happen, but she had given me a heads up that it didn’t look good. I appreciated her candor, but I put my faith to work and prayed hard for those 2 weeks with the resolve that this pregnancy would be successful and that she would, in fact, be off on her dates. Unfortunately, when I had my next ultrasound, there had been no changes and I was to have a miscarriage. I was devastated, but I found comfort in sharing my story so I made a video sharing my experience. In my research to talk about this topic, I found that 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, yet not many women talk about it. Mainly because it’s very painful emotionally, but also it’s still somewhat of a taboo. We have learned to believe that the cause is our fault, or that we, as women are damaged or defective because of this, and that is not necessarily true. There are so many factors that contribute to miscarriage and yet it is way under studied and lacking in information. I was amazed to receive the response I did after posting the video (available below) and learning how many women in my life and many whom I had never met before in the community had gone through this, as well.

I refused to give up. So, I asked what were the next steps and prayed to heal physically and emotionally in order to try again within the next few months. The doctor said I could start trying again after 2 months/cycles, and that most women who suffer a miscarriage move on to having a successful pregnancy. My husband and I were ready to start “trying” again in August, with some fear but this time, we would be more carefree with the mentality of “what will be, will be”. Just 2 months later, in October, I was pregnant again! We were so happy! We even laughed and joked when we saw the results. This time, I had new mixed feelings. I was certainly optimistic because the statistics were in my favor. So, I continued to work out, eat healthy and maintain as optimistic an outlook as possible, but the tiny seed of doubt would creep in every so often. I’d heard some stories of women who had multiple miscarriages and though I tried my best to combat those fears, I would think of those women in my prayers.

My first ultrasound looked good, better than the one I had during the first pregnancy. The OB/GYN found it a bit small, but she said it was okay. I was set to have a second appointment within two weeks and we were to expect a heartbeat. The following week was Thanksgiving, and I was already planning how I would announce the pregnancy to my immediate family during Christmas and mentally planning the cute holiday photoshoot. The week of Thanksgiving, I started to feel sick. The morning sickness was getting more intense and lasting all day and I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and I thought it was a panic attack because it was very similar to events I’ve had when I used to travel for work. On Wednesday night, at around midnight, I went to the restroom and found that I had some vaginal bleeding and freaked out, but then I Googled it and it said that it’s normal to have bleeding and spotting during pregnancy, so I decided to observe and see how the night went. That night, I had a very high fever and on Thanksgiving day I had the chills all day, feeling very sick, but pushed through to make a nice meal for my hubby and I. I honestly thought maybe I would have COVID-19 because I had the symptoms. I was still spotting; it wasn’t too bad, but that night I had another fever and was taking Tylenol at the direction of my doctor/aunt who said that my body might be warning me about a possible miscarriage and that I should rest. The next day, I still felt very sick so, after speaking to a RN from my healthcare provider over the phone, my husband took me to the emergency room. I got COVID and Influenza tests, along with bloodwork, urinalysis, an ultrasound and a pelvic exam. All negative and clear. The doctor said that everything looked normal, but she had contacted my OB/GYN and set me up for an earlier visit than planned. The bleeding got heavier over the weekend and though I prayed hard, tried to rest and to maintain a positive outlook, the looming reality was that I was about to miscarry and there was nothing we could do to stop it. Before walking into my appointment with the OB/GYN, I prayed for strength to accept the outcome, whatever that would be. The ovum was on its way out, so we had to do the same painful process of taking the medication and going through it at home.

It was less physically painful than the first, but emotionally I felt destroyed. I hadn’t told anyone yet, so when I called my mother to tell her, I couldn’t even speak. I felt defeated. When I first started feeling sick, my hubby and joked that it was probably nothing because there’s no way we could be this unlucky twice. I prayed for strength, for me to not fall into a deep hole and to not give up hope. I tried to force myself into the mindset of “what are the next steps”, but those women whose stories of multiple miscarriages were haunting my thoughts. I sought guidance from my elders in faith and I started to feel a lot better. Talking about it helped, so I decided to seek therapy and found someone who specializes in pregnancy and perinatal mental health. It’s been a tremendous help in my healing process. Although it’s only been a little over a month since it happened, I feel different. There’s a strength and resilience in me that won’t let me give up hope that I will be a mother, soon. I see those miscarriages, not so much as losses, but as a protection and when the time is right, I have faith that it will happen for me. With that said, I made the decision to continue to try to conceive, along with the care of my OB/GYN and hormone treatment that she believes will increase my chances to maintain a pregnancy past the first trimester.

I wish I had a “happy ending” to share with you today with a rainbow pregnancy announcement, but it’s not my current situation. What I will share with you is my resolve to not give up. I know many of you who are reading this either have gone through this yourselves or know someone who has. I want to tell you that you are not alone. We all have different stories and mine is still in the making. Whether you choose to continue to try to become a parent, naturally or otherwise, or choose to move toward a different direction in life and not have children, this does not define you. We all have different missions in life. Sometimes we are very clear on our mission, and sometimes it’s a little murky. But I can tell you this much. My determination this year is to lead with love and faith. I will appreciate my life, my husband, my family, my friends and my work more than ever. I will overcome my fear with faith and remind myself everyday of that through prayer. More than motherhood, the dream job or the dream home, I seek happiness, unshakeable happiness. So, whatever that means I will embrace it with my entire life, this year and every year.

“Human revolution is not a final goal that can be realized; rather, it is a change in the course, the direction of our lives.” -Daisaku Ikeda, The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! I wish you happiness, peace and so much love!

Photo credits: Anna Angenend Photography

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